How B2B Publishers Can Leverage Email for Audience Development

b2b publishers audience development

As a B2B publisher, you’re catering to a busy audience. The members of your audience don’t have time to visit your site every day and check up on what you’re cranking out. They will, however, check their email every day.

Multiple times. Too. Many. Times. In fact, their day might just be a single, nonstop email check sesh. You probably know the feeling.

That’s why email is an important part of audience development. When social reach continues to decline and your site is just one of many competing for the audience’s attention,  email is the foot in the door to a true relationship with your audience.

Email gives you a direct line of algorithm-free communication that you can use to grow your audience, nurture subscribers, and drive revenue. Here are a few steps B2B publishers can take on the way to a healthy audience in the inbox and beyond.

1) Kick off the relationship with an email capture widget.

You can’t begin an email relationship without getting the email address, so a strong email capture strategy is critical to your success. Rather than burying your email signup form in a hidden page, deploying active capture widgets grabs the audience’s attention, making site visitors more likely to convert.

Basically, if email is your foot in the door, the email capture widget is the breeze that left the door slightly ajar in the first place.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean crafting a perfect email capture widget is a breeze. A good email capture widget will convert passing audiences into devoted subscribers; a bad email capture widget will scare them off your site just as quickly as they arrived.

In your zeal to grow your email list, don’t make email capture mistakes, such as immediately beating new visitors over the head with an overly aggressive takeover lightbox. In fact, you may want to suppress an active capture widget until a visitor’s second page view or even later.

That way, you ensure visitors have had a chance to meet you first before you ask for their email address. It’s the polite thing to do.

email capture widget

theCHIVE uses email capture widgets to grow their list. To see how PostUp does email capture widgets for theCHIVE and other publishers, grab our Audience Development Lookbook.

2) Use progressive capture to learn more about your audience.

Another polite thing to do? Don’t ask for too much information right away.

As you probably know, this can put B2B publishers in a tough spot.

B2B publishing pretty much relies on getting data about your audience’s job functions, company revenue, and other things too boring (or invasive) to talk about at parties. How do you strike the balance between scaring off conversions and missing an opportunity to collect the data your audience is willing to give you?

Meet progressive capture. Progressive capture forms (coincidentally, also probably too boring to talk about at parties) allow audiences to enter and submit information gradually, lowering the bar for initial conversion.

After they clear that first hurdle (and you collect their email address), you then present them with the option to enter more data if they’re up for it. This keeps overall conversions high while also ensuring you collect the maximum data your audience is willing to part with.

Progressive capture forms help you maximize data while minimizing intrusion

It’s a win-win. Or maybe even a win-win-win, depending on how many steps your progressive capture form has.

3) Increase email conversions by tailoring your newsletter offer to the audience.

So now you’ve got capture widgets on your site. You’re even using them to get to know your audience better. But are you using them to make a relevant offer to your audience?

When you offer email content to your audience—and hopefully, you are offering them content and not just putting up a box that says “Gimme your email address!”—you’re more likely to convert a newsletter subscriber if the content matters to that potential subscriber.

Contextual capture widgets use copy and creative that reflects the content of the article the visitor is currently reading. That way, you ensure your newsletter offer resonates with your current audience, increasing the perceived value of signing up for your newsletter. After all, if they’re reading that article, you can assume they’re probably interested in other content like that.

Let’s say you’re a B2B publisher that covers the insurance industry. If visitors are reading a story about health insurance, they would be more likely to convert on a capture widget that explicitly mentions the latest health insurance news than a widget offering a generic insurance newsletter.

An email capture call-to-action based on the current content is three times more effective than a generic CTA.

You can go one step further and point these visitors towards a newsletter that exclusively covers the topic they’re reading about. But what if you only have a single newsletter? Maybe it’s time to change that…

4) Develop additional newsletter products to increase the relevance of your audience communication.

“Why do I need more newsletters? What’s wrong with my current newsletter? It’s great!”

Well, if you create a variety of content across topics or verticals, you can organize your email program into these categories and offer a different newsletter for each vertical. That way, audiences can sign up for more relevant communication.

Not only does this connect your audiences with more of the content they truly care about (and potentially improve email engagement), it can also prove handy when it comes to email newsletter monetization.

B2B newsletters are particularly valuable to advertisers because brands know they can reach captive buyers with highly-relevant advertising. Whether through sponsored sends or in-email programmatic advertising, ads in email tend to appear in front of more focused audiences. They’re also less likely to be affected by ad blockers (especially with B2B email marketing, which tends to happen in Outlook).

If you segment your newsletters into particular topics, that allows advertisers to target more specific audiences and allows you to command higher CPMs. Of course, creating and executing additional newsletters might be easier said than done, but it can always be done a little easier through email automation.

5) Implement email preference centers to create more opportunities for audience engagement.

Preference centers can combat email list attrition by allowing email-wary list members to opt down into an email cadence they’re more comfortable with.

They’re also a good way to connect audiences with more relevant content, allowing subscribers to see the breadth of newsletter content you offer in a single place. Readers may then sign up for newsletters on additional topics, which gives you greater insight into their interests.

Include a link to your preference center in each email to encourage audiences to explore your content offerings. You can also use cross-promotion within your newsletters to encourage current subscribers to sign up for another relevant newsletter with a single click.

Whatever means you use to encourage multiple signups, every additional email sent is an additional opportunity to engage your audience. The more newsletters a audience member elects to receive, the more chances you have to connect audiences with content.

A multi-newsletter email program and preference center work in tandem to engage your power readers with more frequent content without oversending to more casual readers. That way, everybody gets to become familiar with your content at their own pace.

After all, showing off your content is where email truly excels.

6) Use email to demonstrate value to your audience.

Your success as a B2B publisher depends on your ability to demonstrate authority on your area of expertise. The best way to do that is to keep creating content, then getting it in front of your audience.

Fortunately, that direct email link to your audience gives you a perfect channel for doing so, Having connected your audience with relevant content through contextual capture and preference centers, your authority will become apparent through regular engagement in the inbox.

And even if your email audiences stop engaging as much as they used to, you can segment those less active members of your list into a re-engagement email campaign. A good re-engagement campaign can result in audience members who are even more engaged than the regular members of your email list.

After proving your value to the audience through your content, you can then monetize these audiences directly. For instance, events have become a significant source of revenue for B2B publishers, but in-person events require time and resources. Your audience will want to know the kind of quality they can expect from your events, quality you can demonstrate to them through the content offered in your emails.

Likewise, using email to allow readers to sample content gives them a good reason to pay up when they hit their article limit for the month. Whether your publisher business model depends on paid subscriptions, events, e-commerce, or other offerings, email will play a critical role in your monetization success.

To learn more about building better relationships in the inbox, download our Audience Development Solution Guide, newly updated for 2018’s digital publishing world.

Editor, PostUp PlayBook