What Separates Electronics Engineers From Their Peers

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In its fourth annual research report—“The Pulse of Engineering”— IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions took a fresh approach by segmenting survey responses from electronics engineers. These engineers represent a significant part of IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions’ audience and are a frequently targeted population for manufacturers.

The survey revealed what engineers think about the resources available to them, their competition, how their performance is measured, and the climate at their current company. It also delved into an engineers’ work style, along with their motivations and career path.

When looking at these findings, a number of differences between electronics engineers and those engineers working in other industries are evident. For manufacturers that market to this sector, the findings should shape how you communicate with this audience.

Larger Companies and Design Teams

Electronics engineers are more likely to work for larger companies that employ 500 or more engineers. They are also more likely to work in design teams of 100 or more engineers and in teams that have a greater number of design team participants from other countries.

These results indicate that you may need to reach out to a greater number of engineers who have a variety of perspectives and interest areas. Some may be focused on how well a product works, others on how well a product fits into their existing environment, and still others on the economic payback of a product. When marketing to electronics companies, you may need to create content and messaging that resonates with different areas of focus and that can appeal to a variety of team members and decision makers.

Conditions at Electronics Companies

As with engineers across every industry, many electronics engineers report that the pace of engineering is constantly increasing, the pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk, and they are required to do more with less.

However, electronics engineers are less likely to say that their companies are losing specialized knowledge and senior expertise faster than they can gain it. If you are a contributor to that specialized knowledge and expertise in a company through your products or services, then you’ve proven yourself to be a valuable ally to these engineers.

Other research findings specific to the electronics industry include:

  • Electronics engineers are more likely to consider software and development tools, coding resources and design kits as essential to completing projects.
  • Electronics engineers are more likely to say that the competitive landscape is global and competes 24×7, that new technologies and companies disrupt markets and products faster, and that competitors are quick to adapt and take away business—all findings that reinforce the turbulent and fast-changing nature of the electronics industry.
  • Workforces are more likely to be increasing in electronics than in other industries. At the same time, layoffs are a bigger reason for electronics engineers to leave their company than it is in other industries. The top reason to leave a current role or company is in order to pursue advancement opportunities.
  • In terms of upgrading their career skills, electronics engineers are most interested in learning programming languages, new and emerging standards such as 5G and how to implement artificial intelligence. If you can help educate electronics engineers in any of these areas, you should produce focused messaging and content to support the initiative.

No matter what industries you market to, connecting with engineers requires understanding their needs and motivations, and producing technical and educational content to help them succeed at their jobs.

For a more complete understanding of engineers and their work environment, download a complimentary copy of “2018 Pulse of Engineering.” This valuable resource includes all research results along with analysis and marketing recommendations for industrial marketers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Relationships Electronics Marketing, General
millennial engineer professional

How to Market to Millennial Engineers

In many respects, millennials are like their older, more experienced engineering colleagues: smart, hardworking, ambitious problem-solvers. But in other ways, millennials set themselves apart, and not just in the ways you may have read about previously.

New research from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions—“The Pulse of Engineering”—included exclusive analysis about millennials, which are generally considered born in the time period between the early 1980s and 2000, and for this report have less than ten years of engineering experience.

The results of the survey provide insight into work styles, engineer’s motivations, and their desired career path. A few things stand out about millennials that can help shape how you market to and communicate with them.

1. Millennials are more optimistic than more seasoned engineers.

Engineers of all ages report that the pace of engineering is constantly increasing and that lack of time and resources are their most significant challenges. However, millennials are more likely to believe that technology is improving productivity and they are not as concerned that their companies are losing senior expertise faster than they are gaining it.

Millennials are also more likely to report increasing budgets and new hires in their companies, growth in their engineering workforce, and are less likely to report that cost-cutting pressure is affecting their products.

Takeaway:

Millennials may be more responsive to messages about the benefits of new technology. At the same time, they may not be moved by dark or dire FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) marketing tactics that some manufacturers employ. They’re more optimistic—you should be too when communicating with them.

 

2. Millennials are eager to learn and find new opportunities.

When reporting on factors important to their careers, millennials are driven less by compensation and more by learning opportunity, growth potential and by good work/life balance.

The number one reason millennials would leave their current role is to move to another company to pursue new opportunities, followed by promotion to a more senior role.

For millennials that change jobs, many report they would need to upgrade their current skills by learning programming languages, software development, data science, business skills, and communication and presentation skills. The top four ways they maintain and advance their skills and become educated are colleagues, books, online training courses and webinars (true across all age groups), but millennials are much more likely to use online video and less likely to use technical white papers by vendors.

Younger engineers are also more likely to use datasheets, coding resources, and design kits to help complete projects they are working on.

Takeaway:

Create and deliver technical content that helps educate millennials and improve their skillsets. Plan online training courses for your audience, host webinars, and create instructional videos. Produce detailed datasheets. Offer comprehensive design kits. If you can become a millennial engineer’s trusted resource now, they are much more likely to remember your company and stick with you as they move up the ladder or change jobs.

3. Millennials want open access to information

Millennials are less willing than other engineers to register on a website for access to specific documents. They are also more likely to believe all content should be free and open access.

Takeaway:

These findings have important implications for your marketing programs. If you have gated content that requires user registration, millennials are less likely to fill out a form. It’s not that surprising they believe content should be free and open access—they grew up with the internet and a constant flow of freely available information at their fingertips.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have registration forms on your website to collect prospect information, but you may need to consider other ways to distribute content, such as through social media and email. Or make an executive summary of important content open access and require registration only after you’ve demonstrated your content’s exceptional value. You may also want to consider progressive forms that only require the bare minimum from prospects initially. Millenials may be more likely to fill out a form if it takes only seconds to do and doesn’t compromise too much of their privacy.

 

 

 

Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

Gearing Up for GDPR: 5 Questions to Ask

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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018.

If you market to, sell to or otherwise engage with companies and individuals in countries impacted by GDPR, it needs to be on your radar. Are you prepared?

As you work to ensure GDPR compliance for your business, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is my audience breakdown?
Do you know what percentage of your contacts come from GDPR-impacted countries? Having a realistic snapshot of what relationships – both prospect and customer – will be impacted by this regulation can help you target your compliance efforts and better plan for next steps.

2. How can I ensure a continued relationship with my existing contacts from GDPR countries?
You’ve identified those contacts in your database covered by GDPR. Now’s the time to get them to raise their hands and agree to continue receiving your content. It’s never too early to begin implementing re-engagement campaigns to maintain communication going forward. Explain to your contacts that you value their privacy and illustrate the benefits of opting in to receive communications from you.

3. How do I opt-in new contacts from GDPR-impacted countries?
So you have a plan in place to re-engage your existing contacts. What about new ones? Now’s the time to review any forms on your website that request email addresses to ensure that they are in compliance with GDPR. This
may include requiring additional information regarding contact preferences, implementing “opt in” versus “opt out” forms, including links to a clear privacy policy, and more.

4. What does this mean for my relationships with media partners?
Given the severe penalties for companies that do not adhere to GDPR, it is in your best interest to ensure that all of your media partners are in compliance as well. One way to do this is to request a data compliance statement. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your partners should be able to explain to you how they are complying with this regulation.

5. What else can I do to engage with these contacts?
If you are specifically focused on marketing to countries in the EU, now’s the time to explore a well-rounded media mix to attract and engage this audience, comprised of both push and pull marketing channels. Your IEEE GlobalSpec account executive can help you build a program that accomplishes that goal.

The GDPR is complex and may feel overwhelming, but remember: we’re in this together. Want to learn more? Access an overview of the key changes related to GDPR here.

Marketing, General

How to Keep Up with Engineers on the Move

 

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Only 37 percent of engineers say they are very likely or completely likely to be employed by the same company five years from now.

Of those engineers who might leave their current role, 32 percent stated that moving to another company would be the reason they leave their current role. That percentage rises to 37 percent of those in the Electronics industry and 51 percent for millennials.

These results, from the “2018 Pulse of Engineering” survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, point to the conclusion that engineers are on the move—and the impact on manufacturers and their marketing strategies can be significant. You may have invested significant time and resources toward building relationships with these engineers, only to have them move to another company.

Your goal, then, must be to make sure that when engineers move, they take you with them. How can you do this? By making your company so valuable to them that they couldn’t imagine starting a new job without your company as their ally.

Manufacturers Can Be Trusted Providers of Content

You might gain an advantage if your company can play a role in helping engineers advance along their learning curve. One of the keys is to produce content valued by engineers.

When asked how they systematically or formally maintain, educate and advance their professional skills, engineers answered books, colleagues, online training courses and webinars. Next most popular were technical white papers by vendors. And to complete projects they are working on, engineers turn to technical documentations, software and development tools, and product specification datasheets.

It may be a good time to review and possibly upgrade your company’s online training, webinars, technical documents and white papers.

Engineers May Leave, But You Can Stay

If you establish strong enough relationships with engineers, they may recommend you in their new positions when they change companies. Additionally, you still want to remain entrenched in their previous company, and the way to do that is to be an indispensable knowledge resource.

Engineers admit that knowledge or information loss is moderately (28 percent), very (31 percent) or extremely important (16 percent) as employees left their company. Yet 55 percent of companies surveyed don’t have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage or retain their knowledge among others in the organization. On average, engineers gave a 5.2 out of 10 satisfaction score for their company’s talent or knowledge management processes.

A significant gap exists between where companies are and where they should be in terms of maintaining, managing and transferring knowledge internally. That gap creates an opportunity for manufacturers to step in and provide customized content and training that will benefit these companies as well as embed the manufacturer within the company because of their expertise. Forty-four percent say that design involvement from external partners and vendors is increasing.

Whether engineers are moving to other companies or trying to retain knowledge when others have left, manufacturers can step up by providing the important content that can make them an invaluable resource to their present and future customers.

 

 

 

 

 

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Secrets of the Engineer’s Work Environment

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It stands to reason that the better you know the mindset and working conditions of your target audience, the better you can communicate with them in a relevant and meaningful way.

IEEE GlobalSpec recently conducted its fourth “Pulse of Engineering” survey to gain knowledge about engineers’ work habits, the pace of engineering and their work environment. The results produced a number of insights that can help you better your audience’s work environment – and what they need from you.

What’s Most Important to Engineers

Whether professionally employed for three years or 30 years, the most important factors in the careers of engineers and other technical professionals are having interesting work (selected by 87 percent), good work/life balance (67 percent), learning (59 percent) and compensation (54 percent).

Millennials (born between 1983-2000) are less driven by compensation and more by learning opportunity, growth potential and by good work/life balance.

Design Teams are More Diverse

The majority of engineers (53 percent) work in design teams of 1 to 5 people. Thirty-nine percent work on teams of 6 to 24 people and 8 percent on teams of 25 or more. Design teams of over 100 people are more often found in the Electronics industry.

While the average size of their design team has stayed the same for most engineers, the team’s makeup and output has changed. The number of projects worked on, the number of female team participants, the number of participants from different countries and design involvement from external partners have all increased since last year’s survey.

As a marketer, you must connect with a busier and more diverse design team. It may be helpful to build buyer personas or audience profiles to better craft your message.

Engineers Face Increasing Work Pressure

The majority of engineers and technical professionals agreed with these two statements: “The pace of engineering is constantly increasing” and “We are required to do more with less.” Forty percent agreed that “Pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk.”

These findings confirm what everyone in the industry already knows: that engineers are under significant pressure at work. Forty-three percent of engineers are concurrently working on 3 to 5 projects; 23 percent are working on six or more.

Other survey results reinforce this conclusion about work pressures:

  • 79 percent agree that designs are becoming more complex/sophisticated
  • 65 percent say design cycles are shrinking
  • 72 percent report there is more time-to-market pressure
  • 52 percent say the number of competitors is growing

What do these findings mean to marketers? Perhaps most importantly, it means that any message or content you want to deliver to engineers must be laser-targeted and highly relevant if you want to gain a moment of their attention.

Take a look at your marketing efforts and how you position and talk about your products and services. Will a busy engineer pay attention? Do you have something to say that can help alleviate some of the pressures they face? For example, do your products reduce time to market, speed the design cycle, or explain complex ideas simply?

It might be time to tweak your content to make sure it’s aligned with your audience’s mindset and work environment.

How Performance is Measured

As is the case with many professionals, engineers are measured in terms of achieving stated objectives. The most common goals/objectives to measure team performance are product quality (used by 60 percent of companies) and customer service/satisfaction (58 percent). Launch dates is the next most common goal (49 percent). When reviewing your marketing strategy, ask yourself how you can help your audience meet these goals. Make sure your products and services’ selling points can be directly related to their objectives.

Not surprisingly, given what we know about the nature of engineers, they are good at meeting their objectives:

  • 78 percent frequently or always meet product quality objectives
  • 75 percent frequently or always meet customer satisfaction/service goals
  • 53 percent frequently or always meet launch dates—a lower percentage than the other two, but many factors beyond an engineer’s control influence whether a launch date is met or not.

The overall conclusion to draw is that engineers and technical professionals are successfully fulfilling or surpassing the requirements of their profession, at a time when internal and external pressures are increasing. You’ve got an admirable and dedicated target audience out there. Make sure you tell them that.

 

 

 

 

Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Engineers Are Facing an Information Shortage – Here’s How You Can Help

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Most marketers know that engineers and technical professionals consume a lot of content. Various forms of content are necessary to help them stay informed, perform their jobs better, and to aid their buying decisions. Good content from vendors helps educate engineers and increases their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend.

However, many engineers are facing an information shortage or having trouble managing information- they don’t have easy access to the amount of technical, relevant and educational content they are looking for. The IEEE GlobalSpec “Pulse of Engineering” survey reports that 44 percent of engineers are dealing with constraints in accessing/managing information. Sixty-six percent of engineers are constrained by a lack of specialized knowledge in their organizations.

Here’s how to help your current and prospective clients by satisfying their need for knowledge.

Get Technical with Your Audience

If engineers are constrained by an information shortage, the impact can be significant due to their reliance on technical content. When asked what the three most essential systems or tools they use to complete their projects are, 69 percent said technical documentation and 67 percent said software and development tools. The next most important tools were product specification data and datasheets.

These results offer a message to manufacturers: your customers need technical content. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and get into the weeds on the specifics of your products and services, and how they compare to others in the industry. If you can supply this content, you will likely be in a better position to win business and become an essential ally to your customers.

Get Information in Their Hands

For manufacturers like you to meet the information needs of their audience, they need an effective content marketing strategy. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

The good news is that the vast majority of manufacturers (86 percent) use content marketing, according to an annual research report — “2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing” — conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, and sponsored in by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions.

However, only 22 percent of manufacturers describe their content marketing efforts as mature or sophisticated and only 19 percent have a documented content marketing strategy. Fifty-five percent consider their organization’s content marketing approach to be moderately successful. That leaves plenty of room for improvement.

Among the content types, distribution formats, and social media platforms that respondents use, videos (pre-produced), email, and LinkedIn were rated by content marketers as most effective in helping their organizations achieve specific objectives. The top six types of content produced by manufacturers are social media posts, pre-produced video, illustrations/photos, case studies, eBooks/white papers, and infographics. In creating and refining your content marketing strategy, learn from your peers and consider adding these types of content that have proven effective.

What Engineers Will Exchange for Content

Your audience is willing to exchange a range of things for the information they want. The Pulse of Engineering report found that 53 percent of engineers are willing to register on a website for access to specific documents. Twenty-six percent said they were willing to pay for access to premium content and prefer to pay one set rate for access to all of an organization’s documentation. Twenty-three percent prefer to pay for access to documents as they are needed.

As far as content used to advance their professional skills, engineers mainly use books, colleagues, online training courses, and webinars.

These two research reports provide clear takeaways for manufacturers: Become the vendor that meets your audience’s information needs. Improve your content marketing efforts. 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 Customer Relationships Marketing, General

Best Practices for E-Newsletter Advertising

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Publishing your company’s own newsletter is an effective marketing tactic, but you can reach only people already on your house list. To place your company, products, and services in front of an engaged, motivated audience, and to increase brand awareness and engagement opportunities, many industrial marketers are advertising in respected and trusted industry newsletters.

Subscribers use e-newsletters as a resource for timely information and to stay current with new technologies, product applications, and suppliers during the buying process. Forty-five percent of technical professionals subscribe to three or more free e-newsletters, according to the “2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions.

E-newsletter advertising is a great way for industrial marketers to connect with and influence their target audience. Your efforts, however, will only be as effective as your ad’s copy, image, and call-to-action. Follow these best practices to create compelling and noticeable advertisements that encourage readers to take action.

Set Goals

Your goals will determine what kind of ad you produce and drive all creative and content decisions.

For example, if your goal is to drive engagement opportunities, consider a product-specific ad that focuses on a particular product’s benefits and how it can solve a problem or help a reader do a job more effectively. These types of ads will interest a prospect that is at the stage of their buying cycle when they are evaluating or comparing different products.

On the other hand, newsletter ads can be used to reach readers early in their buy cycle who aren’t quite ready to make a decision. These prospects will be more interested in educational ads that promote white papers, technical articles, and other relevant content. Such ads can help educate readers about your products or trends in the industry while helping you build brand awareness.

Write Compelling Headlines

The most successful headlines and copy are those focused on the interests and needs of your audience. Know your audience and your content will flow from there.

The ad headline is your most important piece of copy. The headline determines whether a reader will simply glance over your ad or spend a moment reading the rest of your copy.

Keep your headline short and to the point. Be persuasive and use your headline to promote a solution to a problem. Example: “New Container Seals Resist Tampering.” Or use your headline to offer something of value to the reader. Example: “Complimentary LED Mount Sample Kit.” Or: “How to Calibrate an Oscilloscope.”

Complement with Copy

Your copy should complement and build upon the promise of your headline. It should be easy to read, therefore short, simple sentences work best. Focus on benefits and creating value for the reader rather than making a sales pitch, and use copy to speak directly to your reader by using words like “you” and “your.”

Don’t feel like you need to get all of your points into the copy- there simply isn’t enough room. Instead, provide just enough incentive for the reader to click-through for more information.

Add an Image

Along with your headline, the image in your ad is what gets noticed first. Again, the word is complementary: your image needs to work hand-in-hand with your headline and copy. If it doesn’t, the reader will be confused and quickly move on.

Ensure that your images are high quality. Product photos should be clear and crisp. Avoid graphs and images that include text as the words may not be legible. Unless your goal is corporate branding, company logos will not be the best use of an image in your advertisement. Readers who are unfamiliar with your company or don’t recognize the logo may pass over your ad.

Add Hyperlinks

Every e-newsletter ad should include a call-to-action that entices your reader to click. Your CTA should give a reason to click and make clear exactly what will come next. “View a product demo video,” “Visit our website for more information,” “Order a product sample,” or “Download the white paper” are good examples of transparent call-to-actions.

Consider using more than one hyperlink. You can put one in the copy, which might be, for example, the name of your product or title of a white paper, and another link in the call-to-action.

Choose the Right E-Newsletter

When deciding which industry e-newsletters to advertise in, make sure you work with a media partner that has the attention of the audience you are trying to reach, the expertise to help you create a compelling ad, and backend reporting services that deliver timely information to you including click-through rates, engagement opportunities and other metrics that help measure your success.

IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions offers you the ability to target the very professionals you want to reach via their inboxes. Our 80+ newsletter titles focus on specific industry segments and products, giving you access to a highly engaged audience of decision-makers who use newsletters as a key resource during all stages of their buying process. Find out more here.

E-Mail Marketing Marketing, General

How to Rise Above Your Competitors

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The three biggest challenges that industrial marketers face: Limited marketing resources, generating enough high quality leads for sales and increased competition. The first two are perennial challenges, the third a more recent trend.

These findings were reported in the “2017 Industrial Marketing Trends” research survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions.

One of the major reasons competition has increased and become more of a challenge is the predominance of digital media and its many channels. Engineers and other technical professionals have more discovery resources at their disposal than ever before. They are exposed to more suppliers in their search for products, services, and information.

That makes your job harder, but you can rise above your competitors. Here’s how.

Diversify Your Spending

The most successful marketers use a mix of push/outbound (email, tradeshows) and pull/inbound marketing tactics (corporate website, online catalogs).

An optimized mix of channels and tactics is crucial for reaching out to and connecting with technical professionals. The broader your presence, the more likely potential customers will see you and not your competitors.

Past research demonstrates the performance benefits of diversifying your marketing spend across multiple digital media channels rather than relying on a single platform. Consider shifting a portion of your budget to other online channels such as online directories/websites, e-newsletters, webinars, and video.

Maintain Marketing Momentum

A common mistake some marketers make is to execute a campaign and then take their foot off the gas. Don’t do this. Your mantra should be “never stop marketing.”

If you disappear for a while, customers might forget about your company and your products and services, leaving an opening for competitors to fill the void. Even if your budget is modest, you can maintain marketing momentum by staying committed to those channels that work best for you.

Differentiate Your Offerings

Whether you market and sell commodity products or complex, customized systems, you need to differentiate your offerings from those of your competitors. What’s special about your products and services?

Fifty-four percent of industrial marketers say their key differentiator is the quality of their products and services. If quality is what sets you apart, then highlight quality over and over again in your messaging. If it’s something else—low cost, superior customer support, warranties, etc.—then play those attributes up.

Produce Exceptional Content

Your audience is clamoring for relevant, educational content that can help them navigate through their buying cycle and make the right purchasing decisions.

Focus on improving your content marketing skills by better understanding customer needs and challenges, and producing content that they trust, which in turn helps them to trust you. Use webinars, white papers, articles, newsletters, videos and other content to show potential customers how to solve a problem, how a technology or product works, or how to perform a task.

Put your energy and time into educating potential customers, while leaving the hard sell to your competitors, and see who wins more business.

Cultivate a Visual Brand Identity

One way to separate yourself from the competition is to be immediately recognizable to potential customers. This means you should cultivate a consistent look and feel in advertisements, webinars, white papers and other marketing content.

For example, choose a color palette and stick with it. Use the same fonts. Create a unique style of imagery. Arrange elements in the same manner. Put your logo in the same place. While these may seem like small touches, they take on significance when your audience is repeatedly exposed to them. They’ll remember you instead of your competition.

Perform Competitive Research

If you want to rise above your competitors you have to know where they stand. This doesn’t mean you must commission an extensive competitive research project. But you must be familiar with your competitor’s offerings and how they position their company, products, and services.

Scour their websites, download their content, study their marketing tendencies. You can create competitive “cheat sheets” that counter the value propositions your competitors make. Salespeople will thank you.

Partner Up

If competitors are getting in your way, find a way around them. A trusted, expert media partner that understands and has the attention of your audience and is knowledgeable about market trends, can help you optimize your marketing mix and laser target the customers you need to reach.

The right media partner is your essential ally in a competitive environment. They often have ideas and strategies you may not have thought of and can help put your company in the best possible position to succeed.

Now go beat your competition.

 

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Seven Tips to Make Customer Case Studies More Effective

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Case studies are an important asset of almost every industrial marketer’s content portfolio. Potential buyers often read or view customer case studies in the later stages of their buy cycle, when they’re ready to hear the voice of other customers who use your company’s products or services.

Successful case studies can be tricky to get right. Customers are often hesitant to participate, and when they do, the results can be disappointing if you don’t tell a compelling story.

To make your case studies more effective, follow these seven tips.

1. Choose the right targets

It might be difficult to produce case studies for every market segment you sell to, and if you can, that’s great. If not, you need to prioritize:

  • Approach customers in the verticals where you have special initiatives or selling goals.
  • Try to interview customers who have similar roles and responsibilities as those you market to.
  • Ask your sales team and account managers for case study recommendations. They’re close to their customers and know who might be willing to participate.

2. Demonstrate value to your customer

To overcome a reluctant customer, demonstrate how their participation will benefit their company. If you promote the case study on your website and social media with links back to their website, you can provide positive exposure for their company. The same is true if you use the case study to pitch stories to media outlets. It’s free publicity for your customer.

There are other ways to motivate customers to participate, such as offering purchasing discounts, early peeks at new products, passes to events or other incentives.

3. Research your customer before the interview

Don’t waste precious interview time asking your customer questions you can answer yourself. Make sure you know as much as you can about your customer before you conduct your case study interview. Review their website to understand their business: its size, office locations, products, positioning, markets, etc.

You can also speak to the account rep to find out more about your customer’s business and their relationship with your company.

4. Plan your interview questions and case study format in advance

Most customer case studies follow the format of Problem>Solution>Results. Develop your questions around these three areas. What business problem was your customer trying to solve or what objective were they trying to achieve? How did the problem impact their business? How did they search for a solution? Why did they choose your company? How does the solution work for them? What were the results?

5. Record your interview

Whether your interview takes place in person, over the phone, or via Skype, you should record the entire interview. This not only gives you a record of what was said so you can accurately write the story and quote the customer, it also frees you to listen more closely and easily ask side questions based on the direction of your conversation. If you’re trying to take notes during the interview, you could lose track of your thoughts and what your customer is saying.

6. Always ask about quantifiable benefits

The real meat of a customer case study is the measurable benefits of using your solution. Hours of time saved. Percent productivity improved. Money saved. Reliability improvements.

The challenge is that your customer might not have this information readily at hand during your interview. That’s why it’s a good idea to submit your questions beforehand so that your customer can prepare and have the information you need.

7. Make your customer the hero

All winning stories feature heroes overcoming obstacles. A case study is a perfect way to present your customer as the hero of their own story. Faced with market pressures, desire for growth, low production rates or other obstacles, your customer took on the business problem and chose your solution to defeat the villain. That’s heroic. People love those kinds of stories.

Bonus tip: don’t forget to send your customer a personalized thank you note or small gift to show your appreciation for their participation in your case study.

 

Marketing, General

SEO Basics All Marketers Should Know

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Every company wants to rank high on search engines. Appearing on the first page of search results for important keywords is an effective way to drive motivated traffic to your website and attract quality leads.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your rankings on organic search results for a specific set of keywords. However, “organic” doesn’t mean free. Like any marketing initiative, SEO requires budget, resources and expertise. Still, there are some basic SEO tactics that almost every industrial company should deploy to help improve their rankings. Let’s look at each one of these in turn and how they can help improve your SEO rankings.

1.      Identify targeted keywords.

Before you can perform any search engine optimization, you need to know which set of keywords you want to target for improved search results rankings.

To identify the most relevant keywords:

  • Evaluate your existing content for the words you use to talk about your products and services.
  • Ask salespeople or customers to describe your products or services.
  • Analyze your competitors’ content for keywords.
  • Use one or more of the many available keyword discovery and analysis tools to identify those words most relevant to your offerings.

You may not be able to rank well for the most popular keywords in your sector. Instead, focus on more specific keywords that may not have as much search volume but are more targeted to your offerings.

Once you have identified your keywords, you can use them to write content, optimize web pages and build links.

2.      Write great content for your audience

Fresh content – new and updated web pages, articles and blog posts – is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. Search engines use software programs called spiders that roam the web and index content. Fresh content is considered more relevant than old content.

Use keywords in your content, but don’t stuff pages with keywords. Write for your target audience, not for search engines. Users will quickly spot content that overuses keywords and is designed for search engines rather than user needs. Such content is annoying and typically doesn’t read well, and users that come across these overstuffed web pages through search are likely to go elsewhere.

Instead, produce and post a continual flow of fresh content for your users: how to solve problems, how things work, etc. Your audience will appreciate it, increasing your chances of improved search results.

3.      Optimize web pages for search engines

If stuffing keywords onto web pages isn’t the right approach, then how do you optimize web pages for search engines? The process is called “on-page” optimization. There are a number of tactics you can use:

  • Use the title and description tags as places for keywords. If you are responsible for your website, you can do this yourself. If an IT or web development department manages your website, you will need to collaborate with them. The title and description appear in the search engine results for users to read. This is also a good place to mention your brand name.
  • Make the URL simple and include keywords. Separate words by dashes. If possible, avoid URLS that have long strings of search parameters.
  • Use alt-tags on images and video. The alt-tag is a brief text description that search engines will pick up. It also provides context for users who block images.
  • For video or audio content, you can include text transcription, which will give more detailed content for search engines to pick up.

4.      Build reputable links

Within your site, linking is relatively straightforward. Use keyword-based text links within your content to link to related pages within your site. Search engines rank pages that are connected to other pages higher than those that are isolated.

Getting external links back to your web site is called “off-page” optimization. The theory is that if you have relevant and reputable websites linking back to your site, your pages increase in importance and can rise in rankings. For example, IEEE GlobalSpec clients can link back to their websites from their listings on Globalspec.com, a well-respected and popular site in the industrial sector. Additionally, seek out links from partners. Try to publish content such as articles or blog posts on other industry sites that will link back to pages on your website. Comment on industry blogs and be active on industry forums where you can link back to your website.

Next Steps

These are the four broad categories of SEO you need to familiarize yourself with to improve your search rankings. If you perform the basics, you should see improvement in your organic search engine results for your targeted keywords. If you want to take the next step, you will probably need to enlist the help of an expert well-versed in SEO practices.

There are many firms and consultants offering SEO services. Be sure to ask the agency how they approach SEO to make sure they only use reputable tactics, and try to work with a firm that has experience and satisfied customers in your industry.

 

 

Marketing, General SEO