Targets New Rural Users
On Wednesday, CoolEmail.com will begin a grassroots brand-building effort for its Email-By-Phone Unified Messaging service with five regional telephone providers in rural Missouri, Texas and Kansas.
Previous national marketing efforts have primarily targeted Internet-savvy metropolitan and urban areas, according to officials of the New York-based Internet messaging and communication services provider. Rural service should begin in about a week.
Unified messaging enables anyone with a telephone to send and receive e-mail, faxes and voice mail via a toll-free number. No special equipment is required. A fee of $14.95 buys 60 minutes of airtime per month; additional 30-minute time blocks are available for $5.95 each.
With 800,000 registered users currently signed up for either its basic service (15 minutes a month free) or Plus service (30 minutes a month for $9.95), three-year-old CoolEmail anticipates partnering with 50 additional phone companies in the next three months. That should boost its user list to 2 million users by year’s end, says Jeffrey Coomes, senior vice president for branding strategies.
“Rural telephone companies are under pressure to bring more services, like voice mail and the Internet, to local phone areas,” Coomes said. “We want to marry their audience and needs with our technology to build our brand.”
Since retaining Harvest Communications, New York, in January to handle its $8 million TV, radio, outdoor, print and online advertising campaign, CoolEmail management has been focused on securing partnerships and alternative distribution channels as a way to reduce costs-per-lead, said Peter Berger, interim CEO of CoolEmail.
CoolEmail saw such an opportunity in private, equity-funded telephone companies that have been mandated by public utility commissions to bring new technology, increased efficiency and lower prices to their customers. In many cases, the phone companies already have their own ISPs. “Through co-branding, we can tag the CoolEmail address to [a company’s] URL,” Coomes explained.
Value-added telephone services such as Unified Messaging can give farmers and other small rural businesses access to the information superhighway via local telephones, without requiring a PC. Increased time spent on the phone translates into a customer who’s less likely to switch phone carriers, which means increased revenue potential for the phone company, Coomes pointed out. “It’s a win-win situation,” he said.
With a projected 13 million message mailboxes worldwide by 2003, research firm Frost & Sullivan of Mountain View, Calif., estimates that sales of unified messaging advertising and equipment should exceed $1 billion this year. n
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