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#5.10: The “Survivor Blew It” Issue

CBS and Survivor missed an amazing emarketing opportunity when they sent millions of visitors to their website to vote for a million-dollar winner.

1> Ask For the Email
2> Collect Emails for Partners
3> Get Them Shopping
4> Send Them to Amazon
5> Improve the Tell-a-Friend
6> Pay Attention to Privacy

Maybe an alliance with GasPedal would help! We bet that with the 38 million visitors they had, CBS could have made at least $3.9 million dollars/year from these ideas. (Assuming a 20% opt-in rate, weekly mailings, and 2 ads per mailing at a $5 CPM.)

1> Ask For the Email

When you’ve got millions of people coming to your site, ask them to sign up for the official Survivor email list. Signing up should be optional — but CBS missed their shot to build a multi-million-name Official Survivor Email list. For years to come, they could be selling six-figure email sponsorships.

2> Collect Emails for Partners

While creating an email sign-up form, add a few optional checkboxes to sign up for your advertisers’ email lists. (This is called “co-registration.”) You can charge a placement fee to the advertiser to get on the form, and a per-name bonus for everyone who signs up. CBS, you could have sold a nice service to Chevrolet and Cingular, who would have been keen to own a clean, permission-based email lists from eager fans.

3> Get Them Shopping

Offer a coupon for free shipping on any purchase from the Survivor store to each visitor who votes. Imagine the number of potential buyers who never noticed the merchandise for sale on the site. Offer an instant coupon and you’ll have every voter browsing and buying.

4> Send Them to Amazon

Even better — set up a store on Amazon instead of selling your own stuff. Why? Because Amazon pays you commission on every purchase made by visitors you send to Amazon — even if they buy from other merchants. Use the web traffic from the contest to get them to your Amazon store, but make the big bucks on the 10% commission Amazon gives you on the other stuff they buy on the same visit. Besides, how much Survivor merchandise does anyone really need?

5> Improve the Tell-a-Friend

There is a basic tell-a-friend form at the end of the survey, but plenty of opportunity to do better. The form should let you email 10 friends at once. Users should be able to add a custom message to their friends (instead of the generic message that’s auto-generated). And as long as they are filling out a form, you might as well ask them a second time to sign up for the list. Even better — let users send a coupon to their friends to buy merchandise. It gives the friends a reason to visit, and makes the forwarder feel good for sharing the savings.

6> Pay Attention to Privacy

With all of these ideas, it’s important to reassure visitors that you will respect their privacy. Every email-capture form should clearly state “We will never use your email for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.” Tell-a-friend forms should prominently state that the sender and receivers’ emails will never be sold. Plus, the tell-a-friend email that is sent is probably in violation of CAN-SPAM (it’s missing required disclaimers).

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