UX for Industrial Marketing: Your Top Questions Answered

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The concept of the user experience (UX) dominates the world of product design, but its reach has expanded much further. UX has an important role in industrial marketing. If you’re not familiar with UX and how it applies to your marketing efforts, this article will introduce you to the main ideas and how to incorporate UX in marketing.

What is UX?

There are many ways to define UX. Most definitions agree that UX is the process of designing products (digital or physical) that are useful, easy to use, and satisfying to the user. Because UX affects the user’s overall feelings or reactions to your company, a good UX can help to increase the value and desirability of your products, strengthen your brand, and build customer loyalty.

Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” That’s the essence of UX.

What is the relationship between UX and marketing?

There is a tight and natural bond between UX and marketing. Consider that product design often entails market research, focus groups, customer surveys, analytics, competitive research and other tasks that enable us to better understand user needs and desires.

Those same functions apply to marketing. We perform market research, conduct surveys, create customer personas, analyze data—all in the name of creating effective and targeted marketing that improves our audience’s experience with our message and content, and helps move them more smoothly along the path to conversion.

For example, a good UX that leads up to a clear call to action can result in greater conversion, while a bad UX may mean that the user never finds the call to action at all or drops off somewhere along the conversion path.

Why use UX concepts in marketing?

The goals of UX and the goals of marketing are very much the same: delight the customer to the point that they will purchase, and even advocate for, your products.

When applying UX concepts to marketing, these three goals stand out as the most important to pursue:

Get discovered—the user experience begins when a prospect discovers you. No discovery means no chance of a relationship. Marketers must pay attention to how engineers and technical professionals prefer to search for products, services and suppliers.

Engineers do most of their research up front and on their own, before contacting a supplier, using favorite channels such as search engines, websites, online directories, email and social media. Marketers must allocate their budgets to the appropriate channels in order to be discovered and initiate the user experience.

Offer a superb and intuitive visual experience—when users find you, do you make it easy for them to access the information they want? An intuitive visual experience can easily guide them. This can encompass everything from a clear and properly placed headline, to obvious places to click, to web pages and other content that can be quickly scanned, to conversion forms that are painless to fill out, and more.

Drive brand loyalty— UX affects a user’s overall attitude and response to your company and your products. A user who has a positive experience with your marketing and content is much more likely to convert, become a customer, and remain loyal. Your goal in tending to UX concepts is to always make it easy for them to like you.

Where should I apply UX principles in marketing?

The short answer is that UX should inform all your marketing decisions. But here are a few areas to pay special attention to and that should bring you the most benefit:

  • Targeting—The right message at the right place at the right time goes a long way toward creating an exceptional UX. Use your market research, customer personas and media partners to help choose appropriate channels to connect with your target audience. The first step of UX is finding the user.
  • Words—UX is not only visual; it touches other senses as well. Write copy for your customers, not for your company. Focus on what your audience needs and wants to know, provide all essential information, and use as few words as possible to get your points across. Explain any concepts that might not be familiar to them.
  • Layout—Display ads, spec sheets, web pages, forms, emails—everything you create and put in front of your audience must have a pleasing and functional layout that captures a user’s attention, directs them to what you want them to see, and persuades them to take action, whether that action is simply to click to download or to place an order. How we layout our pages and utilize on-page elements is central to our marketing efforts (and our success). A frustrated user who can’t find what they are looking for is unlikely to convert.
  • Accuracy—mistakes and errors can ruin the UX. If your content doesn’t project quality and attention to detail, a user will have a negative impression of your company and products, and will be unlikely to do business with you.

These are just a few of the factors that contribute to UX. If your company has UX product designers, you should consider forming a cross-functional team that shares insight into users and contributes to the produced product (think of marketing campaigns as products). You can improve the user experience through your marketing; it’s imperative that you do so.

Marketing Trends Marketing, General

Six Tips to Make the Most of Your Summer Marketing

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Some industrial marketers believe they should scale back on marketing during the summer. They assume that many of their customers and prospects on vacation, and that dollars are wasted trying to connect with an audience that isn’t paying attention.

While many of your customers probably wish they could take a hiatus, in reality, engineers and technical professionals are still working during the summer months. Even if 10 percent of them are out of the office at any given time, that leaves 90 percent still searching for products and services, still researching and gaining exposure to your brand—that is, if you’re still marketing. If you’ve scaled back, your customers might see your competitor who has jumped in to fill the void.

Marketing is an imperative in every season. But summertime does present an opportunity to make some adjustments. Offices do tend to be a little quieter. Not everything you have on your to-do list is fire-drill urgent. So here are six summertime marketing tips, three for connecting with customers and three for your internal marketing operations.

Curate a Summer Reading List for Customers

Plenty of engineers and industrial professionals put aside time during summer months to research favorite ideas, new projects, innovative technologies, and potential suppliers. You could prepare and send them a package of your best content, both original and curated: articles, white papers, interviews, case studies and more.

You could even call such a package “Summer Reading.” Let them know in your introductory letter how easy and useful it would be to pack this folder with them if they take a summer trip. How about including a gift card for a cup of coffee?

Create a Podcast for Car Drives

Podcasts aren’t the most popular marketing channel in the industrial sector, but what a nice touch to have a downloadable podcast your customers could listen to on car rides or during flights. Try an interview with an industry expert on a popular topic. Ask a customer to narrate their case study story. This will take some planning, and you’ll need to write a script, but a ten-minute “news” segment can make for an interesting summer listening experience for your audience. This would be particularly doable if you have existing content that you could repurpose into an audio format.

Host a Subject Matter Expert

Summer is a good time to recruit your subject matter experts to host an online Q&A. Customers and prospects find great satisfaction when interacting with the technical and engineering minds behind your products. Everyone can learn from each other. Live “coffee and breakfast” chats can fill early morning hours. You can also archive the chat for later access, and just like that, you’re creating and repurposing valuable content.

Conduct a Content Audit

Content is the fuel that runs your marketing engine. You can’t afford to run out of or use inferior quality content. And yet, keeping content updated is often one of those important tasks that tends to slip down the list.

Summer is a good time to conduct an audit of marketing content. What do you have in your library? What’s popular and what’s not? What needs to be updated? What holes need to be filled? Don’t forget to include your web pages in the audit.

Once you’ve determined what content you need to produce or update to support your marketing efforts, you should prioritize and combine the tasks, then start recruiting internal and/or external resources to get the job done. Do this now and your fourth quarter marketing will run much smoother.

Analyze Six Months of Marketing Performance

You’ve got half a year of marketing in the books. How well are you doing? Summer is a good time to analyze the performance of all your marketing programs. Pull reports, compare channels, calculate ROI where you can. Work with your media partners to analyze how well you are meeting your goals.

Summer is often the time when budgets get adjusted for the second half of the year, hopefully up, possibly down. Armed with the insight as to how well your programs are doing, and with a second half budget established, you can make adjustments to channels and programs, moving dollars away from underperforming channels and into those that show more promise.

Research New Technologies and Channels

Maybe you’ve been putting off doing some of your own professional homework. Are there marketing channels you’ve heard about or other companies are using that you’re not familiar or comfortable with yet? Now is the time to research further. Media partners can help you here as well.

 

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

How Data Privacy Laws are Impacting Industrial Marketers

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You may remember that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018. GDPR impacts how every business handles the personal data of EU citizens, even if the company does not have a physical presence in Europe.

Following in the footsteps of GDPR, California passed its own digital privacy law, called the California Consumer Privacy Act, set to go into effect January 1, 2020. The law will allow consumers to know what information companies are collecting about them, why they are collecting that data and who they are sharing it with.

When GDPR went into effect, many marketers weren’t sure how to react, and questioned how this would impact the future of data and privacy. Now that California has passed its own law, it seems that this trend towards privacy isn’t going anywhere.

It’s likely that other states will follow by passing laws to regulate how businesses use personal data. There is even some momentum for a federal law. Mark Benioff, Salesforce CEO, has called for a national privacy law.  Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, believes the U.S. should pass its own version of GDPR.

The trend toward regulating how businesses use the personal data they collect from consumers has significant ramifications for industrial marketers. You need to devote resources to complying with the laws and change your marketing practices. Noncompliance can upset your customers and prospects—and draw unwanted attention from regulators. Fines for violations can be significant. Brand reputations can suffer.

Here are five actions you should take to help ensure your marketing tactics are aligned with privacy regulations:

1. Conduct a Comprehensive Reconsent Campaign

Thirty-five percent of marketers worldwide are asking everyone on their marketing lists to reconsent, while another 35 percent are taking a limited, country-by-country approach to reconsent. (eMarketer, subscription required).

Email is the most common way to execute a reconsent is a campaign. Reach out to everyone on your list and ask for their permission to continue to market to them. You may have already done this as part of GDPR compliance or as a list hygiene initiative. It’s a good idea to run a reconsent campaign every year.

As part of your reconsent campaign, ask people to confirm their opt-in decision. Give them clear and easy access to your data privacy policies, let them know how you will use their data, and remind them they can always opt-out.

Don’t just focus your reconsent messaging around compliance with privacy laws. Give your audience a business reason to reconsent. Remind them of the benefits of hearing from you, such as all of the great content and information they will have at their fingertips if they continue to opt-in to your marketing communications.

2. Create a Preferences Center

This action goes hand-in-hand with a reconsent campaign. A preferences center is a web page that allows your customers and prospects to select which channels they prefer for communication with you (email, text, etc.), what specific types of content they would like to receive, how often they want to hear from you, and other preferences.

3. Strengthen Options for Consumers

A typical scenario: you ask a prospect to fill out a form in order to download a white paper and your form includes an opt-in checkbox that’s already ticked, forcing the user to uncheck it. This is not only inconvenient for the visitor, it’s not in compliance with GDPR.

Also, make sure it’s easy and obvious for email recipients to access your polices and preferences center, and to unsubscribe from your communications. These links should be clearly labeled in every email you send. You can also put these links on your web pages headers and/or footers.

4. Keep Accurate Records

You should keep records of who consented, how they consented, when they consented, and what they consented to. When questions arise, the burden of proof for consent often rests with the company, not the consumer.

In addition, you should keep a “do not email list” of anyone who has unsubscribed or has not reconsented. Screen any new email addresses you get against this list to make sure you don’t add someone to your permission-based list who doesn’t belong there.

5. Vet Your Media Partners

Your media and marketing partners have to be as rigorous about compliance with privacy laws as you do. For example, before you sponsor or place an ad in a partner’s e-newsletter to their subscriber base, be sure to ask if they have conducted reconsent campaigns. Ask if their subscriber database is compliant with GDPR or other applicable data privacy laws.

If you are experiencing challenges understanding or complying with data privacy laws, consider working with a reputable partner that has an accurate, opt-in database comprised of engineering, technical and industrial professionals and has the marketing expertise to help you connect with this audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing Trends Marketing, General

When to Pull the Plug on a Marketing Campaign

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Almost every marketer has experienced the distress of a lackluster marketing campaign. You might get all the fundamentals right—target audience, relevant message, appropriate channel, strong creative, and lead capture—yet the results you expected still aren’t there.

It happens. Despite all the data available on which to base decisions, marketing remains an inexact science. External events and even luck play a part in marketing performance.

If you’re faced with a program that’s not meeting expectations, you might be tempted to cancel the campaign and cut your losses. On the other hand, you might hang in there and hope performance improves. A third option is to make changes to the program midstream and see if that helps.

Which decision is right for your situation?

Continue the campaign

In some ways, this is the easiest decision, because you don’t have to do anything except wait and see what happens. But it’s also difficult to simply hope things get better, especially when you’re reporting on your metrics to other colleagues. It’s natural to want to intervene.

Here are reasons to keep the campaign running in its current form:

  • Your campaign fundamentals are solid and you need to be patient.
  • If you’ve gotten positive results but not to the point you’ve hoped, it could be your expectations and not your campaign that needs adjustment.
  • The campaign has pulled in a new or unexpected type of customer and you’d like to get more of these.
  • An external event has caused a temporary disruption to your marketing flow. This could be anything from big industry news to a national crisis to a major storm.
  • The campaign is entirely new for you and you haven’t been able to accurately estimate the time it takes to see results.

Continue the campaign with changes

This is the most tempting option. If something is broken or not working properly, you want to fix it. Can you do it? Here’s why you should:

  • Some components of the campaign are performing well, while others lag. For example, you might be doing a great job driving prospects to a landing page, but they’re not completing a conversion form. You could tweak the landing page or simplify the form. Another example: Prospects are clicking to watch your video, but dropping off. You might need to edit the video to make it more compelling.
  • You’ve discovered a mistake in the campaign. You’ve used the wrong image, there’s a typo, the offer is misstated, a landing page url has changed, etc. In this case, you make the necessary repairs, keep going, and hope that does the trick.
  • You’ve had feedback from customers or salespeople that something is off about your messaging or channel approach. If this is the case, you could make suggested changes and keep the campaign running.

Cancel the campaign

Pulling the plug on a marketing campaign that isn’t working is a tough decision. You’ve already invested time and money. You hate to think you made a mistake. But sometimes, canceling a campaign is the best choice. Here’s when:

  • You’re far enough into the campaign to know that no matter how much performance improves it won’t cover your costs.
  • A change has created conditions in which your campaign is no longer viable. It could be a strategy change at your company such as the discontinuation of a product line. Or it could be a change in the market, such as a new technology or product that makes your campaign obsolete.
  • You have a better marketing opportunity and decide to take resources off of an underperforming campaign and devote them to another.

If there does comes a time when you must pull the plug on a campaign, think of it as a learning opportunity rather than as a failure. It happens to every marketer, sooner or later. Apply what you’ve learned, and do better next time.

 

 

Marketing Strategy

Can Influencer Marketing Work in the Industrial Sector?

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Influencer marketing is a huge topic in current consumer marketing. Influencer marketing uses advocates, spokespeople and content creators to drive conversations and engagement around a brand or products. These “third-party” voices add authenticity to brand messages and help companies reach and persuade an extended audience.

In the consumer space, you can recruit and utilize many influencers, from everyday consumers to celebrities who talk about your products, most often on social media. Think Instagram posts, Snapchats, blogs or Tweets that show photos of products being used or endorsed.

However, content spread through social media influencers doesn’t easily translate to the industrial space. Social media platforms are not the primary way engineers and other technical professionals discover products and services or advance through their buying process.

The industrial audience uses search tools, email, product directories, supplier websites and other “traditional” digital media for their product research. So, can influencer marketing work for industrial companies?

You might already be doing it

While influencer marketing is not a good fit for every industrial company, some companies are finding success with influencer marketing as a tactic. You might already be using it, but not necessarily applying this label.

For example, if you have relationships with industry thought leaders or analysts who talk about your company or products, or if you have a customer who presents at a conference about how they use your products, this constitutes influencer marketing.

The fact is, engineers are apt to listen to third-party influencers, which means influencer marketing can work in the industrial space. But to be successful, you must make a concerted effort to build an influencer marketing initiative, rather than rely on the occasional analyst comment or customer testimonial to spread your word.

Discover who is influential

The first step is to identify potential influencers. These might be bloggers, consultants, authors, engineers, academics—in short, anyone with a respected point of view in your industry and an audience that listens to them.

How do you find and engage this group of people? You might already have some relationships cultivated, but if you want to dig deeper and discover other influencers, what they are saying and who is listening, you can use a number of tools in your search, including:

These tools help identify influential voices and trending content that is relevant to your message and goals. Each tool has its own capabilities and sweet spot, so you’ll want to look at several to see what’s right for you.

Engage with content

If you approach an influencer and are able to establish a relationship, they may want to use your content or they may create their own using your content as source material and reference. One way to build relevant content to pitch to influencers is to focus on topics that influencers care about and that also intersect with your message and mission. Do some rs, ram posts, Snapchats, blogs ogyresearch about the influencer and their relevance to you and your content to help narrow the focus.

Partner with influencers

Engaging influencers with content is one way to jump into influencer marketing. However, unless a formal relationship with an influencer exists, you can’t control when or how they talk about your products or brand.

To gain more control of the narrative align yourself with a select number of influencers by engaging in tactics such as:

  • Inviting an influencer to write a guest post for your blog
  • Co-authoring a white paper with an influencer
  • Jointly hosting a webinar with an influencer
  • Creating a video interview with an influencer

These types of influencer tactics can work in the B2B space the way that Instagram or Snapchat might work in the consumer space.

How much effort should you put in?

While influencer marketing is certainly a valuable marketing tactic, it’s not time to put all your eggs in that basket. Your budget, time, and resources can only spread so far. That means you should focus most of your marketing energy on proven digital programs that have historically delivered results for you. These might include email, e-newsletter advertising, search engine marketing and product directories.

However, it would be wise to identify key influencers in your specific market sector, engage with them, and better understand their points of view and the types of topics they find important. Then you can decide on launching a concerted influencer marketing program.

Even if you only experiment with influencer marketing, by building some of these new relationships, you’ll raise the visibility of your company, brand, and products. Aligning yourself with key influencers in the industry can only lead to positive results.

 

Market Research Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends

The Fundamentals of a Successful Email Campaign

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If you’re like many industrial marketers, you’ve been using email marketing for many years. Email remains the number one marketing tactic in the industrial space. But at this point, you may not be getting the same level of audience engagement that you have in the past.

The issue could be that email marketing has become so familiar that you might not see simple opportunities to improve performance. Sometimes the answer is to go back to the fundamentals that made you successful in the first place, and to make sure you’re doing everything right that you can control—from subject line to sign off.

Always keep the number one rule of email in mind: Relevancy drives engagement. Each of these fundamentals forces you to think about relevancy, with the ultimate goal of increasing engagement.

Choose a Template to Fit Your Purpose

Consider the typical emails you might send:

  • Offer to download gated content
  • Invitation to a webinar or other event
  • Link to watch a video
  • Share a case study
  • Promote a new product
  • Provide a collection of links to curated content

Each of these emails has a different purpose and a different call to action. If you consider your purpose first, choosing an appropriate template becomes an easy decision.

For an email with an offer you would use a template that has bold and highly visible buttons for the user to take action. A product promotion would use a template with room for product photos. A video email would use a template that allows the video to play within the email itself, or at least highlights the video prominently. A collection of links might use a simple list-format template.

Most email marketing platforms offer a variety of useful templates. Whatever template you use, remember that busy professionals tend to scan through emails quickly. Use layout elements that make it easy to quickly absorb content: bold headlines, a strong image, bullet points, short paragraphs, and a highly visible call to action in both text and button formats.

Get Your List Right

Rarely should you send the same email to your entire list. What’s important and relevant to a field engineer may not be to a product director, so they shouldn’t get the same email.

A sure way to increase engagement is to send the right email to the right audience. This requires list segmentation. The lists you create depend on the data available to you and your marketing objectives. New customers get welcoming emails. Current customers get upgrade emails. Hot prospects get purchase offers. Users of Product A get promotions for Product C.

Teamwork: From Line and Subject Line

This is what your audience sees first in their inbox, and it’s your first opportunity to be relevant and engaging.  Your email must be from a person’s name or a company name that your customers and prospects recognize. Otherwise, there’s no relevancy, and your email will likely be discarded unopened.

Subject lines are worthy of a long discussion, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that a subject line’s singular function is to motivate the recipient to open and read your email. Subject lines should be benefit oriented and convey a sense of urgency so that recipients open your email immediately rather than save it for later or pass it by completely. Here are several subject line examples:

  • Just published: Top ten reasons why hydraulic pumps fail
  • Registration closes Friday for Webinar on lasers
  • June 12, Orlando: Solar cell expert to speak at conference

Include a Strong Call to Action

‘Action’ is the key word here: download, read, view, register, get. These are all action verbs. That’s just the start. Relevancy comes in with the rest of the call. It can be longer when you use text: ‘Download five ways to boost battery power.’ Or: ‘Watch how to install an oscillating pump.’ On a button: ‘Download now.’ Or: ‘Register now.’ Use both text and graphics for the call-to-action—they lead to the same place.

Focus on Conversion

If you’re offering a download or video, conversion takes place when your recipient clicks through. Other times, you will direct your audience to a landing page form. Use similar graphics and messages in the email as in the landing page, to provide continuity and to let people know they’ve come to the right place.

If you’re using a registration form, keep it simple and easy, asking only for the minimum information you need to begin a dialog with customers and prospects. In other words, make it easy for them to engage.

 

 

E-Mail Marketing

Achieving Success with Long-Form Marketing Content

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Back in 2015, Microsoft issued a famous report stating that a consumer’s attention span is less than that of the average goldfish. Judging by the content we often see circulating – quick-hitting listicles, 240-character social media posts, Snapchats and Instagram stories that vanish – the report seems to ring true.

But while attention spans may be shrinking, longer form content is making a necessary comeback for B2B marketers. You should embrace this trend for three key reasons:

  1. Google loves long form. Ultimately, Google wants to connect searchers with the most relevant and authoritative information that answers a user’s query. It’s no longer about keywords – it’s all about authority. And most of the time, you can’t make an authoritative case in a short piece. Keyword-rich authoritative content can help marketers achieve higher search engine page rankings.
  2. Serious prospects want to dig deeper than a social media post or a list of bullet points. They want to know that you understand and can solve their problem. They want to make sure your company is legit and that you know your industry. So while a small percentage of people will take the time to do a deep read into a topic, those that do are more likely to be very qualified. Serve them well with powerful, deep-dive content.
  3. With long-form content, you can dominate a subject matter in a way that provides value to your audience. You become the expert, the thought leader, and the authority that readers depend on for important information on a key topic.

What Qualifies as Long-Form Content?

There’s no standard definition of what constitutes long form, but a reasonable guideline is that anything over 1,000 words requires engaged effort on the part of the user and would likely provide depth of information. With 85% of web content weighing in at less than 1,000 words, you may think it’s insane to write long form, but don’t try to fit in, stand out. Your audience wants both long form and short form.

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as too long; there’s only too dull. Make your content of interest and value to your reader, and they will stay until they reach the end.

These types of content lend themselves to long form:

  • How-to articles. Go into detail about how to perform a task or solve a problem.
  • Research reports. Compile primary and/or secondary research into a report on market trends, user behavior or other.
  • White papers. Provide your audience with comprehensive education on a topic relevant to them.
  • Solution guides. Compare or classify different approaches to solving a problem.
  • Technical documents. Explain the way a product or process works.
  • Case studies. Some case studies lend themselves to long form.
  • .Longer videos with valuable content can also be valuable for engaged users.

Tips for Effective Long Form Content

  • Always think in terms of telling a story with a beginning, middle and end. Introduce your topic, dive into the details, then come to clear conclusion.
  • Write an executive summary. A one-paragraph summary of the piece can help readers quickly glean the main points and decide if investing additional time is appropriate for them.
  • Use design to guide your reader. Use short paragraphs, subheadings, white space, bullet points and imagery to make your long content easy to read and to encourage readers to keep going.
  • Carefully evaluate topics to identify those that work in long form. Don’t try to stretch out a limited subject and don’t try to condense a book-length issue to a few thousand words.
  • Hire freelance writers, editors and proofreaders if you don’t have the time or resources to create long-form content on your own. Most professional writers should be able to grasp and communicate any topic, no matter how dense or technical.
  • Create a cornerstone long-form piece and then segment the information into smaller, standalone chunks to use in your content marketing efforts and to get more value from your investment in the long-form version.

 

 

 

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Ten Tips for Online Customer Surveys

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You can learn a lot surveying your customers and prospects: how satisfied they are, how well your products and services meet their needs, how to best connect with them, which competitors are formidable and much more.

It’s easy to conduct an online survey in the digital age, with many free survey tools available to you. But it’s not foolproof. A poorly designed and executed survey can frustrate your customers, give you skewed or invalid results, and lead to decisions based on bad data. Follow these ten tips to avoid survey pitfalls and help ensure your efforts yield positive results.

1. Determine Your Purpose and Goals

Why are you conducting this survey? Here are some common scenarios in the industrial sector:

  • Purpose: Discover what customers think is missing from your products. Goal: Guide or prioritize development decisions.
  • Purpose: Find out what channels your customers use to research potential purchases. Goal: Better allocate marketing investments.
  • Purpose: Measure the level of customer satisfaction. Goal: Revise policies to better serve customers.
  • Purpose: Uncover the most important issues and challenges your customers face. Goal: Create targeted marketing content that addresses their needs.

2. Decide Who to Survey

Your purpose and goals will help you select the appropriate audience to survey. It might be every customer on your list, or customer and prospects, or anyone that visits your website.

You also might consider surveying an audience that you currently don’t have access to. If you’re trying to discover market trends or gauge the viability of new products, you might ask a media partner if you can survey their customers as well as your own customers and prospects.

3. Choose a Survey Tool

There are many free or low-cost online survey tools to choose from. Some of the popular ones include SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, SoGoSurvey, and Typeform.

In addition, some email marketing services offer survey tools within their platforms. You might already have access to one.

Look for a tool that offers a variety of question types, tips on how to create effective surveys, flexible ways to distribute your survey, and tools to easily analyze survey results.

4. Design Valid and Useful Questions

Writing a good survey question is both an art and a science. Here are two common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Leading questions. Don’t word questions that can sway the user to one side of the argument. Non-neutral wording often signals a leading question. For example: “How fast does the product work?” makes the user think in terms of speed. A better question: “How would you describe the product’s performance?”
  • Double questions. “How satisfied are you with the pumping capacity and ease-of-use of our product?” You’re asking two questions in one. Not only will the user not be sure how to answer, but you also won’t be able to interpret the answer. This example should be split into two questions.

For every question: Don’t ask any question that doesn’t have a clear reason for being in the survey. A good guideline is to determine ahead of time how each question contributes to your overall goal and how you will use the data collected. If you’re not sure, strike the question from your survey.

5. Collect Both Quantitative and Qualitative Data

  • Quantitative data is numerical information that can be measured and analyzed. For example, how many respondents chose to answer “A” to question number six. You can reach conclusions such as “64 percent of our customers are likely to purchase product Y in the next year” or “58 percent of survey respondents say that our chemical test kits are easy to use.”
  • Qualitative data is less structured and more open to interpretation. Survey questions that ask respondents to fill in a blank using their own words give you qualitative data. It can be useful for uncovering insights you can’t get from quantitative research.

6. Keep the Survey Short

Keep your surveys to 10-15 questions or 10 minutes of time. Let your audience know up front how long the survey should take to complete. The longer the survey, the more drop off you will get along the way.

Even with a short survey, you may need to offer an incentive to complete the survey, such as entering names into a drawing for a prize.

7. Promote the Survey

Depending on who your audience is, you may use a variety of ways to reach them. Some include:

  • Emails announcing the survey
  • Links on your website to the survey
  • Display ads or e-newsletter ads that promote the survey
  • Posts on social media

8. Compile and Analyze Results

Most survey tools will provide analytical reports on quantitative survey results. You can typically view compiled results at any time while the survey is still running. You can create charts and graphs that are easy to understand and share.

Qualitative data you will need to read and interpret. If you uncover interesting information, you may want to follow up with a respondent (if they give permission) to dig deeper or perhaps to request a case study.

9. Take Action

The purpose of conducting the survey is to gain new intelligence and actionable information. Compile your results into a white paper or webinar, share with product development to help shape product direction, consider changes in marketing investments or use the results in other meaningful ways.

One thing to keep in mind: before making any major decisions based on survey results, make sure you have a statistically valid dataset. The number of respondents you need is based on a number of variables. Calculators can help determine a statistically valid sample size. Your survey tool may offer one, or they may be found on the internet.

 

Market Research Marketing, General

Why You Need a Documented Content Marketing Strategy – and How to Get it Done

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Let’s start with some good news. The majority (52 percent) of manufacturing marketers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”.

Most marketers understand that their customers seek relevant, educational information from suppliers. This information helps them do their jobs better and make more confident purchasing decisions. Providing this content to their audience is an essential part of winning business.

However, only 21 percent of manufacturing marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. That percentage needs to trend up, because a written content marketing strategy is often a key indicator of content marketing success.

Those B2B marketers that do have a written content marketing strategy say the top benefits of having a strategy are that it “aligns the team around common mission/goals” and “makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop.”

Those with a documented strategy are also more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing and able to justify a higher percentage of marketing budget to be spent on content marketing.

Documenting Your Content Marketing Strategy

If you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, it’s time to get started on writing one. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are unique. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in, and you should include the following key components:

Mission Statement

What pain points and/or challenges are you trying to address through content marketing and what do you hope to accomplish? You might be focused on creating brand awareness, building thought leadership, nurturing leads, lead conversion or some combination of these goals. Write down a mission statement to serve as your content marketing guidepost.

Alternatives

If you don’t engage in content marketing, what will happen? What will you lose out on? On the other hand, if you do devote time, effort and resources to content marketing, what are the opportunity costs? What must sacrifice to be successful at content marketing?

You can’t do everything, so your documented strategy should address why content marketing is the best path to follow over other potential plans of marketing action.

Obstacles

What obstacles need to be overcome to achieve success in content marketing? You might want to segment obstacles into two buckets. Separate factors you can control, such as getting executive buy-in, developing content and choosing channels for content distribution from factors that are beyond your control, such as shifting market dynamics and competition.

Resources

Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Identify who is on the content marketing team and what secondary people are needed to support a successful content marketing strategy (such as IT or website personnel or your media partners).

Audiences

Who are you trying to reach through your content marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. This includes detailed descriptions of the different customers you have or want to reach that are much more effective that vague definitions that only include title, industry and demographics. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.

Message Map

A message map is a grid of what you will say, who you will say it to, and when you will say it. This will be the most detailed component of your document.

On one axis of your grid are the stages of your customers’ buying process: needs awareness, research, consideration and comparison, and purchase. The other axis contains your different buyer personas. The fields within the grid include the content delivered to that person at that stage in the buying process.

For example, a design engineer in her research phase might be targeted with a particular white paper in her research stage and a case study and data sheet in her consideration and comparison stage.

A message map offers a quick reference for the types of content you need to produce and how each piece of content will be used in your marketing efforts. The message map will help you design effective campaigns.

Measurement

Your document should include a section on how you will measure the results of your strategy and if you are achieving your goals. Choose metrics that are meaningful to your efforts and strategy. There are many metrics available to you, depending on the content you are using: downloads, views, clicks, comments, shares, conversions, and more.

There are also more sophisticated measurements such as how content marketing contributes to revenue or customer growth. This article, “Five Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI,” can be helpful in creating your documented content marketing strategy.

 

 

 

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Steps to Setting Up a Lead Nurturing Campaign

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Research has shown that 70 percent of new business comes from prospects that encounter your company in the early stages of their buying cycles, but they may not be ready to engage with sales or make a purchase decision.

What these prospects are ready for is nurturing campaigns that provide education, support and encouragement. These campaigns help prospects move through their buying cycle and reach a purchasing decision—hopefully with your company earning new business.

Without lead nurturing campaigns in place, most of your leads will grow stale and your prospects will buy from competitors who have cultivated stronger relationships with them.

Lead nurturing doesn’t need to be complicated, but you must carefully plan campaigns and execute with discipline. Technology such as marketing automation can make lead nurturing a lot easier, but if you only have an email list and a spreadsheet you can get the job done, albeit with a lot more sweat equity.

Follow these steps to set up a successful lead nurturing campaign:

1. Establish campaign goals and framework

The overriding goal of most lead nurturing campaigns is to convert more long-term prospects into sales-ready leads. If this is your first time conducting lead nurturing, you probably don’t have a baseline upon which to improve, so your first campaign may be a test to gather performance data.

The firm Invesp, which helps its clients increase conversion rates, reports that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost. These might be ambitious milestones to reach, but they do offer you a guideline.

You’ll also need to create a framework for your lead nurturing campaign. Will it last three months, six months or a year? That answer may depend on a typical sales cycle for your company. Will you reach out to your audience once a week, once a month or at some other interval—perhaps with declining frequency over time?

In this initial stage, make sure you work with your sales team. Get their input on key aspects of the campaign as well as the goals and vision. Collaborate on the definition of a sales-ready lead so you’ll know when to hand off a prospect from the nurturing campaign to the sales team.

2. Segment Your Database

Segmenting your database allows you to craft targeted lead nurturing campaigns for specific audiences. How you segment your audience depends on the data you have available and your customer types.

If your company has only one product and one type of customer, you might segment your database according to how long ago you generated the leads. Other common ways to segment include buyer persona and stage of buy cycle. You can also use lead scoring to weigh various factors such as source of lead, action taken by lead, buying time frame, product interest or other criteria to come up with a score for segmentation purposes.

The objective is to get similar prospects grouped together so that you can provide content and messaging that resonates with them and is directly targeted to their interests and needs.

3. Create a Variety of Content

For each lead nurturing segment, you must create content to use in your campaign. Prospects in the early stages of their buy cycle may not know much about your company and products yet, or even how to solve their problem. This group requires educational content such as white papers, articles, checklists, assessments and problem-solving approaches.

Buyers at the consideration and comparison stages need to know how your products can address their specific needs. Helpful content includes data sheets, case studies, webinars and videos. Prospects at the decision-making stage will find demos, free trials, ROI calculators, and support and warranty policies helpful.

4. Schedule and Send

Email is the most popular and effective way to communicate with engineers in a lead-nurturing campaign. You want to show up in their inbox with something relevant to offer and a call to action for your prospect to act on.

There’s no rule about how often you should reach out to prospects in a lead nurturing campaign. Many companies send more frequently in the first few weeks while the need that drove a prospect to your company is still fresh. Over time, frequency may diminish, depending on response.

If you make use of marketing automation, you can easily trigger automatic emails to prospects based on their behaviors during the campaign. For example, any prospect who downloads a certain white paper also gets sent a “Top Ten Tips” as a follow-up.

5. Hand Off Qualified Leads to Sales

You’ve already agreed with your sales team on what constitutes a sales-ready lead. When a prospect in your campaign checks off the appropriate boxes through their actions, get that prospect to a salesperson as quickly as possible.

When a prospect is sales-ready is up to you and your sales team. If they signal buying intent during the campaign, that’s a good sign. Another trigger might be if they interact with a certain percentage of your content, or achieve a certain score if you’re scoring based on behavior. The important thing is to make the hand-off as soon as the lead is ready.

6. Measure and Refine

Throughout the campaign you should track important metrics, such as open rates on emails, accepted offers and unsubscribes. This will give you a good idea of how well your content is performing, or whether you are contacting prospects too often or too infrequently.

Other important metrics include number of sales-ready leads to emerge from the campaign, cost per sales-ready lead and revenue associated with leads from nurturing campaigns. Lead nurturing is an ongoing process, with new leads being added on a regular basis to your campaign and others dropping out or—better—making a purchase. At any time during a campaign, you can implement new strategies based on your analysis of key metrics.

 

 

 

 

Lead Management Marketing, General