E-mail Publisher Review: Beliefnet

From time to time we like to review publishers who know how to do e-mail right. This week we are going to take a look at Beliefnet. Founded by the former national editor of US News and World Report, Steven Waldman, Beliefnet has a very clear editorial and advertising policy, spelled out on its site. After the usual, we don't mix advertising with editorial statement, there's this honest note about the reality of advertising: "But that's not to say that we don't try to help our advertisers on the site. For instance, if our editors have decided that a book excerpt is a good one, we will sometimes notify advertisers that we are doing so, in part in the hope that they will advertise. If we are running a negative review of a book, we might let an advertiser know as well, in case they want to provide a countervailing viewpoint in ads."

Beliefnet's site is a nondenominational aggregate of user forums, aphorisms, and articles related to things of the spirit. It is also one of the largest deliverers of ad-sponsored e-mail newsletters, and its advertiser list is like a Who's Who of direct e-mail marketing. In the past 30 days we have tracked over 90 brands advertising their products to the Beliefnet audience--from dating sites (eHarmony, Tickle), to diet and fitness (Denise Austin, South Beach Diet, The Sonoma Diet, Miracle Burn), to organizations (AARP, Children International) to online universities (Kennedy-Western University).



Beliefnet sends out a dozen or so specialty daily newsletters as well as stand-alone advertisements to its audience. Some of the stand-alone advertisers include ThirdAge (a direct marketing company focused on aging adults), National Platinum Plus (an item that looks like a credit card, but you can only use it at one store), HeartGuardian (an herbal remedy for high cholesterol), and Children International (an organization helping hungry children overseas).

Advertisers must be happy, since most have been advertising for six months or more. Beliefnet holds a unique niche since it can appeal to an older as well as a younger demographic, those interested in self-help and self improvement, and those looking for spiritual mates. And come to think about it, that pretty much defines e-mail marketing.

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