Early last year, Questex Media decided to cease publishing 27-year-old Cadalyst, a b-to-b title for designers, engineers and corporate managers who purchase computer-aided-design (CAD) products for architecture, construction, engineering and manufacturing. In late February 2009, Longitude Media secured a licensing agreement with Questex to continue the brand. Longitude CEO Seth Nichols was previously Questex's VP-digital media. Before joining Questex, he was director of media enterprise services at Amazon.com.
Media Business: What trends are you seeing in lead generation?
Seth Nichols: The requirement for lead-gen has become more acute over the last couple of years. We can pitch the value of awareness, consideration and branding campaigns as much as we want, but people just want a hard name they can pass along to the VP of sales. So we're trying to find new ways to reach audiences and engage them so that we can deliver higher-quality leads more efficiently.
MB: How are you doing that?
Nichols: First of all, we let our customers know we get it: “You want to know exactly what you're going to pay for a certain number of leads. We'll do that.” Then we tell them the process we go through to generate high-quality leads. That includes branding elements. Plenty of research has been done about display advertising and its ability to drive the purchasing funnel.
MB: So what you're calling lead-gen is the same thing other media companies would call integrated marketing. How do you get a CPL amount that allows you to profitably include branding?
Nichols: The cost of a lead can get expensive if you look at traditional conversion rates. If I define higher-quality leads in terms of higher conversion rates, customers get it. Then we can say, “You want good leads; here's how we get them.” That includes using print and online advertising to build awareness. We base our per-lead pricing on the target the client wants. If you want an owner of a general contracting firm for a $400,000 product sale, that has a different value than a drafter who might be buying a product for $500.
MB: You said you include print advertising?
Nichols: When we took over [Cadalyst] a year ago, it was [online only]. But in December, we relaunched the magazine in print-on-demand form at $9.95 an issue or $35 for four quarterly issues, plus $9 shipping and handling. I print an issue of Cadalyst only when I get an order for it. We also have the flexibility to create targeted versions of Cadalyst for lead-gen programs. Let's say an advertiser wants to target civil engineers only in California. We send out a co-branded promotional e-mail saying a certain company is offering to deliver a free issue of Cadalyst if they opt in. Not only do the readers get a free issue worth $10, but we can also give them customized ads, such as an invitation to come to a user-group meeting in Sacramento, and content tailored to their interests. Because we now know we're going only to civil engineers, we would omit articles that might be more suited to someone in manufacturing, for example.
MB: Can you share any information on how the paid print strategy is doing?
Nichols: It's too early to say much, but I can tell you 96% of the purchases are annual subscriptions, not single issues; and already the retail distribution is looking to be a smaller percentage of the print than the sponsored issues.