Penton Media, MeritDirect team to offer program that combines lead-gen, email

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In most lead-gen programs, business publishers provide their clients with contact information and other demographics from their lists, which clients can then use to develop a sales and marketing strategy specifically targeting those individuals and which may or may not succeed. By contrast, the results of a typical email campaign will tell marketers open- and click-through rates, but not much else. Now, Penton Media and database marketing company MeritDirect want to wed the best of both worlds. In July, the companies rolled out their Email & Lead Advantage Program, which bundles email campaigns and actionable leads gleaned from Penton email lists. “It's the first time we've made this type of program available,” said Chris Blohm, senior VP-data and media solutions at MeritDirect, who added that the program could be duplicated for other b-to-b media companies. “What's unique about it is that we take the tried-and-true principles of email marketing and combine them with delivering actionable leads at the end of the campaign.” Joann Kropp, VP-customer data solutions at Penton Media, stressed that segmentation of audience data has become an increasingly critical factor in the publisher's ability to capture marketers' budgets, particularly in the small and midsize business arena. “More and more of our customers are asking for tools to help them validate ROI and assist them in the sales nurturing process so they can speed up the sales cycle,” she said. She added: “We can no longer say we have a large database of names and hope that because we have it, they will come. ... We understand the challenges with budgets and the challenges of how we partner with our advertisers that are renting our names for segmentation, targeting and nurturing.” Penton Media's database includes information on 17 vertical markets—such as electronics, manufacturing and natural products—reaching almost 4 million subscribers through permission-based email addresses. Here's how the program works: Marketers provide the creative for the email campaign and a blast is sent to 15,000 names in a targeted segment from Penton's database. Detailed results are analyzed with the marketer after the campaign. Penton examines opens and clicks on the links as well as areas within the creative. It also provides the demographics of those who opened and/or clicked, such as job title, job function, company size, sales volume, SIC codes, NAICS codes and purchasing power. A second campaign of 15,000 names is sent, using new segmentation based on the results of the initial blast. As a general rule, Penton will supplement the second blast with new names to make up for the names dropped off the first blast. The test and retest phase—garnering intelligence into what segments perform for a campaign and the ability to mail or call those who have demonstrated interest in a product or service—is key. “We could say, "You thought it was employee size under 50 that would respond [to the email campaign]; it's actually larger-sized companies. So on the second blast, let's go out to larger-sized companies,' ” Blohm said. Contact information, excluding email addresses, of opens and clicks from both of the email efforts is then passed along to the marketer to allow them further follow-up to either nurture the leads or use them in a multichannel campaign. “We've built a way to monetize and increase the performance of our audience data for email campaigns, which is how the ROI will improve for the advertisers renting our data,” Kropp said. She added that, so far, the program is working. “It validates that we did target the right person and the right person is opening [the email]; and sometimes it also shows us, gee, we need to tweak the selection criteria.”
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