We all realize there’s no such thing as a sure thing when predicting the future, but there are a number of strong forces in industrial marketing that appear likely to play a significant role in 2013. How closely is your marketing strategy aligned with these forces? Read what we have to say and, in the comments section below, let us know if we’re on the mark or provide your own thoughts.
1. Content Marketing Maturity
Content marketing has been on the rise for several years now, and with good reason. Your audience of engineers and technical professionals is like a shark: always hungry and always ready to consume useful, relevant content that can help them do their jobs better.
This trend leads to many marketers acting like publishers—producing and disseminating content. What’s different now is that the content is being published and promoted across so many marketing channels: from e-mail to websites, blogs to Facebook, Twitter to LinkedIn.
You can also expect to see more content being shared in the form of videos and images. In the industrial sector, that means instructional videos, schematic drawings, and other technical information presented in visual displays. What is your organization’s content marketing strategy? For more on what content marketing can mean for your company, download “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers.”
2. More Integrated Campaigns
With the increase in content and channels comes the need for marketers to pay more heed to creating integrated campaigns. The same theme (message, campaign, offer) will carry across multiple channels. Drip marketing or lead nurturing campaigns will take advantage of multiple channels to reach prospects in their in-boxes, through online events, or on the Web, helping sustain interest and move prospects closer to being sales-ready. Integrated campaigns can broaden your reach while increasing efficiency in terms of how you use resources, including people and time. When you plan campaigns in 2013, the word “integration” should come up early in the planning conversations.
3. Continued Shift to Digital Marketing
Industrial marketing has steadily migrated from traditional media to digital media. This trend will continue in 2013 as the audience you need to connect with spends more and more time online for work and as your digital marketing choices continue to expand and evolve.
Expect greater participation in online events—not just Webinars, but also virtual conferences and tradeshows that attract multiple exhibitors, expert presenters, and a broad yet targeted audience. Digital media companies offer more comprehensive and integrated (that word again!) options for marketers, combining programs such as e-newsletters, content publishing, presence in online directories, virtual events and more into attractive, effective programs to help you increase engagement opportunities and brand visibility.
4. Thinking Beyond ROI
Everyone agrees that calculating and achieving a positive return on investment in marketing is important, and that online programs lend themselves to measurement through impressions, clicks, and conversions. But successful marketing requires you to think beyond the science of ROI and into the art of building brand recognition and visibility. Here, the metrics that count might be audience reach, comments on blogs, re-tweets on Twitter, or other measures that demonstrate your strategy, tactics, and efforts are achieving your desired results.
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is not focusing enough on brand visibility and leadership. People in any industry want to buy from companies, they recognize, know, and trust. To make sure your company has that reputation requires thinking and planning that extend beyond ROI.
5. Increased IT Investments by Marketing
Marketing departments are expected to invest more in information technology. For years, other departments have had software and tools to help them manage their business operations, and finally marketing has an equal opportunity with the maturation of marketing automation solutions. Just in time, too, because marketers need a solution to help manage the data available on prospects, the content their departments are creating, and the integrated campaigns that have become common.
Marketing automation isn’t just for big companies. A number of vendors offer solutions targeted to smaller businesses and include tools to collect data on customers and prospects across multiple touch points, including websites, e-mail, and social platforms; tools to score prospects; and tools to develop, manage, and track nurturing campaigns.
Engineers and technical professionals still predominantly work from their desktop computers. However, the growth of mobile must be taken into consideration. 57% of engineers own a smart phone and 27% have a tablet. You should take the necessary steps to make sure your company website and e-mail communications display well on mobile devices. Talk to your website designer/developer if you haven’t already.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think will be a major force in industrial marketing for 2013?