The folks at SilentRunner were recently wondering whether an email newsletter sponsorship could solve their marketing problem. The security solution firm was looking for new ways to reach its customer base of Fortune 1000 companies. They decided to run an ad in a very targeted publication. The results went beyond what they were hoping for.
Coming up with an effective campaign relies on many factors. First, there's the offer itself. Knowing you often have to give something away to get something back, SilentRunner settled on a free risk-assessment white paper. Site visitors were asked to provide some identifying information, including name, company name, job title, email address, phone number, and industry. In exchange, they were able to download the white paper.
Then, there's target audience. SilentRunner knew exactly who it wanted to reach: those who make or directly influence large companies' security decisions. So SilentRunner sought out a newsletter written for those people. It settled on one published by TechTarget, an information provider for IT professionals. TechTarget publishes a number of Web sites, newsletters, and other online content for niche groups. For instance, one newsletter is "searchSecurity.com | Security and Industry News." Not surprisingly, that's where SilentRunner decided to run the ad.
Of course, there's the matter of the ad itself. SilentRunner wanted to make sure the offer was up front. Given this is a text newsletter, it needed to rely on words only - no fancy, eye-catching graphics were possible. SilentRunner showed its copy to TechTarget, which helped tweak the language. Here's what they came up with:
Free "Risk Assessment" white paper.
Risk assessment, policy validation, audits and forensics should be an essential part of any security program, but are often ignored. SilentRunner simplifies these security practices through an advanced traffic analysis system that automates the collection/analysis of network data and displays all information in easy-to-understand graphics. Click below to download your FREE white paper.
The ad was placed at the top of the newsletter, just below the heading. It began running in January, and leads started pouring in.
"TechTarget offered guaranteed lead generation in a six-week program. In three weeks, the leads had been fulfilled," says Patrice Bourgeois, SilentRunner's director of marketing. "It was just a natural fit." This is backed up by the numbers. Bourgeois says she's working on another program where each lead cost $70-80. The Tech Target leads are down to about $34.
Bourgeois has a few reasons why she believes the campaign was so successful. She notes when you go through someone else, the hands-off approach can encourage recipients to think they have some anonymity. We've all seen instances of backlash when a company rents a list, even if the email clearly states the reason the recipient is receiving the mailing. With a sponsorship such as this, the recipient may feel she has a bit more control over what is sent to her.
Plus, the association was good for SilentRunner. TechTarget enjoys a reputation as a respectable, useful resource. Linking up with TechTarget was beneficial to SilentRunner.
Finally, Bourgeois found the subscriber base was exactly the target she wanted to hit. She eyeballed the names and titles and discovered that they corresponded with her target audience. When SilentRunner realized part way through the campaign they needed to change the landing page to request a recipient input his state, it was able to do so.
One postscript: Not to detract from the success of the campaign, but I have one suggestion for improvement. When the newsletter showed up in my mailbox, the URL was so long that it wrapped around two lines. I clicked but got an error message. I had to copy the URL and paste it in my browser window. I suggest SilentRunner - and anyone else for that matter - make it as easy as possible to get to the landing page. If it means creating a shorter, more user-friendly URL, so be it.
Heidi is a freelance writer who covers the Internet for both consumers and businesses. She's a former editor of the E-mail Publishing Resource Center and coauthor of "Sometimes the Messenger Should Be Shot: Building a Spam-Free E-mail Marketing Program." Her work also appears in Smart Computing, PC Novice, What's Working Online, and Editor & Publisher.