Answer: Placing ads in e-mail newsletters is one of those areas where thinking out of the box pays off. In the b-to-b space, your target is receiving messages from competitors on a daily basis. Knowing how and when those competitors are buying and placing their ads will impact your placement and response rates. Start with this rule in mind: To maximize response, you need to compare the potential response rates for newsletters that best match your target audience with newsletters that may not be a perfect match but have less competitive congestion. You final response rate could be up to three times higher.
For example: You are a b-to-b company targeting health care providers—as are seven of your top competitors. Based on analysis, you have identified the top five e-mail newsletters that audience reads frequently. However, your competition has also targeted and advertised in those same newsletters. In this case, even with the best offer, your message will underperform because of the excess in the category. As a plan B, you have a list of e-newsletters that are not in the top five but that are in the top 20. Your competitors are not advertising—or are advertising only occasionally—in those. Test your ad in those newsletters. The freshness of offer and lack of competition will extend your reach and positively impact results.
In order to build the most effective strategy, start by asking these questions before you place ads in newsletters:
- Do your competitors advertise in these newsletters? If so, how often? Ask for a sample of the ads.
- Sign up for the e-newsletter and watch for trends in messages; for example, company X advertises every Monday or the offer is always a white paper.
- Don't use your standard online offer. Build your offer and content to compete with what is in the newsletter.
- What are the Tier 2 newsletters that you could test? Targeting is key, but doesn't always drive the best results for newsletter ads: Perform an A/B test to find out for sure.
For more advanced marketers, ask if the newsletter employs any type of behavioral targeting—for example, people who have clicked on your type of offer before.
Understanding this information will give you broad insights that allow you to view your placements from the recipient's point of view. I promise your hard work will pay off in the end.
Jeanniey Mullen is executive director, senior partner, worldwide e-mail marketing for interactive agency OgilvyOne, New York.