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Dec 06, 2007
Case Study

How B-to-B Trade Publisher Profits Online With New Revenue Stream

SUMMARY: If your site already draws a ton of traffic, why not capitalize on it with a new profit center that goes beyond subscriptions or advertising?

A B-to-B trade publisher created a new revenue stream by allowing vendors to offer marketing content to their audience of registered Web users. Registered user activity is up 100%, and one vendor has seen a 1000% increase in leads.
CHALLENGE
B-to-B publishers occupy central positions in the industries they cover, providing editorial content for vendors and potential end-users of their products and services. Vogel Media, a German company that publishes more than 100 specialty trade magazines, wanted to capitalize on that position and develop a new revenue stream that's more than subscriptions and advertising sales.

Vogel’s executives saw an opportunity to use their reputation and websites as means to deliver more than editorial content. Last year, the company developed a new service that allows vendors to offer marketing content, such as white papers and webcasts, to their audience of registered Web users to convert them into leads.

“Sites that have very strong trust and awareness in the market are the ones who have the best chances to start up something new. We wanted to offer a platform to support the professional buying-decision process,” says Stefan Voss, Director, Audience Development.

To make the system work, Voss and his team needed an efficient way to attract new registered users and to encourage them to download content that would provide a steady stream of qualified leads for vendors.


CAMPAIGN
Vogel’s lead-generation platform charges vendors in two ways:
o Flat fee for content promotion and the leads they receive
o A la carte for the number of leads generated through downloads of content

Voss’ team relied on a multichannel marketing approach to convince Web users to become registered members of the company’s websites and then encourage them to download vendor content. Here’s how they implemented the email marketing portion of the strategy:

-> Step #1. Acquire email addresses

Voss’ team turned to the company’s large email database to find prospects for the new, registered-user feature. Those names came from a variety of sources, which provided a stream of new names to contact with offers to upgrade to registered-user status.

Sources for email addresses included:
o Subscribers to the company’s print publications
o Subscribers to the publications’ email newsletters
o Contacts collected at various trade shows and other industry events
o Visitors’ to the publications’ websites

Because names and email addresses came from specific sources, they were already segmented at a high level by industry.

-> Step #2. Email offers to convert prospects

Working from their email database, Voss and his team developed promotional email offers that sought to convert prospects to registered users.

Benefits included:
- The ability to customize their Web experience and content received in email newsletters.
- An article storage feature allowing users to create personal libraries of relevant content.
- Custom alerts when new articles were available within their areas of interest.
- Access to vendor content that was relevant to their areas of interest.

The registration offer included an incentive to encourage new signups: a 10-euro Amazon.com gift certificate.

Voss and his team sent the upgrade offers on different schedules, depending on the original source of the email address. For example:

- Contacts collected at trade shows or other industry events typically received a registration offer within one to two days of the event. Invitations were personalized as much as possible, typically noting the event at which the prospect inquired about Vogel’s products and the name of the Vogel representative they spoke with.

- Subscribers to the company’s email newsletters received a registration offer four times a year.

- Print magazine subscribers received a registration offer once or twice a year.

-> Step #3. Use online registration to segment leads further

Some of the names in their email database contained the bare minimum of personal information -- often just a name and email address. To provide relevant content to registered users and to deliver highly qualified leads to their vendor partners, the team collected a range of additional personal and industry information about each registered user.

“Our job is to find out which person to offer which solution for a problem at which time,” Voss says.

They used the online registration form to collect that data. Prospects who clicked through to the registration page found as much information as the team had on hand, such as from a business card, pre-filled in appropriate forms.

Then they were required to fill out several fields, including:
o Company name
o Corporate email address
o Address
o Corporate telephone number
o Job title
o Particular specialty or area of the industry they worked in
o Number of employees

Following registration, each user received a phone call from Voss’ telemarketing team to confirm the information. “This is our difference in the market. I’m very sure we have the highest quality leads in the market.”

-> Step #4. Promote relevant editorial and vendor content

Signing up registered users was the first goal of the campaign. Another goal was to boost activity on the websites, encouraging users to partake of both editorial and vendor content, which would generate leads for their partners. Once again, they turned to email to encourage user activity.

- Approximately every two weeks, the team sent a new informational message to registered users, highlighting useful site features and editorial and vendor content. Data collected during the registration process was matched to the content offerings tied to the users’ industry, job description and stated areas of interest.

- Vendors were able to sign up for different levels of service. One option allowed vendors to post white papers, Webcasts or other content for free and then pay for the number of leads generated through Vogel sites. Other options required an upfront payment for unlimited leads, but guaranteed the vendor prime placement for content on the Vogel websites or push promotion of content to registered users via email.

- Content was strictly prioritized according to users’ stated areas of interest. Even if a sponsor had paid for additional promotion through email, that content was sent only to users who were the best match.

-> Step #5. Track users who download vendor content

Using cookies, the team tracked registered user activity on their websites. This way, registered users could download vendor content without having to re-enter their registration information and Voss and his team could track which users had accessed vendor content.

Vendors received leads in real time by accessing special customer portals.

- Vendors who paid up front for prominent placement and promotion could see the full contact and qualifying information of each user who had downloaded the company’s content.

- Vendors who chose the pay-per-lead option could see the number of leads their content generated, but they had to contact a salesperson to pay for and receive those leads.


RESULTS

The new platform is demonstrating Vogel’s central position between vendors and end users in its marketplaces. “We are quite happy with the results today,” Voss says. “All of our key performance indicators are growing, from reach to registered users to leads in total.”

Email promotion is the key to converting prospects into registered users, as well as encouraging them to access relevant content. Conversion rates for emails promoting the registered user features vary from campaign to campaign, but Voss says registration figures exceed the industry standard of between 0.5%-2%.

Likewise, Voss has seen a 100% increase in registered user activity on their websites in the past six months.

Initially, the team highlighted a single piece of vendor content in promotional emails. After further testing, they offered three to five different pieces of vendor content in email promotions because it produced the best clickthrough and conversion rates.

Voss wouldn’t disclose total figures for lead-generation activity but says at least one vendor in a higher level service offering, which features prominent placement of vendor content and email promotions to registered users, has seen a 1000% increase in leads over the average. “These cases help our client consulting team to convince existing and new prospects.”

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples from Vogel Media:
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/cs/vogel/study.html


Rabbit eMarketing - helped develop Vogel Media’s email marketing campaigns:
http://www.rabbit-emarketing.com


Vogel Media:
http://www.vogel.de



See Also:

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