This interview was conducted by SmartBrief with CEO Rick Stamberger.
How is the news industry changing and what does it mean for SmartBrief today?
The news business isn’t the only aspect of our business that’s in a state of transformation. New technologies and customer demands are shaping news and journalism, online marketing, digital advertising and subscriber acquisition.
We can’t afford to ignore all these forces of change, but we do have priorities for investment. One of them is video. We believe that the move to video will only accelerate, and we’re investing in it. We’re among the first, if not the first, email publishers to integrate video ads into our briefs. We are building out the reporting capability for video and we will likely produce more video content ourselves.
What are the company’s primary objectives over the next three years? Are there any initiatives of particular interest?
No real surprise here — our key objectives are related to our partners, advertisers and subscribers. We are one of the few purely digital media companies that continues to grow profitably, allowing us to invest in new kinds of content, new distribution channels, and different products. If we can continue to provide value to our three major constituents, we’ll continue to be successful.
The forces I mentioned in my first answer are shaping some of our goals — video being a good example. We also need to remain a leader in email distribution of high-quality content and in the development of audiences for content.
We’re testing ways to engage and hold onto subscribers and make our publications even more relevant to them. We’re testing new designs, new content formats, and new distribution models. We’re also investing significant resources to improve reporting for partners and marketers. Finally, we are in the early innings of using data to understand the interests and needs of our subscribers — and to help our partners understand them, as well.
How do our partners, advertisers and readers say SmartBrief is leveraging communications within their organizations and networks?
Whether we’re working with trade associations, professional societies or corporate partners, the goals are generally the same: thought leadership, customer/member acquisition, and product or event promotion. Here’s the challenge for anyone with a message: cutting through the noise to get attention and drive action.
Over the last few years we’ve seen the development of SaaS marketing automation platforms that have increased both the volume of marketing and the focus on metrics. After the initial fascination and investment, organizations are now trying to figure out how to improve the quality of content, message and delivery. Content quality (or the lack of it) contributes more to performance than frequency or audience targeting — in an advertisement or a white paper or any other message. This is, in part, one of the reasons “content marketing” has become such a growth area.
The challenge: quality content is hard to produce — and expensive. Those who make the investment want to see a return.
You won’t be surprised to hear me say that SmartBrief occupies a unique place in the media landscape. We combine relevant news and industry information with targeted marketing — all delivered to highly valued audiences. Because we can show how much readers engage with the story or marketing material, we’re able to show return on an organization’s investment in content and marketing.