MarketingMonitor: 28 August 2001, Vol. II, Issue 6

August. 28, 2001 Vol. II, Issue 6
Please forward this issue WITHOUT cutting. Thanks!

Free subscriptions at:

1) Intro - Free SMS Advertising Event Tickets, Email Marketing Survey

2) News: Big Brother Is Dead!

3) Case Study: Refresh SMS: How An Experiment Became A Successful Business

4) Info: About the publisher

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SMS Advertising Event ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ present a half-day conference:
An introduction to SMS marketing strategies


SMS is big business and this week's case study looks at a company that accidentally developed from an experiment. The company added an SMS service to their offering and watched business sky-rocket.

## WIN A CASE OF WINE - Email Marketing Survey

Email marketing is a big topic at Chinwag, and everywhere else. But with so many ASPs, software products and the possibility of building a system in-house, what's the best route? Chinwag's putting together a Buyer's Guide to help navigate this rapidly growing area

To kick things off we're running a short survey to find out what packages/firms companies are using for the email marketing and some general info about what you're up to. Most importantly, you can win a case of wine and qualify for a discount on the guide and of course our eternal
love and respect. See:

## FREE TICKETS - There is such a thing as a free lunch ##

We also have some free tickets to give away for Netimperative's SMS Advertising event. It takes place in London on September 6th and will bring you up to speed on SMS marketing strategies. Nice lunch included. To grab your ticket, send an email to Winners will be
picked at random.


* Big Brother Is Dead!

Long live Pig Brother. Tired of hearing about the antics of z-list 'reality tv' celebs? Then log on to where the 'pork' steaks are a little higher. Watch five little piggies battle it out for the ultimate prize - to avoid the chop.

>From the 1st of September you can watch the porkers in action at a secret location in Somerset. Set up to help the Farmers in Crisis Appeal, viewers can watch from the Sty-cam, Trough-cam and and Pond-cam. For each call to vote out a piggy, the appeal gains 25p. The game should be a nice little

But it has also become an excellent example of unusual but successful online marketing and has driven plenty of traffic to the Friendly Farm Foods site. The word is spreading - Five pigs. One pen. Who goes? You decide.

(Apologies for the puns - we snouted around for something better but we're a bit lean on ideas - Ed)

* Recruitment Agency Stands It's Ground

We have a strange occurrence to report this week. Instead of a wind-down, it's a start-up. is a specialist recruitment site for internet industry professionals. Searching for jobs online has become big business as more and more people realise how much information is available

A jobs site focussing on recruitment for the Internet industry could seem like a doubly dubious offering with new media industry confidence at an all time low.

Marcus Allington, CEO of Casebyte, the company behind e-job suggests the company has a long term view of the future. "Our business is built on the foundations of the age-old concept of niche marketing and creating a strong word of mouth support."

The company hopes to be the leading online recruitment resource in it's field in the UK within the year. The plan sounds sensible. Let's just hope the industry can stay in good enough health to supply the vacancies.

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* Refresh SMS: How An Experiment Became A Successful Business


Nrly 1bn msgs snt each mnth. [OK, that's enough SMS-speak, we have whole words to play with here -Ed.] One group in particular have taken to SMS like ducks to water- school children. Nearly 50% of children in the 7-16 year old bracket now own a mobile phone and they each send an average 2.5
messages each day.

There are no signs of an SMS slowdown as more and more kids are becoming phone-owners. They aren't put off by warnings about the health risks of obsessive texting - the British Repetitive Strain Association has recently identified a potentially non-fatal risk, Text Message Injury, AKA: a sore
thumb. Nor do kids seem concerned about costs, especially when there are websites offering free SMS.

One of these sites is Refresh, a quietly successful site, is using SMS to complement other marketing activities and to harness the 'viral' power of text messaging.


Refresh started life as an experiment, an entertainment news and community site for 'yoofs' (16-26 year olds) in 1997 by agency 12:51 Communications. A familiar concept perhaps, but unburdened by extravagant marketing budgets, swanky offices and over-eager VCs the site was built for a meagre

This wasn't another high profile portal. Marketing Manager, Jonathan Philips says, "At that time the Internet was a whole new area. The site was an experiment to see how well a website could be marketed using only online methods/word of mouth (i.e. no media budget)."

The free SMS service was launched earlier this year, built in-house and according to 12:51, pretty straightforward allowing for a few technical and design tweaks.

Refresh's SMS service offers some unique features: Users can send the same message to several friends at once and they can also store friends' numbers on the site along with a record of all the messages they have sent. Handy for organising group outings, etc.


Marketing has cost the company zilch, just staff and overheads. Refresh has never bought banner space. Aside from word of mouth the site relied on 'free' marketing techniques: search engine submissions, newsgroup placements and a reciprocal linking programme.

The Refresh email newsletter, sent 3 times/week in text and HTML, became a very useful tool to let users know about new content increasing traffic by as much as 50%. Valuable user information was captured through the registration process for the newsletter and chat forums. This process was
kept simple and user numbers grew steadily.

Refresh decided to develop a free SMS service to build on their existing marketing activities. The launch of the SMS service set off a sudden rise in traffic. Refresh announced the launch of the new service through the newsletter but the biggest promotion has been through the use of the
service itself. In Hotmail style, each text message sent through Refresh's SMS service has a 30 character promotional message at the end of each message and every message is branded as coming from 'Refresh SMS'.

Users have to register to use the SMS service and it's proved incredibly popular. When you consider this kind of tactic played a major part in getting Hotmail where it is today, it seems to make a lot of sense.


The only hard costs are the charges for actually sending the messages, currently 2p/msg or �80/day at current traffic levels. There was no media spend.


Prior to the launch of the SMS service, the site was receiving 1.4m page mpressions from around 100,000 unique users each month. Not bad, given he limited marketing resources. So, what difference has free SMS made:

Since June, when the service launched, the weekly growth in traffic and nique users has gone from 9% to 25%. The site is now seeing a week-on-week rise in registered users of more than 40% with over 4000 text messages are sent per day.

The SMS service has also helped to even out the website traffic's peaks and troughs. Many new users now come to the site just to text message friends but more and more are sticking around to explore other content. To text you must subscribe but once subscribed, visitors can access all areas including the community forums. It's proving a cost-effective way to gather precious audience information.


The success of the SMS service is a great example of viral marketing at play. The set up and running costs are low (each message costs the company just 2p) but the impact is high. As the number of messages sent grows, the advertising space available to Refresh increases. Site users have found a service they love to use and every time they send a message, they can't help but spread the brand message too.

Bang for buck-wise, the SMS promotion looks like it's going great guns for Refresh. The concern will be how they derive revenue from the increasing number of users on the website. The data capture will clearly become more important to them, but with humble beginnings, they seem well positioned
to take advantage of the contraction in the number of sites targeting this potentially lucrative audience.

The question hanging from everyone's lips is 'how's it making money?' Importantly for this type of site, the running costs have been kept very low, never a bad thing if you want to be a dotcom survivor. But the site still needs to make money. Refresh does get interest from sponsors and advertisers but right now this isn't easy money to find and more importantly, to rely on.

Marketers rapidly growing lust for databases of opted-in mobile phone numbers and email addresses, bodes well, particularly given the sites young audience and the traditional difficulty in reaching this crowd. It would be surprising if this area doesn't develop.

Refresh is now testing the water by talking to groups of users to work out how best to introduce this and what information will best appeal. Philips explains, "Registered users will have an option in their profile, which they can obviously opt-out of at any time. There are marketing initiatives planned; designed specifically to increase the number of opted-in mobile numbers for such promotions. We'll also be able to handle the sending of these messages."

For marketers thinking about using SMS in their campaigns, Philips points to the low costs of sending messages and the directness of the medium - the message lands in the palm of the hand. In many ways the medium is similar to email. The mobile handset, like the inbox, is a personal space and unwanted advertising messages are an intrusion. "Permission is an absolute must."

Refresh are also considering business-to-business options including charging for co-branded versions of the SMS service for non-competitor sites. A white label version is not out of the question.

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