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AM: list marketing

To:     "marketing/advertising discussion group" <>
Subject:     AM: list marketing
From:     "Mitch Arnowitz" <>
Date:     Mon, 5 Jan 1998 17:25:57 -0500


Welcome back! Hoping all had a nice holiday. Lots & lots of
news, technology and year end roll-ups to share, more shortly. 
One topic or trend I heard, saw and talked about over the holiday 
was how to grow your business through effective list marketing. 

As the volume of email lists grow (currently 250,000), more 
attention is being paid to advertising and direct marketing 
opportunities. There is even a current debate raging on  
how an *opt-in* list is defined, found on John Audette's I-Sales 

I have enclosed part of the thread below- for proper context or 
as Paul Harvey says "for the rest of the story", check out the 
list archives, found at:  . To subscribe to I-Sales, 
send a message to:

Also, for those of you that don't get clickz's daily column via HTML
email, clickz recently ran a great primer on growing your business
through effective list marketing. Adam Bottinger is the author here. 
Adam is the moderator of the very popular Internet Advertising 
Discussion List. To join Adam's list, send a message to:  . In the body of your message, put JOIN.

Check out the articles (a *quick* read) at the site's 
archives for 12/22,23,26 found at:

I'm curious- does anyone currently have sponsors on their list, 
offering names through a broker of those that opt-in or using the list
for general sales or marketing purposes? *Please respond
to the group*.

Mitch Arnowitz      
Business Development
Morino Institute   
PKW Netpreneur Program                    

           Internet Sales Discussion List
  I  -  S - A - L - E - S    D - I - G - E - S - T
"Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom"
List Moderator:                         Supported by:
John Audette       Multimedia Marketing Group

// -- FEATURED POST -- //

From: Bob Schmidt <>
Subject: Re:Opt-In Lists

John Audette writes,

>> If I understand Ray correctly, he is not really referring to an
opt-in mailing. Rather, he is referring to advertising on his
e-mail publication, a somewhat distant cousin. I thought it was
interesting information though, so I've gone ahead and included it.


>> I think that the term "opt-in" mailing lists has de facto come
to refer to a mailing list where someone has given permission to be
sent commercial notices. To me, that's quite different from a
subscription based newsletter or discussion list. When it comes to
newsletters, there's probably a continuum from pure non-commercial
content at one end to pure commercial announcements at the other.
In an advertising context, opt-in would apply to the latter, but
not the former. And I don't think that a discussion list is ever
defined as an opt-in mailing list in an advertising context. <<

Like David Lundell, I also believe John is  missing the point. To
the advertiser, it matters little whether the user has "opted-in"
to subscribe to a mailing list for regular mailings or to subscribe
to a list for sporadic use, and equally matters little whether the
mailing consists of sponsored content or is a solo ad. It probably
matters equally little to the Internet user. 

Bottomline, subscribers to a mailing list are obviously opting in.

Advertising on such a list, while perhaps conceived of as some sort
of "display" advertising, may indeed be better described as a
direct mailing on the part of the advertiser. In which case,
response rates are the appropriate measure and the experience of
Joke a Day is entirely relevant to the discussion of opt in

This is good news because the future of what is typically thought
of as opt in per se, i.e. "Postmaster Direct" brokered and compiled
lists, is dim for most advertisers, at least for the foreseeable
future. Too few Internet users are opting in to make it viable. Uh,
that is, viable for the advertiser. It may well be viable for
Postmaster Direct and other brokers and list owners but at the same
time be a failure for the advertisers. Using these lists should be
approached by first time advertisers strictly on a test basis, just
like any other advertising. 

Since it's all still a numbers game, from the advertiser's
standpoint, basically, any list category consisting of less than
50,000 names is too small to offer much in the way of real value to
the advertiser. That's right, this is a mass marketing game. Since
the response rates will always be in the low single digits, niche
lists have little value. Targeted mass lists on the other hand hold
tremendous potential. 

With too few opting in to the compiled and brokered lists, savvy
advertisers will increasingly test the larger sponsored mailing
lists that are either targeted, or as is the case with Joke A Day,
high volume untargeted. In this case, it is obviously a strategic
competitive benefit to the discussion list owner to directly
position list sponsorship as an even  better form of opt in: by
continuing to subscribe, users are reaffirming their desire to
receive the list, whereas with compiled or brokers lists, you may
be getting a name that signed up once a long time ago and currently
has no interest. 

Thus, to the advertiser, Postmaster Direct, Did-It and other opt in
brokers will be seen (and properly so) as the direct competitors of
sponsored mailing lists. And this will be the case much more so
than banner ads being the competitor of discussion lists. Indeed, I
would argue that it is only by such finer competitive distinctions
and advertiser choice that the market for opt in mailing will be
perceived as a viable market at all.

And of course, the alternative, that discussion list subscribers
not be considered to be opting in, doesn't make any sense at all.

On the other hand, the biggest challenge for the discussion lists
is how to overcome the newbie rehash mode that most, including this
list, seem to fall into. Reading the same threads over and over
again with little in the way of advanced thinking to challenge the
more advanced subscribers leads to many who are bored and no longer
pay attention. If they're not paying attention to the list, they're
also probably not paying attention to the sponsor.

Best wishes for the holidays and have a great 1998,

Bob Schmidt
Author of The Geek's Guide to Internet Business Success
The Definitive Business Blueprint for Internet Designers,
Programmers, Marketers, Consultants and Service Providers
ISBN 0-442-02557-2

++++ moderator .02 ++++

I pretty much disagree with everything Bob has said, which creates
the opportunity for an interesting discussion.

He says, "Bottomline, subscribers to a mailing list are obviously
opting in." Using that reasoning, an awful lot of things are opt-in,
including: a subscription to a daily newspaper, a subscription to a
monthly magazine, tuning your radio or television to a specific
station, etc. But we don't call that opt-in. What I'm referring to
is common Internet usage of the term, which I believe has come to
be defined as the type of mailing lists maintained by Postmaster
Direct and others, where folks have given permission to be sent
individual commercial messages -- via e-mail.

Bob also says, "...Advertising on such a list, while perhaps
conceived of as some sort of "display" advertising, may indeed be
better described as a direct mailing on the part of the
advertiser." I disagree. I think the correct perspective is to view
a publication delivered via e-mail as simply another form of a text
publication. E-mail is simply the method used to deliver the
publication. I would view it as direct mailing if the e-mail
contained *only* the advertising message.

Bob says, "Since it's all still a numbers game, from the
advertiser's standpoint, basically, any list category consisting of
less than 50,000 names is too small to offer much in the way of
real value to the advertiser."

This is simply an unsubstantiated opinion -- and it's wrong. A
frequent advertiser on I-Sales, Peter Temes of Peter Temes
Consulting, advised me last week that his last ad on I-Sales
outperformed a 1/2 page ad in WebWeek by a factor of 4 to 1.
I-Sales has a circulation of well under Bob's magical number of
50,000, and I imagine that WebWeek has a circulation exceeding
50,000, but I-Sales yielded far superior results. Peter has already
booked a week in January to sponsor I-Sales again. He is an
astute businessman with a PhD and I doubt that he would spend
more money here if he wasn't getting a positive return.

I don't know on what Bob bases his opinion, but we have been
tracking results from ads in e-mail publications for several months
now using our AdNiche Tracking System (ATS) and we have
accumulatedenough data to be able to make some informed
observations about the effectiveness of e-pub advertising. We have
found that e-pub advertising tends to generate a low response rate
(in the area of 1-3% click-through), but that it delivers extremely
highly qualified prospects. In other words, low quantity - high
quality. It leads us to believe that e-pub advertising is not attractive
for high volume, low margin type products, but that it is very
attractive for low volume, high margin products or services.

There is one thing that Bob says that I agree with -- "Using these
lists should be approached by first time advertisers strictly on a
test basis, just like any other advertising."  We have found at MMG
that it is better to base our marketing and advertising strategies
on experiential data, as opposed to opinion.


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