REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 10, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that over a half million small businesses and individuals are using the Microsoft® bCentral TM ListBot e-mail service to keep in touch with visitors to their Web site - and keep them coming back.
With over 20 million subscribers to those lists, bCentral is a leader in the industry in Web-based e-mail services for small businesses and Web site owners. Microsoft bCentral ( http://www.bcentral.com/ ) is a new Web-based portal designed to help small and growing businesses get started online, manage their business more effectively, find new customers on the Web and keep them coming back.
"Keeping in touch with my customers is a critical piece of my business," said Scott Woodside, owner of Woodside Works LLC, the U.S. distributor for Japan's Platinum Pen Co. ( http://www.platinumpen-jp.com/ ). "As the distributor of high-end and much sought-after pens, I have customers who are eager to learn about the special deals that I offer from time to time. bCentral provides me with an automated way to quickly capture interested customers' e-mail addresses so I can let them know when I have something unique to offer them. ListBot takes care of managing the list for me; all I have to do is compose the message and click the Send button. And, best of all, after I send out an e-mail message, about 90 percent of my subscribers return to my site, and about half of those actually make a purchase."
"One of the biggest challenges for small businesses on the Web is to turn one-time customers into repeat customers," said Deborah Whitman, director of marketing at Microsoft bCentral. "ListBot has proven to be extremely effective at solving this problem. With ListBot, smaller businesses get the benefits of direct mail for driving repeat sales to current customers with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of e-mail. We see small businesses with 60 percent to 90 percent of the customers on their lists returning to their Web site when they send out e-mail. We are excited about how well the service is working for our customers and the tangible impact it is having on their bottom line."
Direct E-Mail Marketing for Small Businesses
ListBot makes using e-mail to keep in touch with customers easy. Small businesses simply place the ListBot icon on their site, and customers interested in receiving more information from the business can click on the link and enter their e-mail address. Small businesses use ListBot to keep in touch with their online customers by sending them newsletters, information about discounts or special offers, contest or sweepstake information - whatever they believe will encourage repeat traffic to their site or help them increase sales.
"Some businesses are wonderfully creative in using ListBot to communicate with their customers, sending a weekly trivia game or a monthly tip," Whitman said. "They find that sharing information and making direct offers can encourage customers to come back to their online business and make new purchases."
When small-business owners are ready to send an e-mail message to their customers, they can compose the message, and ListBot takes care of distributing it to the list. ListBot also saves small businesses valuable time by automatically keeping their list's e-mail addresses current, adding or deleting names from the list and storing messages for reuse.
Pricing and Service Options
The basic ListBot Service is supported by third-party advertising, which allows small businesses to use it for free. Messages to their customers include a small advertisement from a paying advertiser.
Small businesses that want to send ad-free messages to their customers use ListBot Gold. For $99 per year, small businesses can send up to 5,000 e-mail messages per month without advertisements. ListBot Gold also allows customers to import existing mailing lists into their ListBot database and ask their subscribers customized demographic questions.
The Microsoft bCentral online business service is a new Web-based portal created specifically to meet the needs of small and growing companies. bCentral provides a comprehensive, affordable and integrated suite of services to help companies move their businesses forward on the Web. bCentral focuses on three core areas:
Getting a business started online (includes connecting to the Web and building a business Web site)
Promoting and marketing a business online
Managing a business more effectively
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT" ) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device.
Microsoft and bCentral are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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