When GlobalSpec entered the b-to-b space in 1996, it wasn't a media company in a traditional sense. It was—and still is—a company built around a specialized vertical search engine that matches buyers with very specific industrial components. So when the company entered the e-mail newsletter business a few years later, it seemed only natural to consider vendor and editorial content equally important.
“We saw the companies [that list their product catalogs on GlobalSpec.com] at the heart of the content,” said Chris Chariton, GlobalSpec's VP-marketing services and product management. “But we didn't want them to simply place ads in the newsletters. We encouraged them to provide industry-specific, meaningful and useful information that reads and feels more like editorial content.”
Advertisers are allowed to provide a short write-up and a photo for their e-newsletter blurb. “We allow them enough space so that the content can be meaningful,” Chariton said.
GlobalSpec fields regular readership studies to gauge readers' interest in the vendor- and product-specific content. “Our readers want to know about new products. They want to get white papers,” Chariton said. “They respond to the advertiser content as well as the editorial content.”
Advertisers can choose to bring readers who click on their blurbs to either their websites or their listing within GlobalSpec.com. If they choose the latter, that lead will come through GlobalSpec's lead-generation system.
“We are able to provide full-contact leads,” Chariton said. “That's a big differentiator between us and a lot of other e-newsletters. Instead of getting data on the number of clicks your ad got from the newsletter ad, you're getting the name of a [potential buyer] and a way to contact that person.”
Alan Bandes, VP-marketing at UE Systems, said GlobalSpec's e-newsletters stand out among the media he uses. “I don't want to discount the value of branding, but what does a number of click-throughs mean?” he asked. “Contact information is gold. When they first proposed the e-newsletter, we were concerned with the price; but, if you look at the cost per lead, it's a great value, and we're very happy with it,” he said.
Although GlobalSpec has been publishing e-newsletters for many years, they became a key part of the company's strategy in 2005. “We had been publishing our flagship newsletter, called Specs & Techs, since 2000,” Chariton said. “Originally, it didn't have much of a schedule. But we went from sporadic to monthly to biweekly to weekly,” which has been its frequency since January 2005.
GlobalSpec launched 15 e-newsletters in 2005 and about 40 the following year. Today, it distributes more than 60 e-newsletters and has a total subscriber base of almost 9 million. GlobalSpec currently has 5.8 million registered users worldwide. —M.G.