Content is at the Heart of ThomasNet.com's Audience Development Strategy
For b-to-b online publisher ThomasNet.com, the old saw about the whole often being greater than the sum of all parts couldn't be more true. In its role of matchmaker between industrial products buyers and industrial products sellers, the company must support both sides of the connection -- and seamlessly -- to be successful. Such development involves building out editorial content and then marketing it appropriately to attract visitors to the ThomasNet.com site as well as assisting sellers with their offerings on both ThomasNet.com and their own sites to facilitate more fruitful interactions between the two groups. To date, ThomasNet.com features information on 607,000 North American industry companies, further indexed for users by 67,000 product and service categories.
Publishing Executive Inbox talked to ThomasNet.com Vice President Brad Mehl about what it takes to keep all its audience development balls in the air.
Inbox: What channels/media does ThomasNet.com use to drive traffic to its site?
Brad Mehl: A wide variety. We believe that marketing is most effective when a brand diversifies its traffic channels and has multiple touch points with an audience. We encourage our clients to do the same.
ThomasNet.com is an online brand connecting those seeking to buy industrial products and services with those selling them. For us, a great Web site is what ultimately builds the brand experience and grows our repeat and new usage over time. We put extreme care into testing new content and functionality on ThomasNet.com to further develop our audience.
Beyond that, we use many different channels to drive traffic:
- links to ThomasNet.com from thousands of other sites (based on relevance)
- partnerships with related professional groups (e.g., ANSI.org, eFunda, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, National Association of Manufacturers, etc.)
- a variety of e-mail newsletters with original content available in multiple formats, including product news alerts, RSS feeds, etc.
- our blog, Industrial Market Trends, publishes the latest developments and key trends in the industry, which includes a social component, since we welcome users/visitors to post their opinions on any of our articles
- social media applications tapping into relevant blogs, Twitter, Facebook and more
- online advertising
- formal search engine marketing strategy
- internal search engine optimization team
Inbox: What value do mass media placements bring to the table? And direct response media?
Mehl: As a b-to-b brand, ThomasNet reaches business professionals; we focus on relevant business and industrial media, yet keep a careful eye on consumer best practices.