Media Top Stories
4 mins read

Hitting the target: How Industry Dive built a multimillion dollar B2B media company

You may be familiar with the Buddhist saying: “The arrow that hits the bull’s-eye is the result of 100 misses.” For those who think like philosophers, this may ring true, but in the realm of B2B marketing, there’s no wriggle room for missed opportunities. 

Ask Andy Burt, Managing Director and Head of Content at Washington DC-based news organisation Industry Dive, a B2B online outfit. He believes that every time you interact with business leaders, you not only need to hit the bull’s eye, you must hit it “right in the middle”. 

And it seems Industry Dive is dead-on accurate. With 14 million readers across 34 industries and 37 publications, the company boasts an annual revenue of roughly $110 million and a profit margin of around 30%. Not bad for a company that’s only been around since 2012. Last year, the London-based events, digital services, and academic knowledge group Informa PLC acquired it in a deal in which the total enterprise value was set at $525 million. Industry Dive was left to continue to operate as an independent brand within Informa, leaving Industry Dive’s management independent.

(The data above is pre-2022. Since being acquired by Informa Industry Dive no longer publicly share data.)

A targeted audience

Hitting targets is at the heart of Industry Dive’s success, explains Andy. “We know B2B is all about reaching the executive audience, or a targeted audience, within an organisation.” To achieve this, Industry Dive creates small publication groups of editors, reporters and associates. Each group is solely responsible for the industry vertical they are targeting, whether this is BankingDive, BiopharmaDive, FashionDive, ConstructionDive or AgricultureDive, to name but a few of the more than 30 verticals they serve. There is little, if any, crossover between these “dives”.

“The reason it works so well,” explains Andy, “is that you have high-level executives out there in every industry, and they have specific needs for information. Advertisers also want to be able to reach these individuals. By partnering with those marketing and ad-based organisations, we’re trying to reach the same audience for different reasons. But by focusing on the target audience, we’re able to monetise and charge a premium for what we do. That’s what has really fuelled our growth over the past ten years.”

Email matters

In their execution of this strategy, they are acutely aware of the dangers of disruption. They lurk in every element of newness, warns Andy. This could be algorithm changes or behavioural changes, or simply new technologies threatening to disrupt the way they interact with dives. That is why trusty email has been their ally, with Industry Dive creating dozens of specialist email newsletters over the past 11 years. 

Andy will be one of several speakers at Mx3 Barcelona in March 2024, where the focus falls squarely on innovation in and across media verticals. See more here.

One of the things that hasn’t changed since I was in college is that email still really matters because people have a dedicated email. Every executive has a dedicated email that they use to communicate and conduct business. If you can compel an executive to share information with you along with some other key first-party data, bits of information about who they are and their job title, you have an opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with that executive.

Andy Burt

Carefully crafted slices of industry

The quality relationship created by newsletters is more valuable than quantity. “In our business, in the niche B2B vertical, we care about carefully crafted slices of industry. If you reach 100 of these ‘perfectly correct’ people, it is more valuable than a hundred thousand. This is the proposition we believe in and that’s what we try to pursue.”

Meet Andy Burt at Mx3 Barcelona on 12 March next year, where he will be one of our speakers. Read more about the off-the-record event and sign up at https://mediamakersmeet.com/events/

To achieve the depth of knowledge executives need to gain from IndustryDive’s interactions, their editorial teams must be entrenched in those industries. Focusing on the verticals “in a very specific and intentional way” allows Industry Dive to deliver the insight required to arrest the attention of industry leaders. 

“First and foremost, you need to have a deep understanding of your target audience. That’s the only way to be able to hit your target. And you need to hit the middle of the bull’s eye,” emphasises Andy. 

A near-miss is as good as a mile in both philosophy and marketing, it seems. 

4 key take-ways:

  • Industry Dive, a B2B news organisation, achieved remarkable success with an annual revenue of $110 million and an estimated 14 million readers across 33 industries in just over a decade.
  • For a B2B publication, precision matters. Industry Dive’s strategy focuses on hitting the bull’s eye by delivering highly relevant content to executive audiences within specific industry verticals.
  • Quality over quantity is a guiding principle. Industry Dive believes that reaching the right 100 individuals in a niche B2B vertical is more valuable than reaching a hundred thousand less relevant readers.
  • Despite the digital age, email remains a crucial tool for Industry Dive. Building long-term relationships with executives and obtaining first-party data are vital to their success.

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Piet van Niekerk is a retired gas engineer. He also worked as a journalist and editor earlier in his career. Based in Bristol, he now writes about media and content innovation. Mail him at piet@mediamakersmeet.com