Page 3: Differentiating Freeserve
Freeserve began in September 1998 as the pioneer of free Internet access for the cost of a local phone call. By August 1999, it had captured 30% of the UK market; this has continued to grow and is currently around 37%. The average weekly total minutes of Internet use has climbed from 29 million in June 1998 to 206 million by December 1999.
The ISP continues to win awards for quality and as a user-friendly, dependable interface between the customer and the Internet. In May 2000, Freeserve was awarded PC Direct Magazine’s ‘Best Online Service Provider’ award for the second year running. Two new products, Unlimited Freeserve Time and Off Peak Freeserve Time have been launched which will further reduce the cost of getting online.
As Dixons Group PLC remains the major shareholder, Freeserve is able to distribute its products through 1000 Dixons stores, as well as Currys, PC World and The Link. In addition, Freeserve has formed working partnerships with Barclays PLC and Bradford and Bingley Group which offers further distribution channels.
Differentiating Freeserve from the competition
Ever since the first business plan was written in 1998, Freeserve’s clear strategy has been to create the most relevant content and the best portal in order to acquire more customers. By adding new content, tools and functionality, Freeserve aims to attract more users who will spend longer exploring the Freeserve sites. This is the process of differentiating Freeserve from the competition so that it stands out from the rest. This is important for the advertisers and other e-commerce opportunities.
One of the main reasons for people going online is to access email. In the modern world, communication is becoming more and more important. By building on its suite of communications products and offering the ability to e-mail from any PC in the world using fsmail, Freeserve aims to increase the attractiveness of the brand. A customer using telserve and fsmail can easily access voicemail, faxes and e-mails from a single mailbox. There is no monthly subscription and this combination of services means all forms of communication can be retrieved with a single dial-up.
Freeserve.com has added improved content to all its sites; building in plenty of diversity, but all carefully attuned to the customer’s needs. Freeserve believes that it offers the best of the Internet, with many of the key services being unique or exclusive, such as the new, highly intuitive Freeserve search engine, ifind; the ability to set up communities using smartgroups.com and online caroline, an interactive webcam drama.
In Spring 2000, Freeserve launched a completely redesigned site. The portal is now organised into 13 speciality channels with links to other portals. It is through these developments that Freeserve is able to differentiate itself from its main competitors.