The internet has evolved from its early days to offer a collection of innovative, relevant and useful digital resources for helping technical professionals be more productive and efficient in their work processes. Engineers turn first to digital channels to locate and research suppliers, products and services when engaged in their buy cycle.
Using digital media for work-related purposes is now “business as usual” for engineers and industrial professionals. Not only do technical professionals have more digital tools and sources of information at their disposal, they also have gained exposure to more companies to buy from. The result is that buyers have more choices, more individualized preferences, and more power than ever before.
In addition, during the early phases of their buy cycle—researching and comparing suppliers and products—engineers are using digital information sources and working independently of suppliers. Most do not contact a supplier until they have already created a short list of potential vendors.
Three trends pointing toward multichannel marketing
These three trends are the primary reason why industrial marketers must embrace a multichannel digital marketing strategy:
1. Industrial professionals have many digital tools to choose from and a have variety of searching and sourcing preferences
2. The internet has leveled the playing field and increased competition as more companies allocate more marketing dollars to digital media
3. Suppliers must be noticed by and attract potential customers early in the buy cycle in order to be in the running to make a sale
Multichannel marketing allows industrial companies to stay abreast of these trends and offers brand cohesion for industrial suppliers: your brand and products can appear in those places where customers might expect to find you, and you can maintain a consistent and persistent presence and message to reinforce your brand and value propositions.
But which digital channels to use?
With so many digital channels now available, marketers need to allocate their budgets wisely in order to achieve the greatest possible impact. Few companies have the resources to blanket every channel with marketing campaigns, nor would you want to do this even if you could.
Instead, you should focus on those channels your audience uses the most. According to the research report “Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector,” the top three work-related digital resources for technical professionals of any age have stayed the same in recent years: general search engines (used by 89 percent), supplier websites (75 percent) and online catalogs (74 percent). Online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them.
You can also allocate marketing resources to align with your customers’ buy cycles. To be noticed and remembered by prospects in early stages of their buy cycle, when they are identifying needs and beginning research, tactics such as banner ads and articles on industry sites, online catalogs, and advertising in industry e-newsletters can help you raise brand awareness, get your message across and be remembered by prospects.
As buyers begin comparing potential vendors, you need to get closer to prospects and provide more specific and differentiating information. Webinars, how-to videos, demos and product specs on your website are good choices here.
How to keep track
While most industrial marketers understand the need for a multichannel strategy, it can be challenging to make sure a multichannel marketing program is integrated and trackable across all channels you use. Some marketers can fall into the “last click” trap, which attributes a sale to the last action your customer takes before making a purchase decision.
This is a mistake, because almost every sale made is the result of creating multiple touchpoints with prospects. They might start by viewing your banner ad or finding your online catalog, then downloading a white paper, followed by attending a webinar or watching a video. All of these prospect behaviors and touchpoints help contribute to the final buying decision. That’s why it’s so important to be able to track digital behavior. It’s equally important to work with media partners who can provide comprehensive reports about who is accessing your content and on the performance of your programs.
Any investment in multichannel marketing requires analytics and a commitment to channel integration. Ultimately, it’s worth it. You’ll have in place a marketing platform and strategy that can see you through the complex era of digital marketing, and you’ll realize better results and return on your marketing investments.