B-to-b media companies cannot stand still if they want to remain competitive in lead generation, and those that are committed are continually refreshing offerings and approaches.
Even GlobalSpec, launched in 1996 as an online search engine in the manufacturing space with a lead-gen revenue model, now incorporates lead-gen within a wider array of medialike offerings. GlobalSpec now publishes more than 70 electronic newsletters, has branched into virtual events and recently debuted a program of custom webinars.
“Our newsletter business is now growing more rapidly than our original catalog and directory products,” GlobalSpec's Chariton said. “Newsletters offer branding, reach and frequency in front of a targeted audience, which is the traditional advertising model. Combined with that, we can generate contacts and inquiries each time a reader engages with advertiser content in the newsletters.”
Last fall, e.Republic hired Justin Greeves as corporate VP-research, a new position. He came to the company with two decades of experience in public affairs, public opinion and market research.
“Original research allows us to take a step away from anybody who might be called competition,” Pearson said.
“We'll be turning traditional lead generation on its head by developing authoritative, high-quality business intelligence,” Greeves said.
Among other efforts, Greeves will help build out single-topic special reports, which e.Republic has been using in the education tech field with its Converge brand. These programs, with original research at their center, are sold in a one-price package to a limited number of sponsors. They include a BPA-audited print publication, leads from downloads of the research reports, webinars based on the research and invitations to an exclusive face-to-face event.
“We have to raise the awareness that lead-gen is not just a marketing stat,” Pearson said. “We leverage the demand for lead-gen when we put together an integrated campaign of engagement in the marketplace. Having a mix of offerings allows us to have some profit margin—and a future.”
TechWeb's Vaughan expressed a similar view. “You have to integrate lead-gen into your business model so that it's additive,” he said. “Our target is to get half of our revenue from the end-user professional and half from the marketing client, of which a portion is lead generation.” At the heart of TechWeb's “marketing as a service” strategy, geared to the most sophisticated tech marketers, is a sustained, ongoing relationship with the client. “We've been able to expand from doing lead generation to generate contacts to layering on the services that qualify those professionals for marketing organizations,” Vaughan said, adding that most of those services are fee-based.
As a company, IDG has an ever-growing number of lead-generation programs designed to fit the needs of tech marketers. Over the past 16 months, IDG Enterprise has introduced three programs primarily focused on lead generation—LeadAccel, the White Paper Configurator and Knowledge Vaults. “Over the last one to one and a half years, advertisers are expecting a second layer of qualification or lead nurturing,” said Melk, who became IDG Enterprise's CMO as well as senior VP in October 2011.
LeadAccel is a premium, full-service program. Using proprietary technology, LeadAccel tracks a user's consumption of content. The program provides clients with an engagement profile for each lead that lists all the topic-specific content that person has accessed, including editorial and competitors' content; scores leads based on engagement with that content; and provides a plan to move prospects through the purchasing process in an ordered sequence until a target lead score is reached.
The White Paper Configurator makes the most popular lead-gen asset more useful to the tech buyer by customizing content based on the way a potential lead answers questions about their interests. The Knowledge Vaults also provide a customized experience for the tech buyer by allowing the user to choose any content, at any time, from the vendor's “vault” once the person registers. “Information in a Knowledge Vault is broken down into bite-size nuggets and different media types, including PowerPoint presentations, short videos, links to webcasts and other types of assets,” Melk said. “The environment does the lead nurturing while giving freedom to the user.”
The latest offerings from e.Republic, TechWeb, GlobalSpec and IDG Enterprise have one thing in common: They are all designed to provide more useful content for b-to-b buyers.
“Marketers are being asked to be publishers and increasingly coming to media companies to find the expertise on voice, to understand what's needed at various points in the purchase process and to get help creating content or enhancing their current assets to make them more effective,” Melk said.