Why content can benefit from a closed audience

Marketers are missing a trick by prioritising the reach of a huge audience over the engagement of a closed one

B2B marketing is often seen as the little brother of B2C when it comes to generating big impressions. You could produce the most inspiring campaign in the world, but the near-limitless reach of the latter will always outweigh the selectivity of the former.

Yet it’s possible to get more selective still. A closed audience is a member-only publication or channel. Its core constituency pays a premium to receive the finest industry-specific content. Think chartered institutions, trade associations and professional bodies.

You might think: restricting the people consuming your content, what’s the point?

But things aren’t so simple. For a typical website or magazine, publishers have no control over who is using the channel, few insights on faceless traffic and must battle to turn unknown visitors into devoted customers.

With a closed audience, all this is taken care of. Yes, they’ll be on the lookout for very specific, very high quality content. But the ability to cut out wastage associated with large, nonspecific audiences allows marketers to funnel the right content to the right people instantly.

Commercial advantages

Think about some of the commercial weapons available in the typical salesperson’s arsenal. Applying any of them to a closed audience could yield lucrative results.

Take sponsored content, for example. Integrated on a website, it can be far more engaging than a traditional banner or mid-page unit (MPU) ad. The problem for B2B and B2C marketers is that it’s very difficult to target this content effectively. Sponsored content is littered across high-traffic news websites flogging all manner of eclectic wares, from holidays to television shows.

Closed audiences, by contrast, are a known quantity. Cutting out anonymous traffic means sponsored content creators can get right to their target audiences, whether it’s personal investing advice to accountants or kitchenware to foodservice professionals.

Converting business

In fact, the same applies to the much maligned banner ad. Long seen as the enemy of quality content marketing, BuzzFeed’s recent pivot back to the format suggests authenticity is out as the need for cash bites.

The advantage of a closed audience is that authenticity and profitability aren’t mutually exclusive. Commercial teams can tailor the ads they sell to complement and even enhance available content – as discussed in more detail in this Content Desk post.

Think more broadly about the conversion funnel. Sometimes the same commercial teams need to take a more hands-on approach to generate a lead or finalise a purchase. But insights can be near impenetrable when dealing with vast quantities of background noise. Navigation of marketing profiles, keyword tailoring and competitor analysis takes over the whole campaign.

With a closed audience, the most labour-intensive parts are done for you. You’ll know who’s viewing your content and how they got there. So, when it comes to drumming up business, you can devote yourself fully to nudging prospects towards a purchase rather than trying to figure out whether or not random bits of traffic fit your arbitrary user personas.

Open up to closed audiences

When the headline impressions data looks so small at a glance, sales teams can get twitchy. But from a commercial perspective it’s a no-brainer.

The quest to monetise content is ongoing. Some of the world’s former content luminaries are compromising their credibility in pursuit of quick financial gain. You’d be surprised at how far the smallest audiences can yield the biggest returns in engagement, click throughs and purchases – all while keeping quality content at the forefront.

If you’re an advertiser, find the closed audience for you and watch your conversions soar. If you’re a content marketer, consider working with a closed audience now – before someone else gets there first.

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