TechTarget hones content to specific topics

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TechTarget, a b-to-b media company founded on the principle that the IT industry is a really not one industry but rather a number of focused communities, started segmenting its e-mail newsletter audiences in a new way in April. "Targeting subscribers based on their topical interests is a shift in TechTarget's e-mail strategy," said Agata Celmerowski, director of e-mail products. "It has proven to be very successful."

Unlike many other b-to-b media companies, TechTarget requires registration for all its sites. In the past, a person going through the registration process had the chance to opt in to a list of e-newsletter titles, including editorial-type titles as well as white paper alerts and conference invitations.

Now, however, TechTarget is slicing and dicing its segmented audiences into even smaller topical subsegments. One objective is to to deliver more targeted and relevant content to audience members, while another is to improve the quality of the sales leads that TechTarget provides its advertisers.

"Rather than focusing on the medium, as we did before, we're now looking more holistically at the subject," Celmerowski said. Emphasizing that TechTarget e-newsletters "were absolutely relevant before we moved to this strategy, in terms of being associated with a specific sector of IT, like security or networking or storage," she explained that "what we're better enabled to do today is drill down into specific segments of those markets, such as Web security, network management and backup."

The topic-focused e-mails now naturally include purely editorial newsletters but also updates from TechTarget's Research Library or invitations to events that cross multiple sites. Now that TechTarget can identify people with security interests within, (for small businesses), and others, the potential audience TechTarget can tap for a Web seminar or conference on the topic is now much larger.

At the same time, "by setting ourselves up in advance so that we don't need to collect additional opt-ins, we're able to target editorial content around industry hot topics as they emerge, with topically focused lists," Celmerowski said. "Before, we would have included this content in a more general e-newsletter or we would have had to start building new circulation from scratch."

By targeting topics more tightly, some of TechTarget's lists are getting smaller, but their metrics have gotten significantly better. "Net results show a minimum of a 10% lift in raw leads from lists that are 30% to 60% smaller than we were using before," Celmerowski noted. In other words, "our audience is about twice as responsive in terms of the number of subscribers we message that turn into leads for our clients."

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