Why You Should Document Your 2020 Marketing Strategy


Most manufacturing marketers craft a marketing strategy for each new year. The “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” research report by the Content Marketing Institute found that 78 percent of survey respondents now have a content marketing strategy.

However, only 41 percent have documented their strategy. This is problematic, given the importance and benefits of having a documented marketing strategy. A documented marketing strategy can:

  • Align your entire team, and even those outside marketing such as subject matter experts and salespeople, around a common mission and established goals.
  • Define what success means for your marketing efforts and the metrics by which success is measured.
  • Help you prioritize your own resource allocations in terms of people, time, and budgets devoted to creating content and managing programs.
  • Help you respond quickly and intelligently to unexpected marketing opportunities or company/market changes that arise throughout the year.
  • Provide a basis on which to justify and defend marketing budgets.
  • Serve as an historical record and source of learning to improve your marketing strategy over time.

That’s a significant list of benefits for having a documented marketing strategy. But how do you create this document and what should go into it?

It’s Similar to a Business Plan

If you don’t yet have a documented marketing strategy for 2020, it’s time to get one written. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are different. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in.

Most marketing strategy documents include some or all of the key components discussed below.

Start with Your Goals

Goals are statements of what you want to accomplish through your marketing strategy. Examples of goals might be to grow brand awareness, increase market share, generate qualified leads, enter new markets, or support new product launches, among others.

Your goals drive all other marketing decisions and serve as an arbitrator when you might be deciding between alternative programs, channels, content, etc. You always ask the question: What goal will this help us achieve?

Define Your Audience(s)

Who are you trying to reach through your marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. Much more effective than vague definitions that include only title, industry and demographics, buyer personas are detailed descriptions of the different types of customers that you have, including their needs, motivations and influences. Buyer personas are essential aides in helping to product the right content. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.

Allocate Resources

Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals and fulfill your marketing strategy. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Who is on the marketing team? What secondary people are needed to support a successful marketing strategy (such as subject matter experts, website personnel, or your media partners)? Have you budgeted for key initiatives such as product launches or new market penetration?

Determine Metrics for Success

How will you measure the success of your marketing strategy? What metrics are most important? How will you define key performance indicators?

The answers will vary depending on your marketing tactics and channels, and will also be different for high level goals vs. campaign-specific goals. For example, you might measure the success of your overall email marketing by the number of qualified opportunities generated, but specific campaign measurements might include opens, clicks, shares, downloads, and conversions.

Be aware that measuring marketing ROI is not an exact science. The nature of your customers’ buying cycle can make it difficult to correlate sales to specific marketing channels. The industrial buy cycle is often long and complex, involving multiple stages, from needs assessment to comparison and evaluation, to a final purchasing decision. In the vast majority of cases, buyers will interact with your company’s content and brand many times and through multiple channels, often without contacting you, before they make a purchasing decision.

For these reasons, it’s best to track every interaction a prospect has with your company, because ultimately each touch contributes to a sale. For more on measurement and ROI, read the “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit.”

Programs and Channels

The meat of your strategy is how you will execute it. Your documented strategy should include a list of marketing programs and channels you plan to use throughout the year.

In this era of digital media, few companies rely on just one or two channels. Rather, manufacturers need a mix of traditional and digital media to successfully connect with their target audience.

The top five channels that manufacturing marketers plan to use this year are email marketing using in-house lists, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), tradeshows, and organic social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

How do your channels compare to others? Are your programs designed to meet the documented goals of your marketing strategy and the needs of your defined audiences?

Additional Resources

These two complimentary reports can help you develop and hone your marketing strategy, putting you on the path for success in 2020. Download them today:

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General
content marketing research

New Research on How Manufacturers Use Content Marketing

content marketing research

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recently released the results of its annual survey, “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends The results are encouraging in many ways—manufacturers are becoming more strategic as content marketers and many are reporting more success.

However, challenges remain, and manufacturers must continue to up their content marketing game to achieve their goals.

The CMI report, sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec, highlighted these five key findings:

1. Manufacturing marketers are becoming more strategic

Having a documented content marketing strategy in place is a sign of an organization’s commitment to content marketing. Forty-one percent of those surveyed now have a documented content marketing strategy, almost double from 21 percent last year.

Another 37 percent stated they have a content marketing strategy, but it is not documented. If you fall within this group, consider the advantages of documenting your strategy:

  • Everyone involved in content marketing will be aligned around a common mission, helping to increase effectiveness and efficiency.
  • It is easier to determine what types of content to develop, helping to marshal resources and streamline production.
  • A documented strategy, like a business plan, will help to justify and defend budget allocations and expenditures.

2. Many manufacturing marketers create content for different audiences

On average, manufacturers create content for four different audiences, with 45 percent creating content for 2-3 audiences and 26 percent creating content for six or more audiences.

Manufacturers should be lauded for segmenting their audiences and targeting them with different types of content. However, only 40 percent of manufacturers craft content to align with specific stages of the customer buying journey. This is a missed opportunity to be more relevant to your customers.

The content that buyers seek early in their journey is educational in nature, such as articles, white papers, webinars, how-tos and more. As they progress toward making a purchasing decision, content such as customer case studies, product specs, competitive comparisons, and ROI calculators become more valuable. Make sure you create content to support your customers’ entire buy cycle.

3. Communicating complex content and accessing subject matter experts has improved

Only 36 percent of survey respondents reported being challenged with communicating complex content, down from 60 percent last year. In addition, 40 percent reported being challenged with accessing subject matter experts in order to create specialized content, down from 50 percent.

These results indicate that manufacturing marketers are finding ways to access and communicate the deep technical information their audiences are looking for. Building a team of reliable subject matter experts to support your content marketing team is essential to creating content. Marketers by themselves can’t play the role of technical experts.

4. The majority outsource at least one content marketing activity

Sixty-four percent of manufacturing marketers outsource some aspect of their content marketing. Among those who outsource, 87 percent outsource content creation, which may help explain why their ability to communicate complex content has improved. Content distribution is the next closest activity outsourced, by 32 percent of survey respondents.

Writing and designing are the two major skillsets required to create content, and they always seem to be in short supply within the company. You can find outside experts through trade associations, networking, and even through internship programs. If your company lacks internal resources to create content, outsourcing can help save time and money, and free up your internal teams to focus on other pressing needs.

5. Marketers are overlooking several organic (unpaid) opportunities to distribute content

Manufacturing marketers rely on both paid (social media advertising/promoted posts, pay-per-click, sponsorships, banner ads) and unpaid (social media, company website/blog, email) tactics to distribute content.

However, several organic distribution tactics are being overlooked that, if implemented, can help extend the reach of your content. Currently, few are taking advantage of speaking/events (43 percent), media/influencer relations (33 percent), or guest posts/articles in third-party publications (31 percent).

These distribution tactics should become part of your documented content marketing strategy. If you are going to make the investment in content creation, you should do everything you can to promote the content to your target audiences. Expanding your modes of distribution will also help you maintain a consistent message across all channels in the market.

Would you like more insight into the state of content marketing in the manufacturing sector? Download  your complimentary copy of the full report, “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.” This valuable resource will help you jump-start your content marketing efforts for the year and help pave the way for your success.

Content Marketing

On-Demand Webinars: Tips for Success

Webinars are one of those marketing tactics that can keep on giving. You host the live event, and afterward you can offer a packaged version of the webinar for on-demand viewing.

Data gleaned from IEEE GlobalSpec’s webinars are consistent with industry standards, which report that 84 percent of B2B audiences opt for replays over live webinars. That’s a huge percentage. The reasons are primarily two-fold:

  • Only a small percentage of your potential audience will be available on the exact date and time of your live webinar.
  • Engineers and technical professionals—much like other professionals—prefer to consume content on their own terms.

On-demand webinars offer several advantages to the marketer:

  • Any technical difficulties that sometimes happen during live presentations are eliminated during on-demand viewing.
  • Most of your webinar costs have already been sunk into the live event. The costs to provide on-demand viewing are much lower.
  • The webinar can add value to your marketing portfolio for months to come.

However, you should also be aware of several caveats regarding on-demand webinars:

  • Interaction in an on-demand webinar is limited. You can’t have real-time Q&A, live polls, or other interactive features.
  • Promotion efforts rarely match the level of the live event, so some of your target audience may not know about the availability of the on-demand version.

With careful planning and targeted outreach, you can incorporate on-demand webinars into a successful, integrated marketing program that helps you attract a motivated audience and generate more demand for your products and services.

Create a “webinar hub.”

Make sure your on-demand webinars are easy to find by creating a webinar hub where you post your content. Whether you have a few webinars or dozens, make the webinar hub an important part of your website by adding it to navigation schemas and site indexes, and using house ads to promote it.

Be sure to curate the content on your hub. Classify the webinars under appropriate headings. Delete out-of-date webinars. Rearrange as needed for emphasis.

IEEE GlobalSpec’s webinar hub is a single, comprehensive destination that offers engineers the opportunity to view on-demand webinars and to participate in live events. Click here to view.

Build a registration form.

Click on any on-demand webinar link on IEEE GlobalSpec and you’ll be taken to a page with a thorough description of the content and key takeaways, along with a registration form.

The whole purpose of the on-demand webinar is to begin a conversation with a potential prospect, so you’ll need to ask them for some information by setting up a registration form. Name, email address, and company are likely enough to get the conversation going. You can fill in more information later as your relationship deepens.

Make content changes.

You’ll want to tweak your webinar for the on-demand version. First, remove the date, which often appears on the first slide. This way, the webinar will never feel dated to your audience.

You’ll also likely need to strip out live polls, but you can keep the results of polls from the live event. As for Q&A, while it isn’t feasible to have a live session, you can provide a prompt for your audience to submit questions you can answer asynchronously via email. It’s a great way to open the lines of communication and learn more about what your audience is thinking.

Promote the on-demand version.

As soon as you’ve posted the on-demand webinar, you should begin promoting it. Here are some ideas:

  • Contact everyone who signed up for the live event but didn’t attend. This might be up to half of your registrants. The registered-but-didn’t-attend group is your most qualified (other than live attendees) because they’ve already expressed interest. Invite them to view the on-demand webinar and remind them of what they missed.
  • Promote the on-demand webinar using house email lists, social media, e-newsletter advertisements, banner ads on your website or on an ad network—use any channel that you used for the live event.
  • Mix things up and promote the webinar from different angles: highlight the speaker, or the technology, or the problem being solved. This gives your content a fresh feel.
  • Divide the webinar into shorter snippets that are easier for your audience to consume. Instead of requiring 45-minutes of their time, for example, you’re asking for seven minutes. This technique can work well as long as you plan from the beginning to build a webinar that can be chunked into logical standalone sections.
Marketing, General Webinars

SEO Versus Paid Search: Which is Better?

Generating qualified traffic is the heartbeat of all search engine marketing efforts. Whether it’s by the means of search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC), appearing near the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) is every marketer’s goal.

So which tactic is better—SEO or PPC?

The short answer is that both SEO and PPC can be effective. To succeed with either method, or with both, manufacturing marketers need to know the advantages and disadvantages of each. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions on where to allocate your resources.

What is SEO?

SEO, often called organic search, is the process of optimizing your web pages so that they organically appear near the top of SERPs for specific keyword searches.

What is PPC?

PPC is a marketing program in which manufacturers create advertisements that appear on SERPs for specific keyword searches. You pay a set amount each time your ad is clicked on.

When looking at a typical search engine results page, you’ll see that the sponsored PPC ads take up the first few positions (and sometimes the last few), and the organic, or SEO results, take up the rest of the results listings.

What are the advantages of SEO?

  • It may take a long time to achieve high rankings, but once you’ve reached the position you want to be in, you can often maintain a consistent, persistent presence on SERPs for specific keyword searches.
  • Websites that organically appear near the top on SERPs are often considered authority sites. If you are ranking high on specific SERPs, you will be perceived as an expert, which should help you build trust with your target audience.
  • You don’t need to pay for clicks, including those from unqualified users.

What are the disadvantages of SEO?

  • SEO is a long game. It can take months to rise in the rankings and there is no guarantee that you will.
  • Search engine algorithms can change, causing you to lose hard-earned high positions.
  • While you don’t have to pay for clicks, SEO is not free. You need expertise, time, and budget to research keywords; develop keyword-focused page content; write meta tags, descriptions, and snippets for search engines; execute an incoming link strategy; stay abreast of search engine algorithm changes; and more. SEO is both a specialized science and a creative art.

What are the advantages of PPC?

  • You can gain instant top-of-the-page positions and dominate SERPs for a given keyword category, if you’re willing to pay for that position.
  • Campaigns can be up and running quickly.
  • It’s your only alternative if your website isn’t built to be optimized for search engines.
  • You can target beyond keywords: by geography, for example, or by demographics on social media sites.

What are the disadvantages of PPC?

  • Costs can climb quickly, particularly for competitive keywords.
  • Many searchers ignore the paid ads and only focus on organic results.
  • Invariably, you will pay for some amount of unqualified traffic.
  • You must create ads and manage campaigns and budgets, or pay someone to do it.

Are there similarities between SEO and PPC?

  • Extensive keyword targeting is required to be successful at either.
  • Both require effective landing pages to convert users who click and visit your site.
  • Either tactic can get you near the top of SERPs.

How can you use SEO and PPC together?

Ultimately, both SEO and PPC belong in your search engine marketing strategy. How you use them in conjunction with each other depends on your timeframe, budget, and goals.

As stated above, SEO is the long game. Use it to gain visibility for your best products, services, and value propositions—those that are foundational and don’t change much over time. Find the keywords that are the best fit and optimize specific pages for them.

While waiting for your SEO efforts to deliver results, you can fill in with PPC ads. You can also use paid search to quickly make a splash in new markets or to promote a time-sensitive offer. Additionally, having a website with good SEO will mean that when users visit your site after clicking on an ad, they’ll find what they’re looking for.

Used together and deployed appropriately, SEO and PPC can be effective tactics in every manufacturer’s marketing portfolio.

Marketing, General SEO

Pulse of Engineering Takeaways Part 2: Content Marketing

Make sure to also read: Pulse of Engineering – Part 1

IEEE GlobalSpec has recently published the results of its “2019 Pulse of Engineering” survey. The survey collected data about engineers’ work environment, the challenges and pressures they face, how they learn skills and manage knowledge, and more.

One of the key findings of the survey is that engineers are constantly seeking quality content from manufacturers. Good content from vendors helps to educate engineers and increase their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend.

But being an effective content marketer is not as simple as producing and publishing content. 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.”

Only by laser-focusing on your audience’s needs in this way can you build the trust that will lead to a long-term and fruitful relationship for both you and your engineering customers.

Here’s how:

Put your audience first.

Manufacturers are making strident improvements to their content marketing, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” developed by the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs and sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec.

However, there are still missteps. While manufacturing companies obviously need to explain how their products or services work, about half of the survey respondents said they always or frequently prioritize their promotional message over their audience’s informational needs when creating content for content marketing purposes.

This approach will likely not work. Engineers are wary of being “sold to.” Furthermore, promotional content is not what they are looking for.

The “Pulse of Engineering Report” found that, for engineers, three of their four leading content tools to complete projects are: technical documentation, product specification data, and datasheets (the fourth is software and development tools). Not surprisingly, none of these are overtly promotional materials.

If you can supply the technical content engineers are looking for, you will likely be in a better position to win business and become an essential ally to your customers.

Focus on their challenges.

Most engineers say that designs are becoming more complex/sophisticated, design cycles are shrinking, and there is more time-to-market pressure. These are serious challenges, and the manufacturer that can help them overcome these challenges can gain a significant advantage.

When creating content, focus on how your products and services can help speed up design cycles or reduce time-to-market pressures. In an era in which designs are more complex, does your content explain difficult concepts clearly, helping engineers grasp what you have to say quickly and easily? When you hit your customers’ pain points, they will respond to your messaging.

Help engineers advance their skills.

To increase their knowledge and skills, engineers most often rely on colleagues, books, online training courses, webinars, training courses offered by vendors, and technical white papers from vendors. Younger engineers are more likely than their older colleagues to rely on video as an information source.

Make sure that your content portfolio includes training, webinars, white papers, and videos that are designed to educate engineers and help them develop and improve their technical skills.

Exchange content for contact information.

The “2019 Pulse of Engineering” report found that 55 percent of engineers are willing to register on a website for access to technical documents. However, less than 20 percent are willing to pay for access to premium content, marking a steady decline over the past few years. More millennial engineers believe that all content should be free and open access.

Before you ask for an engineer to register to access technical content, make sure the content you are offering is of value to them. Only in that way can you entice them to give you their contact information, the first step in developing a mutually beneficial relationship.

The “2019 Pulse of Engineering” report has 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.

Download your complimentary copy of the “2019 Pulse of Engineering” research report to get the complete survey results, along with analysis and recommendations for manufacturers.

Content Marketing Marketing, General

The Five “Bonus Benefits” of Content Marketing

The majority of manufacturing content marketers (52 percent) say that their organizations are extremely/very committed to content marketing, with another 40 percent saying they are somewhat committed, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019”, a research report authored by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs.

The top three goals that manufacturers have achieved using content marketing in the past 12 months are creating brand awareness, educating audiences, and generating demand/leads. These are all worthy goals and justification for engaging in content marketing, which by nature is a long game.

Planning, creating, distributing, and tracking content takes time and resources, and building brand awareness and educating audiences doesn’t happen overnight. Because the investment is significant and the results are not always immediate, content marketers may begin to question their strategy and experience frustration.

But we urge all content marketers to stay the course, not only to stay on track toward achieving their stated benefits, but because content marketing can help your organization realize many additional “bonus benefits.”

These include:

1. Gain greater credibility.

While credibility is related to brand awareness, it is a benefit in its own right. Ninety percent of manufacturing content marketers agree that their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource.

When you’re focused on using content to educate your audience, to provide valuable information to help them through their buying cycle, when you’re seen as being a helpful partner rather than aggressively trying to sell, you build credibility.

And the credibility earned isn’t limited to your target audience. The overall market will discover that your company is known as trustworthy and believable, which leads to the second bonus benefit.

2. Earn a reputation as an expert.

Content marketers work hard to balance their company’s need to promote products and services with their audiences’ needs for objective information that will help them make a better purchasing decision. Create the right balance and your company earns a reputation: That’s the company that does “X.” That’s the “Y” company. They’re experts in “Z.”

Every marketer knows you can’t be everything to everyone, but if you can be something important to your target audience, that is a huge win and a bonus benefit. In business, reputation precedes all else. Customers want to buy from vendors who have reputations as experts.

3. Strengthen relationships with your sales team.

The number one way content marketers research their target audience is through feedback from the sales team. Your salespeople are the ones closest to the customer and have access to inside information about customer needs, challenges, and objections. Content marketing offers opportunities for marketing and sales teams to collaborate, which in turn can strengthen relationships between the two groups.

Sales and marketing teams will be more integrated and will work toward a common goal if they are on the same page in terms of who the organization is trying to target, what type of content will be most effective, and how the content can be used.

4. Create recruitment opportunities.

Content that you create will likely have a prominent place on your website for all to see. It’s not just your potential customers looking at your website, it’s anyone who has an interest in your company, including prospective employees, who always visit a company’s website.

Recruiting talented professionals is a competitive business. If potential employees see that your content is clear, informative, and helpful, they will gain a positive impression and likely be more interested in working for your organization.

5. Spread consistent messaging across the company.

Marketing produces more messaging and positioning content for a company than any other department. If it’s quality content, other departments will use it – not just your sales team. Others may not use your marketing content in its complete form, but lifted paragraphs, sections, key points and other content can be helpful to customer support, finance, the executive team and others. It wouldn’t be unusual for content produced by marketing to appear in an annual report or a letter to investors.

Another benefit is that if various departments are making use of marketing content, workload for others is reduced and the entire company stays on message.

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Pulse of Engineering – Part 1

New Research Reveals Insight into Engineers

To successfully connect and communicate with your target audience, you must know the habits, mindset, and working conditions of engineers. To this end, many manufacturers invest time and resources into conducting research and building customer personas.

Fortunately for industrial marketers, IEEE GlobalSpec has published its “2019 Pulse of Engineering” research report to help you with the task of understanding engineers and technical professionals. The survey collected data about engineers’ work environment, the challenges and pressures they face, how they learn skills and manage knowledge, and more.

The results produced several insights that can help you better understand your audience and help develop more effective communication strategies.

The pressure on engineers is constant.

Engineers and technical professionals are pulled in multiple directions. On average, they are working on four projects concurrently. One of the top challenges that they face is a lack of time and resources. The majority agree that the “pace of engineering is constantly increasing” and half of them say they are “required to do more with less.”

In addition:

  • Seventy-eight percent say designs are becoming more complex
  • Sixty-seven percent agree there are more time-to-market pressures
  • Sixty-three percent agree design cycles are shrinking

These results have implications for manufacturers trying to connect with such a busy, pressured audience. 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 close look at how you position and talk about your products and services. Will you be able to capture a busy engineer’s attention? Do you have something to say that can help alleviate some of the pressures they face? For example, do your products reduce their time to market, speed up the design cycle, or explain complex ideas simply?

Engineers are concerned about a knowledge drain.

Sixty-one percent of engineers said that knowledge/information loss was very important or extremely important as employees left the company. Only four percent said it was not at all important.

A major contributor to knowledge drain is that almost half of companies have no 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. This leads not only to the loss of important skills, but also to the loss of knowledge of vendor relationships.

The goal for manufacturers should be to make themselves so valuable to a customer—in terms of providing expertise, technical knowledge, and access to content—as to become embedded in the company’s culture and way of doing business.

Competition is fierce.

Engineers are aware they operate in a highly competitive marketplace. Sixty-two percent agree or strongly agree the competitive landscape is global and competes 24/7; 58 percent said the number of competitors is growing.

As we have seen over the years, the Internet makes it easier for new suppliers to disrupt the market, level the playing field among suppliers, and provide engineers exposure to more companies to buy from. What about your digital presence and messaging make you rise above the others?

Performance measurements matter.

As is the case with many professionals, engineers are measured in terms of achieving stated objectives. The most common objectives to measure team performance are product quality and customer service/satisfaction, followed by launch dates and product unit cost.

Not surprisingly, most engineers meet their top objectives:

  • Fifty-three percent frequently or always meet product quality objectives
  • Fifty-eight percent frequently or always meet customer satisfaction/service goals

The conclusion to draw is that engineers and technical professionals are successfully fulfilling 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 in your communications with them.

What career factors are most important to engineers.

Engineers and other technical professionals report that the most important factors in their careers are having interesting work/projects (selected by 77 percent), good work/life balance (61 percent), and learning (58 percent).

While factors leading to career satisfaction may remain consistent, engineers themselves are on the move. Only 35 percent say they are very or completely likely to be employed at the same company five years from now. If engineers change jobs, they are most likely to need to upgrade their financial/business management skills, programming languages, and education on new and emerging standards such as 5G.

Manufacturers that can establish a strong relationship with engineers have a better opportunity to be “brought along” when engineers change companies.

View the complete survey results.

The engineering work environment is changing—and manufacturers must make changes as well to keep up with their target audience. Find out more about engineers by downloading the full report—“2019 Pulse of Engineering”—with complete survey results including recommendations for manufacturers. Get your copy today.

Market Research Marketing, General

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit – Part 2

Last month in Part 1 of our 2020 Marketing Planning series, we offered advice on how to assess the performance of your current marketing program, account for industry trends that will affect your strategy moving forward, and align your marketing plan with your company’s overall business goals and objectives. Read Part 1 here.

This month, in Part 2, we are offering tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan that fits your budget, provides measurable results, and targets your audience of engineers and industrial professionals.

Focus on the channels your target audience uses.

When researching a work-related purchase, the top three channels that engineers use are search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites. These channels are foundational elements in your marketing mix.

E-newsletters, industry websites, social media, email, webinars, and trade shows are all important information sources for your customers and have influence on their buying decisions. At the same time, your audience relies on other channels to keep up with the latest technologies, including industry news, products, and companies.

Of course, you can’t use every possible marketing channel available to you, since resources are always limited, but you also can’t focus solely on only one or two channels. Instead, try to diversify your marketing spend across multiple channels to generate the results you need.

Seek efficiency and integration across channels.

The marketing channels where you allocate budget should work together to reach your audience at every stage of their buy cycle. Early buy-stage resources such as search engines and websites should point the way to useful, educational content that you can distribute through email, social media, webinars, and other channels.

Plan to use multiple channels for important events such as new product launches, updates, or technology announcements. Make sure each channel upholds a consistent brand message and contributes to your stated marketing goals. When your marketing efforts are integrated across channels, you will experience a spike in efficiency and will likely achieve better results.

Plan your cornerstone content.

Engineers and technical professionals are constantly in search of content to help them solve problems, understand new technologies, and make more informed buying decisions. Being a provider of valuable, authoritative content helps position your company as an industry expert, builds trust with prospects, and ultimately makes it easier to sell your products and services to drive revenue.

While impromptu content needs will pop up throughout the year, you should plan several cornerstone pieces of content. What key white papers, webinars, or articles will you need to support your goals in 2020? By planning now, you can avoid the long lead times that producing quality content requires.

In addition, plan what channels you will use for distributing content. Here’s where your multichannel strategy pays off. For example, you can promote a webinar in an e-newsletter advertisement or on social media and drive prospects to your site to register.

Set aside budget for new markets.

Given the almost instant worldwide reach of digital marketing channels, you should plan to explore new, untapped sectors where your products and services may be a good fit. Manufacturers that can display their products and services simultaneously across multiple markets will have the best opportunity to gain new customers.

You may need to tweak your content or messaging in order to appeal to customers across different sectors. Focus on your core value propositions. Ad networks and targeted e-newsletter advertising are effective ways to reach specific customers in new markets.

Determine your measurement strategy.

Everyone knows the saying that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. How will you measure your marketing ROI?

Many manufacturers are allocating a greater percentage of their marketing budget to digital programs, which your audience turns to first for researching work-related purchases and are easily measurable.  Views, opens, clicks, shares, downloads, and conversions are all trackable data points.

Marketing automation is growing in popularity as a way to measure results, as well as to manage campaigns and content distribution. Marketing automation makes it easier to track the multiple touches that a prospect will typically have with your company throughout their buy cycle, helping you understand the contribution of each channel. There are a number of low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market.

Work with media partners.

Preparing an integrated, multichannel marketing plan is challenging, which is why it’s best to start now. But you shouldn’t have to do it alone. As you begin, consult with an experienced media partner that understands and has the attention of the industrial audience you need to reach. Discuss your marketing objectives and have your media partners show you an integrated, multichannel media plan that will help achieve your goals and objectives.

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit

IEEE GlobalSpec created the 2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you develop an effective marketing plan that targets your audience of engineering and technical professionals. Get a jump on 2020 and add this valuable resource to your planning efforts today. Click here to download.

Content Marketing E-Mail Marketing Marketing ROI Marketing, General Multichannel Marketing

Social Media Dos and Don’ts for Industrial Marketers

Industrial marketers have embraced social media marketing over the past few years and the trend is likely to continue. Seventy percent of manufacturers said they increased their use of social media for content marketing purposes compared to just one year ago, according to the 2019 Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs.

Engineers and technical professionals are also embracing social media. Forty-nine percent report they have used social media to find product reviews, 43 percent have used it to keep abreast of product news and technologies, and 40 percent have used it to find expertise, according to 2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector: IEEE GlobalSpec.

However, for many industrial marketers, social media is a challenging territory without clear guideposts to build strategy and tactics. How much emphasis should you place on social media? What channels should be used? What content should be posted? How often should you post?

To help you better navigate social media and to become a successful social media marketer, we’ve put together this list of social media dos and don’ts.


Do: Establish and measure objectives

The underpinning of any marketing program is your objectives, and social media is no exception. Most industrial marketers use social media to increase the visibility and improve the perceptions of their brands, establish their companies and executives as thought leaders in their industries. Lead generation is secondary.

You can use a variety of measurements to track the success of your social media efforts. Views, comments, shares and downloads are popular metrics. If those numbers are trending up, you’re likely achieving your goals.

Do: Use the platforms your audience uses

It seems like every week a new social media channel appears on the scene, and it may be tempting to get on board. However, if you understand the engineering audience, you’ll know these professionals are not early adopters of the next great social media platform.

LinkedIn and Facebook have held steady as the most popular social media platforms among technical professionals, with 81 percent and 80 percent having accounts on those platforms, respectively 2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector. YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram also have some penetration among the engineering audience. Aside from these examples, no other social media platform appears to be highly relevant to engineers.

Do: Show the human side of your company

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

Show the people who work at your company by posting videos and photos. Be humorous while still being helpful with the content you share. In other words, let your hair down a little on social media—without violating any of your company policies or social media guidelines.

Do: Keep social media profiles up to date

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

Do: Follow your customers and prospects

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

Do: Integrate social media with other marketing channels

You should integrate social with other marketing by using social icons on your website and emails, linking from social media posts to additional content on your website, sharing and repurposing content across marketing channels, and using social media to promote other marketing programs such as tradeshows and webinars.


Don’t: Heavily self-promote

Engineers can smell a sales pitch a mile away and they will stop following you on social media if all you are doing is promoting your own products and services. A good rule of thumb for posting content is the 40-40-20 rule. Forty-percent of your posts should be original, educational content; 40 percent should be curated content from other relevant and respected sources; and 20 percent can be promotional.

Don’t: Argue or engage with haters or trolls

You’re bound to receive negative comments on social media posts. Some you will want to respond to if you need to clarify a point.

However, don’t get into arguments with the individuals who are simply out there to draw blood. You won’t be able to win. You’ll end up saying things you’ll later regret. Other members of your audience will be witness and be turned off by such back-and-forth juvenile behavior. You should block or ignore commentators who are repeatedly and excessively negative.

Don’t: Let social media accounts languish

A blog that hasn’t had a new entry in over a year. The LinkedIn account that hasn’t been updated in months. These are bad looks for your company because they indicate you don’t care.

To use social media successfully, make sure that you are posting regularly to your accounts. Whether that rate is once a week or once a day depends on your objectives and resources.

Don’t: Automate everything

Many marketers are using marketing automation to create social media content in advance and schedule automatic postings. This helps save time and ensures your accounts are active.

But don’t automate everything. You still need eyes on your accounts and fingers on keyboards to post that quick, newsy announcement or to respond to customer questions. Remember to be human and socialize.

Don’t: Give up too easily

Social media is a long game that doesn’t offer immediate payback. You must stick to your goals and slowly work toward growing your presence and building your audience. If you do, eventually social media will become an integrated, effective component of your overall marketing program.

Marketing, General Social Media

How Webinars Will Change in 2020

Historically, webinars have provided strong demand opportunities, brand building, and the ability to engage your target audience and establish thought leadership in the industry.

Seventy-three percent of B2B marketers and sales leaders say webinars are the best way to generate high-quality leads, and 57 percent of marketers say they will create more webinars next year, according to GoToWebinar. Engineers and technical professionals find great value in webinars.

In the most recent IEEE GlobalSpec “Pulse of Engineering Survey,” engineers ranked webinars near the top of the list of ways to maintain, educate, and advance their professional skills. According to the “2019 Smart Marketing for Engineers” survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, 84 percent of engineers said webinars were valuable for researching the latest engineering technologies, industry trends, and products and services.

Webinars remain one of the most important marketing tactics in the manufacturing sector, and your target audience has high expectations for such events. In 2020, you will need to up your game in the following ways to create an effective and memorable audience experience and to continue driving results.

1. Align content with audience needs

Although engineers believe in webinars, they are extremely selective in what type of webinars they attend. Fluffy sales pitches will attract no one; however, training and education will draw them in.

Webinar attendees indicate that they value training and improving their skills above all else, followed closely by insight and industry trends, how-to explanations, and case studies, according to 2019 Benchmarks, BrightTALK.

When planning webinars for next year, make sure you take these audience preferences into account. Design content to educate and train your audience on what matters to them, and you will likely attract more attendees.

2. Pick a day, any day

One trend we’ve noticed is the rising popularity of Friday webinars. It has been a long-held marketing belief that webinars should be scheduled only for the middle of the week, but registration data shows that almost any day works for drawing in live audiences. Don’t be hesitant to schedule webinars on Fridays or Mondays as well as the other days of the week.

3. Webinars must be available on demand

Everyone who has ever produced, marketed, and hosted a webinar knows that not everyone who registers for a webinar shows up for the live event. It’s not unusual for only 50 percent of registrants to attend the live webinar. Last-minute meetings come up. Pressing deadlines take precedent.

It’s also true that many people might be interested in the webinar content but are not available for when the webinar is scheduled, or didn’t know about the webinar. IEEE GlobalSpec webinar data is consistent with industry standards, which report that 84 percent of B2B audiences opt for replays over live webinars.

For these reasons, it’s essential that you make webinars available to audiences on demand following the live event. This way, you will be able to capture many more viewers, generate more demand opportunities, and increase the visibility of your brand.

You also shouldn’t measure the success of your webinars based only on live day attendance. With many engineers opting for on demand viewing after the event, you shouldn’t measure the success of a webinar until 90 days after the event, when the number of attendees is expected to level off.

4. Variety and interactivity will increase

It’s no longer enough to spend 45 minutes or an hour displaying and talking over static slides for a webinar. To drive deeper and meaningful engagement, you must interact more with your audience. Today’s webinar platforms offer a number of interactive features. Consider adding the following to your webinars:

  • Live polls: Asking your audience polling questions offers a number of benefits. First, you are able to solicit your viewers’ opinions to understand how they are thinking. Second, when you display results, your audience can see how their answers compare to their peers. Finally, the results of poll questions can be used to help tailor your content and to shape future webinars or other marketing content.
  • Interactive Q&A: This is a great way to get your audience involved and to find out exactly what’s on their minds. The Q&A isn’t exclusively a tack-on to the end of a webinar. If you’re covering several topics, after each section you can solicit a question or two from the audience. As with polls, Q&As can help shape future content. If you’re not comfortable with spontaneous Q&A, you can solicit questions ahead of time, such as during registration or on social media, and answer them during the event.
  • Video and animation: Webinar platforms and ubiquitous broadband connections give you the option to add video and animation that can help increase engagement. You could include an animated sequence showing how something works or how to do something. Or include a snippet of an interview video or an industry presentation.
  • Have more than one speaker: Pass the speaking duties back and forth based on each speaker’s area of expertise or segments of the webinar. Or include a brief interview with an expert as part of the webinar. If you can have both male and female speakers, the differences in their voices can add a measure of variety to the presentation.

5. Work with partners

Many industrial marketers are choosing to work with a media partner such as IEEE GlobalSpec to add webinars to their marketing mix. Whatever your marketing objectives, we have a webinar package to meet your needs, from providing industry speakers and additional target audience to handling all aspects of event production and marketing, freeing you to focus on other marketing responsibilities. Learn more about IEEE GlobalSpec webinar solutions here.

Marketing, General Webinars