Quick Checklist for a Product Launch

One of the most important and stressful responsibilities for a marketing team is supporting a new product launch. Everyone is excited about the upcoming product. Your colleagues and managers are hoping for a big impact. The whole company is looking at their marketing to create a buzz at launch time.

Obviously, the worst possible thing would be to send a product off into the market and hear nothing but crickets in return. The old adage that if you build it they will come is just not true. If you build it, you’ve got to promote it. You’ve got to construct that launch pad by beginning your marketing push early, months ahead of time.

Follow this checklist to give your new product the exciting launch it deserves.

Assemble the team

When we talk about team, we mean everyone you need to interact with in order to successfully launch the product. The list can be long: engineers, developers, subject matter experts, product managers, sales team, customer service, and even customers themselves. Most of them will only play a peripheral role in the product launch, but you must line up your resources and know who to go to for everything you need.

Clarify product positioning

With clear and specific product positioning, all other messaging flows. That means having a detailed positioning statement that describes the target audience, the problem they face, and how your product helps solve that problem. This statement can help guide your team to success.

Especially with the initial launch, you might want to keep the target audience narrow. If not, you should have a positioning statement for each audience segment you plan to market to. If you’re trying to be everything to everybody so as not to miss a single potential customer, you can end up appearing watered down and your messaging becomes vague and uncompelling. Keep the presentation specific to reach the respective customer base.

Write (and keep writing) an FAQ

An FAQ answers all potential questions customers might have about the new product: launch dates, key features and benefits, upgrade and support policies, and more. This is a living document that you can update and revise as you go.

You may need two or even three slightly different FAQs: for customers, channel partners/distributors, and internal. Adding multiple FAQs – or even just more sections to a single FAQ page – can help ensure that your customer has a thorough understanding of what you have to offer.

Solicit endorsements

If your product has a beta program you should arrange to get endorsements and testimonials from early customers. It’s best if you can bake this right into the beta program. You’ll need these quotes to produce press releases and other marketing content.

Tease your audience

Announcement comes prior to the actual launch date. Start putting messages on your website or in your emails letting your audience know that a new product is coming. Create a dedicated page on your site where interested visitors can request more information about the new product. Make sure there is enough detail so you can reach your target audience, but not so much that they have no reason to check back later. Getting all the information at once can potentially overwhelm the customer. Anticipation is a very effective way to create buzz for a product.

Create content

You’ll support the product launch with a variety of content for your defined audiences. Make a list of all content you will use—articles, white papers, data sheets, webinars, videos, blog, and social media posts—determine how each will be used and begin the process of content creation. Create a plan for when to release each piece of content. Do you want to stagger the release of your content? Do you want to put everything out there at once? Decisions like this can create a streamlined campaign.

Meet the press

Prepare a press release announcing your new product and distribute it over the newswire and individually to any editors or reporters you have working relationships with. Ideally, the press release will contain quotes from beta customers as well as from leaders within your own company.

Determine special offers

Working with product managers and your sales team, you can develop any special offers or incentives around purchasing the new product. If you do decide on special offers, work these into your campaign materials. These generally take time to settle on since they involve number crunching and analytics to determine viable offers and pricing discounts.

Create campaigns

Putting together integrated, multi-channel, goal-specific campaigns will be the bulk of your work. This large effort requires careful coordination, the ability to tap various creative and content resources, audience analysis, working with media partners, budgeting, and more. This effort results in less stress for your team overall. A well-planned campaign ensures consistent content across the board.

You might be planning a multi-touch email campaign to your own list and a newsletter/banner advertising campaign to reach a target audience in your industry. You might support those campaigns with content offers such as articles, webinars, or videos. You might create shareable content such as blog posts and social media posts. You need to have landing pages and contact forms tested and ready for action.

By the time the day comes that your company is ready to accept an order for a new product, your launch campaigns should already be out the door. It’s challenging to launch a new product, but if you plan ahead, you can avoid last-minute chaos and increase the likelihood of achieving launch goals.

Demand Generation Marketing Strategy Product Marketing Thought Leadership

Recruiting Engineers? Marketing Can Help

The widespread shortage of technical and engineering skills has been exasperated further by the pandemic. Even though some companies have been forced to downsize due to the pandemic, the demand for engineering talent still far exceeds supply, according to research from Terminal, a company that builds remote engineering teams for its clients.

Likely none of us are too surprised by this. According to the EE Times, over the course of the next two decades, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day. Engineering will represent only a fraction of that number, but retirements will leave a large hole in talent for many companies, and the upcoming talent pool of young engineers is smaller compared to the previous generation.

In other words, the war on hiring engineering talent is coming.

If your company is like many others in their need to recruit engineers into its workforce, marketing can help play a role. Working with human resources or talent acquisition teams, marketing can bring branding, messaging, and channel skills to bear that can help overcome the recruiting challenge.

Fine-Tune Brand Messages

According to research in the 2021 Pulse of Engineering report, the most important career factors for engineers are interesting work/projects, good work/life balance, learning, and respect. Compensation was only the fifth most important factor.

In your recruitment ads, company boilerplate, website, and other messaging platforms, let potential hires know how your company accommodates these career factors that are important to engineers. Even subtle placements help. Quotes from your subject matter experts in press releases or blog posts might mention something about an interesting project or new insights discovered while working at your company.

Help Train the Next Generation

The 2021 Pulse of Engineering also found that engineers often turn to online training courses, webinars, and professional development courses to help increase their knowledge and skills.

Consider offering free online training or paid certificate courses on topics that your company can demonstrate expertise and leadership in. You can also look into hosting and moderating technical discussion or Q&A forums for engineers. Produce webinars on the latest trends in your industry to show that your company is on the forefront of industry change.

Promote the Latest Technology

Engineers are commonly interested in working for companies that are at the leading edge of technology. Top talent won’t want to spend their time using outdated programs, so ensure your tech stack is up to date. If your company uses the latest technology tools and platforms, be sure to promote this aspect as a way to make your company more attractive to engineers.

Offer a Vision

Before accepting a position, engineers want to get a sense of what their career might look like at your company. In your communications, provide a short- and long-term sense of your company’s mission, vision, and core values. But don’t be generic. The engineering workforce is specialized, and your vision should be too.

Align with Today’s Preferences

The research conducted by Terminal reported that 8 out of 10 engineers want options for working remotely. Seventy percent of engineers report they are more productive when working at home.

If your company offers flexible and remote working options and remote-specific benefits such as technology and productivity tools or stipends, you should be able to attract more talent from a much broader pool of candidates located around the world.

In addition, mental health services are in high demand today in every profession. Benefits like access to virtual therapy can help make your company more attractive.

Conduct Targeted Recruitment Advertising

Consider advertising on GlobalSpec for your employer brand promotion and talent acquisition needs. GlobalSpec’s audience consists of the world’s top engineering and technical professionals, which puts us at a unique advantage to help market your employer brand message to the people working in the industries you’re targeting.

Companion Piece

For more tips on attracting engineering talent and preserving and protecting your company’s specialized engineering knowledge, download our new whitepaper, “Hiring the Correct Engineering Talent and Decreasing the Knowledge Drain.”

Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Multichannel Marketing Public Relations

How to Master Short-form Marketing Content

Last month, the Maven wrote a post offering tips for writing and producing long-form marketing content, such as white papers and research reports. This month, we’ll explore short form.

If long form is anything over 1,000 words, then short form is anything less. The majority of marketing content your company produces is likely short form, such as emails, blog posts, infographics, and social media posts.

Short-form content offers a number of benefits for both you and your audience:

  • Due to decreased attention spans on the part of your audience, especially in the digital sphere, short form is less intimidating and more likely to be consumed in full.
  • Short form is easier to see and read on mobile devices. Up to half of all content is accessed on mobile devices.
  • Short-form content is faster and cheaper to produce than long form.

Don’t Mistake Short for Easy

Just because short form is short doesn’t mean it’s easy to create or that you can treat it more casually. Short form is challenging because you have to do a lot with so little, you need to quickly capture your audience’s attention, any tiny mistake is magnified, and you need to be concise and to the point.

As the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal famously wrote: “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” That’s because being brief takes careful crafting and editing.

Here are some tips for mastering short form:

It All Starts with the Headline

News editors know that story headlines must do two things: get the reader’s attention and reveal the main point of the story. It’s true for marketing content as well.

Write headlines that will intrigue your audience and set expectations. For example, the headline to this post—“How to Master Short-from Marketing Content”—should interest marketers tasked with creating short form and also promises “how-to” tips. The headline isn’t fancy or clever; instead, it does the job it’s intended to do.

Follow the Inverted Pyramid Rule

Again, we’ll take advice from the world of journalism. The inverted pyramid rule states that the most important information comes first, followed by secondary information. There’s no need to attempt to build suspense in the reader. They don’t want suspense—they want the main points as quickly as possible.

Stick to a Narrow Topic

If you can’t fully cover your topic in a thousand words or less, then your topic is too broad for short form. If you have to make more than one key claim along with its supporting information, then again, you shouldn’t be using short form.

If you find yourself in this situation you can do one of two things: switch to long form to cover your topic, or segment the topic into smaller units that can be covered in short form.

Edit Carefully

Nothing bashes credibility like grammatical errors or typos in a short piece. They really stick out and your audience will judge you negatively. Ruthlessly cut extra words, but proofread your final product with an eagle eye.

Choose an Appropriate Content Format

Research studies, white papers, and in-depth customer interviews or articles don’t lend themselves to short form. Instead, choose a format that dovetails nicely with short-form writing. Here are some examples:

Listicles—this ever-popular format (“Top 10 Ways To . . .”, “8 Tips for . . .”) offers a quick read and digestible information. Pro Tip: Keep your introductions to listicles to a minimum amount of text, or abandon the introduction altogether. You have to admit that when reading listicles you’ve skipped past the intros to the first item on a list.

Infographics—This combination of text and graphics is especially appealing for presenting and interpreting data.

Checklists—Kind of like listicles, checklists give straightforward information, such as “Must-have Features When Purchasing X.”

Visual + Caption—A single visual element with an extended caption. Take a look through your slide decks. Can you pull anything out that can stand alone with the help of a caption?

Three Questions With . . .—A mini-interview with a customer, partner, or subject matter expert. You’re already telling your audience this will be short and to the point. Variations on this include “Did You Know?” in which you promise an important and relevant fact or piece of information.

Social Media Posts—Get right to the point you want to make and your audience will be appreciative you are respecting their time.

Less Obvious Short-form Content

To really become a master, treat every little thing you write as short-form content. Comments you add on posts from companies or influencers you follow? That’s short-form content. Treat it as carefully as you would your own marketing content. Description tags on web pages? Same thing. Your company descriptions on social media profiles? Make your point, be clear, be helpful to your audience.

Content Marketing Digital Media E-Mail Marketing

Tips for Mastering Long-Form Content

The vast majority of web content is short: listicles of a few hundred words, Snapchats that disappear, tweets with character limits, web pages with more images than the copy.

And yet, long-form content—typically 1,000 words or more—is extremely important to both industrial marketers and their audience of engineers and technical professionals.

You might be able to grab attention with shorter content, but serious prospects want to dig deeper than a social media post or a list of bullet points. They want to know that you understand and can solve their problem. They want to make sure your company is legit and you know your industry and technology. While it’s true that a smaller percentage of engineers will take the time for a long read into a topic, those that do are more likely to be very qualified.

In addition, search engines love the long-form. It’s not enough to focus on keywords—you have to position yourself as a relevant authority. And most of the time, you can’t make an authoritative case in a short piece. Authoritative content can help marketers achieve higher search engine page rankings.

With long-form content, you can dominate a subject matter in a way that provides value to your audience. You become the expert and thought leader that readers depend on for important information on a key topic.

Choose a Subject Appropriate to Long Form

Not all subjects lend themselves to long form. Some that do include:

  • How-to articles: Go into detail about how to perform a task or solve a problem.
  • Research reports: Compile primary and secondary research into a report on market trends or user preferences.
  • White papers: Provide your audience with a comprehensive education on a topic relevant to them.
  • Solution guides: Compare or classify different approaches to solving a problem.
  • Technical documents: Explain the way a product or process works.
  • Case studies: In-depth case studies lend themselves to longer form.

Stick to a Pattern of Development

When writing long-form, choose a pattern of content development that is proven to work for making technical content easier to understand and retain. Here are several approaches. Choose one that is appropriate for your needs:

  • Step by step. A staple of industrial marketing content is the step-by-step tutorial that demonstrates how to use a product or explains a technical process. You might find that each step along the way has associated benefits. Why not mention the benefit of each step as a way to reinforce your value-propositions while providing educational information?
  • Classification. If you want to present an organized discussion of parallel items, you can classify the information that shares common characteristics. For example, if you are writing about industrial adhesives, you might group those that are made for bonding wood, for bonding metal and bonding plastic.
  • Comparisons. Engineers often must choose among competing products or alternative strategies. You can compare and contrast the key features of different products or approaches. Focus on the most important points. Avoid comparing minor details.
  • Cause and effect. This pattern of development can help persuade readers, for example, why using old products or technology can be detrimental, or to help readers understand the effect of increased water flow on pump performance. In this case, you are describing a situation that has a cause (increased water flow) and an effect (pump performance).
  • Problem-Solution. You can use problem-solution persuasively when you want your readers to agree that the actions you recommend will solve the problems they are trying to overcome.

Tell a Story

Even technical content lends itself to a good story with a beginning, middle, and end. A good story has a hero—such as your customer. The hero faces a problem that is costing money and time, and you step in with the solution to save the day. Corny? Not really. Customer testimonials and case studies are sought after by prospects and are highly effective in helping make technical concepts relatable.

Include an Executive Summary

Be kind to your readers and let them know in a brief executive summary the entire gist of your content. A one-paragraph summary of the piece can help readers quickly glean the main points and decide if investing additional time is appropriate for them.

Design with Your Reader in Mind

Long-form content requires commitment on the part of your reader. You can help them by using short paragraphs, subheadings, white space, bullet points, and imagery to make your long content easy to read and encourage readers to keep going.

Develop a Cornerstone Piece

A cornerstone long-form piece can be segmented into smaller, standalone chunks to use in your content marketing efforts. Repurposing long content into shorter pieces saves time, spreads a consistent message, and meets the needs of engineers who can’t or won’t invest the time required to digest long-form content.

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Simplify ROI Measurement

Demonstrating Return on Investment (ROI) is challenging for many marketers. Executives are demanding more accountability from marketing: What, exactly, are we getting for all this money we spend on marketing?

At the same time, marketing is complex, the buying cycle is long, and prospects typically interact with your company and content multiple times through multiple channels before making a purchasing decision. That can make it hard to measure ROI.

There are times when simplifying your approach to ROI can be helpful. You may not be able to measure everything, and some uncertainty may remain, but taking a simplified approach to ROI can still provide actionable insight and justify your marketing spend.

Start With Your Marketing Goals

Before you can start calculating ROI, you have to decide what to measure. The metrics available today to digital marketers are legion, since every click, view, open, forward, share, comment, and more can be captured.

How to choose which ones are important? Start with your marketing goals. The most common marketing goal for industrial marketers is lead generation, followed by brand awareness. But you might want to get more specific than that. To generate a single lead, a lot of touches—and therefore metrics—can be involved. Same with brand awareness: many metrics can contribute to its measurement.

Within lead generation, your goals could be to increase long-term leads for nurturing campaigns, or marketing qualified leads or sales-ready leads. Within brand awareness, a goal might be to increase subscribers or followers, or website traffic. You might have multiple goals. But if you’re new to ROI or struggling to get a handle on it, try focusing your efforts on one or two important marketing goals.

These Metrics Are Always Relevant

Whatever your marketing goals, certain metrics always make sense to track and are solid inputs for calculating ROI.

Website traffic—Your website is your company’s face to the market and your primary channel for attracting, educating, and converting potential prospects. Free Google Analytics is your source for the data.

New vs. returning visitors give a sense of how well you are reaching a new audience compared to keeping your current one. Other metrics within website traffic include page popularity, entrance pages, time on page, and exit pages.

If brand awareness is a goal, upward ticks in web traffic metrics are a good sign.

Conversions per activity—Getting visitors to your website is one thing, converting them is another and is essential to lead generation goals. Use forms completed on landing pages and content accessed to measure conversions.

Marketing qualified leads—You might generate a lot of leads, but how good are those leads? Many marketers using a scoring system to rank the quality of leads. What goes into the score is individual to each company, but common inputs include how closely a prospect resembles your current customers, the number of times they interact with your company, their industry/location, and their expressed buying timeframe. A marketing qualified lead can be tied to a specific campaign or come about as the result of a prospect interacting with multiple campaigns.

Engagement—This metric helps you understand how good your content is and how prospects respond to your marketing messages. Engagement is measured by clicks, shares, comments, likes, forward, mentions, and other purposeful activities on the part of your prospect. It can help you measure ROI on branding efforts as well as the value of your content.

Cost per lead—Most prospects who become leads will have multiple interactions with your company, so it can be challenging to attribute a single program and its associated costs to any given lead. What you can do is take your total marketing program costs, divide by the number of leads and get an overall cost per lead. But if you want to drill down to see which programs and efforts contribute most to lead generation, we recommend marketing automation.

Marketing Automation Makes Measurement Easier

With multiple marketing channels, so much content, and often a long sales process, it can be challenging to determine what influenced the lead’s desire to buy.

Marketing automation makes this process much easier. It allows you to track prospect activity across different channels and programs. You can also nurture leads with scheduled marketing touches and content throughout their buying journey.

You will be able to see all of the ways a prospect has interacted with your company, content, channels, and programs. You can get answers to the questions of what content they downloaded, what pages they visited, what social media they interacted with. You won’t run the risk of attributing a lead or a sale to only one program if several programs contributed to the outcome—which is a common occurrence.

There are free and low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market today. If you want to simplify ROI, take advantage of the technology and tools out there to help you.

Marketing Measurement Marketing ROI Marketing, General

Ten Tips to Increase Clicks in Your Marketing Emails

Earning a click-thru on a marketing email is a badge of honor. It ranks higher than an email open and is a measure of an engineer’s engagement with your content and your skills as a marketer.

With upcoming changes Apple will be implementing to protect user privacy (see companion article), clicks will take on even more significance as an email marketing metric. Here are ten tips for increasing click-thru rates on marketing emails.

1. Place buttons “above the fold”

“Above the fold” is a newspaper term referring to the top half of the paper. In an email, it refers to the area a user can see without having to scroll. Make sure the first appearance of your call-to-action (CTA) button is visible without scrolling, making it possible for a quick decision to click.

2. Use both buttons and text for links

Buttons in bright colors are attention-grabbing and might attract clicks, but text links within copy are just as important for users who block images or like to read the copy. Sprinkle both buttons and text links in strategic places throughout the email.

3. Use action verbs on buttons and text links

Make it easy for your email recipient to understand what to do and what they will get if they click. Action verbs get the job done. Words like Download, Read, Register, Watch, Get, Listen, Calculate, Compare and other action verbs are perfect for enticing clicks.

4. Offer different types of content

Notice some of the action verbs in the tip above: read, watch, listen. Each of these words promises a different type of content. Many engineers prefer to read the content. A growing percentage are watching videos. Podcasts offer another option for delivering content. Not every email has to contain all content types, but try out different formats and track your metrics to see what is popular.

5. Main offer, secondary offer

Each email should have one specific purpose with a CTA you are using to entice your audience to click. This main offer should be front and center to command the attention of your audience. However, it is also effective to add secondary content and click opportunities to your email. An engineer who does not find your main offer attractive might notice and click on a secondary offer.

6. Create a sense of urgency

Offers that are good for only a limited time or limited to a certain number of people such as event registrations that are closing soon or even “breaking news” are all ways to instill a sense of urgency in your audience and possibly increase clicks. However, do not deceptively use this tactic. If a discount on an event registration always applies, do not say it expires in two days.

7. Use responsive email templates

More than half of all emails are opened and read on mobile devices. For this reason, you need responsive email templates that render the content in an easy-to-read format on any device, whether the recipient is using a desktop, tablet or phone. An email that is too small to read on a cellphone or requires horizontal scrolling will likely be ignored. You will not get many clicks that way.

8. Use A/B testing

A/B testing is simple: divide your list (or a part of your list) in two and test two different versions of an email to see which one gets more clicks. Create your first email, then change only one aspect of it to create a second version. It might be your button placement, offer, headline, or another variable. You should only test one thing at a time in order to understand the results from that one change. If you have multiple changes you’d like to test, then you can perform more than one A/B test.

9. Segment and personalize

If you only have one product, one message, and one customer type, then you can ignore this tip and send everyone the same email. But it is more likely you have different types of customers who have different interests. The more you can segment your list and personalize content for them (even ‘Dear Dave’ is helpful personalization), the more likely you are to get clicks.

10. Be relevant

We would not be the Maven if we did not harp on relevancy. This is the most important tip of them all. The more you are tuned into your customers’ wants and needs—and address them with targeted content in your marketing emails—the more they will pay attention and the more clicks you can earn.

Content Marketing Digital Media E-Mail Marketing Marketing Measurement Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Will Apple’s Privacy Changes Hurt Email Marketing?

Source: primestockphotograpy – stock.adobe.com

Apple’s recent announcement about protecting users’ privacy has marketers wondering about the implications for their email marketing efforts. Some pundits are declaring the end of email marketing, while others are mostly shrugging off Apple’s maneuvers.

Nothing is scheduled to take effect until September when a new version of the Apple operating system rolls out, and a lot can happen between now and then, but marketers will need to pay attention and likely make some adjustments to their email marketing tactics.

Apple’s new Mail Privacy Protection applies specifically to the native Mail app on iPhones and iPads, and the desktop email application.

According to the Apple press release, “In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”

There will be other changes as well, but these are the most significant for industrial marketers:

Email open metrics

You will no longer be able to track email opens from those using the Apple mail app. Apple will also block forward tracking. If your subscriber forwards an email to another email address, you will not receive any tracking information on the forward.

Masking IP address

Apple will mask a user’s IP address, which will prevent marketers from tracking a user’s location or other online activity. This means less insight into your subscribers’ behavior and tendencies.

Dynamic content and device information

Apple will block dynamic content, such as live poll updates, carousels, and hamburger menus, forcing the user to actively download this content. In addition, marketers will no longer be able to discover what type of device is reading the email, which will impact email design decisions.

How industrial marketers should respond

Marketers should start preparing now for the upcoming changes Apple is implementing. One important measure is to look back at your analytics over the last six months to a year and identify trends.

Email opens have long been a metric tracked by industrial marketers to measure engagement. Your history of email opens documents how you’ve been trending in this area. Now you can expect a change, depending on what percent of your subscribers use the Apple email app. Your email open metrics are bound to increase, which will be inaccurate because with the Apple changes the open will be recorded as soon as you send the email.

Open rates can often be equated to the strength of the sender and subject line. They are not, however, the best measure of engagement. Nor is this the first time that marketers have fretted over open rates. Remember when email preview panes first became a thing? Subscribers could read some or all of the email content without actually recording an open of the email.

Most important: be relevant

The more important engagement metric is a click-thru on email content. A click-thru shows how interested your subscriber is in what you have to say and what you have to offer. The key takeaway is: make your content relevant to your audience. Click-thrus and subsequent conversions are the most powerful measurements of how relevant your content is and how well you engage your audience.

You may also need to pay more attention to other engagement metrics beyond email to get a better perspective on your audience. These include website visits, social media activity, orders, and account activity.

Another way to gain valuable information and increase engagement opportunities is to ask subscribers to update their preferences. Typically, you might ask what type of content subscribers are interested in receiving and how often. You can also add questions about whether they prefer dynamic content and what type of device they prefer to use.

Getting around masked IP addresses and the blocking of live content are more complex issues, although fewer marketers will need to contend with them. If you send live content and use IP addresses to track online behavior or location, you will likely need to get design and technical experts involved to work on solutions.

Ultimately, the impact of Apple’s privacy changes on email marketing remains to be recognized. It will likely be neither doomsday nor a non-event and instead fall somewhere in between. The Maven will continue tracking the situation and keep you updated as the new Apple OS rollout gets closer.

Digital Media E-Mail Marketing Marketing Measurement Marketing Trends Marketing, General
Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

The rise of the digital era has in many ways increased competition in the industrial sector and leveled the playing field between small and large companies. Smaller companies with a robust online presence have more opportunities than ever to attract an engineering audience, while larger companies can defend their brand and market positions.

But one way for a company of any size to rise above its competitors is to use content to its advantage. Here are seven ways content can give your marketing efforts a lift.

1. Educate, Don’t Sell

When it comes to producing content, consider the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. In other words, you don’t want the hard sell, and neither do engineers. What they want is educational information: facts, statistics, information, objectivity. They want to learn how to do their jobs better, not get pressured into buying something they may or may not need to complete a project.

The more you make your content educational, the more helpful you are to your audience, and the more likely they will turn your way.

2. Right Content, Right Channels

Engineers use a variety of content types and access that content through several different preferred channels. According to the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers research report, datasheets, case studies, white papers, and product demo videos top the list as the most valuable content types engineers use.

To maintain and advance their professional skills, engineers gravitate toward content such as online training courses, webinars, and white papers, as reported in the 2021 Pulse of Engineering.

With many tradeshows and in-person events canceled over the past year due to the pandemic, the most popular channels for accessing information are supplier/vendor websites, online trade publications, publication email/e-newsletters, and vendor email/e-newsletters.

Make these content types and channels part of your marketing mix and you might be able to separate your company from the pack.

3. Fill the Knowledge Gap with Content

The Pulse of Engineering report also found that a major concern for industrial companies is the knowledge and expertise that is lost when employees leave the company. Many do not have formal processes for preserving and passing on domain knowledge. Savvy suppliers and vendors can help fill the knowledge gap and become important allies to their customers by providing valuable content through online training courses, webinars, and white papers.

4. Use Gated Content to Build Your Database

Sometimes the best defense against the competition is a comprehensive database of customers and prospects. While some companies are hesitant to gate content behind forms in fear of turning away potential prospects, engineers are willing to fill out forms for highly technical content. White papers and CAD drawings are the most popular premium pieces of content. Video tutorials, webinars, and product configurators are also desired by technical buyers. Our research shows that engineers are most likely to fill out contact information forms for these valuable resources.

5. Produce Content for the Entire Buying Cycle

Research consistently shows engineers rely upon online content heavily during the buying process. Online content supports over 50 percent of the buyer’s journey, as reported in the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers. Sixty-two percent of respondents complete more than half of the buying process online, and when looking at engineers age 45 and under, the online journey lengthens to over seventy percent.

Make sure you have plenty of content such as educational articles, white papers, videos, webinars, and technical documentation for the early phases of the engineer’s buy cycle when they are analyzing their needs and searching for potential suppliers and products. Content such as ROI calculators, case studies, and warranty policies can help close the deal later in the buying cycle.

6. Keep Producing Content

Content isn’t something you pay attention to only at the beginning of the year or to support specific events such as product launches. Content marketing is an ongoing process of producing, repurposing, posting, and tracking content. Your audience as well as search engines are both hungry for fresh, relevant technical content. You have to keep feeding the beast to rise above.

7. Stay on Message and Brand

Is your content consistent in its messaging as well as its look and feel? Even when you have a variety of content types, your company’s brand essence and key messaging points should come through on each piece. Consistency and continuity of content help engineers identify and remember you. Find the common threads that are important and stitch them into all of your content.

Content Marketing Marketing, General Multichannel Marketing
Lead Nurturing Tips for 2021

Lead Nurturing Tips for 2021

Few of the leads you generate are sales-ready at the first contact with your company. Prospects might be anywhere in their buying cycle when contact is made and they typically have questions and concerns they need to be answered before they are ready to place an order.

They might want to know more about your products, your brand, your support policies, your customers, and more. This educational journey takes time. It’s your job to keep your prospects interested, encourage them along their buying journey, and build meaningful relationships so they are more likely to choose your company when it comes time to do business. That’s lead nurturing in a nutshell.

The lead nurturing process can be long—research shows it takes anywhere from six to 13 touches to deliver a qualified lead to sales. Lead nurturing can also be fruitful—studies show that 70 percent of business comes from long-term leads, those that aren’t ready to buy when you first connect with them.

In addition, the disruption of the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic has placed increasing emphasis on the importance of lead nurturing. Leads you might have thought were close to buying have now gone cold. Budgets have been slashed. Projects were delayed or canceled.

But things are picking up again, and engineers are on the prowl for components, products, and services to help them complete their projects. It’s time to hone your lead nurturing efforts. Focus on these core functions:

  • Using a lead nurturing system
  • Segmenting your database
  • Planning email “drip” campaigns
  • Handing off to the sales team
  • Tracking and learning

Using a Lead Nurturing System

Many industrial companies are adopting marketing automation to help manage lead nurturing and other marketing efforts. Marketing automation allows you to capture prospect engagement across all digital channels and can help you score leads, create landing pages, track prospect actions, trigger automatic emails, report on the effectiveness of various content, produce analytics, and much more.

Some companies are embracing specific email-based lead nurturing platforms such as GlobalSpec Catalyst. Whatever system you choose, the three core capabilities you must-have for lead nurturing are the ability to segment your audience, create and send campaigns, and report results.

Segmenting Your Database

If all of your prospects are similar and interested in the same products, you don’t need to segment your database. However, many companies will have a variety of prospect types interested in different products and services. In this case, you will need to segment your database to craft different lead nurturing campaigns to meet the needs of different audiences.

Common segments include area of interest, phase of buy cycle, market, geography/territory, among others. Another important segment leads that have had no contact with your company for an extended period. You might create a segment of these cold leads to re-engage with them.

Planning Email “Drip” Campaigns

There are tons of ways to connect with your audience, but email is the most effective channel for nurturing the engineering audience. Nourishing takes place through what is called email “drip” campaigns—meaning at regular intervals, you show up in their inbox. For example, your campaign could touch prospects once a week for three months followed by once a month for six months. You decide based on your segments and your prospects’ needs.

What do you send to an engineer’s inbox? According to the “2021 Pulse of Engineering” report, engineers seeking technical documentation, product specifications, and data sheets to help complete their projects. You should also sprinkle in the type of high-level messaging that increases their confidence in your company. For example, many engineers are confronting supply chain issues for parts they need. Can you assure them of availability and delivery? Can you highlight the strengths and stability of your company? Can you demonstrate a high level of support?

Other useful content includes white papers, webinars, infographics, case studies, and articles. During the nurturing process, keep the content educational rather than sales-oriented. Engineers hate to be sold to; they want to learn and discover.

Handing Off to the Sales Team

The definition of a sales-ready lead should be determined jointly between marketing and the sales team. Lead nurturing only works if sales and marketing organizations are working from the same playbook.

Often a lead reaches sales-ready status when it achieves a score based on a scale you develop that awards points for specific prospect behaviors. For example, a prospect that clicks on every offer is a five and likely sales-ready, while a prospect that only visited a web page remains a one.

Tracking and Learning

Some of your emails and offers will perform better than others. Keep track of how the prospects in your campaign interact with your offers and content.

Get rid of nurturing emails and content that don’t perform well while building on content that is popular by creating similar offers. Continually refine your campaigns and you should see improved results.

Lead nurturing is an essential marketing tactic to increase sales-ready leads and potential sales. This is true at all times, especially during this period of market disruption due to the pandemic.

Lead Management Marketing Strategy Marketing, General