SmartReminders Blends Traditional, Web DM

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SmartReminders.com is offering its client base a blend of traditional and electronic direct marketing, a balance of services its major competitors have yet to provide. The permission-based e-mail marketing company is a division of Smart Direct Inc., a direct marketing agency.


Since its launch in April, SmartReminders, Nashville, TN, which delivers news and information via e-mail to its subscribers, has registered more than 1.5 million users. It expected to reach 2 million users by the end of the second quarter.


"We're growing at a clip of 250,000 new sign-ups a week," said Rich Maradik, CEO and co-founder of Smart Direct Inc. "And we're doing it at 50 percent less than what the financial parameters that our business model called for."


Maradik said SmartReminders hit the e-mail market at the right time. While it launched after industry counterparts LifeMinders.com and yesmail.com, among others, SmartReminders was able to acquire its market share more cheaply and save money on its technology operations, a benefit of being the "first wave of second movers," he said. "When 2 million people sign up for our company in one quarter, it says something about the consumer demand for this type of product," Maradik said.


"We're all small parts of a booming market," he continued, referring to SmartReminders and its competitors.


Unlike its rivals, however, SmartReminders also provides its clients with offline marketing, Maradik said. In addition to online marketing campaigns, the company can offer clients direct mail drives to generate consumer traffic to their Web sites, among other marketing strategies. Its relationship with SmartDM, Smart Direct's direct marketing and database marketing division, gives SmartReminders an edge, he said.


"Offline direct marketing is not going away," Maradik said. "It's still about integrating direct marketing channels.


"The more valuable things you can do for a client," he continued, "the more value you have as a company."


The variety of services has thus far produced success for SmartReminders' 30 clients, Maradik said. SmartReminders' clients average a 10 percent click-through rate on their Web sites, he reported. In addition, according to PCDataOnline, Reston, VA, an Internet research firm, five to eight of SmartReminders' clients posted Web sites that ranked among the top 100 Web properties in the nation.


For instance, Internet lottery company webMillion.com, Boise, ID, ranked 91st. A client of SmartReminders since February, webMillion reported an undisclosed increase in membership since linking with SmartReminders.


"Not only have they helped us drive new members," said Tony Hauser, CEO of webMillion, "but they've helped us retain the members that we already have."


Hauser said SmartReminders has helped webMillion with its membership both online and offline. Besides assisting webMillion fulfill its members' winnings by printing thousands of checks per week, SmartReminders sends e-mails to webMillion's 1 million members in just under four hours, he said.


"We wouldn't have gotten that [type of service] from those other companies," Hauser said, referring to SmartReminders' rivals.


"When a prospective client comes in to do business with us," Maradik said, "there is more than one way for us to help them."


Maradik said SmartReminders is committed to developing a one-to-one relationship between its clients and customers, a philosophy that reflects its direct marketing background.


"Sure, we're doing e-mail marketing now," Maradik said. "But this company was born out of traditional direct marketing."


And while SmartReminders serves its clients in typical business-to-consumer fashion, the company also provides a free service to members, Maradik said. The company sends notification e-mails to members' desktops and wireless devices, another distinction between SmartReminders and its rivals, he said. The company sends reminders on topics including weather, sports and gaming.


"We send [consumers] information that they want, when they want and where they want it," Maradik said.


SmartReminders has formed a number of alliances since its inception in April, Maradik said. For example, a partnership with etang.com, Shanghai, China, a Chinese Web portal, offers the same opt-in e-mail service provided to SmartReminders users to eTang's membership, with the content translated in Chinese.


SmartReminders also partnered with CBS Sportsline, Maradik said, which enables SmartReminders' members to receive golf updates and sports scores every Monday, among other features. The companies have also co-sponsored a contest that will fly two winners to the Ryder Cup golf tournament in England.
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