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Military.com engages prospects in social arena

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Objective: Attract ads by increasing readership of military procurement communications vehicles Strategy: Find military procurement influencers across the blogosphere Results: Eight-six percent higher click-through rates on display ads; 5.32% conversion lift; and 6% greater visitor time on site B-to-b marketing campaigns traditionally attempt to reach decision-makers within specific niche areas. Bloggers, meanwhile, are self-defined niche aficionados. Put the two together with a compelling marketing outreach and you have the potential for a well-targeted campaign. Such was the experience of Military.com, a military news and social network owned by Monster. Last year, Military.com introduced a new site reporting on the procurement of military equipment, aided by a blog, DoDBuzz.com, and an e-newsletter. The company's main tactic was to place display ads on appropriate blogs to lure those interested in the military supplies and weapons procurement industry to its own DoDBuzz blog. From there, the company hoped to convert them into RSS and newsletter subscribers and, finally, to monetize the whole thing with advertisements from major military suppliers. “We really wanted to target the procurement industry with a specific product, to speak to the people on Capitol Hill,” said Breanna Wigle, marketing manager at Military.com. “And we wanted to monetize the blog by getting ads from such companies as Northrop, Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. “We saw a lot of opportunity for revenue growth but, as with any growth opportunity, there wasn't a lot of budget,” she said. “We think of ourselves as a small company, even though we're owned by Monster.” The main challenge was how to identify the most appropriate blogging Web sites on which to advertise. For help, Military.com turned to BuzzLogic, a company whose technology indexes blogs for linking behavior and commonality of interest. For Military.com, BuzzLogic used its social media analytics solution to identify those blog conversations most closely aligned with military procurement interests, as well as how often these sites were linked to similar sites, in order to place Military.com's display ads before the most appropriate audience. “We wanted to dig deep into the context of people linking to one another with vigorous conversations about, for example, the V-22 Osprey aircraft, or Boeing's refueling tanker ... We want to get to people who are measurable around a tiny topic,” said Todd Parsons, co-founder of BuzzLogic. With about 200 blogs identified as conversationally engaged with the topic of military supplies and procurement, Military.com placed display ads informing viewers about the existence of the DoDBuzz blog. From there, they could register for Military.com's e-newsletter, with similar content. “We knew we could reach people on the Hill, but we also needed a scalable way to reach people whom we didn't know were there,” Wigle said. The campaign was launched in May 2008 and ran for six weeks. Results of the program were strong, primarily focusing on reader engagement, which was key to the company's pitch to potential advertisers. And engagement appears to be just what the company got. After the campaign ended, the company had a 86% higher click-through rate than with other display ad campaigns it had run previously on nonblog sites. Also, there was an overall conversion lift of 5.32% compared with other campaigns, while viewers on Military.com's Web site spent greater than 6% more time engaging with content. “This last measurement is really important,” Wigle said. “We really were trying to reach people we had never reached before, and the campaign delivered 90% new visitors who had never been to the site.” M
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