Eight Features Every Manufacturer’s Website Must Have

clement-h-544786-unsplash.jpg

Most manufacturers deploy a multichannel marketing approach, and the one channel that remains at the top of their priority list is the company website. Your website was likely your first venture into digital marketing, and it’s the one place you can be sure every prospect visits to evaluate your company and offerings before making a purchase decision.

Without a website, you’re not in the game. And without a modern, high-performing website, you might be in the game, but you are most definitely losing out on potential business. To support your portfolio of marketing programs, promote a strong brand and compete for customers, make sure your website has these eight features.

1. Clear, Targeted Positioning

Your home page must clearly state who you are as a company, what you offer in way of products and services, and what kind of customer you are targeting. Some manufacturers make the mistake of going too “general” and trying to be all things to all people. Don’t be tempted to do this.

If a prospect lands on your home page and doesn’t immediately identify you as the kind of company that can meet their needs, they will click away and head to a competitor with more targeted positioning. If you want to draw them in, be clear, not all-encompassing.

2. Logical, Apparent Navigation

Customers and prospects come to your website to get something done: find products, discover helpful information, learn about your company and more. Create a clear navigational structure that can lead your audience to what they are trying to find. The key is to make things easy for your user.

Put navigation bars at the top. If you use drop-down menus, make sure they work in all browsers and environments. Repeat top-level navigation on the footer of every page to accommodate users who scroll down.

3. Landing Pages with Calls-to-Action and Conversion Forms

Your marketing efforts, such as banners, newsletter ads, social media posts, and search engine results should lead users to targeted landing pages on your website that reflect the message or offer that motivated them to click. Don’t send users to your home page.

A landing page should reinforce the offer you’ve made in your marketing—whether it’s a white paper, an article, a webinar, a demo or other—and include a simple conversion form to fill out if you are using gated content.

On conversion forms, ask only for the minimal information in order to start a dialog with a prospect. Usually, first and last name, company and email address are enough. You can fill in the rest of the information as you develop a relationship.

4. Optimized Web Pages

Search engine optimization (SEO) matters. Make sure that your page title and meta tags are appropriately filled out. Use alt-tags for every image. Use keywords in the text of web pages. Keep your page content fresh and up-to-date.

If you have a video that plays on a page, you can also provide a text script below, which provides another opportunity to include keywords. If possible, create easy and intuitive URLs for pages, which search engines prefer and are easier for users to copy and share.

5. Content, Content, Content

Having a lot of relevant, updated content is probably the most important aspect of a website. Not only do search engines favor it, but content is exactly what your visitors have come to your website to find.

Having trouble keeping up with content creation? Turn to your media partner for help. IEEE GlobalSpec provides turnkey content development from industry-leading subject matter experts. We handle everything for you—from content direction to writing, production and project management. Many types of content are available to meet your specific marketing needs, goals and objectives. Find out more here.

6. Testimonials and Case Studies

Speaking of content, don’t forget to showcase customer testimonials and case studies on your website. Prospects want to know what your customers have to say and who you are doing business with.

Possibilities include a web page listing your customers, video testimonials or in-depth case studies that follow the problem-solution-results model.

7. A Responsive Website Design

More and more visitors are using cell phones and tablets to access your website. Make sure your website has a responsive design that will ensure it renders well on the smaller screen of mobile devices. Otherwise, the text is too small, navigation gets buggy and users have to scroll in every direction to view a web page.

If you don’t have the budget or current architecture to create a responsive design for your entire site, pick a few key web pages and have them optimized for mobile devices.

8. Analytics

Every website needs an analytics package, whether it’s from Google or another provider. You can discover where visitors enter and leave your site, which pages are popular or not, how long users stay on a page, their navigation path through your website and much more. You need this data in order to implement changes that will continually improve your site and make it a winner in the marketplace.

Do you regularly invest time and resources into improving your website? Tell us how you plan to improve your website in 2019.

 

 

Marketing, General Web Sites – Design & Usability

9 Quick Tips for Content Marketing with Limited Resources

rawpixel-741658-unsplash

9 Quick Tips for Content Marketing with Limited Resources

A survey of Marketing Maven readers this summer reported that the biggest content marketing challenge industrial marketers are facing is a lack of resources – time, budget, and people. And yet, content marketing is nothing short of a mandate, with prospects demanding a steady stream of relevant content to help them make a purchasing decision.

If limited resources are putting a squeeze on your content marketing efforts, check out these nine helpful tips.

1. Optimize Two of Three Resources

Operating under scarcity is the reality. No one has all the time, budget or staff they need. But you might be able to optimize two out of three resources in your content marketing efforts. Decide what to prioritize based on your most important goals. For instance:

  • If you need content fast and at a cheap price, you’ll have to be ready to sacrifice some of the content quality that only staff hours can provide.
  • If you need high-quality content fast, be prepared to spend more.
  • If you need high quality content but have limited staff available, you’ll have to wait longer as other staff matters take precedence.

2. Be Smart about Outsourcing

Fifty-six percent of marketers don’t outsource any of their content production, but this can be a great way to save resources. Outsource your weak spots. If you don’t have the time, passion or expertise for writing, hire a freelance writer, and then allocate your time to providing direction and editing. Work with freelance designers if your own design team is backed up with other commitments. Outsource any content marketing services that you don’t use on a regular basis, but only when the need arises.

3. Repurpose Content Whenever Possible

Repurposing content from one format to another can help you gain significant efficiencies. It’s important when first developing a piece of content to consider all the ways in which you can repurpose it. Turning an article into a white paper or webinar is easier to do when you consider each format’s requirements at the beginning. Retrofitting is a more resource-intensive way to repurpose.

4. Use Free Social Media

LinkedIn, the most popular social media channel in the industrial sector, offers many opportunities to start and participate in discussions. Adding comments to relevant discussions started by others is a form of content marketing: you can educate and inform your audience under your brand name. Also, be sure to add content to your company’s profile page for greater exposure. Do the same on all your social media profiles.

5. Free Up Underperforming Resources

Take a close look at the performance of your marketing programs. Consider moving budget or people away from initiatives that are underperforming and into content marketing efforts.

6. Be Targeted When Paying for Content Promotion

Many industrial companies pay to have their content promoted, which can be a good strategy. Optimize your budget and efforts by working with media partners who can guarantee that your content will be seen by your target audience across a variety of channels.

7. Start an Internship Program

Colleges are teeming with talented, motivated, and intelligent young people who are digital-savvy. Take on an intern who can help with social media, design, writing and other production and distribution aspects of your content marketing strategy.

8. Use Marketing Automation

If at all possible, take advantage of the low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market today. They will help you keep much better track of content marketing campaigns, schedules, content distribution, and tracking. You will gain efficiencies and possibly save money.

9. Catch Up on Fundamentals

“Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers” provides solid advice on how you can get more from your content marketing efforts. It offers solutions to common content marketing challenges and recommendations on how you can benefit from content marketing. Download this complimentary report today.

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing, General Polls

How Manufacturers Really Feel About Content Marketing

kaleidico-754517-unsplash

Content marketing has become an essential and effective marketing tactic for many manufacturers. It fits so perfectly with potential customers’ needs for reliable, relevant information through all phases of the buy cycle.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 86 percent of manufacturers now use content marketing, but only 22 percent would say their organizations are mature or sophisticated in their efforts.

The Marketing Maven also recently conducted a brief, five-question survey of its readers to ask how their organizations are handling content marketing. Here are some of the key findings:

The Success of Content Marketing

On average, manufacturers give themselves a success score of 2.95 out of 5 for their content marketing efforts. That’s not bad, but it’s not great, either.

The majority (64 percent) gave themselves a 3 or a 4. If you’re in this group, it means you’re likely finding some success in your efforts and are seeing positive results. There’s plenty of room for improvement, however, most likely in the “big three” areas of efficient content creation, more precise distribution, and improved tracking.

There’s nothing but improvement awaiting the 30 percent who scored themselves at 1 or 2. If you’re one of these low scorers, you likely need to regroup or accelerate your content marketing. Re-state your goals for content marketing. Get caught up on the latest strategy, tips, and tactics by reading “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers.”

Types of Content Produced

Emails, videos, articles, and case studies are the top types of content that industrial marketers produce. Newsletters, white papers, and infographics are also popular. When producing content, marketers should try to find efficiencies by repurposing content from one format to another. For example, a how-to video that can also be made into an article.

Outsourcing Content Production

Fifty-six percent of marketers don’t outsource any of their content production. This majority is either incredibly self-reliant or they are taking on too much. Think about all of the heavy lifting involved in content production: generating ideas, writing, layout and design, editing and proofreading, landing pages and conversion forms, and more.

It’s hard to be an expert every step of the way. Plus, although you might think you’re saving money, there’s an opportunity cost involved. A good question to ask is whether outsourcing some production aspects could free up time and resources for other marketing responsibilities.

Paid Content Promotion

The majority of marketers (56 percent) use paid promotion methods with the goal of exposing their content to a larger audience. These methods might include newsletter advertisements, banner ads, and sponsored posts, among others.

The key is to only invest in promotional methods that do an effective job of reaching your specific target audience. When you work with media partners, make sure they have deep knowledge of your audience and how to get their attention. For those who aren’t using paid promotion, if you’re not getting the results or reach you expect from content marketing, you could begin experimenting with paid promotional methods through your media partners.

Greatest Content Marketing Challenge

Forty-one percent said that their greatest content marketing challenge is that they have too few resources (budget, time, staffing). That could be one reason that most industrial marketers are trying to do all the work themselves and not outsource content production, although that strategy definitely eats up a lot of time.

Twenty-eight percent said their greatest challenge was being unable to pinpoint how content marketing contributes to sales. Since most prospects will consume multiple pieces of content on their buying journey, it can be difficult to know what content works best and what doesn’t. This Marketing Maven article, “5 Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI,” can be of help.

One aspect of content marketing that industrial marketers have a firm control on is knowing what content resonates with their audience. Only 9 percent said it was their greatest content marketing challenge. Good job. There’s no substitute for having a keen understanding of the needs of your target audience.

Tell us – what challenges do you face when it comes to content marketing, and what do you have a good handle on?

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Multichannel Marketing: Are You Doing It Right?

hans-peter-gauster-252751-unsplash

Most industrial marketers have adopted a multichannel marketing strategy. They’ve realized it’s not enough to just have a website or to exhibit at a trade show every year to achieve their marketing goals.

These marketers have recognized and adapted to the three key trends that drive multichannel marketing:

  1. Industrial professionals have many tools to choose from when sourcing products, requiring marketers to broaden and deepen their reach to engage prospects in ways that match their searching and sourcing preferences.
  2. Engineers prefer to search independently and wait to contact vendors until later in their buy cycle, so suppliers must be seen early and often in the buy cycle to have a chance at the sale.
  3. The internet has leveled the playing field and increased competition as more companies allocate more marketing dollars to various digital media channels.

The analyst firm Outsell reported that 63 percent of large companies and 17 percent of small companies used more than five tools in the marketing stack in 2017. In addition, according to  “Trends in Industrial Marketing: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today”, 50 percent of marketers use a mix of push/ outbound (email, tradeshows) and pull/inbound marketing tactics (corporate website, online catalogs).

But multichannel marketing can be a complex undertaking, and blindly adding more channels to your marketing mix is not a viable strategy—and may in fact be a waste of resources. Follow these tips to ensure your company can successfully compete in a multichannel marketing environment:

Maintain consistency

Across all the channels you use, maintain a consistent presence and make sure your messages complement one another in order to reinforce your brand and value propositions. Use the same colors, brand imagery and fonts. Hone in on core messages and differentiators. If you start mixing messages or varying your look and feel, your audience can become confused. They might not know what your brand represents.

Don’t try to be everywhere

Multichannel doesn’t mean you need to be everywhere at once. That would be a futile strategy and blow away your budget. Instead, as you expand, start out small. Experiment. Use the channels that your customers use.

When researching a work-related purchase, the top three channels for technical professionals are search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites. Those should be on every marketer’s list.

But in reality, your audience uses many other channels to keep up with the latest technologies, product news, companies and brands—all of which influence buying decisions. E-newsletters, industry sites, social media, webinars, email, in-person tradeshows, conferences, and industry publications are all important industry information sources for your customers. Try a few new channels in Q4 this year and see which ones work best for you.

Coordinate your team and resources

Make sure that your entire team, from employees to vendors to partners to agencies, are all on the same page in terms of strategy, messaging and responsibilities. It helps to have a single, secure location for storing, accessing and editing marketing assets. Content version control becomes essential when you are using the same or similar content across multiple channels.

Don’t forget to engage your sales team. They should be aware of, and on board with, every program and channel you have in place. They are the ones likely fielding inquiries from prospects who noticed your marketing.

Manage better with marketing automation

You can still manage, track and measure using spreadsheets, but the task is manual and will be cumbersome once you are juggling multiple channels and programs. If possible, use one of the low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market today. Marketing automation will help you keep much better track of campaigns and prospect activity through their buy cycle. Your overall marketing efforts will be much more efficient.

Prepare for more complex ROI measurement

Here’s another area where marketing automation can help. As prospects connect with your company through multiple channels, the influence of each of those channels on a purchase decision becomes harder to calculate. Some companies place too much emphasis on the first touch with a prospect, others on the “last click” before purchase.

The fact is that every touch contributes to a sale. To find out more about measuring marketing ROI, check out this Marketing Maven article from earlier this year: “Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI.”

Rely on trusted media partners

The right media partner, one with expertise in your industry and the ability to reach your target audience, can help you develop, execute and measure a multichannel marketing campaign that is specifically designed to meet your marketing goals.

Your partner can help you select the appropriate channels and optimize your marketing mix, so that your entire program runs in an efficient, coordinated fashion.

Marketing, General Multichannel Marketing

Five Tips for Growing Your Email Marketing List

rawpixel-733989-unsplash.jpg

How to repair your email list in the wake of GDPR.

Email remains one of the top marketing strategies for manufacturers. Ninety-five percent of manufacturers use email to distribute information for content marketing purposes, according to the 2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America, conducted by the Content Marketing Institute in partnership with IEEE GlobalSpec.

Manufacturers also reported that email is the most effective format for content marketing, with their top three email types being event emails, promotional emails and newsletters.

Clearly, email in the industrial sector is a powerful marketing engine. But many marketers have stalled when it comes to growing their opt-in email marketing database. The implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is designed to protect the data and privacy of anyone living in Europe, has made list-building that much more challenging.

If you’re looking for fresh ideas on how to grow a targeted, opt-in email marketing list using legal and ethical tactics, try these tips.

1. Lead with your best content offer

Enticing a targeted prospect to opt-in to your emails is a transaction: they provide you with their email address and give permission for you to email them, and in return you give something they find valuable.

That something of value should be the most compelling, relevant content you have. It could be a white paper, a how-to, a webinar, an ROI calculator, a product comparison—there are many possibilities. The key is that the value of your offer has to be so good and recognizable that your prospects are willing to opt-in to your email list.

2. Place your offer everywhere

That great content that you’re using as bait? Cast it across all your marketing channels. Make the offer clear on multiple pages of your website. Promote it on your social media channels. Add it to company directory pages on sites such as GlobalSpec. Tease it with banner ads. Make the offer at the end of a video.

You get the idea. You want your audience to be exposed to your offer and act upon it.

3. Direct people back to your website

All those channels where you’re promoting your content should lead back to a landing page on your website where you reinforce the offer and provide a form for the user to complete in order to access your content.

Keep your opt-in forms simple. It’s tempting to collect as much information on a user as possible right away, but adding too many fields to fill out will scare people off. Reduce the length of your forms to just two to three fields: name, email address, company. You can collect more information from them once you start a conversation.

4. Add share and forward buttons

Add links that allow users to share/forward your marketing emails and social media posts to their colleagues or others. Include calls-to-action in your emails that make sharing an obvious choice for recipients. If your content and message are compelling enough, you’ll find this to be an effective strategy for growing your list.

5. Work with media partners

A media partner with expertise in your industry and access to your target audience may have an email list rental product for email marketing purposes. This can help you greatly expand your reach to targeted prospects.

Make sure that the list is opt-in and that  subscribers have agreed to receive relevant offers from the vendor’s network of partners. While you won’t actually get the list of email addresses, you can of course drive recipients to a landing page where they can convert and become prospects in your system as a part of your house list.

One tactic you should never use

Never buy an email list. A purchased list is one that you could import into your system and use as many times as you want, just as you would an organically developed house list. But the names on a purchased list have not given you permission to market to them. You run a much higher risk of being reported as a spammer by the recipients.

You can also run afoul of GDPR laws. This can permanently damage your sender reputation and cause legal issues. Also, these lists for sale are often poorly maintained and may have many bad email addresses that bounce.

The only legitimate way to build your email list is through opt-in tactics. Be a responsible email marketer and your targeted list should grow and perform well for you.

Marketing, General

How to Integrate Video into Your Marketing Mix

laura-lee-moreau-9137-unsplash.jpg

Manufacturing marketers have embraced video over the past few years. Eighty percent say they use pre-produced video for content marketing purposes, and 52 percent say video is one of their top three most effective content types. (2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.)

Whether you’ve been using video for some time or are just getting started, here are some useful tips to help ensure that video is a successful component of your marketing mix.

General Video Guidelines

  • Before producing any video, make sure you define the message you want to convey. Your video should have a single, focused message. There’s no time to ramble and meander.
  • Make videos snappy and short, usually two minutes or less. A lot of B2B companies are keeping their videos to about one minute in length. These time constraints, rather than being limiting, offer lots of opportunity for creativity. Short videos work well on social media channels and on mobile devices. Video offers a good format to be entertaining and memorable. Give your brand a little personality.
  • Tap into the emotions of your viewer, not just the rational and logical side. Research from the Harvard Business Review reports that emotional motivators such as a sense of belonging, feeling secure, succeeding in life, and feeling confident can drive customer behavior. Video—as opposed to a white paper or data sheet, for instance— is a great medium for creating that emotional connection.
  • Consider adding captions to your video for viewers who play it without sound. If you embed the video on a web page, include a written script below the frame, which gives you an opportunity to use relevant keywords on the page.

Video Subject Matter

  • Humanize and showcase your staff and your brand story. Keep the tone casual and light. Show the people behind your products.
  • Let your customers do the talking. Solicit brief testimonials from satisfied customers. They can talk about your products, of course, but also service, support, or even an anecdote about an interaction with your company.
  • Use videos to explain technical or complex concepts in a visual way.
  • Create product demos or walkthroughs. Show the product in action. Use a host or narrator to add interest—don’t just show “things.”
  • Produce videos at industry events to help keep your audience up to date about what’s going on. Find a thought leader and ask them a few questions. Have your “reporter” on the scene do a quick recap of the day’s events.

Video Metrics

  • View Count—this is the umbrella metric that reveals how many people began watching your video. Note the word ‘began.’ It doesn’t mean the viewer finished watching. View count is a measure of reach and initial interest. Factors that affect this metric include what channels you use to distribute the video, where it’s placed on a page, the copy surrounding and promoting it, even the image you’ve chosen for the video thumbnail.
  • Engagement—can be measured by tracking the amount of time a viewer spends watching your video. If you have a high drop-off rate, it means you’re losing your viewer’s attention, most likely to a lack of relevance. If you find a lot of viewers are leaving your video around the same spot, it means you have a boring part. Fix it.
  • Click-through—measures the effectiveness of your call to action. Often placed at the end of the video, a call to action asks your viewer to take the next step, such as watching another video, downloading a piece of content, registering for an event or more. You also can experiment with placing a call to action somewhere in the middle of the video.
  • Sharing—including share buttons on social media or web pages gives you a sense of relevancy and engagement. If your video is shared, it’s got something special going for it.

The use of video for content marketing purposes is likely to continue growing in the industrial sector. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll likely see greater success with your video efforts.

 

 

Marketing, General Video

Five Tips for Launching a Second-Half Marketing Push

phil-desforges-724850-unsplash

The second half of the marketing year is well underway, which means it’s time to set your sights on the finish line and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you meet or exceed your marketing goals for the year.

Here are five things you can get started on right now to make your second-half marketing programs shine.

1. Assess Progress to Date

In order to know what adjustments you need to make, you must first find out what’s working and what’s not:

  • For each marketing program or tactic, compare your initial goals to your results so far. Are you more than halfway to your stated goals? Ahead or behind? Invariably, some programs will be performing better than expected, others not as well as you’d hoped.
  • For those programs that are going strong, consider adding more resources to further their momentum. For those that are lagging, try figuring out the reason(s) behind the lacking performance. Typically, a program doesn’t meet expectations because it was not designed properly, not targeted clearly for an audience, or has operational errors such as poor lead attribution, not enough content, weak conversion forms on a website, etc.
  • Decide whether the problems are worth fixing in order keep the program going or if those resources are better deployed elsewhere.

2. Redefine Your Objectives

The business climate is dynamic and your marketing objectives can often change during the course of a year, for any number of reasons:

  • A product line is dropped or a new product added
  • Sales targets change
  • Marketing priorities change
  • A merger or acquisition takes place
  • A new executive with a different vision comes on board

If objectives change, marketing programs often must change as well. Make sure your programs and objectives are fully aligned for the second half of the year. Also, if objectives change, budgets will likely be impacted. You might have to shift resources. Make sure the most important programs are funded and that they clearly support the most important objectives.

3. Develop New Marketing Content

You may need new marketing content for the second half of the year. Content development—whether you create it, acquire it or curate it—is an ongoing process for most marketing organizations, and one that requires planning:

  • Review your marketing calendar and make sure you will be able to fill any content gaps.
  • Brainstorm with team members and sales people to generate new content ideas.
  • Evaluate existing content for repurposing; for example, that popular article could become a hot new webinar or widely-read white paper in the coming months.
  • Line up writers, designers and other production resources you need before they are committed elsewhere.

4. Launch a New Initiative

Maybe there’s a new marketing program you’ve learned about that wasn’t part of your original plan but fits well with your marketing objectives. For instance:

  • A new industry e-newsletter that targets your audience and has advertising space to help you generate engagement opportunities
  • The opportunity to build thought leadership by sponsoring a third-party webinar in a subject matter where you have expertise

Maybe you’re accustomed to new opportunities popping up midyear and you’ve been smart enough to stash a little budget on the side for just this purpose. If not, you might have to reallocate budget from underperforming programs (see point #1 above) to fund a new initiative.

5. Talk to your Media Partners

Your media partners often have data on the performance of your programs that can help assess your progress so far. They likely also have fresh ideas if you want to try a new tactic. They can also offer insight on how to boost underperforming programs.

The right media partner is your ally, has expertise in your industry and has a vested interest in helping you succeed. Take advantage of their expertise for your second-half marketing push.

 

 

 

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

How to Freshen Up Your Social Media Marketing

jakob-owens-518866-unsplash.jpg

Social media has solidified its place as an established marketing channel in the industrial sector. Social media posts are the leading type of content that manufacturing marketers rely on for content marketing purposes, with a 92 percent adoption rate.

Social media is also the second leading channel and second most effective channel for distributing content, after email. LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook are the top three channels marketers say are most effective for achieving their objectives.

At the same time, many companies are stuck in the social media doldrums. Not much is happening. Engagement is low. They’re not sure what to do to freshen up their efforts and get more from social media. Here are some ideas to help you get results.

Revisit Your Strategy

You don’t use social media just because your competitors do, right? You use it to achieve specific objectives. Document those objectives and use them to make all other social media decisions. Most industrial companies use social media to expand brand awareness, educate their followers or to build a thought leadership position. You can also generate engagement opportunities, but there are more effective marketing tactics to do that.

Cut or Cultivate

When social media momentum began to pick up, many marketers created profiles on every new social media that came along. If this happened at your company, it’s time to make decisions. Cut out the channels that you don’t use or that your audience doesn’t use. Commit to cultivating a stronger presence on the ones that you do use—or want to make better use of going forward.

Optimize Your Profiles

Once you decide which social media channels to keep or invest in, make sure you completely and consistently fill out the profiles. Your brand and what you stand for should be clear and your company description should be consistent across channels. Use important keywords in your profiles. Fill out every available field the profile offers.

Find the Passion

Social media often becomes one more item on the marketer’s to-do list. Maybe it’s time to turn over your social media efforts to a colleague or even a college intern that has a real passion for social media and the skills to make the most out of your company’s social media presence. If that’s not an option, remember to take the time to put that excitement back into your social media updates. If you’re bored, your followers will be, too.

Update Your Content Approach

If you use social media simply to promote your products and services, you won’t get much traction. Instead, focus on the content that’s of interest to your audience. Most of your content should be curated—shares and reposts by influencers and thought leaders in your industry that will help keep your audience up on trends. A smaller percentage of posts should be original educational content that you create. The smallest percentage should be promotional content.

Develop a Personality

Social media content should be more informal and conversational than other marketing tactics. Use a human touch. Create an interesting voice or perspective. Tell stories, appeal to emotions. Don’t be afraid to use “We” and “Our” to demonstrate there are people behind the posts.

Follow your Customers and Prospects

Not only can you gain insight and intelligence by following your customers and prospects on social media, you can engage in conversations with them. Comment on their posts. Offer occasional advice. If you follow them, chances are high that they will follow you in return. Next thing you know a relevant community is forming.

Enlist Your Employees

A great way to expand your reach is to create pre-approved content and encourage your company’s employees to share the content on their personal social media profiles. People by nature pay more attention to what their friends post than what a company posts. Make sure you provide guidelines to employees about sharing the content and responding to any comments they might get.

Focus on Relevant Measurement

Measurement is the only way you can intelligently manage social media initiatives and make improvements to your program. It’s not that difficult, as long as you understand your goals for using social media and pay attention to the metrics that matter. These are the four metrics that matter most:

  • Reach—Followers, likes, mentions. It’s easy to measure reach, which is good for your brand. But the quality of reach is important: a mention from an industry analyst has more value than a photo that someone likes.
  • Engagement— Twitter re-tweets, Facebook wall posts or shares, blog responses, comments on LinkedIn discussions, length of video views, etc. Engagement measures the relevancy of your content.
  • Sentiment—Are you getting positive, negative or neutral reactions to your content? Sentiment measures the qualitative, emotional reaction to your content and company on social media channels.
  • Conversions— To measure conversions, your social media content must include a call to action: register for a webinar, download a white paper, watch a video, etc. Tracking social media conversions not only gives you straight numbers, it gives you data for comparison purposes across integrated programs. What resulted in more conversions: your tweet or your e-newsletter advertisement?

What other ways have you tried to reinvigorate your social media channels? Let us know!

Marketing, General Social Media
improve seo industrial marketers

The State of SEO in Industrial Marketing

carlos-muza-84523-unsplashSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is a constantly growing and evolving marketing tactic. It requires industrial marketers to employ traditional methods such as optimizing pages for keywords and building links, but today more than ever, making high-quality content available counts for a lot in search engine rankings.

Recently, the Marketing Maven conducted a brief, five-question SEO survey of its readers to get a sense of how industrial marketers feel about SEO. Here are some of the findings:

Content for SEO

Seventy-two percent of survey respondents stated that they actively produce content for SEO. This large majority of marketers understand that quality content is important for SEO and that during their search process, their audience  is seeking relevant content that will help answer their questions and solve the problems they are facing. If you aren’t producing content for SEO—creating and updating pages, posts, videos, white papers and more should be at the top of your list.

Resources for SEO

Unfortunately, finding the time and resources to produce content and perform other SEO activities does not come easily. Fifty-seven percent have no employee or team dedicated solely to SEO, which means the task is often another line item on the marketer’s to-do list. Twenty-eight percent have one employee dedicated to SEO, while a fortunate 15 percent have two or more employees dedicated to SEO.

A shortage of resources (people, time, money)  was cited as the greatest SEO challenge by 46 percent of respondents. One way to make the most of your resources is to make sure that all content you produce is high quality and SEO friendly, and to stick with what works best for SEO.

This complimentary one-page infographic: “Timeless SEO Tips for Industrial Marketers,” can help you make sure you’re laying a good foundation for a successful SEO strategy. A quick read offering excellent SEO tips that could help save you resources, it’s a great place to get started.

SEO Spending

Industrial marketers are almost evenly divided on whether they will be spending more or the same on SEO over the next twelve months. Forty-four percent report they will be spending more on SEO, while 48 percent say spending will stay steady. Only seven percent are spending less.

Hopefully, you don’t fall under that seven percent. It is more important than ever to deploy the right SEO tactics—and to avoid black tactics such as cloaking and keyword stuffing. Search engine algorithms can detect these types of tactics which can permanently harm your search engine rankings.

The only valid reason to spend less on SEO is that you’ve mastered the techniques and are able to efficiently achieve high rankings. More likely, companies that plan to spend less are doing so because they feel defeated that they aren’t getting the results they want.

The Best SEO Advice

Survey respondents were split when responding to the statement: “I can readily find content about SEO that applies to my industry.” Fifty-one percent agreed with the statement; 49 percent disagreed.

Finding good SEO advice can be challenging. Marketers don’t seem to have trouble with the basics—only five percent said their greatest challenge was not knowing which keywords to use; another five percent said their greatest challenge was keeping up with changing technologies and algorithms.

However, 19 percent said their greatest challenge was not knowing which strategies work. The short answer to that challenge is to focus on timeless tactics, produce high-quality content and create a superior user experience. Even the search engines themselves dole out that advice.

The one-page infographic “Timeless SEO Tips for Industrial Marketers” breaks down key SEO concepts into four easily understood strategies: keywords, content, page optimization and link building. Follow these tips and you should find your SEO efforts begin to produce better results in terms of rankings. Download your copy here.

 

SEO

5 Ways to Give Your Content Marketing A Boost

marten-bjork-623843-unsplash

Content marketing is one of the most effective and essential tactics in industrial marketing. In fact, eighty-six percent of manufacturers  use content marketing.

On average, marketers in the manufacturing sapce use five types of content. The most popular are social media posts, videos, illustrations/photos, case studies and eBooks/white papers.

However, despite the popularity of content marketing, many marketers struggle to continually come up with fresh content to fuel their efforts. That’s why we’ve put together this list of five ideas that could spark your imagination and give a boost to your content marketing.

1. Gather data about what your audience likes

Look through your website, email stats and other data you collect to find out what types of content your audience gravitates toward. What pages do they read the most? Which videos are most popular? What gets clicked on? What keywords do prospects use to find your site?

You might discover that specific posts, pages or white papers are responsible for a lot of your qualified leads. That’s like striking a content marketing goldmine. You’ve found a topic that resonates with your audience. Go broader and deeper into that topic by developing new content around it.

2. Answer five common questions

Work with your sales team to find out the most common questions they get from customers and prospects. Use the answers to create a helpful guide for your target audience.

This can be a valuable piece of content because it is relevant to what your audience is thinking. You can answer the questions as a straightforward Q&A, an article, an infographic or in another content format.

3. Hit the refresh button

Even the best content gets old and stale. Maybe you’ve changed your positioning or upgraded products or embraced new technology. Take a look through older content and refresh what’s out of date to reflect your current situation. Often this will require only minimal resources.

Refreshed content can rise in search engine rankings, helping to extend its useful life.

4. Write and pitch an educational article

Focus on a common customer problem and write an educational article that provides a solution. Target the article toward a specific publication or industry website and pitch the editor with your idea.

An educational article that appears in a respected industry publication or is published on an industry website is an excellent way to build credibility and trust and to demonstrate thought leadership. Include a customer story if possible, with quotes from several sources. Remember to remain objective and focused on the problem-solution approach. Don’t be promotional.

5. Answer the “How to ” question

When your target audience is trying to solve a problem or seek a solution, they are much more likely to begin a search query with “How to . . .” than they are to type your company or product name into a search engine.

You can create a lot of powerful and persuasive content by focusing on the “How to.” For example, each of these topic areas can follow the “How to” model:

  • Problem solving guides
  • Needs assessments
  • Building a solutions budget
  • Analyzing potential pitfalls
  • Vendor selection
  • Readiness assessments
  • ROI calculators

Bonus idea: Create dedicated landing pages

To really measure the effectiveness of your content, you should create dedicated landing pages for each of your content campaigns. The pages should be simple and focused on the action you want your prospect to take, whether it’s to complete a form, download a guide, watch a video, register for a webinar or other action.

You’ll find that a well-designed, dedicated landing page can boost the effectiveness of your content by increasing conversions.

Content marketing is going to remain high on the list of marketing tactics. Thirty-eight percent of manufacturers expect their organization’s content marketing budget to increase over the next 12 months. Get those ideas rolling and make sure your budget is well spent.

Content Marketing Marketing, General