concentrated black man reading book in library

How Marketers Can Help Prevent Institutional Knowledge Drain

concentrated black man reading book in library

Industrial companies are facing a pressing problem: the loss of knowledge and information as employees leave the company.

In GlobalSpec’s forthcoming “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, 58 percent of engineers said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company is very or extremely important. Another 26 percent said it was moderately important.

The issue is exacerbated due to older engineers retiring, layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, and organic turnover. Twenty-six percent of engineers said they were only moderately likely to be employed at the same company five years from now. Thirty percent said they were only slightly likely or not at all likely to be employed by the same company.  

That’s significant employee loss—often accompanied by specialized knowledge walking out the door.

Formal practices are required

Only 39 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.

That leaves a significant gap in some companies. Marketers can be a valuable contributor in helping their customers preserve institutional knowledge.

Here’s how:

  • Create educational and technical content that is focused on the needs and interests of engineers. White papers, webinars, articles, and other technical content can explain processes, describe how to complete a task, compare different approaches to solving a problem, and document best practices. This type of content—educational and customer-focused rather than promotional and sales-focused—can become a part of a client organization’s knowledge library.

  • Engineers report that their most effective ways to systematically or formally maintain, educate, and advance their professional skills are online training courses, webinars, and peers. You can host online training sessions for engineers covering topics they need to know and that you specialize in. Be sure to archive any training sessions so engineers can always have access to the content.

  • Host and moderate a knowledge database or online discussion forum around specific topics that are relevant to engineers. You can do this for one company, such as a large, important customer. Or you can open the forum to all engineers, and serve primarily as its moderator:  answering questions, contributing to discussions, and pointing toward other content you’ve created that is useful to your audience.

  • Keep all your content, particularly technical specifications, up to date and easy to use. If your technical content is comprehensive, logically organized, accurate, and easy to access, you can gain a reputation as a supplier that is a trusted source of knowledge and expertise. Engineers will come to depend on you more. 

  • Because engineers are on the move, if you only have a couple of contacts within a company, you risk losing that connection if the engineer changes jobs or retires. Consider a campaign to help update your database by having engineers verify their contact information, asking them to recommend a peer or colleague that would benefit from knowing about your company and products, and encouraging engineers to share your content such as blog posts, articles, and videos so that you can increase your number of contacts. Keep your database updated so you can track engineers who change companies.

Remember, employee loss is inevitable, but the loss of specialized knowledge doesn’t have to be. By focusing on getting relevant, educational content into the hands of engineers, you can become a trusted partner in helping them slow down the loss of institutional knowledge. Ultimately, you’ll help your bottom line as well.

Customer Relationships
woman having a video call

How Has the Coronavirus Impacted Engineers?

woman having a video call

Almost everyone around the world has been impacted by the coronavirus, and engineers are no exception. In the forthcoming “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, GlobalSpec asked engineers three key questions about the coronavirus. Here are their responses.

1. Has the coronavirus impacted your department’s budget?

Forty-six percent of engineers said that the coronavirus has caused their budget to decrease, while 36 percent said it has not impacted their budget.

  • More midsized companies with 50-250 employees saw their budget decreased (64 percent) than larger or smaller companies.
  • The regions most impacted by budget decreases were Africa (75 percent), followed by South America (68 percent) and Asia (67 percent). The region least impacted was Australia, with only 28 percent of companies experience budget decreases. In North America, 46 percent of companies saw their budgets decreased.
  • The industry most impacted by budget decreases is Consumer Electronics (72 percent), followed by both Automotive and Education (each at 64 percent). Sixty-two percent have experienced budget decreases in Fabricated Materials, General Manufacturing, and Oil & Gas.
  • Several industries saw the average company experience either budget increases or stable budgets. These industries include Government, Aerospace & Defense, Engineering/Tech Design Services, Communications-Data/Telecom/Wireless/Network, Medical Equipment/Instrumentation, and Industrial Machinery/Tools & Equipment.

Key Takeaway: While many budgets have decreased due to coronavirus, some have increased or remained stable. Even in industries or regions where budgets have been most impacted, the show must go on. Marketers should continue their campaign efforts, making adjustments where necessary to account for lagging industries or markets.  

2. How has the coronavirus impacted your ability to complete projects?

The most common impact on the ability to complete projects is supply chain issues and the availability of necessary parts, which was reported by 40 percent of survey respondents.

  • Supply chain issues and availability of necessary parts has had a larger impact on smaller companies with fewer than 100 employees than on larger companies.
  • Australia (38 percent) and Asia (35 percent) are the regions most impacted by supply chain issues.
  • The industries most impacted by supply chain issues are Agriculture/Forestry, Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals, and Packaging Machinery, all at 40 percent.
  • The ability of half of those working in Semiconductor & Electronic Components to complete projects has been impacted by colleagues being laid off or furloughed.
  • Twenty-six percent of engineers said that working from home has impacted their ability to complete projects.

Key Takeaway: Because supply chain is the most common issue impacting engineers’ ability to complete projects, if there is any way you can expedite or improve the ability to get parts into the hands of your customers you should make that point clear in your marketing messages. Alternatively, think about some other ways you might be able to alleviate the pain their feeling from supply chain issues.

3. What has been your biggest challenge during the coronavirus?

The biggest challenge engineers face during the coronavirus aligns with the most common impact on the ability to complete projects: the availability of parts and components, reported by 26 percent of respondents.

  • Twenty-two percent of engineers said that working remotely was their biggest challenge; 16 percent said canceled work travel.
  • Working remotely and canceled travel were more of a challenge for engineers at larger companies.
  • The challenge of the availability of parts and components was felt particularly by engineers at smaller companies with up to 50 employees.
  • In most industries, the availability of parts and components is the biggest challenge. However, working remotely is the number one challenge for Government, Education, Utilities/Energy, Aerospace & Defense, Oil & Gas, and Consumer Electronics.

Key Takeaway: In addition to alleviating supply chain concerns, think about how your customer’s work environment is different than normal, and account for that in your outreach. Are there better times of day to reach them? Is a conversation via Zoom a better option? Your typical outreach might need to change.

Look for more insights into the work environment of an engineer in our upcoming research report, “2021 Pulse of Engineering.”

Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

Follow These Steps to Create Better and More Effective Landing Pages

Industrial marketers invest a lot of effort and resources into multichannel campaigns to drive customers and prospects to landing pages. In some ways, landing pages are simple, because they have only one goal: conversion. The overall purpose of a landing page is to entice your prospect to complete a form.

But earning conversions can be a challenge when prospects are hesitant to hand over information about themselves in exchange for your offer of a whitepaper, webinar, or other content.

Your job is to build enough trust and provide enough value that this exchange of information is a no-brainer for your prospect. Here’s how:

One campaign, one landing page

Each campaign should have its own landing page designed specifically for its target audience and associated offer. Avoid multi-purpose landing pages that serve several campaigns. Anything you do that detracts from a single campaign message can feel watered down, confusing, and lower your conversion rate.

Get right to the point

Your visitor has come to your landing page for a specific reason: to take advantage of your campaign offer. Make it as easy as possible for them by making it perfectly clear what they need to do.

All of your landing page choices should be focused on the desired prospect action. Tell them exactly what to do and why. Use clear, short headlines. Reinforce with benefit-oriented bullet points. Add large buttons with action verbs (Click Here, Download Now, Read the Report, etc.). Place the most important information at the top of the page.

Create continuity

To reassure visitors they have come to the right place, create continuity between elements of the campaign and the look of the landing page. Use the same or similar language, colors, fonts, and imagery.

This type of positive reinforcement adds to the professionalism of your landing page and increases the likelihood that your prospect will take the requested action.

Remove distractions

The landing page has only one purpose—to convert. That means you should remove everything from the page that doesn’t contribute to a conversion.

Some marketers may be tempted to add a second offer, in case the visitor isn’t interested in the main offer. Don’t – It’s distracting from your goal and will lead to landing page confusion.

Similarly, many people want to include multiple links to other parts of their website so that visitors can explore and/or get information. Avoid this, as it only gives visitors a reason to click away from the offer before converting.

Add trust marks

If you think a prospect might need a bit more convincing before converting, add trust marks to the landing page. These might be logos of other customers who use your products or a brief customer testimonial video. But don’t add anything that takes visitors away from the landing page or detracts from the main goal.

Keep forms as simple as possible

If you’ve done everything right and your prospect takes action to accept your offer, don’t annoy or discourage them by presenting a long, complicated form to fill out. If you do, your drop-off rate will likely be high.

Instead, ask for minimal information that allows you to identify the prospect and communicate with them. Name, company, and work email is all you really need.

As you begin a relationship with the prospect, you can fill in additional information. But for the landing page, minimal is best.

Don’t overlook the thank you page

If your prospect makes it as far as your thank you page, you’ve achieved your goal of conversion. Well done!

On the thank you page, you have another opportunity to gain and direct the interest of prospects. Here you can offer them links to content related to the offer they just accepted, such as articles, case studies, videos, and datasheets. You can offer them subscriptions to your newsletter or ask if they’d like someone from your company to contact them. Remember to only do this on the thank you page post-conversion, not the landing page itself.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing conversions. Make sure to share your wins with us.

Web Sites – Design & Usability

How to Maintain Sales & Marketing Alignment When Working Remotely

The Maven has always advocated for tight alignment between sales and marketing teams. Whether the teams work under the same command or for different leaders, alignment between sales and marketing offers advantages, including increased efficiency, better prospect targeting, more qualified leads for sales, and ultimately increased revenues.

Key tactics for sales and marketing alignment include:

  • Working toward shared goals
  • Clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and accountability for each team
  • Collaboration on lead scoring/ranking, especially the definition of a sales-ready lead versus a marketing lead and when to hand off a lead to sales
  • Collaboration on creating buyer personas and identifying target markets and customers
  • Sales input and buy-in on marketing campaigns and marketing content
  • Regular meetings between the two groups to share insights and updates
  • Marketing on sales calls; sales contributing to marketing messaging

Even in an ideal world, sales and marketing alignment requires a lot of dedication and effort. But the era of COVID-19 has made this effort that much more daunting. Many sales and marketing teams that are accustomed to in-person meetings and activities are now working remotely.

To maintain alignment, sales and marketing must adapt to changing conditions. Some organizations already have remote workers and the transition might not be as bumpy. According to the job search site FlexJobs, the number of people working remotely has increased 159 percent between 2005 and 20017.

Whether you already have remote workers or are just discovering the meaning of virtual, here are some tips on how to keep a tight bond between your sales and marketing teams:

Establish policies about using collaboration tools

Teams working remotely are relying more on collaboration tools such as Slack, Zoom, Trello, Google Drive, and others. In the past, you may have used them as needed or ad hoc. Now it’s time to document and formalize their uses.

Determine what tools you will use and how you will use them under specific situations. For example, you might create a Slack channel devoted to discussing new leads or campaign status. Or standardize on Trello for shared projects.

You also can document policies about communication time frames. For example, emails should be answered within X time frame, while queries on a Slack channel should be addressed within Y timeframe. Other policies might be to ask team members to always use video for online meetings.

Keep processes that work

Maybe you once had bi-weekly meetings between sales and marketing to discuss leads, or monthly “lunch and learns” to share new campaigns or new content. If these types of collaboration have been successful, keep them.

Companies can use tools like Zoom for group or one-on-one meetings. Or you can still host your “lunch and learns” virtually. Consider giving your team certificates to purchase a lunch of their choice to eat at their desk while they participate in a presentation.

Track and communicate changing market trends

Just about every market is experiencing upheaval for the better or worse. You might find that certain geographies or vertical markets are suddenly performing better/worse or a certain customer persona is more active. Your sales team will likely be the first to find out.

Have someone be responsible for tracking and communicating changing market trends and make decisions as needed. For example, you may need to redirect campaigns to focus on specific products that are in demand, or revise your lead scoring system because you have many more prospects signing up for webinars.

Create a buddy system

No, this isn’t elementary school or swim camp. But working remotely can feel lonely and isolating, especially for extroverted types who thrive on gatherings of people.

A buddy system that pairs a marketing person with a salesperson for daily check-ins can reduce feelings of isolation and also foster stronger communication ties between sales and marketing.

Make the most of an altered situation

There’s no question this is a stressful time for all workers. Previous work routines and processes have instantly vanished. Employees are getting up to speed on remote working. Why not use virtual communication and collaboration tools to ease some of the pressure?

Many teams are hosting virtual happy hours, talent shows, readings, lunches, and more. Bake in some virtual levity and leisure for your sales and marketing teams and that alone will help improve relations and collaboration.

Industrial Marketing and Sales

It’s Time to Up Your Webinar Game

With many in-person events canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, marketers are putting more resources into exhibiting at virtual tradeshows and hosting webinars.

While virtual tradeshows are a relatively recent phenomenon, webinars have been part of the manufacturing marketing portfolio for years. What’s the difference between the two programs? Think of virtual tradeshows as novels and webinars as short stories.

Virtual tradeshows can go on for days and have multiple tracks, just as a novel might have multiple plotlines. Webinars are still short—rarely more than an hour—and typically focus on one key theme, such as an emerging technology or a novel manufacturing process.

With marketers everywhere suddenly turning their attention to webinars, and engineers seeking out webinars as an educational and informational resource, you need to up your game to stand out, keep your audience engaged, and show your company and brand in a positive light. How do you do it?

Webinar software

If you’ve been hosting any webinars, you likely already have a webinar platform. If not, the market is flooded with new entries, and you’ll need to vet your possibilities. If you’re working with a partner, you’ll want to learn about what their platform of choice offers.

Compare the features, benefits, support, and policies of the various platforms. Whether you have an existing webinar solution or are searching for one, the most important aspects are that you use a webinar platform that enables you to:

  • Deliver the type of content and user experience that aligns with your marketing goal
  • Includes interactive features to engage your audience
  • Gives the host robust command of the event
  • Is easy to use and offers tracking and support

Engagement is a must

In many ways, webinars offer advantages over in-person events. There is no travel time or travel expense. There are no crowded rooms with screens or speakers that are difficult to see from the back. With a webinar, the presenter can easily and quickly switch what appears on the screen.

While you can’t replicate an in-person experience, you can take advantage of webinar features that help engage your audience and deliver a more personalized experience.

  • Use live polls offering the ability to publish results in real-time. It’s a great way to interact with your audience and gain intelligence by asking them questions.
  • Combine traditional slides with video. The video can be the speaker, a product demonstration, a process animation, or other content of interest.
  • Try a live roundtable discussion on an important topic in your industry, using video to virtually place the panelists in the same room—on your audience’s screen.
  • Implement a chat window for the audience to interact with each other during the webinar or to contact the host.
  • Have a button for the audience to submit questions. The moderator or host can screen the questions so that they are focused, relevant, and clear.
  • Some webinar platforms offer virtual breakout rooms, which allow people to leave the webinar to then attend smaller group chats. This is useful for a webinar that might attract different audiences with varying interests.

Get Ready for Your Closeup

Everyone and everything looks different on camera than in person. If your webinar includes video of people speaking, pay attention to:

  • Lighting and camera angle. Make sure the speaker’s face is clearly lit, but not washed out, and is at a natural distance and angle from the camera—neither a pinhead nor a looming blob. Speakers should look directly at the camera.
  • Background. A lot of people have been putting up custom backgrounds when attending a virtual video meeting. Use a background that is clean, tidy, and neutral.
  • Visuals. Don’t crowd the screen with too many windows. Don’t crowd slides with too much content. Engagement isn’t a function of the quantity of information, but rather a function of relevance and quality.
  • Post-webinar activities. After you master the technology, prepare the event, practice your presentations, and finally deliver the show, you can sometimes forget you’re hosting the webinar to build relationships with your audience. Deploy your marketing expertise to follow-up with attendees and use the webinar metrics to shape your response.

Don’t Forget Partnerships

Not every manufacturer has the time and resources to develop and host a webinar program. And yet, webinars are such an important tactic right now.

Many manufacturers are partnering with GlobalSpec to jointly host a webinar. We provide the qualified attendees and manage the entire program for you, including:

  • Promotion of your webinar
  • Audience registration and attendee tracking
  • Webinar registrant and attendee reporting, both for the live day event and 90 days on-demand
  • Live day rehearsal and review of webinar platform functionality
  • Electronic files of final presentation for use on corporate website, YouTube, etc.

Working with GlobalSpec on webinars, you can extend your reach to a broader, yet still targeted audience, as well as leave the technology and tracking to us. It’s a great way to showcase new products and emerging technologies, demonstrate manufacturing processes, train and educate your audience, and more.

Check out our live and on-demand webinars here.

Webinars

Read This Before Committing to a Virtual Tradeshow

With many in-person tradeshows and other live events canceled due to COVID-19, many organizations and industry groups are looking to virtual tradeshows as an alternative.

You may be interested in exhibiting at or sponsoring a virtual tradeshow as part of your marketing mix. If you are, this article will help guide you on what to expect and what you should look for from a virtual tradeshow opportunity.

Attractive, Intuitive Event Spaces

The show host is responsible for creating an inviting virtual lobby, exhibit hall, and meeting rooms. It should be intuitive to access the event’s schedule, find exhibitors, participate in sessions, and generally wander around to see what’s of interest—just as an attendee would at an in-person tradeshow.

If you aren’t comfortable and confident using the show’s interface, attendees will likely struggle as well.

Exhibitor Profiles

The event platform should allow you to create a robust exhibitor profile that can serve as your “tradeshow booth.” You’ll want visitors to have easy access to your content and sessions, as well as engagement tools such as chat, Q&A, and discussion forums.

The host should be able to provide you with profiles of registered guests who visit your booth, such as name, company, contact info, and other data they capture from attendee registration forms. This can allow you to get to know a prospect and engage with them in a more meaningful way, just as you would at an in-person event.

A Robust Content Library

The event platform should offer you strong and flexible capabilities for a content library. You should be able to upload content at any time throughout the event, organize content logically (for example, by buyer persona, product group, or other attributes), and track who accessed what content.

Support for Live Streaming and Scheduling

You may want to seek out a virtual tradeshow that offers you both live streaming as well as pre-recorded sessions.

Make sure your live events don’t conflict with the overall schedule of the tradeshow. For example, you won’t want to schedule a live roundtable discussion during the tradeshow’s live keynote presentation.

Engagement and Networking

The most challenging aspect of virtual events is engaging your audience. Engagement features include live polls, live chat, Q&A tools, and social media integration that allows your audience (or you) to post and share content from the event in real-time.

Networking features you should look for are robust attendee profiles, group and private chat for attendees, one-on-one meetings, and live roundtable discussions. The more engagement and networking features offered, the better chance you have of keeping your audience interested.

Registration and Lead Retrieval

The host should offer attendee registration and lead retrieval tools. Find out in advance what information you will receive about attendees.

So far, there are no instant lead capture systems for virtual events such as badge scanning at in-person events. But as an exhibitor, you should be able to click on the profile of anyone who visits your booth. You should also be able to see who attended what attended sessions, engaged with your staff, or downloaded content.  

Security

The event host should be able to demonstrate the security measures in place for the event. Some virtual tradeshow platforms are new to the market and are still working out the kinks, while others have been around for years. Experience counts in terms of providing secure connections and protection for data. Ask the trade show host about compliance with GDPR regarding data security and privacy.

Support

There are a lot of moving digital parts when exhibiting at a virtual tradeshow. You’re bound to run into a few bumps along the way. How will the host support you? Find out ahead of time what kind of help is available to you and when for the technology or business processes involved.

Three Tips for Exhibiting

Many of the same best marketing practices for in-person tradeshows apply to virtual tradeshows: planning, promotion, event execution, and follow-up. Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind when sponsoring a virtual event:

  • Choose your speakers and booth staff wisely. Whether you are live-streaming a session or offering pre-recorded presentations, use speakers who are comfortable in the digital arena. Staff your booth with people skilled at both online chat and moderating a virtual roundtable. This requires both writing and speaking skills. These aren’t necessarily the same as the hand-shaking, person-to-person skills.
  • Pre-Book virtual meetings. Many companies taking their trade shows virtual will share with exhibitors a list of attendees like they would for an in-person trade show. Look for the most promising attendees and try to pre-schedule meetings with them. Many meeting-scheduling tools allow you to include an access link to a virtual meeting to make the process even more seamless. You can also promote your meeting sign-up link on your social channels for interested leads to sign themselves up for meetings with your team.
  • Promote your presence during the event. You’ll want to do your usual pre-show marketing around the tradeshow. In addition, look for ways during the event to advertise your presence, presentations, or content. Your vendor may offer sponsorship packages that include banners, top positions, branding, and other opportunities to increase your visibility.
Tradeshows

Why Marketing is More Important than Ever

The global spread of COVID-19 is new territory for all of us, but what’s not new are disruptions in the market. Recessions, wars, and even technological breakthroughs such as the Internet have all impacted markets and marketing strategy throughout history.

Historically, some companies have cut back on marketing during disruptive times. They consider marketing to be discretionary spending, or they believe that marketing is a cost center rather than an investment in growth.

The fact is, many of those companies that cut back on marketing faltered, and others took their place as market leaders. Amazon became a leader during a recession. Toyota beat Volkswagen. Kellogg’s gained market share from Post. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell grew sales, while McDonald’s suffered.

You can go back one hundred years and see more examples of companies that innovated during economic declines ended up experiencing a surge in revenue and profit. Advertising executive Roland S. Vaile tracked 200 companies during the recession in 1923. He found those that continued to advertise during the downturn were 20 percent ahead of where they had been before the recession, while companies that reduced advertising were 7 percent below their 1920 levels.

When other companies cut back, there is less clutter in the market, fewer competitors seeking your customers’ attention, and often better rates on advertising placements.

The old adage is true: “During good times you should advertise. During bad times you must advertise.”

Sure, that’s easy to say, but may be hard to do if budgets and other resources are being threatened. That’s why companies need to look to marketing innovation and efficiency to see themselves through the economic impact of COVID-19.

Rely on marketing technology

The big three areas of marketing technology are email marketing platforms, web content management, and digital marketing analytics. Chances are you’ve already made some investments in these areas. Now is the time to get the most out of your investments.

In many ways, the global pandemic is presenting the perfect convergence of marketing technology and marketing tactics. Email, websites, and search (both paid and organic) are all working right now—and each of these marketing tactics is supported and optimized by marketing technology.

Continue to invest in sending emails to your house lists and advertising in industry e-newsletters. Maintain a robust and up-to-date website. Use search to drive qualified traffic that converts.

Even if customers aren’t ready to buy right now, they are continuing to work and are looking for the right vendors for when they are ready to buy. You want to be noticed during this period, you want to be remembered, and you want to be seen as a stable brand during uncertain times. You can only do that by continuing to maintain your marketing momentum.

Adjust your messaging

In your messaging to customers, you have to acknowledge what’s going on and how your company is responding.

Your customers are people, not just revenue sources. They have concerns just as you do. Their jobs and career and lifestyles may be in danger. It doesn’t help to pretend the pandemic isn’t happening or to act “business as usual.” An important part of marketing—during both good times and hard times—is showing empathy, and the current climate presents an opportunity for you to stay in close touch and tell your customers you are thinking about them.

You may also have an opportunity to reposition some of your products and services. Issues such as business continuity, supply chain security, and reliability of vendor partnerships are all on the minds of your customers.

This is the time to reassure, to show how your company is helping, to let them know if your products might play an important role in addressing their issues. Highlight the stability of your company, the reputation of your customer service and support, or the reliability of your product line.

Build a bridge through marketing

Marketing is the bridge that will get you from today’s difficult situation to a more stable future. It will keep you connected with your customers, visible in the market, and prepared to face additional uncertainty.

There may not be a “return to normal.” But there will be a future. Those companies that realize marketing is more important than ever will be best positioned to be successful, whatever the future may bring.

Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends

How Lead Nurturing Has Changed During COVID-19

In February, the Marketing Maven published “Lead Nurturing Simplified: Five Core Principles.” In the months since then, a lot has changed in marketing due to COVID-19.

The core principles of lead nurturing still apply: use a lead nurturing system, segment your audience, nourish prospects, hand-off to sales, and track and learn. By adhering to these principles, you can successfully turn your long-term leads into satisfied customers.

However, you will need to make some adjustments within these core principles during the time of COVID-19 to account for the dramatically altered economic and marketing landscape.

In some ways, there has never been a better time to reach key decision makers through a lead nurturing email campaign, as many professionals are at their desks at home and not otherwise occupied with in-person meetings and travel.

Here are some tips to help you to continue to find success through lead nurturing:

Demonstrate empathy towards your audience

Empathy is the ability to identify and understand the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of another. You can do this by lending an ear to prospects

Why not add a phone call to your lead nurturing campaign? Simply ask your prospects how they are doing during this challenging time and listen to what they have to say. Or leave a message that you are thinking about them. If phone-calling isn’t practical, make one of your emails a simple statement letting your prospects know they are in your thoughts.

Adjust messaging to fit the times

If your company is doing something helpful, such as making monetary or equipment donations, protecting employees, or providing other COVID-related assistance, you can let your prospects know this. Certainly not every marketing touch should mention the coronavirus impact, but you should acknowledge the situation: it’s impacting you and it’s impacting your audience as well.

Back off any hard selling

Lead nurturing has always been more about educating prospects than getting aggressive and overly promotional, and now more than ever this holds true. Forget the sales pitches and limited times offers.

Instead, offer prospects that new eBook you’ve compiled of all your best content. Or invite them to a new webinar series that is replacing a cancelled in-person event.

Focus on brand awareness over sales

Chances are, your customers’ budgets are in disarray and spending may be on hold. Many prospects are not looking to buy right now—but they are still looking. If you stay in front of them through your lead nurturing campaigns and continue to offer relevant, educational content, they will be more likely keep your brand top of mind and turn to you when they are ready to buy.

Keep a positive tone

There’s plenty of bad news out there and all kinds of reasons to be frightened, making it easy to fall into a negative mindset. Don’t contribute to that.

Acknowledge the challenges your customers may be facing, but keep your messaging positive. Example: you’re looking forward to conditions improving, you’re hoping for an opportunity to do business with your prospects in the future, you’re always here to help them and answer any questions they have.

In other words, be the beacon of light, not the agent of darkness.

As you navigate this disruptive period, be sure to adhere to the five core principles of lead nurturing, and integrate these tips into your efforts. You and your customers can come out better on the other side.

Lead Management

How to Create Your Best Email Ever – 9 Tips

Now that COVID-19 has vastly reduced face-to-face time, email marketing is more important than ever.

Manufacturing marketers have for years relied on email to connect with their target audience to generate engagement opportunities, strengthen their brands, and nurture leads. Email campaigns to house lists, e-newsletter advertising, and co-branded emails with marketing partners all have their place in your marketing portfolio.

Given the current climate, more emails are being sent and inboxes are even more crowded than usual. You have to stand out to get your audience to pay attention.

Here’s how to send your best emails ever:

1. Match your message to your list

You need to deliver the right message to the right audience. The first step is segmenting your list in a way that makes it easy for you to craft targeted emails. For example, new customers get welcoming emails, current customers get upgrade emails, hot prospects get purchase offers, nurtured leads get educational information.

2. Treat every email component as a call to action

Even the ‘From’ line is a call to action (CTA). It’s telling your recipient to pay attention because this email is from a person and/or company they know and have opted-in to receive emails from.

The subject line should also be treated as its own mini-CTA. Its purpose is to have the reader take the action of opening the email. Use active and benefit-oriented words in the subject line, such as watch, download, register, get, discover, and meet.

3. Take advantage of valuable real estate

Many email programs offer a preview pane, which allows the user to see the top few inches of an email before deciding whether to open it. Those top inches are of utmost value: use them wisely. Instead of displaying a large graphic masthead or logo, use that space for teaser copy or the most compelling content you have.

4. Answer this one question

The most successful marketing emails are simple, targeted emails that answer one major question your audience asks: Why should I? Give your audience a compelling reason why they should open, read, and act, and you will have a winning email.

For example, if the purpose of your email is getting your audience to register for a webinar, tell them why they should. What will they learn? How will this information help them do their jobs better? What’s so special about your presenters? Why is your webinar the best source for this information?

5. Make it easy for your recipients

You want your audience to take action—make it easy to do so. Include bold buttons with action verbs: register, download, watch, etc. Include the CTA in text links. Place the CTA in several locations in the email.

When writing the email, use plain, straightforward language. Use short paragraphs and sentences, bulleted lists, and headings. In your copy, extoll benefits, but don’t be too salesy or promotional.

6. Keep your eye on the conversion prize

Your goal is to convert—that’s why you pepper your email with CTAs. The conversion could be a simple click-through to watch a video or read an article or download an infographic. It could also be getting your audience to fill out a form to access gated content or to register for an event. Or, it could be enticing them to fill out a survey or answer a poll question.

If you are using a form, ask for as little information as possible. Three fields—name, company, work email address—are all you need to get a relationship started. You can fill in the rest of your prospect’s data as they move through their buying cycle and interact with you further.

7. Render emails for mobile devices

Reading email on mobile devices is now the norm. By making your email communications mobile-friendly, you make it simple for your recipients to review your communication on any device.

8. Be relevant

The number-one way to stand out is to send emails that contain relevant, useful content to your prospects and customers, such as white papers, articles, how-tos, or special offers.

If you understand your audience’s information needs and work to meet or exceed them, prospects and customers will look forward to getting your emails and will hunt them down in their inbox clutter.

9. Work with a partner

If you’re strapped for resources or want to broaden your reach beyond your internal lists, you can advertise in third-party e-newsletters or send a co-branded email to a new, yet targeted audience.

IEEE GlobalSpec offers 70+ newsletter titles focused on specific industry segments and products. You can gain access to a highly engaged audience of decision-makers who use them as a key resource during all stages of their buying process.

E-Mail Marketing

How to Use Your Mid-Year Budget Checkup to Your Advantage

Many marketing budgets are subject to changes throughout the year, based on first half results and second half expectations. But now, almost every marketing budget has already undergone significant upheaval due to the COVID-19.

Now is the time to conduct a marketing budget checkup and make the necessary adjustments to put yourself in the best possible position to achieve success for the remainder of the year.

Here are some questions to ask while reviewing your budget situation:

Have your company’s business goals or marketing goals changed?

Your company may have had to re-calibrate its business goals, resulting in marketing goals changing as well.

Perhaps a scheduled product launch is being pushed out or you are scaling back from one of your markets. On the other hand, maybe you have new opportunity with products and services that are in higher demand.

Make sure your marketing goals are aligned with any changes in business goals, and that you reallocate your budget accordingly. If you do need to change marketing goals, choose goals that are relevant to your situation, measurable, and achievable given your budget.

Are you anticipating additional financial changes?

Another round of budget adjustments could be on the horizon come the fourth quarter. If this is a possibility for your company, you may want to hold some of your budget back and plan only for the next quarter.

Consider using programs that allow you to make quick adjustments in terms of reallocating budgets and resources. One example would be to reduce paid search spending and instead invest in webinar development, or reallocate tradeshow budget to ramp up email campaigns.

Can you take advantage of cost-effective channels?

Social media, email, and public relations are examples of channels where you likely have already invested fixed costs and built marketing infrastructure. For example, you already have social media profiles set up, an email marketing platform, or a media relations expert.

If your budget is under strain, you can—with very little cost—post more often to social media, email your house list with special campaigns, or pitch story ideas to media outlets.

What about partnership marketing?

One budget-conscious marketing initiative is to team up with a partner that has a complementary product and service line and a potentially shared customer base.

For example, you can conduct joint- or cross-promotions of each other’s offerings, co-author marketing content, or develop co-hosted webinars. Partnership marketing allows you to reach a wider audience without investing more budget.

Do current customers need more attention?

There’s a well-known saying that it costs seven times as much to find a new customer as it does to keep a current one. If you need to make difficult budget decisions, make sure you don’t skimp on your current customer base.

Your customers want to know the state of your business and how your company is responding to current market conditions. During times of uncertainty, your customers are more likely to continue doing business with a familiar and trusted vendor than to take a chance on the unknown. Stay in touch with customers. Let them know you are there for them. Consider developing a special offer just for current customers.

Do you have three marketing budgets?

As part of your mid-year budget checkup, you can benefit from developing three different budget scenarios for the rest of the year:

  • Best-case scenario—if business returns to some sense of normalcy, what is your best-case budget and how will you allocate it to achieve your marketing goals?
  • Worst-case scenario—if the economy continues to drag and your markets don’t recover, what are the bare-bones marketing essentials that you must continue to fund? (Such as your company website or your email campaigns.)
  • Realistic scenario—Chances are neither the best or worse cases will come to be. So what does the most realistic scenario look like? Build your marketing plan for the second half of the year around the most likely situation, and you’ll still be ready to adjust up and down if you’ve built all three budget scenarios.
Marketing, General