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Five Forces Shaping Industrial Marketing in 2013

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.

BONUS: Mobile
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?

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The Mobile Opportunity for Industrial Marketers

In a recent survey of industrial professionals, GlobalSpec inquired about their use of mobile devices for work-related purposes.

In asking, “Do you use a smartphone and/or tablet computing device for work-related activities?” we found that there was a 50/50 split between those who use one or more mobile device for work-related activities and those who don’t use any mobile device.

30% Yes, I use a smartphone
8%   Yes, I use a tablet
12% Yes, I use both a smartphone and tablet
50% No, I use neither a smartphone nor tablet

Twenty eight percent of those who use mobile devices for work-related activities do so at least “a few times a week.” When asked what types of specific activities are performed on mobile devices, respondents were relatively split among the following:

21% Research and/or source parts
21% Read work-related articles or papers
20% Watch work-related video
20% Receive engineering and technical news feeds
18% Play engineer-related free games

When we isolate the most active mobile users, those who use a device at least a few times a week, we find they most commonly “receive engineering and technical news feeds” (30%), “read work-related articles or papers” (26%) and “research and/or source parts” (24%).

That being said, it is likely that active mobile users would also watch more work-related videos if there were more work-related videos available. The amount of B2B-related video, let alone video related to the industrial manufacturing industry, as compared to B2C-related video is small.

In the future, it’s the use of tablet computing devices that is most important for marketers. It is likely that the percentage of tablet users will outpace smartphone users since tablet devices better accommodate work-related activities. This opens up a variety of opportunities for marketers.

  • Ensuring your brand’s website(s) are mobile-friendly
  • Allowing users to subscribe to your blogs and news feeds
  • Developing content, especially video, that reinforces thought leadership and/or demonstrates product benefits
  • Creating apps that offer tools and resources for your customers and prospects while allowing them to engage with your brand on a more profound level

How have you incorporated mobile into your industrial marketing strategy? What companies or brands have you seen that are strategically targeting tablet or smartphone users? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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