A new year offers an opportunity to take a fresh look at your media buying strategies. Industrial marketers are investing in online media more than ever before to more effectively reach their target audience. Online media options are plentiful: online directories and catalogs, e-newsletter advertising, banner ads, virtual events, and more.

Follow these four tips to take a fresh look at buying online media.
1. Do the math on audience demographics
You should have a solid profile of your target customer: title, purchasing power, industry, geography, business need. Your goal is to find marketing programs that capture the attention of your target audience. You can find out how closely a media source matches your target audience by taking a close look at media kits.
If you closely examine the audience demographics in media kits offered by publishers, you’ll likely discover that your specific customer profile is just a segment of the overall audience. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you should be aware of it so you can calculate your reach.

A breakdown of audience demographics is essential. What percent of the audience has titles that match your profile? Work in industries you target? Are involved in purchasing decisions? You should be able to do a few quick calculations to discover how much of the broader audience closely fits your target customer profile.

Along the same reasoning, a marketing tactic that reaches a smaller audience closely matching your target customer profile can be as effective as a tactic that reaches a broader, less targeted audience. For example, a highly-targeted industrial e-newsletter may have 100,000 subscribers, but the vast majority of them may be exactly the type of person you are trying to reach. 

2. Seek flexible options from a flexible media partner
A single media buy that delivers a turnkey marketing program that can meet all your needs is every marketer’s dream. And some media companies do have packaged, turnkey programs that include a variety of effective online tactics. 

But no one likes paying for program elements they don’t want in order to get the few they really covet. That’s why you should seek out a media partner that can be more flexible. A good media representative will work to understand your specific needs and put together a customized package of marketing options that fit. Also, look for opportunities to make more efficient use of your budget by increasing frequency or duration of programs

 3. Know the metrics and features that matter
Every online marketing program has unique metrics and features that are important. You should familiarize yourself with them and ask your media partner for the details.

Here are a few that matter.

E-newsletter advertisements
• Number of subscribers fitting your target customer profile
• Frequency of newsletter
• Average click-through rate on advertisements
• Placement of ad

 Online directories
• Audience demographics
• Value-added features such as links to PDFs, articles, videos or other content; use of imagery; integration with social media tools; searchable catalogs
• Lead capture and delivery
Virtual events
• Attendee demographics and numbers
• Various levels of sponsorship opportunities
• Ability to showcase thought leadership by offering white papers, sell sheets, videos and other collateral pieces
• Lead capture and delivery

Banner ads
• Individual site or network of sites
• Demographics of audience reached
• Number of guaranteed impressions over what period of time
• Average click-through rates on ads
• Placement of ad on page
In addition, you should carefully check out samples of media before committing. Read a few issues of an e-newsletter to get a sense of its editorial focus and what other types of companies are advertising. Attend a virtual event. View the listings of other companies on online directories.

4. Ask about measurement and reporting
The main question in any media buy is: Will it work? The only way to know is to measure your results. One of the biggest advantages of online marketing (in addition to the fact the industrial audience has migrated online to find suppliers, products and services) is that online programs are measurable. They are built around metrics such as impressions, clicks, and conversions.

Ask your media partner what metrics they report on, what data they capture on leads they generate, and how often they report to you or make data available for you to access. Of course, you are responsible for a portion of measurement and conversion. Online banners and e-newsletter ads should send prospects to a targeted landing page on your Web site with an offer that will help capture leads. Your online directory listings and virtual event exhibits should offer relevant, useful content. And the essential task of following up with leads and tracking them through the sales cycle is your team’s responsibility.

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