Diane Giannini
Web Publisher

... ask custom questions in addition to the publisher’s standard registration questions. Do not overlook this option.
Creative Lead Generation Solutions
by Diane Giannini
July 30th, 2008

“We need more leads for the sales team.”
“We need better quality leads.”
“We need leads now!”
“We don’t have the bandwidth to write a white paper.”
“We can’t get partners to commit to a webcast.”
“We can’t find a speaker for a webcast.”
“We don’t have any content.”

How many times have you muttered any of these phrases, or heard something similar from your colleagues? I bet you’ve lost count! Personally, I have been listening to things like this from industry vendors for 13 years. And throughout those years, I have tried to come up with creative lead generation vehicles that would help meet their objectives.

But there is a dark cloud hanging over many marketers - ‘recession’. While some marketers are reacting by pulling back on their marketing spend, others continue to push forward and recognize the importance of staying visible to their audience during this time. To those, I offer some thoughts on how to combat those phrases above.

What to think about when evaluating lead generation solutions
Marketers interested in lead-generation campaigns face some challenges, both real and perceived. The real challenges include balancing a budget while reaching the right audience, and how to capitalize on leads that come in. The perceived challenges come from a lack of content (white papers, webcast materials, etc.), and a lack of time.

When evaluating lead generation vehicles, many marketers question ‘how much bandwidth will this require of me?’ and ‘what is my CPL (cost per lead)?’ Don’t fret. Both the real and perceived concerns are easily overcome in today’s digital media landscape.

Many media publishing companies provide access to their audience to industry vendors who can provide their own vendor content. But what is becoming increasingly more enticing for the marketer under pressure is a program where they can align their brand around editorial or expert content, while generating leads from users who view this information.

These truly turnkey solutions require minimal upfront time and effort of the marketer while simultaneously providing a great solution for vendors looking for quality leads.

These measurable sponsorship programs often leverage a variety of digital media communication vehicles such as webcasts, podcasts, video, virtual tradeshows and editorial white papers/guides. When selecting a lead generation vehicle, you do not want to limit yourself to one media format. Users tend to have a preferred medium in which they want to consume information. Let’s take a closer look at some of the options.

Both editorial and expert webcasts are an excellent means of lead generation. As a sponsor, you have very little to do. Provide a logo and a short company description, and you can position alongside rich media content broadcast to a targeted audience. For more information on webcasts, see last month’s post.

Live webcasts are less convenient for the user of today. We have all seen the live attendance percentage number drop over the last 9 years. This is not surprising. More webcasts are offered to users today then ever before, with less time for users to view them during the day. Accommodating today’s on demand lifestyles forces us to reevaluate how we have been using webcasts as a marketing tool. On demand webcasts give users the ability to view the content when it is convenient for them and alleviates the hassle of trying to coordinate a live webcast date with a presenter’s schedule.

As more users try to get more out of the day, we see them turning to iPods and iPhones to listen to audio news feeds and podcasts. While this isn’t good for our work/life balance goals, it is good for marketers who want to leverage podcasts as a digital media solution to reach their target market. Podcasts tend to work very well when limited to 10-15 minutes. Interviews (Q&A format) or product highlights work very well for podcasts.

Video can be used for brand awareness and/or lead generation. When users have to register to access the video information, it becomes a valuable tool for sponsors looking to increase their sales pipeline by capturing user profile information. Often times, video sponsorship includes a pre-roll advertisement, giving sponsors a great opportunity to highlight their products and services. Video content should be created in consumable size chunks. All the stats I have seen are consistent - and that is that users will watch video for approximately 12-14 minutes.

Virtual Tradeshows
With travel costs on the rise and workers finding it hard to get out of the office even briefly, virtual events are attracting large attendee numbers across a variety of markets (Engineering, Dental, Fire, IT). Virtual events bring key contacts from your industry together online, and as a sponsor or exhibitor, you gain access to qualified leads of people looking for products and services. Some marketers are hesitant to try this new marketing vehicle - but with proven results it really is less of a gamble. For the full scoop, check out my blog post on virtual tradeshows.

Editorial White Papers/Guides
White papers continue to be one of the preferred formats for users to research information on products and technologies. They also continue to be one of the most difficult pieces of collateral for a vendor to create. That is where the editorial white papers/guides come in. Some publishers will create these guides leveraging their original editorial content. Usually 2-3 related articles, news, stories are compiled together to give the reader in-depth information on a specific topic. The downloadable format makes reading the articles easy for the user to consume information, and sponsors benefit from brand alignment to the specific topic, as well as from leads from everyone who downloads the guide.

Metrics, Metrics, Metrics
One of the best things about lead generation vehicles is that they are relatively easy to measure. These programs come with reporting tools that provide 24×7 access to leads of everyone who viewed your sponsored content, regardless of their format preference. To better qualify your leads, some publishers allow you to ask custom questions in addition to the publisher’s standard registration questions. Do not overlook this option. This is a powerful tool when your sales team is trying to prioritize who to call first. If you ask the right custom questions (e.g.: How far away are you from finishing your design? Do you have purchasing power? Are you currently evaluating other solutions?), you will arm your sales team with information about user behaviors so they can get on the phone with the hot leads first.

Mark Heimberg
Director, Technical Strategy

Marketers are looking for substance: brand awareness, a targeted audience, and leads.
Why Marketers and H.G. Wells (Would) Love Webcasts
by Mark Heimberg
June 25th, 2008

Okay, first the easy one. Granted H. G. Wells, author of The Time Machine and many other works, died in 1946, but were he alive today, I think webcasts would be right up his alley. Sure, the technology behind them would hold appeal to such a great scientific mind - streamed audio and video, synchronized slides, user and presenter interaction, all in a convenient web-based environment. But I suspect the timelessness of webcasts would be the real thrill for Mr. Wells.

In the 113 years since Herbert George (his real name) penned The Time Machine, we might not be any closer to true time travel, but webcasts bring us closer than we might be otherwise. No longer is an audience limited by time and space. Users can interact with on-demand webcast content asynchronously - any time, day or night - when their schedules permit.

Similarly, there are no geographic boundaries associated with webcasts. Unlike physical world seminars, users can be distributed across the globe, literally anywhere there is Internet access, obviating the need for travel time and expense. This will likely be as close to time travel as we get in my lifetime.

Marketers are a savvy and more demanding group than H.G. Wells, who would have been satisfied with the aforementioned webcast technical features. Marketers are looking for substance: brand awareness, a targeted audience, and leads. Webcasts don’t fall short here, either. In fact, webcasts are a powerful means of connecting people interested in a specific topic, and allow the audience to ask questions of the presenters - a mini community of users all concerned with a single topic.

Webcasts come in two types: expert webcasts and vendor webcasts. Expert webcasts are presented by an unbiased expert or panel who provides an in-depth, educational treatment of the topics and issues in their domain of expertise. These events can be sponsored by companies who provide product and service offerings in that same domain, so they can be positioned alongside this compelling content.

Vendor webcasts have all the same technical features as expert webcasts, but provide greater flexibility for the sponsoring company, as they are also responsible for presenting the content. This makes vendor webcasts ideal for product launches and customer and prospect education, and provides more vendor-centric focus.

Whether you choose to sponsor an expert webcast or step up to the mic in a vendor webcast, the results are powerful. Your company is positioned as a solutions provider, and everyone who attends is captured in a database and delivered to you as a lead for the duration of the live and on-demand event.

Branding, positioning, and leads coupled with robust a technology platform that shatters the confines of time and space. Webcasts deliver exactly what today’s metric-conscious marketers are looking for. While we have yet to alter the space-time continuum, I believe H. G. Wells would be as impressed as I am.

Tom Cintorino
Senior Vice President Digital Media

An overriding theme for anything Internet related is: test, measure, adjust, and repeat.
CPM or Monthly Fixed Price Real Estate model?
by Tom Cintorino
May 30th, 2008

A good question! I am not in a marketing role and would hate to have to choose between the two. How would I make a decision? Let’s ask Ben! The Ben Franklin method for decision making weighs-out both sides - pros and cons.

CPM pros - Pay for the number of impressions delivered. You get what you pay for.
CPM cons - Limited control over where your impressions are targeted.

Fixed Price pros - Easy to budget. Specific position that meets your campaign criteria.
Fixed Price cons - Buying website real estate isn’t flexible with performance variations.

Thankfully, even those of you in media decision roles don’t have to make this decision. It is, in fact, the wrong question; therefore, the choice does not have to be made.

PennWell has dozens-upon-dozens of media sales professionals combing the globe consulting with marketing professionals like you. While there is no guarantee, I remain hopeful that each of them is asking the powerful question, “What are your media advertising goals?”, and then listening intently.

Is it: Branding? Leads? Company website traffic? Product sales?
Are you: Looking for impressions? (media) Brand association? Exclusivity? Share-of-voice?
Do you: Measure Awareness lift? Impressions? Clicks? Budget? A/B or multivariate testing?

An overriding theme for anything Internet related is: test, measure, adjust, and repeat. This is so critical, it is worth restating: test, measure, adjust, repeat. I believe this to be a perfect foundation for any digital media marketing campaign.

The critical ingredients to measurement are first to have a media goal that can be measured and second, to measure the performance of your media buy against goal. The selling model of the website is least important. However, where you place your advertisement is very important, as different placements can accomplish different goals.

The more intrusive the advertisement (think large format and/or rich media) the higher the content relevance must be, otherwise you risk an increase in negative brand awareness. If you want to associate yourself with specific content, look for topic or section relevance. If you want to buy share-of-voice, look for exclusivity.

What about “above the fold” (ad visible on the computer screen without scrolling)? Overrated! Above the fold is definitely good, but a below-the-fold ad or long ad (think: Skyscraper) can be just as impactful since scrolling is a proxy for the reader being engaged in the content on the page.

By now you may be wondering why I have strayed far afield from the topic. Well, actually, I haven’t. Point being, every website will offer inventory. Evaluate which inventory will provide you with ad impressions most likely to accomplish your goal. Then measure that ads performance. And, any Internet display ad has a calculable CPM (cost per thousand). Just divide the price paid by the impressions received divided by 1,000.

Diane Giannini
Web Publisher

virtual events are both an alternative and a complement to traditional face-to-face trade shows
Virtual Events Are Replacing Traditional Trade Shows
by Diane Giannini
April 24th, 2008

Actually, that is not true at all.

Have you ridden the virtual wave yet? While the concept of virtual trade shows has been around for the last eight years, they have become increasingly prevalent in the last 12 months. More and more marketers and end users are finding that these virtual events are both an alternative and a complement to traditional face-to-face trade shows.

Alternative to face-to-face events

  • Cost savings

As a marketer, virtual events provide an alternative to high-cost face-to-face trade shows. In the virtual world, marketers will experience savings associated with travel, shipping, and out-of-office costs typically associated with face-to-face seminars.

  • Lead generation

Virtual events offer ongoing lead generation by providing access to your content throughout the duration of the on-demand environment.

  • Global reach

This environment provides sponsorship of an all-day event with global reach without flying colleagues around the world.

  • Robust reporting
    • The virtual environments today offer sophisticated user tracking and reporting tools to provide you with more information than you could get from a face-to-face seminar.
    • We have all seen those shy attendees who walk by our booth, reach in for collateral and our chachki gift and then walk away. Well — if you don’t get access to the attendee database, there goes a potential sales lead for you. This is not the case in the virtual world. Each time a user “walks” into your booth, there is a record of this activity. If he/she downloads your content it is captured and reported to you. The control is in your hands now. You will know all the users’ activity as it relates to your offerings throughout the virtual day.

Complement to face-to-face events

  • Expanding audience reach

The costs associated with traditional seminars make it cost prohibitive to schedule one in each geographic region. As we all know, seminars never quite reach all the regions where we are trying to increase sales prospects. Here is where virtual events offer a solution. While the regional seminars offer selected geographic reach, the virtual events offer a low-cost solution that provides global reach.

  • Establish face-to-face contact where possible

Never dismiss the importance and results achieved from face-to-face contact. While a significant portion of the world today relies on chat functionalities, emails, text messaging, and now virtual environments as a means to communicate — there are still many people out there who truly make that connection only through face-to-face events.

  • Maintaining your brand
    • Don’t underestimate the message your company communicates simply by participating in a face-to-face or an online virtual event. I have heard from many users over the years that they question why certain companies are no longer exhibiting at face-to-face events. It leads to questions of stability and market leadership. I foresee these questions applying to the virtual world soon enough.
    • As more users adopt virtual events as an easy way to research information and interact with industry experts, they are going to want to see that key players are participating. And if you aren’t there, someone else will be waiting to chat to them in the lounge or in their booth about their challenges and possible solutions.
    • As more and more vendors leverage these virtual events to reach their target audience, it is going to become even more important that you maintain or increase your market share by participating. If you aren’t a player in the virtual event, then another sponsor will fill their sales pipeline with a prospect that could have been yours.

Deciding which vehicle is better

I would propose that one isn’t necessarily better than the other, and that both, if feasible, should be included in your marketing plan. As you think about the audience you are trying to reach, you need to come to the realization that not everyone can take one or two days out of the office to attend events.

For the users — virtual events offer the attendee the flexibility of participating right from their own desk. This increasingly popular virtual environment gives more options to your potential sales prospect. Gone are the days where users had to decide if they had the time to leave the office. Now, this world brings it right to them. They can hop in and out of the environment based on their schedule. They can attend sessions, visit booths and network with peers all from the convenience of their desktop.

For the marketer — virtual events offer you savings in cost and time. How many times have you heard from your colleagues that they don’t have time to man a booth all day, requesting you find someone else. Well, here is a solution. The virtual event allows you to stagger booth reps throughout the day, so as not to burden any one person throughout.

Christine Shaw
Senior Vice President, Technology Group

...each time a user logs on and sees the same old banner, the effectiveness diminishes much faster than in traditional print advertising...
Additional Resources
  • Lifting Response

  • 10 Tips to More Effective Banners

  • Top 10 Banner Advertising Tips

  • Banner Ad Segmentation
  • Avoiding “Banner Burnout”
    by Christine Shaw
    March 17th, 2008

    “Banner Burnout” is the term used to describe a banner ad that is no longer effective in getting users to click through. Generally, this happens when users have been exposed to the same message too many times or for a prolonged period of time, and tune it out.

    We sometimes hear from our customers, “I’m getting a poor click-through rate (CTR) on my banner ad. Why?” And, what’s interesting, especially in B2B advertising (vs. the consumer side, which reports great results), is that we don’t often see effective use of online creative that is kept “fresh” and continues to get attention. How do we fix that?

    Here are some specific things you can do to ensure your banner advertising is continually working for you:

    • Submit multiple versions of your creative (3-6 versions recommended).

    The average person is exposed to more than 2,000 advertising messages each day. Most B2B sites have “stickiness” or repeat visitors. Therefore, if users see the same old banner each time they log on, the effectiveness diminishes much faster than in traditional print advertising. Ad server technology will recognize each user’s IP address (unless cookies are deleted) and serve up a “fresh” version of your creative, ensuring maximal impact of every impression.

    • Have a clear “Call to Action”.

    This point can’t be emphasized enough. Determine what you want your ad to accomplish, and what you want your users to do as a result of viewing your ad (your offer). For example, if you are offering a “Free Demo” or a “Free Catalogue,” be sure the call to action is prominently displayed and is clear to the user.

    • Deliver on your promise!

    If your call to action is a “Free Catalogue,” be sure to have a landing page specific to the offer that contains a simple form that’s easy to fill out so visitors can actually get the free catalogue without a lot of effort. Many advertisers make the mistake of funneling all traffic through their home page and most users won’t have the patience to navigate the site to find the free catalogue or search for whatever your offer was.

    • Test your creative.

    Create several versions of your ad using different calls to action or phrases and serve them to the same audience to determine what works best. If something isn’t working, don’t use it!

    • Use rich media.

    Research has proven that the use of rich media (video, flash, etc.) in banner ads increases click through by as much as 44%. With high speed Internet access so prevalent, don’t be afraid to leverage these visually compelling technologies.

    • Measure. Measure. Measure.

    The only way to determine the effectiveness of your banner creative is to measure the results. The beauty of online advertising is the wealth of metrics available to support your decisions. Watch your banner click-through rate closely to head off banner burnout before it happens.

    Be sure to measure not only the clicks on your banner but also what happens after users click through to your website. Do they do what you want them to do? Do they register, download a PDF, or make a purchase? Is that what you hoped they’d do? Look at how you can make improvements to their experience to facilitate them doing exactly what you intend.