BtoB: What trends are you seeing in marketing to this audience?
Dunn: The trends we're seeing broadly are probably no different than in any other area of marketing. Generally, [there's] less penetration with regard to e-mails, [and] lower click-through rates with traditional e-mail campaigns. On the more traditional side, direct mail is kind of going through a renaissance because if done correctly, you can get a little bit more attention from the recipient. [You need to have] the right person and the right address, but you're able to put together a more customized experience that feels a little more personalized to recipients through direct mail.
We're also trying to go that route with e-mails. ... You really need to deliver something of value to the recipient within two seconds of them opening it. Otherwise they delete it immediately or move on to something else. Not only does it need to be value-added, but it needs to be immediately recognizable as value-added. In marketing our own products and events, we've started focusing a lot more on white papers and that sort of thing that present a small study of some part of the business that the recipient would be interested in. They feel like they're getting information that's important to them, even though they're getting marketed to at the same time. ... The more you address the needs and concerns of that group with regard to what they're doing day to day in business, the more they feel you understand them and the more willing they are to spend a few seconds or minutes looking at what you have to say to them.
BtoB: What's ahead in marketing to these executives?
Dunn: We're seeing a huge interest with regard to customized newsletters. So a customer might say, "We want to reach professionals in energy and commodities," for instance, and we're able to work with them to take vertical content sets and package them into a newsletter that's delivered daily [to their customers and prospects]. It provides a platform that associates the sponsor's name with this high-quality information that's related directly to what their customers and prospects are doing each day. It becomes less about direct, in-your-face marketing. It's a chance to really emphasize the value you can bring to your customers by bringing them information.