Sweepstakes Site Puts Focus on Fun and Games

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WinDough.com will launch a $500,000 sweepstakes and stop providing free e-mail accounts and search engine services next month in an effort to market itself strictly as a promotions site.


"People know us for being a sweepstakes site," said Scott Kurland, co-CEO of WinDough.com, Boca Raton, FL. "[Free e-mail and a search engine] were successful but did not help to define us as a promotions site. Our new features, like games and lotto, will."


WinDough's advertising revenue was $350,000 last year. It is currently the 10th rated Sweepstakes site, according to NetRatings, and has a registered customer database of 733,000 people. It claims 290,000 unique visitors a month.


The site's main sweepstakes is a small pop-up window with a rotating banner that stays on the screen while users surf other sites. The banner on the box changes every 30 seconds. If a person spots and clicks one that says "You Win!" they are awarded whatever prize is listed. Prizes have ranged from mouse pads to $25,000.


The free e-mail and search engine services were offered as an option to members who answered 10 questions on hobbies and interests and agreed to opt in to a YesMail e-mail marketing database. Members who signed up for this option also gained entry into a points program, which rewards visitors with prizes for clicking on banners and for signing up new members. The points program will continue and will be tied into the other promotions.


"We saw we were doing something right in getting people to the site, to click and to sign up for the upgrade," said Kurland. "When we had the opportunity to sit down and think out ways to solidify our brand and concept, it included realizing we were asking marketing questions that we had no use for the information afterwards. The change also makes it easier to get to the banner and the new features faster."


The new games and promotions include flash games, lotto and virtual scratch-offs. These will appear on a pull down screen below the rotating banner. Registration on the site will be limited to one sign-up page for all the features. It will be scaled down, asking only for the basics: name, age and e-mail address with the lone holdover from the upgrade sign-up being the YesMail opt-in.


The company claims a click-through rate of 2.5 percent, well above the average of .5 percent.


"The banner concept is working," said Allyne Mills, vice president of corporate communications at UpRoar.com, which buys banner space on WinDough. "We are getting a solid 2.5 per cent click through. The decision by the company to go more towards promotions is a natural and wise decision, people are coming to the Internet for entertainment and prize related content more and more."


Kurland said that with big-bucks sweepstakes sites like Iwon.com offering news and e-mail, it would be better to eliminate those programs from Windough and concentrate on branding the site solely with promotions.


"When we received more funding, we decided to make the change," said Kurland, referring to $1.6 million provided by Miami based backer Colbert Investment Management. "We looked at the competition and realized that if we are going to establish any core competency in this company it is going to be through getting completely in touch with promotions."


All members who have opted into WinDough's weekly e-mail newsletter will be appraised of the new give-away and the site change. Those who have e-mail accounts with the site will be pointed towards advertising and marketing partner MyCoupons.com to use their e-mail service.
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