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Why Digital Advertising is Crucial in 2021

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While the overall ad market in the U.S. is contracting due to COVID-19, B2B digital ad spending is up 22.6% year over year, according to “U.S. B2B Digital Advertising 2020,” a research report by eMarketer.

Why is digital ad spending increasing?

  • When you can no longer meet in person, digital channels perform the heavy lifting of connecting suppliers with potential customers.
  • As overall marketing budgets are constrained, the need for B2B marketers to measure and report back ROI only intensifies.
  • Digital advertising, such as search, social media, and display ads provide metrics to easily measure their performance.

In sum, a digital heavy approach can give you greater control over your budget and measurement, as well as connect you with prospects in this difficult time.

What if customers aren’t buying?

Economists are not in complete agreement on whether we are in a recession or just a temporary dip due to the pandemic, but either way, the impact is the same, especially if your customers aren’t buying right now.

So why should you invest in digital advertising right now? Many research studies have shown that companies that continue to market during a recession come out stronger and with a better market position than those companies that cut back.

Even if your customers aren’t buying right now, digital advertising can increase the visibility of your brand and keep you top of mind with customers and prospects when they are ready to buy.  Otherwise, you might forgo a chance to be remembered and placed on their shortlist of potential vendors for future purchases.

Furthermore, the sales and buying cycle tends to be longer in B2B markets. This favors longer-term branding efforts through digital advertising channels. By laying the groundwork now, you may not be able to immediately profit during the recession, but you will be more likely to capitalize during the recovery.

Lessons from previous downturns

Companies have learned a lot about navigating through recessions, and many marketing lessons hold true across time and apply to industrial suppliers:

  • Don’t withdraw from advertising, unless your company’s short-term survival depends on it.
  • When there is little current demand to be had, use longer-term brand advertising to take the place of shorter-term demand generation.
  • You can defend and even gain brand recognition when competitors cut back.
  • Adjust your message to acknowledge the pain your customers may be experiencing.

Match the mood of customers

Every customer wants to feel listened to and understood. This is the time to demonstrate humanity and warmth. It is time to let them know you are there for them and will continue to be there when they are ready to make purchasing decisions.

You can weave this kind of messaging into advertising, articles, white papers, social media posts, webinars, and more. You can also create more content that is purely educational, such as how-to pieces, descriptions of processes, or explanations of technologies.

Choose advertising channels wisely

Despite all the reasons to continue maintaining a digital advertising presence during this difficult time, you might not have as much budget to spend as you normally would.

To maximize the positive impact of your budget, seek out measurable, proven digital channels that reach the specific audience you want to target, whether it’s current customers or potential markets. The best way to do this is to work with your media partners.

GlobalSpec stands by ready to assist you. Download our 2021 Media Kit or contact us for more information about how you can make the best use of digital advertising during this uncertain period.

Digital Media
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Is Your Marketing Plan Off-Balance?

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As 2021 approaches, industrial marketers face unprecedented challenges in solidifying their marketing plans for next year.

What’s a marketer to do? The answer is to balance two factors that largely determine both short-term and long-term marketing success: demand generation and branding.

While both branding and demand generation work in tandem as part of your complete marketing strategy, they perform different functions and have different attributes.

Demand generation:

  • Short-term campaigns (typically less than three months)
  • Highly-targeted to defined audiences
  • Messaging around solving specific problems

Branding:

  • Longer-term campaigns (typically more than six months)
  • Focused on gaining visibility in the market
  • Lays the groundwork for future business opportunities

According to research conducted by LinkedIn, B2B organizations allocate 45 percent of their marketing budgets, on average, to branding.

Marketers might be tempted to lean even more heavily toward demand generation in hopes of spurring short-term revenue growth, but an imbalanced strategy is unlikely to produce the desired results in 2021 for several reasons:

  • Short-term demand for products and services may be depressed during the pandemic and amid economic uncertainty, and no amount of marketing magic can change that.
  • Unless your company is a household name in the industrial sector, demand generation programs are forced to perform too much heavy lifting without the support of branding to keep your name top of mind with potential customers.

More reasons to balance demand generation and branding

  • Name recognition is important. Customers prefer to buy from brands they know and trust. It reduces the fear and risk involved in making a purchasing decision. There’s some truth to the old adage: “No one ever got fired for buying from IBM.”
  • Stronger brands command a price premium because buyers are will to pay more for brands they recognize and trust.
  • According to GlobalSpec’s upcoming “Pulse of Engineering” survey, only 34 percent of engineers say they are very or completely likely to be employed at the same company five years from now. That’s a lot of movement among your customers. If you lose an individual’s contact information when they change jobs, the only way to keep your company top of mind with them is through ongoing and broader branding campaigns.
  • Branding campaigns support short-term demand generation success by helping to shorten sales cycles. Salespeople are not starting at ground zero every time they engage with a prospect; instead, they are speaking to an informed person who already knows the brand attributes your company represents.
  • Branding allows you to reach beyond your own base and find new contacts and establish new connections, which is key to new growth.

Balance your measurement too

It’s easier to measure ROI for demand generation programs because their metrics are immediately available and results are known in a shorter time frame. Branding is a longer game that contributes to demand generation success but is more challenging to measure.

Track the effect of branding over a longer period of time. Choose metrics such as reach and visibility, name recognition, any trends in sales, or shortening of sales cycles. You could also allocate the costs of branding campaigns among your demand generation efforts under the assumption that branding is assisting those programs.

Combine branding and demand generation

Look for opportunities to gain both branding and demand generation benefits through integrated programs. Examples include using digital ads to promote a foundation webinar that features an industry expert. Or running a regular advertisement in an industry e-newsletter in which you offer brand-sponsored educational content.

Resources to help you

Marketing Strategy
focused female employee reading information on computer in office

How to Build Trust Via Email – 8 Tips

focused female employee reading information on computer in office

Forty-three percent of engineers open most or all newsletters they subscribe to and they either read every one or at least scan for content. Another one-third of engineers scan subject lines and open the ones that intrigue them, according to the research report “2020 Smart Marketing for Engineers.”

These numbers could be higher. The way to increase email effectiveness is to build greater trust with your audience. When engineers trust you, they gain confidence in you, and are more likely to engage and do business with you.

Here are eight tips for building trust via your email communications.

1. Get permission

This isn’t just a tip, it’s a requirement. Unsolicited email does the exact opposite of building trust—it sows suspicion and doubt in the recipient, violates spam laws, and can harm your brand.

When you only send email to opt-in recipients, you are taking the first steps toward building trust.

2. Always make yourself known

Even with opt-in email, you need to use the ‘From’ line to your advantage by letting your audience know who the email is from. It could be from your company or from a specific group within your company (for example: GlobalSpec Media Solutions send out the Marketing Maven newsletter).

You can also use a person’s name in the ‘From’ line, such as a sales representative or a business leader, as long as that person is known to the recipient. This name recognition tactic and one-to-one communication fosters a greater sense of trust.

3. Set expectations—and adhere to them

When someone signs up to receive email from you, let them know how often you will email them and what you will be emailing them about. If possible, give them options for the type and frequency of communications they want to receive.

Don’t violate this pact. If they are opting in for only a monthly newsletter, don’t send them weekly promotions. Keeping your promises is one of the best ways to build trust.

4. Make the content relevant

This is one of the most important factors contributing to the building of trust via email—and to the success of your email communications.

Engineers are looking for educational, informational content that helps them do their jobs better, grow their knowledge, and make more informed buying decisions.

Try to segment your audience into groups based on product interest, roles and responsibilities, or other criteria, and then craft emails targeted to their needs and interests. Forty-five percent of industrial marketers produce content for 2-3 audiences and 27 percent for 4-5 audiences, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020,” produced by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs.

5. Personalize whenever possible

Personalization creates bonds. Bonds create trust. Personalization can be as simple as using your recipient’s name in the subject line (such as ‘David, here is an article we think will be helpful’) or in a salutation (such as ‘Dear David’).

Using marketing automation software, you can take personalization deeper by tracking what emails or content a recipient has engaged with in the past and using that data to determine what to send them next.

6. Avoid the “Do Not Reply” address

Sometimes you get email that says “Do Not Reply” in the ‘From’ line or elsewhere in the email. This phrase does not belong in email marketing because it shuts down conversation and suggests to your recipient you don’t really want to hear from them.

Again, this is no way to build trust. Instead, give your audience a way to engage with you, offer comments, or start a conversation. For example, at the end of every Marketing Maven, we include this note along with an email link: “Email the Maven. We’re interested in learning from your experiences, too! If you have a question for us or a story to share, please send us an email.”

7. Use Conversational Language

Build trust by being human. One way to do this is to treat your email communications like a conversation, using normal, everyday language. Stay away from formal writing. Put the thesaurus away and simply talk to your audience as you would to someone face-to-face.

8. Track and improve

You can always get better at your email communications, and the better you get the more trust you will build. Eighty-six percent of industrial marketers use email engagement to track the success of their content (“Manufacturing Content Marketing).

Track email delivery statistics, opens, clicks, and forwards to find out what’s working and what needs improvement. As you finely tune your email communications, you’ll also increase the trust level between you and your audience.

E-Mail Marketing

How to Use Content to Ease the Pressure on Engineers

The annual “Pulse of Engineering” survey published by GlobalSpec has long underscored the pressures faced by engineers as they do their jobs. This year’s report reveals that these existing pressures have combined with the impact of the coronavirus to create even more challenges for engineers to face.  

Every day, engineers are dealing with highly competitive markets, shrinking design cycles, time-to-market pressures, and loss of institutional knowledge.

Consider these survey findings:

  • Fifty-eight percent of engineers say the competitive landscape is global and competes 24/7.
  • Seventy-three percent say designs are becoming more complex/sophisticated, 64 percent say there are increased time-to-market pressures, and 58 percent report that design cycles are shrinking.
  • The majority say their company’s productivity, innovation, and/or product quality are constrained by a shortage of specialized talent/knowledge.

Marketers can step in and use their content creation and marketing skills to help alleviate these pressures on engineers. Here are four ways you can be a part of the solution to the challenges facing engineers.

1. Help engineers complete their projects

Engineers use technical documentation, software and development tools, product specification data, and datasheets as their most essential systems or tools to complete projects.

Good content from vendors helps to educate engineers and increase their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend. Your content should include the technical information and specification data that engineers are seeking.

Maintain a well-organized, accurate, and up-to-date portfolio of technical content that engineers can easily access on your website and that you promote to them through your marketing efforts such as email, social media, and industry websites.

The manufacturer that meets these content needs for its audience and provides the helping hand in completing projects is the manufacturer that is more likely to earn and convert business opportunities.

2. Focus messaging on customer pain points

Specifications and datasheets are essential, and so is providing context around your product and service offerings. When creating content, focus on how your products and services can help speed up design cycles or reduce time-to-market pressures.

In an era in which designs are more complex, does your content explain difficult concepts clearly, helping engineers grasp what you have to say quickly and easily? When you hit your customers’ pain points, they will respond to your messaging.

3. Fill in knowledge gaps

In the “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, 58 percent of engineers said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company is very or extremely important. Another 26 percent said it was moderately important.

The issue is exacerbated due to older engineers retiring, layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, and organic turnover. Yet only 39 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.

That leaves a significant gap in some companies. Marketers can be a valuable contributor in helping their customers preserve institutional 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—educational and customer-focused rather than promotional and sales-focused—can become a part of a client organization’s knowledge library.

4. Help engineers advance their skills

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.

But only 39 percent of manufacturing marketers used webinars/online events as a content type in the past twelve months, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020,” produced by the Content Marketing Institute.

It might be time to devote more resources to webinars, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when many engineers are avoiding traveling and most in-person events are canceled.

You can create webinars to 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.

The “2021 Pulse of Engineering” report has clear takeaways for manufacturers: become the vendor that meets your audience’s information needs. Don’t be afraid to take a deep dive into your products and services, offering the technical, in-depth knowledge that engineers and technical professionals are looking for. They will thank you with their business.

Content Marketing

Should Your Marketing Mix Include Virtual Events?

Due to COVID-19, many in-person tradeshows and industry conferences have been delayed or canceled. While navigating this situation has been a challenge for both engineers and industrial marketers, it has also created an opening for the emergence of virtual tradeshows.

GlobalSpec recently conducted a survey of engineers regarding virtual tradeshows. The results showed that a slim majority of engineers have never attended a virtual event, but those that did found the event valuable.

  • Fifty-two percent of surveyed engineers have never participated in a virtual industry conference or tradeshow event.
  • Of those that did participate, 80 percent found the virtual event experience valuable.
  • Forty-nine percent of engineers said they find standalone webinars more valuable than virtual events. Twenty-percent preferred virtual events. The remainder were unsure.
  • Thirty-one percent of engineers said they would likely attend their favorite in-person industry conference or trade show if it were staged as a virtual event in 2021. Fifty-six percent said maybe they would attend.
  • When industry conferences and trade show events were canceled, the leading alternate sources engineers relied on for information and/or networking opportunities were supplier/vendor websites (63 percent), online trade publications (44 percent), publication emails/e-newsletters (43 percent), and vendor email/e-newsletters.

Recommendations for Marketers

The findings of this survey point to several possibilities for marketers:

1. Strengthen your webinar game

At this point, engineers prefer standalone webinars to virtual events. Webinars are shorter, more focused, and easier to host. They also provide excellent engagement opportunities. Furthermore, engineers are familiar with the webinar format and more likely to  commit time to attend them. This is particularly true if they trust they’ll receive high quality and relevant information.

Consider creating a series of short webinars (20 minutes or so) that build on each other but also can individually stand alone. You can also produce one or two foundational webinars that feature an analyst, industry expert, or customer who can tell a powerful and compelling story.

To increase interest and attendance, engage your audience through interactive webinar features such as live polls, chat windows, and Q&A sessions.

Here are eight tips for creating a successful webinar.

2. Refresh your home page

There may not be anything wrong with your website’s home page, but engineers are relying more on vendor websites during this time of COVID-19, and you should make sure your home page shines.

Don’t worry about having the fancy bells and whistles on your home page. Instead, focus on providing engineers with easy access to the latest detailed technical information and specifications they are looking for. Clear and simple navigation allows engineers to dig deeper and discover more.

3. Devote more resources to email

With in-person events shut down, engineers are relying more on email and e-newsletters from vendors and industry websites as alternative sources of information.

Continue to send regular emails to your house list. To reach potential customers not on your list and whom you might have connected with at tradeshows, consider advertising in opt-in industry e-newsletters that are targeted to your audience.

You can also work with a media partner to send custom, co-branded emails that can capture your target audience’s attention.

4. Seek a virtual tradeshow opportunity

You may have an opportunity to exhibit at or sponsor a virtual tradeshow or other online event. Of course, many such events are popping up, and some will be better than others. Event spaces, exhibitor profiles, registration, content library, support for live streaming, and lead retrieval are a few of the factors you must take into consideration.

While a virtual event can be an excellent networking and engagement opportunity, evaluate your options and choose an event that’s aligned with your goals and capabilities. Be sure to read this before committing to a virtual tradeshow.

Tradeshows

How Industrial Marketers are Affected by Supply Chain Issues

birds eye view photo of freight containers

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, people worldwide have experienced the effects of supply issues. Here at GlobalSpec, we were curious about how it has impacted industrial marketers specifically, so we conducted a survey. Marketers can use these findings and recommendations to:

  • Better understand disruptions that facing their company, customers, and the industrial sector at large
  • Adjust and improve marketing plans as needed to align with the current situation
  • Craft messaging and content that acknowledges what is happening and supports customers

The Majority are Impacted

Sixty-four percent of industrial marketers said their supply chain has been affected by COVID-19 this year; 32 percent said it was not.

When asked if their company was currently experiencing supply chain issues, the results were similar: 61 percent said yes; 34 percent said no. This shows us that few supply chain issues have been resolved, and the effects of the pandemic are still impacting marketers.

Marketing Strategies Affected

Most marketers—69 percent—have experienced an impact on their marketing plans due to supply chain issues. The most common consequences were shifted marketing plans (53 percent), marketing budget cuts (49 percent), and product launch delays or cancellations (47 percent). Forty-two percent said that their product marketing focus has changed due to supply chain difficulties.

When asked to rate their confidence in the supply chain for 2021, the average answer was a 6 out of 10. It’s not a very optimistic outlook, but slightly better than neutral.

Delays are a Common Theme

As marketers elaborated on how supply chain issues affected their company this year or how they feel about the upcoming year, we began to see common themes.

Many marketers mentioned delays, such as long lead times for parts that lead to delays in finished product, shipping, and payment. Some companies are unable to offer fast or “as quoted” delivery. Others are facing increased freight costs. The overall unpredictability and inconsistency of market conditions has been difficult for marketers.

In addition to supply chain, decreasing demand and its effect on marketing was noted by several companies.

Recommendations

  • Reach out to new suppliers. If your company is affected by supply chain issues, marketing can help by planning an outreach campaign to potential new suppliers. Diversifying the supply chain is a strategy that makes sense for every company.
  • Use content to acknowledge supply chain disruptions. If your customers are impacted by supply chain issues, let them know you understand what they are going through. Tell them if your company can do anything to alleviate their situation, such as offering faster shipping or more favorable terms. Reassure customers that your company is stable and ready to serve them. Content that gives a sense that you understand and share their pain and that “we are all in this together” is helpful.
  • Reallocate marketing dollars. If certain markets you sell into are more impacted than others, consider pausing campaigns to the affected markets and using that budget in other markets that are performing better. The same holds true for delayed product launches. If you still have that budget, reallocate to where your marketing spend is still producing results.
  • Create a second marketing plan for 2021. You may need more than one marketing plan going into 2021. The first plan would assume that supply chain (or other COVID-19-related issues return to normal), while the second plan would accommodate supply chain disruptions or other potential negative impacts. Some companies are already in the habit of creating three marketing plans: a best-case scenario, a realistic scenario, and a worst-case scenario.
Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing Trends
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How Marketers Can Help Prevent Institutional Knowledge Drain

concentrated black man reading book in library

Industrial companies are facing a pressing problem: the loss of knowledge and information as employees leave the company.

In GlobalSpec’s forthcoming “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, 58 percent of engineers said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company is very or extremely important. Another 26 percent said it was moderately important.

The issue is exacerbated due to older engineers retiring, layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, and organic turnover. Twenty-six percent of engineers said they were only moderately likely to be employed at the same company five years from now. Thirty percent said they were only slightly likely or not at all likely to be employed by the same company.  

That’s significant employee loss—often accompanied by specialized knowledge walking out the door.

Formal practices are required

Only 39 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.

That leaves a significant gap in some companies. Marketers can be a valuable contributor in helping their customers preserve institutional knowledge.

Here’s how:

  • Create educational and technical content that is focused on the needs and interests of engineers. 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—educational and customer-focused rather than promotional and sales-focused—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.

  • 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 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.

Remember, employee loss is inevitable, but the 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 bottom line as well.

Customer Relationships
woman having a video call

How Has the Coronavirus Impacted Engineers?

woman having a video call

Almost everyone around the world has been impacted by the coronavirus, and engineers are no exception. In the forthcoming “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, GlobalSpec asked engineers three key questions about the coronavirus. Here are their responses.

1. Has the coronavirus impacted your department’s budget?

Forty-six percent of engineers said that the coronavirus has caused their budget to decrease, while 36 percent said it has not impacted their budget.

  • More midsized companies with 50-250 employees saw their budget decreased (64 percent) than larger or smaller companies.
  • The regions most impacted by budget decreases were Africa (75 percent), followed by South America (68 percent) and Asia (67 percent). The region least impacted was Australia, with only 28 percent of companies experience budget decreases. In North America, 46 percent of companies saw their budgets decreased.
  • The industry most impacted by budget decreases is Consumer Electronics (72 percent), followed by both Automotive and Education (each at 64 percent). Sixty-two percent have experienced budget decreases in Fabricated Materials, General Manufacturing, and Oil & Gas.
  • Several industries saw the average company experience either budget increases or stable budgets. These industries include Government, Aerospace & Defense, Engineering/Tech Design Services, Communications-Data/Telecom/Wireless/Network, Medical Equipment/Instrumentation, and Industrial Machinery/Tools & Equipment.

Key Takeaway: While many budgets have decreased due to coronavirus, some have increased or remained stable. Even in industries or regions where budgets have been most impacted, the show must go on. Marketers should continue their campaign efforts, making adjustments where necessary to account for lagging industries or markets.  

2. How has the coronavirus impacted your ability to complete projects?

The most common impact on the ability to complete projects is supply chain issues and the availability of necessary parts, which was reported by 40 percent of survey respondents.

  • Supply chain issues and availability of necessary parts has had a larger impact on smaller companies with fewer than 100 employees than on larger companies.
  • Australia (38 percent) and Asia (35 percent) are the regions most impacted by supply chain issues.
  • The industries most impacted by supply chain issues are Agriculture/Forestry, Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals, and Packaging Machinery, all at 40 percent.
  • The ability of half of those working in Semiconductor & Electronic Components to complete projects has been impacted by colleagues being laid off or furloughed.
  • Twenty-six percent of engineers said that working from home has impacted their ability to complete projects.

Key Takeaway: Because supply chain is the most common issue impacting engineers’ ability to complete projects, if there is any way you can expedite or improve the ability to get parts into the hands of your customers you should make that point clear in your marketing messages. Alternatively, think about some other ways you might be able to alleviate the pain their feeling from supply chain issues.

3. What has been your biggest challenge during the coronavirus?

The biggest challenge engineers face during the coronavirus aligns with the most common impact on the ability to complete projects: the availability of parts and components, reported by 26 percent of respondents.

  • Twenty-two percent of engineers said that working remotely was their biggest challenge; 16 percent said canceled work travel.
  • Working remotely and canceled travel were more of a challenge for engineers at larger companies.
  • The challenge of the availability of parts and components was felt particularly by engineers at smaller companies with up to 50 employees.
  • In most industries, the availability of parts and components is the biggest challenge. However, working remotely is the number one challenge for Government, Education, Utilities/Energy, Aerospace & Defense, Oil & Gas, and Consumer Electronics.

Key Takeaway: In addition to alleviating supply chain concerns, think about how your customer’s work environment is different than normal, and account for that in your outreach. Are there better times of day to reach them? Is a conversation via Zoom a better option? Your typical outreach might need to change.

Look for more insights into the work environment of an engineer in our upcoming research report, “2021 Pulse of Engineering.”

Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

Follow These Steps to Create Better and More Effective Landing Pages

Industrial marketers invest a lot of effort and resources into multichannel campaigns to drive customers and prospects to landing pages. In some ways, landing pages are simple, because they have only one goal: conversion. The overall purpose of a landing page is to entice your prospect to complete a form.

But earning conversions can be a challenge when prospects are hesitant to hand over information about themselves in exchange for your offer of a whitepaper, webinar, or other content.

Your job is to build enough trust and provide enough value that this exchange of information is a no-brainer for your prospect. Here’s how:

One campaign, one landing page

Each campaign should have its own landing page designed specifically for its target audience and associated offer. Avoid multi-purpose landing pages that serve several campaigns. Anything you do that detracts from a single campaign message can feel watered down, confusing, and lower your conversion rate.

Get right to the point

Your visitor has come to your landing page for a specific reason: to take advantage of your campaign offer. Make it as easy as possible for them by making it perfectly clear what they need to do.

All of your landing page choices should be focused on the desired prospect action. Tell them exactly what to do and why. Use clear, short headlines. Reinforce with benefit-oriented bullet points. Add large buttons with action verbs (Click Here, Download Now, Read the Report, etc.). Place the most important information at the top of the page.

Create continuity

To reassure visitors they have come to the right place, create continuity between elements of the campaign and the look of the landing page. Use the same or similar language, colors, fonts, and imagery.

This type of positive reinforcement adds to the professionalism of your landing page and increases the likelihood that your prospect will take the requested action.

Remove distractions

The landing page has only one purpose—to convert. That means you should remove everything from the page that doesn’t contribute to a conversion.

Some marketers may be tempted to add a second offer, in case the visitor isn’t interested in the main offer. Don’t – It’s distracting from your goal and will lead to landing page confusion.

Similarly, many people want to include multiple links to other parts of their website so that visitors can explore and/or get information. Avoid this, as it only gives visitors a reason to click away from the offer before converting.

Add trust marks

If you think a prospect might need a bit more convincing before converting, add trust marks to the landing page. These might be logos of other customers who use your products or a brief customer testimonial video. But don’t add anything that takes visitors away from the landing page or detracts from the main goal.

Keep forms as simple as possible

If you’ve done everything right and your prospect takes action to accept your offer, don’t annoy or discourage them by presenting a long, complicated form to fill out. If you do, your drop-off rate will likely be high.

Instead, ask for minimal information that allows you to identify the prospect and communicate with them. Name, company, and work email is all you really need.

As you begin a relationship with the prospect, you can fill in additional information. But for the landing page, minimal is best.

Don’t overlook the thank you page

If your prospect makes it as far as your thank you page, you’ve achieved your goal of conversion. Well done!

On the thank you page, you have another opportunity to gain and direct the interest of prospects. Here you can offer them links to content related to the offer they just accepted, such as articles, case studies, videos, and datasheets. You can offer them subscriptions to your newsletter or ask if they’d like someone from your company to contact them. Remember to only do this on the thank you page post-conversion, not the landing page itself.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing conversions. Make sure to share your wins with us.

Web Sites – Design & Usability

How to Maintain Sales & Marketing Alignment When Working Remotely

The Maven has always advocated for tight alignment between sales and marketing teams. Whether the teams work under the same command or for different leaders, alignment between sales and marketing offers advantages, including increased efficiency, better prospect targeting, more qualified leads for sales, and ultimately increased revenues.

Key tactics for sales and marketing alignment include:

  • Working toward shared goals
  • Clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and accountability for each team
  • Collaboration on lead scoring/ranking, especially the definition of a sales-ready lead versus a marketing lead and when to hand off a lead to sales
  • Collaboration on creating buyer personas and identifying target markets and customers
  • Sales input and buy-in on marketing campaigns and marketing content
  • Regular meetings between the two groups to share insights and updates
  • Marketing on sales calls; sales contributing to marketing messaging

Even in an ideal world, sales and marketing alignment requires a lot of dedication and effort. But the era of COVID-19 has made this effort that much more daunting. Many sales and marketing teams that are accustomed to in-person meetings and activities are now working remotely.

To maintain alignment, sales and marketing must adapt to changing conditions. Some organizations already have remote workers and the transition might not be as bumpy. According to the job search site FlexJobs, the number of people working remotely has increased 159 percent between 2005 and 20017.

Whether you already have remote workers or are just discovering the meaning of virtual, here are some tips on how to keep a tight bond between your sales and marketing teams:

Establish policies about using collaboration tools

Teams working remotely are relying more on collaboration tools such as Slack, Zoom, Trello, Google Drive, and others. In the past, you may have used them as needed or ad hoc. Now it’s time to document and formalize their uses.

Determine what tools you will use and how you will use them under specific situations. For example, you might create a Slack channel devoted to discussing new leads or campaign status. Or standardize on Trello for shared projects.

You also can document policies about communication time frames. For example, emails should be answered within X time frame, while queries on a Slack channel should be addressed within Y timeframe. Other policies might be to ask team members to always use video for online meetings.

Keep processes that work

Maybe you once had bi-weekly meetings between sales and marketing to discuss leads, or monthly “lunch and learns” to share new campaigns or new content. If these types of collaboration have been successful, keep them.

Companies can use tools like Zoom for group or one-on-one meetings. Or you can still host your “lunch and learns” virtually. Consider giving your team certificates to purchase a lunch of their choice to eat at their desk while they participate in a presentation.

Track and communicate changing market trends

Just about every market is experiencing upheaval for the better or worse. You might find that certain geographies or vertical markets are suddenly performing better/worse or a certain customer persona is more active. Your sales team will likely be the first to find out.

Have someone be responsible for tracking and communicating changing market trends and make decisions as needed. For example, you may need to redirect campaigns to focus on specific products that are in demand, or revise your lead scoring system because you have many more prospects signing up for webinars.

Create a buddy system

No, this isn’t elementary school or swim camp. But working remotely can feel lonely and isolating, especially for extroverted types who thrive on gatherings of people.

A buddy system that pairs a marketing person with a salesperson for daily check-ins can reduce feelings of isolation and also foster stronger communication ties between sales and marketing.

Make the most of an altered situation

There’s no question this is a stressful time for all workers. Previous work routines and processes have instantly vanished. Employees are getting up to speed on remote working. Why not use virtual communication and collaboration tools to ease some of the pressure?

Many teams are hosting virtual happy hours, talent shows, readings, lunches, and more. Bake in some virtual levity and leisure for your sales and marketing teams and that alone will help improve relations and collaboration.

Industrial Marketing and Sales