Content is at the Heart of ThomasNet.com's Audience Development Strategy
Note: The first half of my career was in consumer marketing, and I found then that mass media enables brands to cast a wide audience net very quickly; it is the foundation upon which more targeted parts of the marketing mix can be layered. Many pundits have declared mass media dead due to media fragmentation, the rise of search and online engagement. Those trends are real, but mass media is alive. It just needs to evolve.
Although ThomasNet serves a business audience, we watch trends in consumer media very carefully because b-to-b audience engagement often follows developments in the consumer world. In terms of Internet marketing, we've been on the forefront and have taken a content-driven approach to marketing.
At ThomasNet, we have used direct response media, but over time it has been smaller part of our marketing mix. Many of the tactics we used to do with direct mail are now done online; the Web provides marketers with a more nuanced view of the audience's engagement with the message and deeper analytics so we marketers can dial up and optimize the things that work more quickly. We are driven by data; it's part of our corporate DNA. And we take data to the next level by using multivariate testing which helps us determine the optimal combination of elements on a Web page that delivers the most results.
Inbox: In what ways do you integrate your marketing efforts across channels?
Mehl: The foundation is based on a core theme threaded across our marketing, our products and our services: ThomasNet connects buyers and sellers in the manufacturing world.
This connection is part of everything we do, and lays the foundation for marketing integration. One way of handling integration is by ensuring the marketing reinforces the product. We believe the most effective b-to-b online marketing gives its target audience something useful. So we built our own toolbar with 19 different features specifically for our audience, created widgets with engineering formulas and more.