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

Five Guidelines for Nurturing Leads

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Studies show that 70 percent of new business can come from prospects that are in the early stages of their buy cycles when they first come in contact with your company, but are not yet ready to engage with sales or make a purchase decision.

We call these longer-term prospects nurture-ready contacts. One definition of nurture is “to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development.” Another is “to feed and protect.”

As a marketer, that’s exactly what you need to do: “support and encourage” nurture-ready leads to take the next steps in their buy cycle, “feed” them valuable information that will help them make the right buying decision, and “protect” them from being stolen by your competitors. You can do all this through lead nurturing campaigns.

Lead nurturing campaigns are designed to:

  • Provide nurture-ready contacts with relevant information related to their area of interest
  • Maintain their interest so they don’t abandon you for another supplier
  • Keep in regular contact with prospects, always ready to meet their needs
  • Give prospects appropriate offers to help them move forward toward a buying decision

To create successful lead nurturing campaigns, follow these guidelines:

1. Create the foundation for successful campaigns

Before you can launch a lead-nurturing campaign, you need infrastructure and processes to support the program. Assemble your team and perform the following tasks:

  • Develop guidelines for how sales and marketing teams will work together, including at what point in the nurturing cycle you should hand leads off to sales.
  • Input nurture-ready contacts into your system.
  • Score and segment contacts so you can determine what type of leads you have and what campaigns they belong in.
  • Establish response rules based on your contacts’ behavior at points during the campaign.

2. Plan campaigns for each group of prospects

If your company has only one product and one type of customer, you can skip this step and instead plan a “one size fits all” lead-nurturing campaign. But most companies have an eclectic customer base with different areas of interest.

This requires you to segment your contacts by interest and plan different campaigns according to relevant criteria. Segmentation criteria could be by product, status (according to lead scoring or position in the buy cycle, for example), geography, or other expressed interest. The more you can segment nurture-ready contacts into distinct groups, the more closely you can target their interests and needs, and in doing so be more relevant and attractive to them.

3. Develop and organize your content for distribution

Content is the fuel that keeps lead nurturing campaigns running. It’s what persuades nurture-ready contacts to trust a supplier and to take the next step in their buy cycle.

You probably already have a lot of content on hand that you can use in your lead nurturing campaigns, but there may be some missing pieces. The time to create content is now, while you’re segmenting your contacts and planning campaigns.

New contacts in early buy-cycle stages might be interested in educational content such as infographics, blog posts, articles, white papers and webinars. Prospects that score higher or are further along in their buy cycle could be looking for demos, product overviews and technical specs. The next level might include buying guides, customer case studies, ROI calculators and competitive differentiators.

4. Move prospects to the next step

With every touch-point, include a call to action by giving your prospects something to do. It could be downloading a white paper, reading an article, registering for a demonstration or webinar, filling out a survey or any other type of action.

These actions enable you to track the digital behavior of your prospects, as well as determine what type of content is appealing and what isn’t.

You also need to develop response rules based on what your prospects do. For example, if someone responds to an offer by downloading a white paper, you will send them a related article. Or if a prospect engages in X number of activities, you consider them sales-ready.

Your response rules are like a flow chart, with decision points and actions along the way. You can apply logic and even branching (if they do this, then we do that, otherwise something else) in order to optimize your campaign’s flow and effectiveness—and to get high-potential leads into the hands of sales reps at the right time.

5. Measure and improve

A lead nurturing campaign provides a trove of valuable data based on your contacts’ behavior. Track what works and what doesn’t. Get rid of offers and content that don’t perform well, while building on what’s most popular by creating similar offers. Continually refine your campaign and you should see improved results.

Demand Generation Lead Management Marketing, General

5 Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI

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Marketers of all kinds agree that they’re under pressure to demonstrate ROI on their investments. While this is necessary to avoid wasting resources, marketing ROI can be difficult to measure, even in today’s digital-centric world.

To improve your ability to measure ROI—and to gain the insight you need to make meaningful adjustments to your marketing programs—follow these tips:

Define what marketing ROI means to your organization

Every marketing organization has its own unique vision for and definition of success. The first thing you must do is agree upon and document your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Even within your organization,  definitions of success may vary. For example, the chief marketing officer may be interested in cost-per-qualified-lead, whereas a content manager might define success by the number of downloads or shares of content. When having the ROI discussion, make sure multiple stakeholders have their voices heard.

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 campaigns and prospect activity, making ROI measurement a lot easier and your overall marketing efforts more efficient.

You can still get the ROI job done with spreadsheets if you keep your definition of success and metrics simple. However, your task will be more manual and cumbersome and your results perhaps less accurate.

Beware of the single attribution methodology

The simplest and easiest way to measure ROI is to assign the revenue from a deal to the first point of contact a customer had with your company, and then calculate ROI from there Here is an example of single attribution: A prospect downloads a white paper and you add that lead source to their record. Eventually they purchase. The sale is then attributed to the white paper campaign.

Another method is to attribute revenue to the “last click” a customer has or the last action they took before buying, under the reasoning that this is what finally motivated them to buy. But single attribution, whether it’s first touch or last touch, has severe shortcomings, including:

  • It doesn’t account for the way most engineers and technical professionals engage in the buying process. Engineers typically have multiple contacts with a company over a period of time, with each touchpoint helping the buyer move closer to making a buying decision.
  • Single attribution gives too much credit to lead generation programs and not enough to lead nurturing touches or individual contributions from your sales team.
  • Results can be skewed by deal size or time. A particularly large deal would make the attributed source appear wildly successful. A long sales cycle might diminish the importance of the single source.

Account for multiple touches

A more accurate and defensible method of measuring marketing ROI is to account for multiple touches with a prospect over what could be multiple different campaigns. Here’s where your marketing automation helps a lot, as complexity of measurement increases.

In multi-touch attribution, you track every touch made with a prospect along their buying journey. For example, Prospect A from Company X may have attended a webinar, clicked on an e-newsletter ad, watched a video, and downloaded a spec sheet. That’s four distinct touchpoints before a purchasing decision was made.

You could attribute one-quarter of the revenue to each of these four campaign tactics. More likely, you might choose to weight some touches over others based on when they occurred in relation to the sale or the action that delivered value—but beware the “last click” mistake.

You also might give more weight to programs that touched the key decision maker than programs that affected other influencers.  Or you might choose to weight certain types of touches more heavily than others based on the level of engagement. For example, attending an hour-long seminar may have more impact than a simple website visit. How you weight touches is entirely up to you.

Multi-touch attribution for calculating ROI offers a number of benefits:

  • Accounts for longer-term nurturing touches as well as lead generation.
  • Especially useful for long buying cycles that include multiple prospects and many touchpoints.
  • Focuses on all contacts and touchpoints associated with a deal, not just the first or last.

While multi-touch attribution for calculating ROI has significant advantages over single attribution, you should be aware of potential pitfalls and how your findings might be challenged:

  • You have to make assumptions based on weighting touches, and your assumptions could be wrong. On the other hand, if you weight all touches equally, you run the risk of over-crediting low impact touchpoints.
  • It’s still difficult to account for “hidden” contributors, including sales activity and unattributed online activity.

Accept a learning curve

It’s a challenging task to measure marketing ROI, but you must do it in order to justify budgets and optimize expenditures. It will likely take time to get good at ROI measurement, but you are not alone. According to a MMA/Forrester/ANA study, 87 percent of senior marketers did not feel confident in their ability to impact the sales forecast of their programs.

The most important aspect of measuring ROI is to get everyone on the same page in terms of how you define success and what measurements contribute to determining your level of success. From there, move forward as your skills and tools allow, always focusing on improving your methodologies, increasing your confidence in your results, and adjusting programs based on data.

 

 

 

 

Marketing Measurement Marketing ROI Marketing, General

Give Your 2018 Marketing Plan a Final Tune-Up

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Whatever point you’re at in your 2018 marketing planning, the “2018 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” can help. This guide offers advice, tools and tips to efficiently target your audience of engineers and technical professionals and get the most out of your marketing efforts.

Download your complimentary copy of the kit.

Using the planning kit, you will be able to answer the tough questions that every marketer faces:

1. How do you get more out of your marketing investments, and measure and account for marketing decisions in today’s economic climate?

Industrial marketers are under unprecedented pressure to demonstrate return on marketing investment (ROMI) for their initiatives. At the same time, due to the nature of the industrial buy cycle, and an engineer’s preference for multiple sources of information and multiple touches with your company, it’s difficult to make a one-to-one correlation between a specific marketing program and revenue earned.

By tracking every interaction between your company and a prospect you can better measure ROMI and account for your marketing decisions. In this planning kit, you will find out how to avoid the “last click” measurement trap, which attributes a sale to the last marketing-related touch-point a customer has with your company before making a buying decision.

2. Do you have a balanced mix of media channels to maximize your reach and effectiveness?

Your audience uses a variety of digital and traditional channels to discover and learn about suppliers, products and services. You can use the Media Choices table in the kit to find out which channels your customers prefer and how to balance your investments in order to optimize the performance of your marketing program.

3. Are your marketing programs delivering highly qualified contacts and inquiries to your sales team?

It always comes down to this: marketing must generate good leads for your sales team. The first step in measuring the quality of leads is to know what a high-quality customer looks like. The planning kit includes tools to help you create the ideal customer profile.

Prospects who most closely fit your ideal customer profile and demonstrate interest through active engagement with your company and content are most likely to be sales-ready leads. You can increase the amount of prospect activity by pushing content across multiple channels to your target audience, and by nurturing interested prospects with marketing automation.

4. How do you meet the incessant and growing demand among your audience for quality content that supports their buying cycle?

If you are like most industrial marketers, content marketing is going to play a role in your 2018 plan. Producing and distributing valuable and authoritative content positions your company as an expert, builds trust with prospects, and ultimately makes it easier to sell products and services.

However, marketers face a multitude of content marketing challenges: lack of resources to produce quality, engaging content on a consistent basis; a lack of content ideas; knowing which channels are best for distributing content; and integrating content marketing with your overall marketing plan.

We’ve included a special section on the content marketing challenge in the “2018 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit,” containing tips and advice on how to become an efficient and effective content marketer.

5. How do you avoid making common marketing mistakes?

Manufacturers, distributors and service providers in the industrial sector have more marketing choices than ever before, making it easier to maximize marketing budgets. However, even the most seasoned professionals sometimes fall prey to mistakes that are easily avoidable.

Our kit includes a list of the top ten marketing mistakes and how to avoid them. Number 10 on the list: Moving into the year ahead without a plan. If you still haven’t developed a road map for 2018, the first thing you should do is download your complimentary copy of the “2018 Industrial Planning Marketing Kit.”

Explore this handy guide, set aside time to brainstorm your goals and objectives, and plan your tactics for the year ahead, including marketing channels that align with your plans. Even if your plan is already in place, the kit offers checks and balances to keep you on the right track.

Marketing Strategy