1 0 Archive | February, 2011

Update: Social Media Trends in the Industrial Sector

As a marketing professional in the industrial sector, you may be tasked with determining how social media fits into your overall marketing strategy. Social media is a hot topic, gets a lot of press coverage, and its use is growing in the B2B market. The challenge for a marketer is to filter the noise around social media and focus on the return on investment for their individual company.

GlobalSpec recently conducted its second annual social media usage survey of engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial professionals. We compiled and analyzed the results and developed a white paper that includes recommendations for suppliers. You can download your own copy of "Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector."

To make the right decisions regarding social media, marketers must know how and why their audience is using social media, when they should invest in social media and to what extent, and how social media can support or complement their other marketing efforts.

Limited Use in the Industrial Sector
While there is some adoption of social media for work purposes in the industrial sector, there hasn’t been a significant change over the past year. One reason for the slow uptick of social media in the industrial sector is that 35% of companies place some restrictions on Internet usage at work, blocking access to certain sites and content. Of the survey respondents who reported Internet restrictions, 70% stated they could not access Facebook at work and 66% are unable to visit YouTube or Twitter.

The most popular social media channel among industrial professionals is Facebook, with 59% having an account. However, industrial professionals primarily use Facebook for non-work purposes. For work-related purposes, LinkedIn is the most popular social media channel, with 37% having an account on the professional networking site. As Facebook and LinkedIn both offer businesses the opportunity to publish company pages and attract followers, marketers should pay attention to these two channels when developing their social media strategy.

Industrial Professionals are Passive Users of Social Media
One benefit of social media is that businesses have an opportunity to engage in conversations with their audiences. You can use social media to discover what people are saying about your company — both good and bad — and use those discoveries to improve your company image, positioning, products and policies, and to generate more momentum and brand awareness for your company.

However, at this time, most industrial professionals are just passive users of social media. They are much more likely to read a blog article or watch a video than they are to generate content in terms of writing comments, asking questions, and participating in discussions. Therefore, marketers should set their expectations appropriately when planning to use social media to interact with their audience; efforts might be best geared toward using social media channels to provide content that is interesting and relevant.

Fitting Social Media into Other Marketing Activities
While GlobalSpec’s survey shows that current adoption of social media in the industrial sector remains low with some growth, social media is being used in business-to-business marketing today. Your company’s investment in social media should be determined by your audience’s behavior. For now, industrial professionals primarily turn to established online resources — general and specialized search engines, online catalogs, and Web sites — to find suppliers, products, and other work-related information. Therefore, you should continue to invest in these online resources and not radically shift a significant portion of your marketing resources or budget to social media.

However, social media usage is likely to grow among industrial professionals. When you do decide to invest in social media, remember that your investment is always “in addition to” other marketing efforts, never “instead of” your more established and already proven best practices. You will want to integrate your social media program into your overall marketing strategy, for example, by adding social media links and promoting your social media presence through your current online programs.

One action we highly recommend is to read your complimentary copy of “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” and use the information to help guide your decisions. Click here to download.
 

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Landing Pages: 10 Tips to Improve

A landing page is a custom-designed single Web page a visitor arrives at when clicking on an advertisement or other link. Usually its sole purpose is to capture leads for a marketing campaign. Effective landing pages are essential to successful online marketing and are probably the single biggest factor in determining whether or not you will convert a Web visitor into a lead willing to give you their contact information.

Follow these 10 tips to create compelling landing pages that deliver a strong, clear message and entice industrial professionals to accept your offer.

1. Brand your landing page.
Your company logo and name should be visible on the landing page so visitors immediately know who is responsible for the content. This is important whether your company is widely recognized in the industrial sector or not. Visitors want to know whose site they are on – it increases their comfort level and trust.

2. Provide continuity between ad and landing page.
An industrial professional sees an ad that grabs their attention and clicks to learn more. If you use graphics and copy on the landing page similar to your ad, the visitor will know they’ve come to the right place. You’ll also be repeating the image or offer that motivated them to click in the first place, further increasing their desire to get what they came for.

3. Sell, sell, sell your offer.
Whether you are offering a white paper, a Webinar registration, a free product sample, or other valuable content, your goal is get visitors to accept your offer. Create a clear call-to-action and place it prominently near the top of the landing page. Use a bold button: “Download Now” or “Register Today.” Repeat the call to action as text links on other parts of the page.

4. Be brief and to the point.
Write as little copy as possible to put forth a compelling value proposition that your visitor will act upon. Focus copy on the benefits of accepting your offer. Use bold headlines, bullet points and short sentences and paragraphs. Remember that people skim-read on the Web. There are times where longer, more detailed copy is appropriate, but it should be written keeping in mind that many people will merely scan what is written. Getting right to the point will get it done.

5. Leave out the navigation.
Don’t include your main Web site navigation on your landing pages. That only invites your visitors to click away from your offer, which will likely cost you a potential lead. But you say you want to give them options just in case your offer doesn’t entice them. It’s not worth it. You’ll lose other would-be leads because some visitors can’t resist clicking around, never to return. Stay focused on your offer. Remember that logo you added to the landing page? Have it link to your home page if you want.

6. Avoid clutter on the page.
Design clean, open pages. Use big, easy-to-read fonts and plenty of white space. Show visitors exactly where to look (at your value proposition and offer). You may be tempted to cram as much as possible on the page, assuming more information is better. But resist the urge to over-explain. If your offer is too complicated to articulate in a single page, either re-think the offer or add a couple of pop-up links that provide extra info without requiring the visitor to navigate away from your page.

7. Make no mistakes.
This is true of any Web page. Triple-check your copy for grammatical or spelling errors. Make sure links work and forms submit. Many people are turned off by mistakes and that alone will cause people to click away. You’ll not only miss out on leads, you could damage your brand reputation as well. If your landing page isn’t correct, what does that say about your products or work processes?

8. Simplify the form.
Long, complicated forms with many required fields are an invitation to abandon the page. One look at such a form can turn otherwise interested prospects away. Your goal is to capture a lead to make initial contact. Ask for name, company, e-mail address, and maybe a phone number. That’s all you need. The rest of the information can be filled in later as you begin to engage with your new lead and learn more about their needs.

9. Test page variations.
Let’s say you’re running an ad for three consecutive months in an industrial e-newsletter. Try out three variations of the landing page to see which performs best. Experiment by placing the call-to-action in different places, using different words, different page layouts, and long versus short copy. Incorporate your findings into the next version until you have a page that performs at its best.

10. Do something with your new leads — right away.
This isn’t about the landing page itself, but it’s important to the success of your campaign. Respond as soon as possible to all leads you get through your landing pages. You could even set up an automated response system that sends out an e-mail to thank the prospect for accepting your offer and providing links to other information that will be of interest to them (now that you’ve captured the lead, go ahead and give them more content options).
 

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Five Overlooked Rules for Generating High Quality Leads

Anyone can generate large quantities of superficial leads by purchasing lists from unknown sources, counting anonymous clicks to their Web site, or giving away the latest electronic gizmo. But it’s quality leads that industrial marketers need to generate.

Here are five overlooked rules that can help you accomplish your goal. Keep them top of mind when planning your marketing spend.

1. High quality content begets high quality leads.
You may have visitors swarming your Web site. The best way to turn them into quality leads is to offer useful information relevant to the task they are trying to complete or the job they do. Prospects with a need will fill out your form if you have a white paper, application notes, Webinar invitation, or other content they want.

Asking prospects to register can help you generate quality leads — but only if you are offering the right stuff. If you’re driving traffic to your offer landing pages and experiencing significant drop off or your forms are being completed with invalid information, it may be time to analyze the quality of content you are offering. Also, ask only for the minimal amount of information that will allow you to communicate with the prospect: name, company, e-mail, phone number. You can fill in the rest of their information later.

2. Targeted tactics deliver higher quality leads.
As a general rule, the more targeted your marketing programs, the higher quality leads you will generate. For example, if your company sells hydraulic equipment, you will reach a highly targeted audience by placing ads in an e-newsletter published specifically for hydraulics industry professionals or by sponsoring an online event for the hydraulics industry. With these types of targeted programs, you are connecting with an audience you already understand and know how to communicate with, and you can craft your messaging to be specific and relevant, helping you to generate quality leads.

3. Generating high quality leads requires branding support.
Too often branding gets the short straw, especially when the mantra in your company is “More leads, more leads.” But branding is an essential component of lead generation. Almost any prospect would rather contact and do business with a company whose name and brand value is familiar. The unknown makes us uncomfortable. The unknown is risky. Sure, an industrial professional looking for a solution to their problem might contact a company they haven’t heard of to get a quote, but when it comes time to choose a vendor, the familiar name often rises to the top of the list and wins the business.

One strategy to consider is to invest in marketing programs that offer both lead generation and branding, such as a visible presence in online directories or sponsorship opportunities for online events. Also, spread out your marketing mix with a variety of programs so your brand becomes familiar with more potential customers in more places.

4. High quality leads can take time to develop.
Not all the leads you generate are high quality from day one and ready for handoff to your sales team. In fact, research shows that up to 70% of potential business comes from long-term leads.

A prospect you connect with might be in the early research phase of their buying process, compiling a list of vendors and products that might meet their needs. Your best chance of converting this prospect in the long term is to stay in touch through lead nurturing programs. Continue to reach out with targeted e-mails and phone calls. Offer relevant information such as articles, case studies, white papers, event invitations and more. If you continue to nurture prospects, they will remember your company and products as they move further along in the buying cycle and get closer to making a purchase.

5. Active, motivated searchers can become your highest quality leads.
One of the great advantages of online marketing programs is that you can establish a strong, visible presence 24/7 on directories, industrial search engines, and web sites. This way your company and products can be found when an active, motivated industrial professional is searching for products and services like those that you offer. Prospects with a clearly defined need who are actively searching can quickly become highly qualified leads if they find you and contact you during their search. Be sure to invest in those areas where your prospects are searching.
 

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