Sustainable Manufacturing in the 21st Century – Why You Should Be Talking About It

You might have noticed that a lot more manufacturers are talking about sustainability: both their own sustainability initiatives and how their products and services help customers pursue sustainability efforts.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources.

The increased attention toward sustainability is coming from two sides. First, manufacturers are realizing economic benefits from sustainability initiatives. And second, buyers are demanding products manufactured using greener and more environmentally sound processes.

Manufacturers focused on sustainability can achieve a number of business benefits:

Reduced costs—Whether making use of natural lighting on a shop floor, reusing wastewater, investing in energy-efficient machinery, reducing scrap and waste, or gaining tax credits through use of renewable energy sources, green practices can contribute to cost reductions over time.

New customers—Many buyers are now concerned with sustainability and are looking for greener products and products sourced more locally. This presents new market opportunities for suppliers adopting green policies and practices.

Positive brand associations—Sustainability initiatives can help increase positive attributes associate with your brand. Customers and the market are paying much greater attention to sustainability and those manufacturers that are part of the solution can become the object of that attention.

Attract new employees—As older engineers retire, manufacturers must compete with each other to attract a new generation of millennial engineers. Younger engineers tend to care more about environmental issues such as climate change, natural resource use, and green business practices. Manufacturers committed to sustainability have that extra something to offer in their recruiting efforts.

Both small and large companies are embracing sustainability practices, for economic as well as ethical reasons. They are working to educate the market about the importance of carbon footprint reduction and energy savings, and showcasing their sustainability plan in their marketing and communication efforts. You should too, if your company is committed to sustainability.

Website

Your website is the first impression many of your customers and prospects have with your company. Bring your sustainability message to the forefront by dedicating a page to your efforts. Include sustainability practices, certifications, awards, and other content that promotes your company’s commitment to sustainability.

KPS Global, a manufacturer of insulated panels, has a Sustainable Solutions page under its About Us section.  Chromalox, a company that engineers thermal solutions, leads with a sustainability message on its home page. These companies realize the importance of promoting sustainability to the market.

Marketing Content

Consider including a brief sustainability message on marketing content such as datasheets, white papers, and presentations. You might also have an opportunity to add sustainability language to boilerplate content such as company descriptions. Go further and produce a webinar that is focused on sustainability and why it matters to your customers.

If your products and services help customers save resources or energy or operate in other environmentally friendly ways, those benefits should appear in your marketing content. Make clear to your customers your awareness of the importance of sustainability.

Take Advantage of Lean Manufacturing

The goal of lean manufacturing is to eliminate all unnecessary waste from operations. Waste is defined as anything that doesn’t add value for the customer.

If your company engages in lean practices, you might find that your lean manufacturing processes produce sustainability benefits that you can talk about.

For example, Baxter Healthcare Corporation developed a value stream map that saves 170,000 gallons of water a day. Columbia Paint & Coatings reduced 15,000 pounds of paint solids from wash water and saved 18,000 pounds of shrink wrap. These are the kind of results that companies should communicate to their customers.

It’s important to keep in mind that sustainability isn’t just a buzzword you adopt to get attention in the market. Customers will see through any transparent attempts. If your company hasn’t done so already, it’s time to address sustainability in a coordinated, integrated, and formal manner. Marketing has an important role to play in this new era.

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Are Tradeshows Coming Back in 2021?

This question seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. While some are craving face-to-face interactions and are eager for the return of in-person events, others remain hesitant.

A recent GlobalSpec research report, “Industrial Marketing in 2021,” found that 57 percent of marketers are not planning to attend in-person tradeshows in 2021, despite the fact tradeshows were once one of a marketer’s top strategies.

Twenty-nine percent of marketers have decided not to budget for in-person tradeshows in 2021 and 38 percent have a smaller tradeshow budget than in the past. Only 12 percent have restored their budget back to normal levels.

This hesitancy to return to tradeshows and cutting back of tradeshow budgets may signal concerns about how quickly the industry will return to its former state.

Other industry experts tend to agree. The Wall Street Journal reported, “The roughly $11 billion U.S. trade-show and exhibition industry is slowly coming back to life after a largely lost year due to coronavirus.” However, industry executives say a full recovery isn’t expected for about two years.

Industry analyst PwC expects the U.S. B2B tradeshow market, which was one of the fastest-growing B2B markets, to shrink by 64.3% to $5.56 billion. Their report forecasts a rebound next year, followed by growth in the coming years.

The PwC report states that by 2021, the market is expected to grow to $8.62 billion and by 2024, it should be $14.5 billion. However, that would leave it shy of pre-pandemic levels. PwC doesn’t see this market recovering to last year’s size until sometime after 2024.

Forbes noted that many companies’ sales were unaffected by their absence from trade shows and that those companies saved the money that previously had been spent on sponsorships, booths, collateral material, travel, and hotels. Could it be some of these companies never return to the tradeshow circuit? A lot might depend on what their competition does and how well tradeshows rebound.

Freeman, a global event firm, said in Tradeshow Executive that it’s time to “get your show back on the road.” They conducted a survey in February and found that 74 percent of attendees and 78 percent of exhibitors expected to return to the show floor by the end of the year. Freeman also reported confidence and optimism are at an all-time high, “meaning the timeline for a return to events for fall has strengthened significantly, with added confidence for even as early as July and August.”

From February to April 2021, overall positive sentiment increased from 30 percent to 45 according to Freeman, and negative sentiment decreased from 51 percent to 36 percent.

While opinions vary, most experts believe in-person tradeshows will slowly make a comeback this year. However, virtual events or at least virtual components associated with in-person tradeshows are likely here to stay. It remains to be seen what kind of staying power hybrid events combining virtual and in-person will have.

Even with those tradeshows that do take place, corporate compliance and a variety of travel restrictions may tamp down attendance. Attendees who are spending a good bit of money on products and solutions will likely show up to ensure they are getting the best products and deals for their companies. And as tradeshows come back online, early exhibitors may have less competition and a more focused audience, which will tend to drive up future exhibitors and audiences in its own way.

The bottom line: if one of your top tradeshows is scheduled for the second half of the year, you may want to exhibit or attend in some capacity, perhaps with fewer people or a more scaled-back presence. It’s unlikely there will be a huge rush on tradeshows, so it’s okay to take modest steps forward and make sure any tradeshow potentially on your schedule is aligned with your marketing objectives.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Tradeshows

Creating a Webinar with Limited Resources

Webinars have historically been an effective way to connect with an industrial audience. During the pandemic, interest in webinars has soared to new heights due to the cancellation of most in-person events and engineers spending more time at their desks. Marketers have taken note.

Webinars can be flashy and expensive to produce, with high-end graphics, video, animations, interactive features, brand-name presenters, and more. But there’s no reason a webinar has to break your budget. Even simple webinars produced with limited resources can meet the quality test and be effective in helping you achieve your goals.

Follow these tips for creating a webinar with limited resources:

Research Webinar Platforms

If you don’t already have a webinar platform, you’ll want to research before choosing one. There are low-budget, no-frills platforms, and there are high-end webinar platforms. Even some of the budget ones offer robust feature sets. You can also take advantage of free trials that some webinar platform providers offer.

Focus on the Needs of Your Audience

Engineers attend webinars to learn and discover information to help them do their jobs better, not to be wowed by production values. If you keep your focus on your audience‘s needs and produce a webinar designed to meet those needs, you will save time and money as well as better serve your customers and prospects.

Repurpose content

You may not need to spend a lot of time or resources developing content if you have existing content you can repurpose it for a webinar. Educational presentations, keynote speeches, technical how-to’s, product briefings, and white papers can all serve as foundational content for webinars.

Another way to create content on a budget is to look in product support forums and Q&As where you will often find topics that are top of mind among your customers. You can design a webinar that answers some of the most common or pressing product or support issues, and also use a chunk of webinar time to conduct a live Q&A.

Call on Internal Experts

A webinar doesn’t require a paid external speaker to be effective. Internal technical experts can be a source of content ideas and can also serve as presenters on technical topics of interest to your audience. Not every internal expert will be comfortable as a speaker, but there are likely some who would shine in this role. It’s also likely easier to recruit a colleague to participate than it is an outsider.

Partner Up to Defray Costs

You can work with a partner to co-host a webinar on a relevant topic. Partnering has the double advantage of expanding your audience reach to your partner’s database and sharing the costs of marketing and producing the event.

Co-hosted webinars typically include multiple speakers and help add variety to the content, which can be appealing and engaging to your audience. The key is to find a complementary partner whose message neatly integrates with yours.

Use Templates for Landing Pages and Registration

Reusable templates help you save time and money when creating event landing pages and registration forms. There’s no reason to start from scratch each time. Templates also give you an easy way to maintain a consistent brand look and feel to your pages and forms.

Work with a Media Company

Sometimes the best approach, when faced with limited resources, is to work with a media company to produce and host a webinar. If resolving technical glitches, handling registrations, conducting pre-and post-event marketing, and meeting production values is too much of a resource strain for you right now, consider working with a third party for your webinars. You’ll also be able to free up some of your internal resources to focus on other pressing marketing matters. Read more about outsourcing webinars here.

Marketing, General Webinars

Why You Should Still Outsource Some Webinars

Many industrial marketers have invested in technology, equipment, and training to produce and host their own webinars. Given that the coronavirus pandemic has forced many in-person events to be canceled and replaced with online options, it makes sense marketers are running their own webinars to connect with customers and prospects.

Webinars are experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Recent research from GlobalSpec found that 84 percent of engineers find webinars valuable. Seventy-three percent of B2B marketing and sales leaders say a webinar is the best way to generate high-quality leads.

But hosting your own webinars shouldn’t be the extent of your webinar program. Marketers should consider outsourcing some of their webinar programs to a third party or media partner.

Outsourcing webinars offer benefits beyond what webinars produced in-house can deliver:

  • Expertise in webinar production
  • Access to a broader audience
  • Third-party credibility for your content
  • Extensive marketing support

Expertise

A third-party or media company that specializes in webinars will be able to manage all aspects of webinar production, quickly deal with any technical glitches, provide expert advice on the content and structure of your webinar, offer a host of interactive features to engage your audience, and more.

A webinar partner will also be up to date on the latest trends in webinars, such as what’s working best these days and what isn’t, optimal days/times to hold a webinar, live vs. pre-recorded webinars, archiving webinars, and creating on-demand versions of webinars.

As a marketer, you can’t be expected to have expertise in all these areas specific to webinars, but you can access this expertise through partnering.

Audience

Perhaps the single biggest advantage of outsourcing some of your webinars is gaining access to a target industrial audience you would otherwise have difficulty reaching, but who are still interested in what you have to say.

The right media partner will have an extensive opt-in database with information on each record so that you can precisely identify and target a new audience. Expanding to new audiences is a perfect way to increase visibility, penetrate new markets, or connect with new or underserved customer segments.  

Credibility

While you may have quality educational content for your webinar, a webinar hosted by in-house staff can still come off as a sales pitch, which would alienate an engineering audience interested in unbiased educational and technical information. On the other hand, hosting a webinar through a respected partner brings additional credibility to your content. You will gain industry name recognition that by association lends status to your webinar and content.

Marketing Support

A webinar partner can handle list generation, marketing to promote the event, registrations and reminder emails, and post-event marketing to attendees and registrants who didn’t attend. Plus, you will get contact information of attendees and registrants for future marketing endeavors.

Find the Balance

If you’ve invested in a webinar platform and are hosting your own webinars, you’ve made a smart move to fill in the gap of canceled tradeshows and other in-person events. But to take full advantage of the popularity of webinars among engineers, you should still consider working with a partner for some of your webinar programs.

You’ll gain all the benefits, plus you won’t be burdened with technical glitches, handling registrations, pre-and post-event marketing, and meeting high production values. You’ll also be able to free up some of your internal resources to focus on other pressing marketing matters.

With webinars, it makes good marketing sense to find a balance between in-house production and outsourcing to a partner. For more information on how GlobalSpec can support and enhance your webinar marketing efforts, visit our webinar page.

Marketing, General

An Opportunity to Improve Marketing Messaging You May Have Overlooked

Industrial marketers are becoming more adept at producing the technical and educational content engineers are looking for. This audience also needs information about a company that will build a sense of trust to help reassure them during these challenging times.

One way you can give engineers confidence about buying from your company is to align your messaging with the goals and measurements used to evaluate the performance of an engineering team or department.

In the research report “2021 Pulse of Engineering,” engineers were asked which factors contributed to how their performance was measured:

  • 64 percent said customer service/satisfaction
  • 57 percent said product quality
  • 35 percent said launch dates

Customer service is the single most important performance target, chosen by 27 percent of engineers. Twenty-five percent said product quality is most important.

Both product quality and meeting launch dates can fit under the umbrella of factors that determine overall customer satisfaction. In this way, all the factors of performance measurement are related.

You can fine-tune your messaging related to each of these areas:

Customer service/satisfaction

Satisfy your customers and they will be more likely to satisfy theirs. Customers at any level are satisfied when they perceive value in their purchases. That means no unpleasant surprises, components fitting and working as expected, and responsive and knowledgeable customer support when needed.

When your customers are confident in what you are providing them, they in turn will be more confident in successfully completing their projects.

Product quality

Fifty-seven percent of engineers report that product quality is a performance measurement for them. In your marketing messages to engineers, demonstrate how your products, components, parts, and services contribute to final product quality. Do you source the finest materials? Do you build to exacting standards? Do your products have a proven track record of reliability and expedient support? Use your own strengths as a company to help your customers showcase theirs.

Launch dates

In many cases, launch dates have become moving targets during these challenging times. Engineers report that supply chain/ availability of necessary parts is the most common issue impacting their ability to complete projects.

If you have any capacity to expedite or guarantee the delivery of parts to your customers, be sure to state this in your marketing materials. In addition, remind engineers of the stability and strength of your company, and of your ability to support them along the way as they work toward launch dates.

Other messaging related to pain points

Engineers report they are dealing with highly competitive markets, resource constraints, shrinking design cycles, and time-to-market pressures.

As marketers, you can step in and help alleviate these pressures by showing how your solutions can help customers rise above competitors, shorten design cycles, speed products to market faster, or otherwise gain efficiencies. Customers will respond to messaging that hits their pain points.

Advantages of updated messaging

Updating your messaging shows that you are aware of and care about the needs of your audience. It shows you are paying attention.

It shouldn’t be an overwhelming effort to incorporate these messages. A few visual tweaks or copy edits to marketing content can highlight specific points. Updated messaging also can offer a side benefit: potentially higher SEO rankings.

Adjusting and fine-tuning messaging on web pages will keep your content fresh, which is an important factor search engines take into account when determining results for search queries.

Stay current with what engineers are thinking about: how they view the pace of engineering, available resources, knowledge management practices, performance measurement, and the impact of megatrends on their day-to-day work environments. Download your complimentary copy of the research report, “2021 Pulse of Engineering.”

Marketing, General

How To Help Prevent the Engineering Knowledge Drain

The “2021 Pulse of Engineering Report” reminds us that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has put a further strain on the knowledge drain identified several years ago among engineering companies.

Twenty-four percent of engineers said the engineering workforce at their company has decreased in the past year. Thirty percent have experienced the loss of employees due to downsizing and layoffs. Twenty-two percent of engineers said that colleagues being laid off or furloughed during the pandemic has impacted their ability to complete projects. Thirty-three percent have lost senior employees to retirement.

Too often, specialized knowledge walks out the door when an employee does. Fifty-eight percent of engineers said that knowledge/information loss was very important or extremely important as employees left the company. Only three percent said it was not at all important.

When asked about their level of satisfaction with their company’s talent and knowledge management process, engineers gave on average a middling 5 out of 10 satisfaction score, a score worse than last year (5.7) and leaving much room for improvement.

Forty-five percent of engineers said that their companies have no 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. This leads to the loss of institutional knowledge and important skills but as well as the loss of knowledge about vendor relationships.

The trend of losing engineers will likely continue. Forty-four percent of engineers are not likely at all, slightly likely, or only moderately likely to be employed at the same company five years from now. The most likely reasons for an engineer leaving their current role are moving to another company and retirement.

This dilemma created by a shifting engineering workforce offers marketers an opportunity to become a valuable contributor in helping their customers preserve institutional knowledge.

Here’s how:

  • Create detailed, educational, and technical content that can help engineers maintain and increase their knowledge. White papers, webinars, articles, and other technical content can explain processes, describe how to complete a task, compare different approaches to solving a problem, and document best practices. This type of content can become a part of a client organization’s knowledge library.
  • Engineers report that their most effective ways to systematically or formally maintain, educate, and advance their professional skills are online training courses, webinars, and peers. You can host online training sessions for engineers covering topics they need to know and that you specialize in. Be sure to archive any training sessions so engineers can always have access to the content.
  • Make clear to engineers that you can help fill in the knowledge gap through your online training courses, webinars, and white papers.
  • Host and moderate a knowledge database or online discussion forum around specific topics that are relevant to engineers. You can do this for one company, such as a large, important customer. Or you can open the forum to all engineers, and serve primarily as its moderator:  answering questions, contributing to discussions, and pointing toward other content you’ve created that is useful to your audience.
  • Keep all of your content, particularly technical specifications, up to date and easy to use. If your technical content is comprehensive, logically organized, accurate, and easy to access, you can gain a reputation as a supplier that is a trusted source of knowledge and expertise. Engineers will come to depend on you more. 
  • Because engineers are on the move, if you only have a couple of contacts within a company, you risk losing that connection if the engineer changes jobs or retires. Consider a campaign to help update your database by having engineers verify their contact information, asking them to recommend a peer or colleague that would benefit from knowing about your company and products, and encouraging engineers to share your content such as blog posts, articles, and videos so that you can increase your number of contacts. Keep your database updated so you can track engineers who change companies.

Employee loss is inevitable, but loss of specialized knowledge doesn’t have to be. By focusing on getting relevant, educational content into the hands of engineers, you can become a trusted partner in helping them slow down the loss of institutional knowledge. Ultimately, you’ll help your own bottom line as well.

Customer Relationships

Use the Content Marketing Ripple Effect to Your Advantage

Have you ever tossed a pebble into the water and watched the ripples expand in widening circles that spread across the surface?

That same concept is applicable to content marketing when you put in motion an integrated strategy that the support of social media and search engine marketing.

Consider the effort involved in launching a new product or service. To promote the launch, you create a variety of useful, relevant content. This may include white papers, press releases, blog posts, data sheets, webinars, videos, infographics, and more.

How you distribute that content and the ripple effect it creates will largely determine the success of your efforts. The plan for content might look something like this:

  • First, develop targeted content to support the marketing initiative.
  • Next, post content on your website and promote it through email marketing, directory listings, display advertisements, and social media.
  • Then, keyword-heavy links in your promotion channels drive your audience to your content and to your website where they can learn more about your product and you can capture visitor conversions.

That launch sequence is akin to throwing the stone in the water—it’s your initial splash.

If your content is strong, directed to your target audience, and relevant to them, the ripple effect can occur.

Here’s how it works:

When an audience interacts with your content or clicks on a keyword link, they are being directed to your website. Or when your audience likes your post on a social media, leaves a comment, or shares it with their own followers, they are helping to amplify your content and expand its reach.

An increasing number of inbound links from directories, advertisements, and social media to your content increases relevant traffic to the web pages devoted to the product or service you are launching and promoting.

While no one knows exactly how social signals such as views, likes, shares, and retweets directly influence search engine rankings, we do know social signals broaden your brand exposure, drive traffic, and increase incoming links. This activity creates a downstream positive impact on the factors that major search engines do consider, including relevant traffic, backlinks, and page popularity.

For example:

  • When your audience likes your post, re-tweets your tweet, leaves a comment, and shares your content with their own social connections, these social signals raise the profile of your content (and your company) and expand its reach.
  • As your content appears in more places and more links are generated to your website, your search engine rankings for specific pages can improve. This is true when content and links are on directories and media sites, such as GlobalSpec, as well as when the content and links appear on social media channels.

There is an additional advantage to posting links to your content on social media: While almost everyone uses search engines in their mission to find products and services, engineers are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know than they are the results of search engine keyword queries. If you’ve ever had a friend or colleague share a social media post with you and say “I love this product” or “You have to check this out,” chances are you will.

One caveat: providing a stream of strong, relevant content to your audience is not a one-and-done deal. It is an integrated and ongoing strategy of content creation, social media sharing, and searching engine marketing. You must continually provide fresh content for search engines and your audience, and not just make a single splash when you have a big announcement or launch.

That means engaging in the hard work of content marketing day after day, week after week. There are no shortcuts. But the benefits of the ripple effect are worth the effort.

Content Marketing SEM Social Media

How Your Content Marketing Strategy Can Lead to SEO Success

Industrial marketers know their audience of engineers is constantly seeking educational, technical content that helps them do their jobs better and make more informed, confident buying decisions.

That’s why almost every industrial company engages in content marketing as a key marketing tactic. At the foundation of content marketing is having a strong content strategy.

A content strategy will align content marketing with your overall business and marketing goals, offer guideposts to measure your content marketing efforts, and prevent you from aimlessly or hurriedly creating content on an ad hoc basis to fill gaps.

One key benefit of a content marketing strategy is that it supports your SEO efforts by helping to grow organic web traffic. Content can be a great ally to SEO if your content strategy includes:

  1. Anticipating a user’s search query and providing a clear and comprehensive answer with your content
  2. A process for continually updating and refreshing content
  3. Positioning your company as an authority on a particular subject
  4. Creating and distributing original, newsworthy content of interest not only to your customers, but to the media and other industry influencers

1. Anticipate a search query

Your web pages can rise in search results if you are able to answer a user’s question. You can do this by researching appropriate keywords likely to appear in a search query and subsequently creating web page content that answers the question posed in the query. Search engines often give preference to content their algorithm determines most closely answers the user’s question.

2. Continually refresh and update content

Search engines also place a high importance on recency of content. As part of your content strategy, you should regularly and methodically audit your content. Get rid of the old and outdated. Post and feature what’s new and updated. Make sure the content is always answering a user question.

3. Position your company as an authority

Search engines factor in authority signals from web pages. These include incoming links from reputable sources, case studies, quotes, customer and partner lists, awards and recognitions, and other content that demonstrates that your company is an authority on a particular subject.

4. Create and distribute original, newsworthy content

This factor goes beyond simply keeping your content up to date and focuses on creating original content that may have interest to the media and influencers in your industry.

This type of content includes original research studies or surveys of your own customer base. Or it may be a fresh perspective or interpretation of data from other research studies. The value of this content is that you can pitch your research and analysis to influencers and the media, leading to greater exposure and potentially earning the type of relevant backlinks to your website that search engines favor.

A Comprehensive Strategy is Needed

The positive relationship between a content strategy and improved SEO results is just one reason to have a comprehensive content strategy. Most importantly, a good content strategy ensures that you prioritize the needs of your customers and prospects.

When assembling your strategy, make sure to document the goals you are trying to achieve through content marketing (traffic, lead generation, brand visibility), profile the audience you are targeting, determine the channels you will use, and line up the resources you will tap to achieve your objectives.

And for more about achieving SEO success, read this month’s companion article about the upcoming change in Google’s algorithm.

SEO

Why You Shouldn’t Be Concerned About Upcoming Google Algorithm Changes

You may have heard Google is updating their algorithm for how it ranks results when buyers search the web for products and services. The changes will roll out in May 2021. Will your rankings suffer?

Many industrial marketers are worried, but if search engine optimization (SEO) has been part of your marketing practice, we don’t think the change should negatively impact your rankings, even though some media outlets are raising warning flags.

Who Will This Update Target?

We believe this algorithm update will be geared more toward media websites and other sites monetized by banner ads that try to squeeze maximum dollars out of their traffic by increasing page views and ad clicks. We don’t expect most industrial, ecommerce, and other B2B websites that focus on creating a frictionless user experience leading to a purchase will be as impacted.

Factors to Consider:

Page Experience

The algorithm change will take into account a new factor Google calls Page Experience. It includes all aspects of how users interact with a web page and how positive or painful the experience is for them.

The major factors considered are mobile friendliness, loading speed, interactivity response, call-to-action, and visual stability of page elements. Mobile friendliness and page speed have been part of the Google’s page-ranking algorithm for several years. These two factors are important, and they will impact your rankings.

To help ensure that you maintain your rankings, or potentially improve them, take steps to optimize your site for mobile and speed.

Speed

First, use Google tools to run a page speed report.

You can run this report for any page on your website. It will give the page a score and offer suggestions on how to increase speed. Major factors influencing speed are:

  • Image size and format
  • Flash elements that slow down loading
  • Excess or unused code

Look for opportunities to compress images and optimize code. While working on images, be sure to use the Alt-text tag to describe the image using keywords. Remove Flash elements that bog down page loading time.

Interactivity of a page is its response to clicks, which is related to page speed. One element Google mentions regarding interactivity is the call to action (CTA). The CTA should be short, specific, and clear about the action needed. Ideally include a benefit.

Mobile-friendly

More than half of all web searches globally are now performed using a mobile device. The mobile friendliness of your website can definitely impact your search engine rankings.

Google also offers a mobile friendly test.

If you don’t have a responsive web site design that renders pages quickly and cleanly on mobile phones and tablets, you may need to invest resources to make that happen. With so many searches being performed on mobile devices, having a responsive website is a requirement.

Remember: Great Content is Still the Most Important Factor

Some marketers might get so caught up in the metrics and technical issues of SEO that the most important element—great content—gets pushed to second place.

As Google has written on its own blog, “Great page experience doesn’t override having great page content.”

Fresh, relevant content that answers the question posed by an engineer’s search query will always play a critical role in determining page rankings. Your content should be simple, it should answer a need, and it should be unique to your business.

When you have such content, and then optimize your site to create a seamless and frictionless user experience, from headline to copy to CTA to Shopping Cart and Sale, you could see your rankings move closer to the top.

SEM SEO

How the Pandemic Has Impacted Engineers

The pandemic has impacted many professions and industries, including engineers working in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. But engineers have long demonstrated they are a smart and resilient bunch—they have jobs to do and find ways to get them done, pandemic or not.

That’s not to say that engineers haven’t made adjustments to how they search for and connect with suppliers, and how they source and consume content. Here are some tendencies that have changed during the pandemic and that should be on your radar when crafting marketing programs during this unsettled period.

Participation is increasing in virtual events and webinars

First, there might be some confusion about the difference between virtual events and webinars. To help clarify, consider webinars as standalone, specific events—short, often technical, and focused on a single topic.

Virtual events are more expansive and last longer. While they often contain technical presentations that you might encounter in a webinar, virtual events may also include keynote speeches, exhibitions, discussion forums, sponsors, and other content and interactive features.

Forty-eight percent of engineers have participated in a virtual event, according to the “2021 State of Marketing to Engineers” research report developed by TREW Marketing and GlobalSpec.

Of those engineers who attended a virtual event, 80 percent found the event a valuable experience. Still, engineers prefer webinars to virtual events by more than a two to one margin, while 28 percent aren’t sure which format they prefer. This makes sense, as virtual events in their current incarnation are relatively new.

Whether at a virtual event or a webinar, if an engineer shows up, they’re looking for technical content. When developing your own webinars, keep this in mind. If participating in or hosting a virtual event, make sure you have plenty of opportunities to deliver technical presentations to your audience that help them do their jobs better.

Podcasts are an emerging content type

Fifty-five percent of engineers now listen to podcasts for work. Thirty-seven percent subscribe to 1-5 podcasts.

Out of those engineers that listen to podcasts, 33 percent listen for 6-20 minutes a week, followed by 26 percent that say they listen for 5 minutes or less. Given that the average podcast is 15-25 minutes in length, this data indicates that engineers are listening to about one episode for work per week.  

If you plan to delve into podcasts as a marketer, treat them like other content you produce. Make each episode focused on a single topic, don’t be afraid to get technical, and pay attention to production values.

Other tips: use good microphones, choose speakers who have strong and clear voices, be professional but also foster your personality, add beginning and ending themes to the podcast, and edit the file to create a tight and smooth final product.

Video is popular, but be careful

A whopping 96 percent of engineers watch some videos for work. Forty-eight percent watch less than one hour, while another 48 percent watch for one hour or more. By comparison, engineers spend twice as much time watching video as they do listening to podcasts.

Video has grown steadily in popularity, particularly among younger engineers. Thirty-two percent of engineers are willing to fill out a form to access gated video tutorials, making video a viable way to begin a relationship with engineers.

However, there are signs of video fatigue setting in. This is primarily due to the quality of videos. While a smartphone is all you need to make an effective video, not paying attention to production values can derail your efforts.

One way to make the most out of video is to use this content format for what it does best: showing visuals and movement as a way to explain concepts. That’s why demos and tutorials are the most popular subjects for videos, while talking heads can be snoozy.

Keep your videos as short as possible while still covering the topic. Pay close attention to your video statistics, particularly length of view. If a large portion of your viewing audience is dropping off around the same time, you’ve got a problem.

The biggest reason for drop off is lack of relevancy. Make sure your videos are about subjects your audience cares about and keep engineers interested by moving your story along.

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