April 30, 2002, 12:00 AM

What a difference in 20 years

IRNewsLink reflects the massive changes in trade publishing and direct marketing that the Internet has wrought.

The same publishing team that produces this monthly magazine launched its first publication 20 years ago this month, a newsletter called Bank Network News, a twice-monthly letter that covered the ATM networks which then were beginning to dot the land. Like virtually all newsletters of that era, it was a high-price product ($275 for an annual subscription) that was aimed at a very narrow market (1,250 subscribers mostly in banks), carried no advertising and leisurely delivered its “news” to subscribers at least a week after the news occurred.

Our latest publication is also a newsletter-IRNewsLink-but it is vastly different from our first, and the difference reflects the massive changes in trade publishing and direct marketing that the Internet has wrought. IRNewsLink is transmitted via e-mail to the desktops of its opt-in subscribers twice each week when the news is still new, and it is free of charge to any qualified subscriber in the Internet retailing industry who requests a subscription. Because the letter that is transmitted only summarizes each article and contains a link to the full text of the article posted on our web site (internetretailer.com), IRN can and does carry 50 or more news stories and press releases related to e-commerce in retailing in each issue, easily four times the amount of text printed in the old Bank Network News.

This combination has made IRNewsLink hugely attractive to retail and catalog executives who look to the newsletter for the latest information on the use of the Internet in retailing. Since its introduction just 14 months ago, IRN has signed up 16,500 opt-in subscribers-a base that would have been unattainable using the pre-Internet model of newsletter publishing. Because of the size and quality of the list and the ability for sponsors to use the newsletter to interact with prospective customers, IRNewsLink has become an extremely popular promotional vehicle for our advertising clients. That, in turn, allows us to invest even more editorial and marketing resources to further enhance IRN’s editorial content and subscription base. Even now, the newsletter continues to add more than 500 subscribers a month and is easily on track to exceed 20,000 by the end of the year.

The newsletter’s astonishing popularity is part of a broader trend in publishing and marketing that has made the e-mail address the new coin of the direct-marketing realm. Indeed, e-mail has quickly become the most effective new marketing tool since the introduction of network television more than 50 years ago. As this month’s supplement on the topic reports, there were 300 billion e-mails transmitted last year, a number that is expected to double in 2005. More significant, the number of marketing e-mails is expected to grow from 51 billion last year to 240 billion in 2005. In our industry, the frequent and creative use of e-mail marketing is a major factor explaining the success of leading retail web sites.

But for e-mail campaigns to achieve their full potential, they must be opt-in programs from trusted sources. They must also offer substantial value and communicate a targeted message to a targeted audience ready to receive that message. That credo has been a key to IRNewsLink’s success, and we will continue to adhere to it as we expand this important news service.


Jack Love


P.S. If you don’t already receive America’s #1 e-mail newsletter for retailers and catalogers, you can subscribe by logging on to clicking here. The IRN subscription form is accessed in the upper right corner of the home page.

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