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The Story of Content Marketing in Five Statistics

The results are in! Content Marketing Institute recently released the research report, “Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.”

Sponsored by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions, the report proclaims: “In the four years we’ve been reporting on how manufacturers use content marketing, this year’s results reveal the most progress they’ve made thus far. The fact that we see a 72 percent increase over last year in the percentage of manufacturing marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy indicates they’ve taken one of the most important steps toward achieving content marketing success: putting their strategy in writing.”

Not all of the research results point to success, however, and manufacturers must still overcome a number of content marketing challenges. The following five statistics, taken directly from the report, shed light on the state of content marketing today in the manufacturing sector.

1. Eighty-five percent of manufacturers are using content marketing
Manufacturers get it: content marketing is important. Done right, content marketing increases brand awareness and engagement opportunities with motivated prospects. Successful marketers set content marketing goals, establish metrics, and measure results.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers are experts at content marketing. Only 19 percent would rate their content marketing maturity level as sophisticated or mature. That’s okay, for now. Almost all manufacturers are in the game, and should become more sophisticated as they gain more experience.
You still have to wonder about the 15 percent not using content marketing. What’s their story? It’s all in the report.

2. Forty-nine percent are extremely or very committed to content marketing
Look a little further and you’ll find that 74 percent of companies that say they’re successful at content marketing also indicate that they are extremely or very committed to content marketing. Only 23 percent of the least successful companies say they are committed to content marketing.

No surprise there - commitment and success go hand-in-hand. Overall, marketers are improving: 59 percent are much more or somewhat more successful with content marketing than they were a year ago.

Increased success in content marketing was attributed to factors including: content creation (higher quality, more efficient); strategy (development or adjustment); content marketing has become a greater priority; spending more time on content marketing; and content distribution (better targeting, identification of what works)

3. Seventy-eight percent of manufacturing marketers use email newsletters
Email is the top content marketing tactic, and was also rated as the most important tactic to overall content marketing success, further reinforcing email’s importance to industrial marketing efforts.

The next most popular content marketing tactics are, in order: social media content, video, in-person events, print magazines, and blogs. Ebooks/white papers are also in the top 10, with 49 percent of respondents using that tactic. The average number of tactics used is eight.

In terms of paid content promotion, manufacturing marketers use an average of four methods, with social promotion, print, search engine marketing, banner ads, and native advertising rounding out the top five.

4. Eighty-two percent say that brand awareness is their top content marketing goal
While lead generation is often a marketers’ top goal, this isn’t the case when it comes to content marketing campaigns. Why? Content marketing can’t and shouldn’t stand alone. Rather, it should be included as part of an integrated program - to gain the attention of a target audience, educate and inform them, demonstrate thought leadership, and build brand awareness. And yes—generate leads.

Other content marketing goals include lead generation (71 percent), engagement (70 percent), sales (62 percent), lead nurturing (58 percent) and customer retention/loyalty (53 percent).

5. Sixty-seven percent don’t have enough time to devote to content marketing
Like economics, marketing can be considered a science of scarcity: how to allocate limited time, budget, and resources to what seems like an unlimited amount of marketing that must be done.

Lack of time was cited as the number one factor that resulted in stagnant content marketing success in the past year. Other leading factors included content creation challenges—62 percent; and strategy issues (lack of strategy, developing/adjusting strategy)—51 percent.

The reality is that content marketing can be a huge undertaking. You need to develop a coherent and integrated content marketing strategy, define measurable goals, create and distribute content, track performance and more.

And yet, 57 percent of industrial companies are limited to a one person marketing/content marketing team that serves the entire organization. That’s a lot of pressure.

Companies strapped for content marketing resources—yet still committed to content marketing because of its proven value—should consider using content marketing services from their media partners. IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions offers expert content marketing services to help you develop compelling content, get it into the hands of your target audience, and generate engagement opportunities. You can find out more here.

And don’t forget to download your complimentary copy of the research report: “Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.”
 

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Three Big Reasons Why Engineers Need You

You need engineers and technical professionals. They are your customers and therefore the lifeblood of your company. But the relationship is mutual: Engineers need you as well.

Leveraging this mutual need is the key to building and maintaining long-term, loyal relationships with your customers.

The recent “2017 Pulse of Engineering” survey revealed three key areas where suppliers can focus their marketing efforts to provide more value to engineers and technical professionals. Let’s discuss your customer’s pain points and how to help them:

1. Provide Design and Project Assistance
The majority of engineers and technical professionals surveyed agreed that designs are becoming more complex at the same time that design cycles are shrinking and time-to-market pressures are increasing. Fifty-five percent of engineers are being required to do more with less; 68 percent are working on three or more projects simultaneously. Yet team size is not increasing. Seventy-six percent said the average size of the teams they work on has decreased or stayed the same.

Due to these pressures, many companies are looking outside for help. Thirty-eight percent said that design involvement from external partners, vendors and customers has increased. This represents a golden opportunity for suppliers to educate their customers and become more involved in their work processes.

However, expect engineers to choose their outside influences judiciously. You can demonstrate your expertise and get closer to customers by marketing your brand and value propositions across the channels that engineers use to locate suppliers, products, and services. Online catalogs, webinars, technical articles and white papers are all good vehicles to showcase your company’s expertise, and to demonstrate how you can add value in the design phase of projects.

2. Fill the Knowledge Gap
Forty-seven percent of engineers have 30 or more years of service, and many are nearing retirement. Thirty-six percent of industrial companies are experiencing increased losses of senior employees to retirement. Twenty-seven percent of technical professionals said they were only slightly or not at all likely to be employed by their current company in five years.

One result of changing demographics and worker mobility is a knowledge drain. Forty-five percent of survey respondents said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company was very or extremely important. Yet only 36 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.

As a supplier in the industrial sector, you can help preserve and grow your customers’ knowledge by educating and training them on trends and technologies, and serving as a trusted information resource. Engineers and technical professionals primarily maintain and advance their professional skills through colleagues, books, and technical white papers and training provided by vendors.

Make customer education, training and thought leadership cornerstone initiatives in your marketing strategy. By becoming more valuable to your customers you can become more entrenched in their work processes and serve as a primary source that they will turn to for technical and industry knowledge.

3. Help Engineers Do More with Less
While the pace of engineering continues to increase and engineers are asked to do more with less, 47 percent of survey respondents say that technology is helping to improve productivity. Embedded in these findings is a valuable question for suppliers to answer: How do your offerings help engineers improve their efficiency?

Research such as “2017 Pulse of Engineering” allows you to identify the challenges and concerns of your customers, and to align your messaging and solutions in a way that resonates with your audience. For example, the survey reveals that engineers often must meet aggressive launch dates for products that meet high standards for customer satisfaction. How do your products/services help engineers do more with less? Or shorten design cycles? Or increase efficiency? How are your technologies at the forefront of innovation or sustainable for long periods of time? Craft marketing messages in a way that positions your offerings to help engineers overcome their challenges.

The “2017 Pulse of Engineering” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions can help guide your marketing efforts. Results tell you exactly what engineers and technical professionals in the industrial sector think about the pace of engineering, work environment, competition, challenges, performance management and knowledge management practices.
 

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The Millennials are Coming!

Actually, they’re already here. While there are no precise dates for when this generation begins or ends, most consider anyone born from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990‘s to be a millennial. That puts the majority of millennials in the sought after 18-34 demographic.

According to the Pew Research Center, there were approximately 55.2 million millennials in the U.S. workforce in 2015. By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 74 million, representing 44 percent of the workforce.

Millennials are flooding the B2B industrial sector and advancing into positions where they influence and/or make buying decisions. Research conducted by the B2B marketing firm Sacunas found that 73 percent of millennials are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies. Approximately one-third of millennials report being the sole decision-maker for their department.

As marketers, you must learn to connect with this group and win them over.

Preferred Channels for Millennials
Millennials are less reliant on any one information source than other age groups. A report compiled by Chief Marketer claims there is no “silver bullet” to reach the millennial audience, and that a “mix of channels and approaches is your best bet.”

Fortunately, a multichannel strategy is the best way to reach engineers and technical professionals of any age. The three most popular channels to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, supplier websites and online catalogs, according to the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. In addition, online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them.

Naturally, social media is an attractive channel for millennials. Eighty-five percent use social media to research products and services for their companies. Facebook is the most popular platform, and the majority also use LinkedIn (Sacunas).

2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” found that professionals under age 35 are more likely to make contact during the needs analysis/research phase of the buy cycle, while professionals over 49 are more likely to wait until the purchasing stage. The takeaway is that suppliers must be discoverable and approachable during any phase of the buy cycle, through a variety of marketing channels. This conclusion aligns with millennials’ desire for a hassle-free, multi-channel client experience that is tailored to their specific needs.

Types of Content Millennials Consume
According to Sacunas, when researching new products and services to make B2B purchasing decisions, millennials prefer video-based content and case studies. In terms of targeted content, they rate training, demos and product news as being the most helpful information to receive from vendors.

The way that millennials consume content is worth noting as well. Technical professionals under age 35 conduct significantly more product searches and read more news and e-newsletters on their smartphones than their older colleagues (“2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector”). Suppliers should consider creating websites and e-newsletters that are compatible with mobile.

What Millennials Look for in a B2B Vendor
What are millennials looking for in a B2B vendor? The top priority was ease of doing business (35%), followed by willingness to work collaboratively with their organization (33%), and industry/marketplace experience (31%), as reported by IBM. Eighty percent of millennials in the Sacunas survey indicated that social, environmental, or philanthropic efforts of companies are important to their purchase decisions.

How do you ensure you are the right company for a millennial customer? Pay attention to this audience’s preferences for channels, content and brand attributes during their buy cycle, and adjust your marketing accordingly. You might find your customer base becoming both younger and larger as a result.
 

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Five Industrial Marketing Trends that Matter in 2017

With the new year comes a fresh perspective and another chance to improve and optimize your marketing program. To make sure your plan is rock solid, check out the top industrial marketing trends for 2017 from the Marketing Maven and consider how to best implement them into your own strategy.

Trend #1: Media Mix is More Diversified
With so many media channels now in use, marketers have more competition than ever for share of voice, making it harder to capture the attention of your audience. Moving into 2017, we predict that more industrial marketers will incorporate a carefully planned, comprehensive mix of channels into their marketing plans.

According to a Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs survey, marketers use an average of 13 different channels to promote their message to the market. Leading the way are social media content, case studies, blogs and e-newsletters. B2B marketers also use an average of three paid advertising channels. The top three are search engine marketing, print or other offline promotion, and traditional banner ads. It’s not just paid search engine ads anymore.

The Industrial Marketing Trends Survey from IEEE Engineering360 shows that about 80 percent of industrial marketers are diversifying their mix, but the majority say they need to diversify more. If this describes your situation, you might want to work with media partners, agencies and other experts to help you determine the most effective mix for you.

Trend #2: Digital Spend Will Continue to Grow
The statistics are plentiful: At $83 billion, digital B2B spending outweighs all other B2B marketing spending by two times or more (Outsell). Forty-two percent of industrial marketers are growing their online budgets. Online display advertising is up 28 percent, while email spending is up 9.1 percent (Winterberry Group). Overall, 41 percent of marketing budgets will be spent online, a percentage that steadily increases year over year (Industrial Marketing Trends).
Industrial marketers are increasing their spending across a diverse mix of channels. The top areas of increased spending are content creation, search engine marketing, direct mail using in-house lists, social media, online directories/websites, and webinars. With the exception of direct mail, all of these channels are online or directly impact online marketing efforts. Digital is where your peers are focusing more marketing budget, and we expect this focus to continue in the year ahead.

Trend #3: Measuring ROI is a Priority and a Challenge
The pressure continues to rise for marketers to demonstrate ROI on marketing investments. Marketing budgets have gotten tighter, and are often under more scrutiny by executives. Additionally, the growth of digital media channels means an increased ability to measure marketing efforts — making demonstrating ROI no longer the exception, but the rule.

According to The Content Formula by Michael Brenner, 81 percent of B2B marketers say that measuring marketing effectiveness is their greatest challenge. But how is success measured? It depends on what metrics matter.
Salesforce reported that revenue growth is the top metric for digital marketing success. This makes sense, although it is often difficult to attribute a sale to a specific marketing program. A prospect has many touches with a potential supplier and there are often many decision makers and influencers involved before a purchasing decision is made. Hence, it remains a challenge to attach revenue gains to specific marketing initiatives.

After revenue growth, customer satisfaction and retention rates are the most important measures of success. In this way, the industrial space mirrors the overall B2B space. The number one metric of success is sales attributed to marketing campaigns. After that, metrics such as customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, leads and customer retention come into play.

Twelve percent of industrial marketers don’t have a method to measure success. If you fall into this category, consider working with your executive team and media partners to determine what results matter to you, and how you can begin measuring them.

Trend #4: Content is the Kingdom
As marketing expert Lee Odden says, “Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom.” Content marketing is becoming more evolved, more sophisticated and is driving key performance indicators and measurements. Content is how companies get their message out to the market.

In a recent Content Marketing Institute survey, 88 percent of B2B respondents say they are using content in some way, shape or form. However, effectiveness varies. Only eight percent say they are sophisticated content marketers. Eleven percent say they are just taking first steps and have not yet made content marketing a process. Everyone else falls somewhere between these two extremes.

If you are just getting started with content marketing, you are not alone. Thirty-nine percent of industrial marketers are in the same situation (Industrial Marketing Trends). This means that 2017 presents a big opportunity for improvement and success in this area. Be sure to devote time and resources this year to developing a content strategy, producing engaging content on a consistent basis, and measuring content effectiveness.

Trend #5: Email Marketing Maintains its Value
You may have heard that email is dead, but that simply isn’t true. Email has remained a cornerstone marketing tactic for B2B marketers for almost two decades. With mobile phones and tablets, your audience can connect with email almost anytime, anywhere. And don’t forget that email marketing offers easy to measure metrics like opens, clicks, forwards and conversions.

Data reinforces email’s continued popularity and effectiveness. Salesforce reported that 73 percent of marketers believe email marketing is core to their business, 65 percent say email is an effective marketing channel and 58 percent are increasing their email marketing spend. Newsletters are the most popular email marketing tactic.

As you continue to shape your marketing efforts in 2017, be sure to keep email in your portfolio. If you already publish a newsletter, consider advertising in other industry newsletters to reach a broader yet still targeted audience.

Where do you see 2017 heading for industrial marketers? Comment below and tell us where you’re focusing your efforts in the year ahead.

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5 Key Takeaways from the Industrial Buy Cycle Survey

 Every industrial marketer must be tuned into the industrial buy cycle—a complex, three-stage collaborative process for recommending, specifying and purchasing equipment, components and software, and services in the industrial and electronics space. The three stages of the buy cycle are:

1. Research and Needs Analysis—when you identify specific needs for your company and explore available options. Activities might include web searches, attending webinars, reading white papers, scanning industry news and connecting with peers.
2. Comparison and Evaluation—when you determine the most suitable options for your company. Activities might include comparing specifications, watching how-to videos, testing samples, and interacting with the supplier’s technical staff.
3. Purchase—when you make a specific purchase decision. Many engineers still stay involved when it’s time to negotiate terms, get proper signatures and finalize pricing and scope.

Recently, IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions conducted the “2106 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey.” Its purpose was to better understand the buying process engineers and other technical professionals engage in, and to provide useful information for industrial marketers who must connect with this target audience. Below are the five key takeaways from the survey.

1. Engineers Have Substantial Buying Authority
Engineers are in the problem-solving business, and if you can demonstrate that your solutions help solve their problems, they will authorize a purchase. Engineers have substantial buying and sign off authority, and they employ this authority to purchase a wide variety of components, software, equipment and services.

Engineers possess an average sign-off authority of nearly US $5,000 when purchasing products and services. In addition, they personally are responsible for an average of $110,900 in spending. Those holding managerial titles are responsible for more personal spending—37 percent more spend than staff engineers—and a commensurately larger sign off authorization level.

2. The Average Buying Cycle is 12 Weeks
The average buying cycle is 12 weeks—although 20 percent of engineers report buying cycles of four weeks or less, and 14 percent of 20 weeks or more. The average annual workload of engineers is four projects per year, regardless of product/service under consideration. When you consider the average number of projects (four) and the average length of buy cycle (12 weeks), engineers are actively involved in buy cycle activities all year long.

This means that engineers and other technical professionals are constantly searching for products and services that will meet the demands of their projects. The question for industrial marketers is: When engineers are searching for solutions like yours, will they find you?

3. Engineers Influence All Phases
While it’s true that the buying process is a team effort, engineers and engineering managers hold the majority of influence—52 percent. They are most involved in specifying, evaluating and recommending products/services to be purchased. Corporate management (particularly financial management) and purchasing are most influential during the purchase stage when terms and conditions are negotiated and the supplier relationship is cemented.

For a supplier, this means that cultivating connections with engineers early in the buy cycle are as important as establishing relationships with the people who ultimately issue the purchase orders.

4. Remember the Rule of Three
Engineering teams are remarkably consistent with regard to the number of suppliers they evaluate or ask to submit quotes. During the buying process, three competing suppliers on average are evaluated and sent RFQs—the “rule of three.” Those spending $1 million or more on products or services are more likely to evaluate or request quotes from four suppliers, but overall this “rule of three” is consistent across product categories, project loads or company sizes.

5. Engineers Have a List of Buying Criteria
Engineers and technical buyers want to work with suppliers that possess certain characteristics. These criteria fall under three general categories (another “rule of three”): supply chain, support and brand.

• Supply chain considerations have to do with product availability, delivery schedule and comfort with the supplier—such as having purchased from the vendor in the past or the supplier being an approved vendor. Lowest cost is also a factor, but not the most important one.
• Technical support is the single most important consideration, with 78 percent of engineers saying it is very important or somewhat important. After-sale customer assistance, design assistance, help with system integration or compatibility with legacy solutions, or simple access to a knowledgeable sales team are all considerations when making a purchase decision. For approximately 40 percent of engineers, the location of a supplier’s manufacturing facilities or service centers is of preeminent concern, especially for those buying services.
• Only half of engineers around the world feel it is critical to deal primarily with vendors with “recognized company names.” This should encourage smaller or lesser known suppliers. However, to win business from the half of engineers who prefer to work with known brands, these lesser known companies must successfully demonstrate there is little risk in doing business with them, both in terms of products and ability to deliver.

Read the Entire Survey Report
Results of the “2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey” have just been published by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. You can download your complimentary copy to see all the survey results, read the analysis, and access recommendations for industrial marketers. Click here to download.

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Connect with Potential Customers Throughout the Buy Cycle

 Engineers and industrial professionals are problem solvers, and the way they solve the problem of sourcing and purchasing products and services is by engaging in a well-documented buy cycle. The cycle consists of three stages: research and analysis, comparison and evaluation, and purchase.

From the results of the “2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey,” we also know:

• Access to information throughout the buy cycle is vital to engineers, and their dependence on proven sources of information is part of what gives them a leg up in their search for solutions and know-how, and to keep current with technology and business trends.
• Purchasing is a collaborative effort, with influence from engineers, management, operations, purchasing and more. Budget authority resides throughout the organization—not just with senior managers.
• The buy cycle averages 12-weeks and the cycle constantly repeats with every new project that comes an engineer’s way, an average of four buy cycles per year for an engineer.

From these facts, industrial marketers can draw two conclusions that will help steer their marketing decisions:

1. Create compelling content—You need to have a consistent overall message to market, but you also need to ensure that you are creating compelling content for and communicating with the entire extended engineering team (including operations, corporate management, and purchasing).
2. Choose the most effective media—A constantly regenerating buy cycle means engineers are regularly looking for products and services, which in turn is always bringing you new opportunities if you are using the most effective media channels to consistently connect with potential customers.

Create Compelling Content
In the early stages of the buy cycle—research and analysis—your engineering audience is searching for approaches to solving their problems, insight on which suppliers might have offerings to fit their needs, or guidance on what new technologies might have an impact on their buying decisions. Your job is to educate them on how you can help solve their problems. It’s too early in the buy cycle to be in selling mode.

As the buy cycle progresses, more team members get involved in the purchasing process. Engineering management, IT and operations, and finance, for example. They want to know not only if your product or service will solve the problem, but also if it will fit into the customer’s environment and deliver a return on investment. Potential customers will compare your offering to competitive solutions. At this stage content such as specification sheets, how-to videos, success stories, product samples, and cost and ROI calculators are important.

In the final buy cycle stages, when the entire team might have a hand in the decision making, you need clear pricing sheets, terms and support policies. For every stage of the buy cycle, your goal should be to develop and deliver content that makes the purchasing decision simple and straightforward, and that gives your buyers confidence. Make sure your messaging focuses on relevant issues and salient benefits, not just glittering generalities regarding supplier capabilities.

Choose the Most Effective Media
The “2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey” shows the many different information sources that engineers and technical professionals use throughout the buying process. The takeaway is that there is no single “go-to” resource preferred by industrial professionals at any stage of the buy cycle. Therefore, you need a multi-channel marketing strategy to connect with potential customers. The name of the game is consistency across multiple modes of information delivery.

Asked about which sources of information they typically use when purchasing products and services, engineers and technical professionals have settled on several:
• Colleagues
• Search engines and the websites of suppliers and other industry players
• GlobalSpec.com/Engineering360.com and its e-newsletters
• Catalogs—online or print
• Printed publications, directories and buyer’s guides (including materials from industry standards organizations like IEEE or ASME)
• Trade shows and conferences
• Educational materials such as video as well as white papers and webinars
• Online communities, blogs and social media

Some sources are used consistently throughout the buy cycle—including colleagues, search engines, online catalogs, and supplier and industry websites. You should concentrate on showcasing your products and expertise and maintaining a consistent presence on these channels (except for colleagues, of course), particularly the digital media, where engineers turn first when beginning their buy cycle research. This way, you can increase the odds that you will connect with potential customers during their buy cycle.

Results of the “2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey” have just been published by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. You can download your complimentary copy to see all the survey results, read the analysis, and access recommendations for industrial marketers. Click here to download.

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How to Meet Marketing ROI Milestones

 Measuring the success of marketing programs is nothing new. There has always been a focus among B2B marketers to quantify the reach and engagement of their initiatives. In the past, much of this measurement focused on metrics like the circulation of print publications, the growth of catalog mailing lists, business cards collected at trade shows, and completed magazine “bingo cards.”

Today, online channels command the bulk of B2B marketing budgets, providing marketers access to more data, more metrics, and more insight than ever before. So it’s not surprising that B2B marketers at all levels of an organization are under unprecedented pressure to quantify the return on their marketing investment. In fact, ROI is the number-one objective for B2B marketers in 2016. According to The Content Formula’s Michael Brenner, 93 percent of CMOs state that their greatest challenge is showing measurable ROI. And 81 percent of B2B marketers claim that measuring marketing effectiveness is their biggest riddle to solve.

Whether you are looking to quantify the performance of your current marketing initiatives, or want to have a plan in place for 2017 that will help you reach your ROI goals, these five keys will help you get started.

1. Target your desired outcome. Return on investment is the name of the game, but ROI is not a “one size fits all” term.

According to the 2015 State of B2B Marketing Report from Salesforce, the top three digital marketing metrics for success are revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and retention rates. And when IEEE GlobalSpec asked industrial marketers how they measure the success of their marketing initiatives as part of our annual Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, we found that marketers care most about sales attributed to marketing campaigns, acquisition, satisfaction, leads, and retention.

By having a strong understanding of the goals and objectives of your organization, you have built the foundation for your marketing plan. From there, you can define objectives and tactics that will help you reach your goals.

2. Diversify your marketing mix. Your audience has more digital tools and sources of information to do their jobs better and more efficiently, and they are also exposed to many options when ready to buy. And as companies continue to allocate more of their marketing dollars to digital media, it will become increasingly important to fend off competition online. That’s why diversifying your marketing mix is critical.

Our research shows that a majority of B2B industrial marketers are reaching their target audience via multiple channels and tactics, but many feel like they could be doing more. Not sure how to get started? Consider working with a media partner to develop a multichannel marketing strategy that is measurable and can reach your marketing goals.

3. Understand your customer’s buy cycle. In the B2B space, the buy cycle is often long and complicated, involving multiple stages – needs assessment, comparison, evaluation, and purchase. As a result, it can be difficult to correlate sales to specific marketing channels.

Buyers will often interact with your content and brand many times before contacting you or making a purchasing decision. For example, they may download a technical article they found in an e-newsletter advertisement, attend a webinar that you are hosting, watch a video, type your company name into a search engine, and visit your website – all before beginning a conversation.

Understanding your customer’s buy cycle – and having content that helps them meet their needs at each stage – will help you define and capitalize on the value that your marketing programs deliver.

4. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. It sounds simple enough – reach your audience by understanding what they seek. But remember that a key desired outcome is to reach your target audience where they can be found. Go beyond search engine marketing and consider the websites they rely on, the e-newsletters they read, and more.

Being found in the right place at the right time isn’t enough. Ask yourself, “Are we offering them content they want?” Your ability to answer this question correctly is dependent upon the tools you use to understand your customer and the quality of your analysis. In addition to the product data they are seeking, offer educational materials that position you as a thought leader and help them make a better, more informed decision. White papers, technical articles, datasheets, webinars, and videos are just some of the different content types used by today’s B2B buyers.

5. Implement a formal lead nurturing program. Now that marketing has brought in the leads, it’s time to convert them, right? Wrong.

Very few leads translate into an instant purchasing decision. Adding a clear lead nurturing program to the marketing mix has several distinct benefits that directly tie into ROI. First, you deliver more qualified leads to sales – making them happier and more productive. Next, you can successfully track contacts and inquiries along the sales process, resulting in easier and more accurate measurement. And finally, leads are less likely to fall through the cracks, reducing the potential for lost sales and wasted resources.

Hitting ROI milestones can seem like a daunting challenge. By taking a strategic approach to defining, executing and reaching your measurement goals, you will be well prepared to illustrate the value of your marketing efforts to the c-suite.

Patrick D. Mahoney is President and CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec. IEEE GlobalSpec connects a global audience of engineers and allied technical professionals with suppliers of industrial and electronic equipment, components, materials, and technology. The company combines rich technical product information with comprehensive digital media solutions that deliver measurable awareness, demand, and engagement opportunities at all stages of the buy cycle. Learn more by visiting www.globalspec.com/advertising.  

This was originally published on Marketing Tech News: http://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2016/sep/15/how-meet-marketing-roi-milestones/

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Is Email Dead?

Has the sun set on email as an effective B2B marketing tactic? It’s hard to get the attention of your intended recipients. Open rates are down. Spam reports are up. The inboxes of busy professionals are overflowing. Other forms of communication—social media, texting, etc.—are growing. Perhaps your own email marketing programs to your house lists aren’t performing the way they once did.

With all these factors, you might believe that email is dead. But you’d be wrong. Sure, email is not the latest thing; it doesn’t have that sexy, edgy aura any longer. Instead, it’s mature, and with maturity often comes sophistication. Properly executed—targeted lists, laser campaigns, relentless tracking, careful refining—email remains a viable and powerful marketing tactic within an integrated, multichannel marketing strategy.

As Gartner reported, “No, email isn’t dead. It’s still valuable since more email marketing is being consumed on the go through multiple devices, and is still extremely measurable.”

Statistics bear out the continued popularity and effectiveness of email. Eighty-one percent of B2B marketers use e-newsletters as a content marketing tactic, according to joint research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. The Winterberry Group has reported that estimated email data spend is increasing 9.1% in 2016, a faster than expected rate increase, a statistic that encompasses email lists, database management and hygiene, analytics, and integration.

Consider this additional research from Salesforce: 73% of marketers believe email marketing is core to their business and 58% of B2B email marketers are increasing their email marketing spend.

E-newsletters Predominate
Within the universe of email marketing, e-newsletters are the most often used email campaign among B2B marketers, and 64% of B2B marketers rate e-newsletters as very effective/effective (Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs). Your target audience of engineers subscribes to an average of 4.4 digital publications, in contrast to 1.4 printed trade magazines, according to the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions.

However, your company’s e-newsletter is not the only way to engage customers and prospects through email marketing. You can also share your news, content and product information—and build your brand and generate new engagement opportunities—by advertising in targeted industry e-newsletters.

Advertising in a reputable, recognized e-newsletter offers a number advantages for the industrial marketer seeking to get more out of email marketing:

• You can reach a much broader yet still targeted audience. Contacts that you don’t have in your own database and are otherwise hard to reach. Industrial professionals in new markets or regions you want to pursue. Motivated, engaged engineers who have opted-in to receive the publication.
• Someone else does the heavy lifting for you. The e-newsletter publisher handles database and list management, newsletter design and production, and sending and tracking. This can free you up to focus time and resources on other pressing marketing efforts.
• Customized reporting for measuring success and ROI. You can access timely reports that detail the results of your advertisement. With opt-in newsletters, you’ll know who clicked on your ad and expressed interest in your content.
• You can benefit from integration with other digital marketing efforts. The right media partner will offer e-newsletter sponsorship by itself or as part of an integrated marketing program that may include tactics such as display advertising, content marketing, searchable catalogs, webinars, and more. This helps you create a stronger, more holistic marketing program highly targeted at the audience you need to reach.

E-newsletter Advertising Opportunities
IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions publishes 69+ highly targeted, opt-in e-newsletters in the industrial sector. Your target audience relies on these publications as a key resource during all stages of their buying cycle.

Each newsletter features rich editorial content, including industry trends and events, the latest research, innovative technology, product news, and career information. Delivery rates exceed 98%, and subscribers are interested and motivated: 60% read the e-newsletters upon receipt.

No, email isn’t dead; not even close. It’s simply become more targeted when used appropriately and remains an essential tool for industrial professionals during their research and buying process. Click here for a list of all IEEE Engineering360 e-newsletters and to discover how they drive action in your target audience.

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Why Webinars Have an Important Role in Your Marketing Mix

 Webinars provide strong demand generation opportunities, and the ability to build brand awareness, engage with your target audience, and establish thought leadership.

One of the key reasons why webinars are an effective marketing tactic is that your attending audience is motivated and interested. They are committing an hour or so of their busy day to listen to your message and interact with your presenters. That takes a lot more effort on their part than, for instance, scanning an email or reading a web page. Additionally, webinars require less time, effort, and especially cost to attend than an in-person event, which helps increase their popularity.

As in-person tradeshows continue to experience decline in this digital era, webinars have filled the void for interaction between technical professionals and vendors.

Seventy percent of technical professionals attended at least one webinar or online event in the past year, and 32% attended four or more (IHS Enginering360 “Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey).

Industrial marketers realize that webinars have an important role in their marketing mix. Thirty-six percent now use webinars as a marketing tactic, and 40% are increasing spending on webinars (IHS Engineering360 “Industrial Marketing Trends” survey).

A variety of webinar options
Webinars can require a lot of work to be successful - from choosing a topic; to creating the presentation and script; to promoting your event; to registering and reminding your audience; to having a platform to host the webinar; to following up with opportunities post-event; to archiving the event on your website for future on-demand viewing and lead generation.

Doing all of this on your own requires resources, technology, and expertise. You also must attract a targeted audience on your own. If you’ve successfully been producing and hosting webinars, and generating engagement opportunities, you deserve credit for a job well done. If you’re just getting started, don’t be intimidated by the work involved. There are other options available.

Whether or not you have experience with webinars, working with a media partner for webinar marketing offers a number of advantages:

• A broad, yet still targeted audience. The right media partner will have access to a motivated and targeted audience you may not be able to reach on your own, and will develop and manage a multi-channel marketing plan to target the specific audience you want to attract and to promote your webinar.

• Comprehensive project management. Partners offer easy registration capabilities, email reminders, post-webinar follow-ups, and other features to help increase registration, attendance, and audience satisfaction. They can also handle all the technical aspects of webinar production and delivery. These services free you up to focus on webinar content and integrating the event into your overall marketing mix.

• Additional webinar options. Media partners that have webinar expertise can offer you a broad array of options. For example, you may want to create and deliver the webinar presentation, and have your partner handle the audience and production aspects. This is the more traditional route. But forward-thinking media companies offer other options for industrial marketers. For instance, your company could sponsor and brand a pre-determined webinar comprised of a panel discussion with industry experts. This option is a great way to build credibility and thought leadership around key topics that are important to your company. Another option is a more hybrid approach, with your media partner providing experts to collaborate with you and co-present on a mutually agreed upon topic.

Webinars are expected to show increased growth in the industrial sector. The main reason: they are effective. And more and more industrial marketers are working with media partners to strengthen their webinars and increase the return on their investment. For more information on custom webinar services from IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions, click here.

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Five Best Practices for Infographics

 Infographics are a popular and effective way for industrial marketers to communicate information. Why does everyone love infographics? Because the best ones provide fast, easy access to important information. Our brains require less effort to digest visual content than text, and visual content drives more traffic and engagement than plain text does.

Here’s an example of three infographics from IHS Engineering360: an Infographic 3 Pack. Each one summarizes a set of research data that was also used to produce a white paper and other content. See how much you can learn from a quick scan of the infographic?

But as with any other type of content, some infographics are better at getting the job done than others. Make sure you adhere to these best practices when using infographics as part of your content marketing efforts.

1. Tell a visual story
You can’t simply assemble a collection of data and statistics and call it an infographic. Your infographics should tell a visual story that has a main theme or objective. It should adhere to both a logical and a visual flow. To determine the story you want to tell, ask yourself the following questions:
• What am I trying to communicate?
• What are the main points of the story?
• What should my audience learn?
• What do I want my audience to feel, think or do? (include a call to action)

2. Choose a compelling topic
Like a white paper, webinar or other marketing content, infographics must be interesting and relevant to your audience. Timeliness is also a factor with infographics. What’s happening right now in your industry? What research, data and statistics support your story and are compelling to your audience?

Dig deep into your research to uncover data behind key trends you want to tell a story about. Be sure that you cite the data sources that you use. You can either integrate the citations where the data appears or use some kind of footnoting and put citations at the end.

3. Adhere to design principles
Because infographics are so visual in nature, it’s essential that you create a harmonious and pleasing design that is attractive to your audience. Follow these principles:
• Keep visual elements such as icons as simple as possible. Complex designs are distracting and hard to understand. They also might not render well in small sizes. The same goes for fonts. Use simple, clean typography. Try to stick to one or two fonts and a limited number of font sizes.
• Choose a complementary color palette and group related information by color. But don’t use too many colors. You don’t want the infographic to look like a circus.
• Use white space. If you clutter up the entire canvas with information, your audience will be overwhelmed and won’t know where to look next. White space helps segment information and create a visual flow that moves your story in the right direction.
• Use a vertical, not a horizontal, layout. Your audience can scroll down as needed to see information below the limits of the screen, but horizontal scrolling is difficult. A good rule of thumb is to make your infographic no wider than 600 pixels.
• Use brief blocks of text to support or explain visuals. The main story should be told through the graphic elements; consider text as secondary and keep it to a minimum.

4. Create your infographics
Not everyone is an artist. If you’re not a designer, you can take advantage of online tools that let you create visually powerful infographics from templates. Or reach out to your media partners that offer content marketing services – infographic development may also be on their list of product offerings. One benefit of relying on a media partner for assistance versus using online tools is that they can help you with both the design, as well as identifying and organizing the right data and content.

5. Market your infographics
Infographics are for sharing. Be sure to add social sharing buttons to your infographics, along with your logo and a call to action. In addition, promote your infographics as you would any other content as part of your integrated marketing program. Post them to your website, link to them from emails, use them to pitch articles to editors, and highlight them on your social media accounts.

Also think about ways you can use the content of infographics in other ways. The infographics examples mentioned above from IHS Engineering360 were created from research reports. Repurposing content can flow in the other direction as well. Can elements of your infographics be used as slides in a presentation? Or as the basis of an executive brief or article? Smart marketers are always finding ways to effectively repurpose content.

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