Search and Discovery: Why Both Should be Part of an Industrial Marketing Plan

Industrial marketers know the importance of being found online on GlobalSpec.com, Datasheets360.com, search engine results pages, and other resources when potential customers search for relevant products and services.
These searches tend to be based on customer needs. They are related to early and middle stages of the buy cycle: needs awareness, research and comparison and evaluation. Customers are motivated because they have a problem to solve and are searching for suppliers, products, and services that can help solve the problem.

That’s why marketers invest in online catalogs, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click marketing programs—to rise to the top for relevant searches and increase opportunities to engage with customers and prospects.

But search isn’t the only aspect of digital media that’s important to marketers, because search isn’t the only work-related activity industrial professionals do online. They also spend significant amounts of time reading news, keeping up with industry trends, learning about the latest technologies, seeking out educational opportunities and more. It’s during these work-related activities that their customers are performing when suppliers and manufacturers need to be “discovered.” Even though your audience many not have an immediate and pressing need, you still want to be in front of them because they could be a potential customer.

Allocating some of your budget to the discovery aspect of marketing will help raise the visibility and awareness of your products and services among potential customers. Your brand will become recognized by and familiar to potential customers, so that when they do perform a targeted search and your company, products and services appear, they will be more likely to choose you because industrial professionals—like anyone else—want to do business with a company they know and has a positive reputation in the industry. In this way, search and discovery work hand-in-hand.

Here are ideas for pumping up the discovery side of your marketing program. And all of them are easy to implement with the right media partner and to track in terms of impressions, clicks, and conversions:

  • E-newsletter advertisements: Engineers and related professionals subscribe to an average of 5.8 digital publications making newsletters a primary information source for work purposes. Look for opt-in e-newsletters focused on your industry or product area. Be sure to study audience demographics and profiles to make sure you are reaching the right people.
  • Online events and webinars: Nearly two-thirds of industrial professionals said they attended at least one webinar or online event last year. Twenty-six percent went to four or more. Exhibiting at an online event is a great way to build thought leadership and distribute content such as white papers, articles, videos and case studies.
  • Industry websites: Maintaining a presence on targeted industry websites (such as Electronics360.com) keeps you in front of potential customers while they are performing work-related tasks. Engineers spend time on sites reading recent news and learning about the latest technologies, as well as searching for products and services that meet their needs.
  • Banner ads: Banner ads that appear across a network of targeted industrial sites offer you broad and deep exposure to potential customers who might otherwise not know about your company or are hard to reach. Your banner ads can link back to your website, online catalog, or any other online destination that is useful to your target audience and meets your marketing goals and objectives.

Search AND Discovery—both are important to your marketing success. When planning for 2014, be sure to allocate marketing budget to both types of programs.

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How do incorporate both search and discovery into your marketing plan? What tips and ideas would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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