Eight Ways to Transform Your Technical Content

For some engineers, component specifications and technical details are all they need to make a buying decision. But as purchases become more complex and the risk associated with making the wrong decision increases, a greater number of decision makers, recommenders and influencers get involved. Technical content on its own is no longer enough to sway buyers. You have to articulate benefits and demonstrate value.

Here are eight ways you can build the bridge from technical content to business value in your marketing:

1. Group features under benefit headings —Take all the key features of your products and map them to a core set of benefits. For example, “Increased safety” or “lower cost of ownership” might be benefits associated with your products. Which features prove those benefits out? You can create headings that announce and describe the benefit and/or value and then list the features that support the benefit claim.

2. Discuss benefits one step at a time —A staple of industrial marketing content is the step-by-step tutorial that demonstrates how to use a product or explains a highly-technical process. You might find that each step along the way has associated benefits. Why not mention it with each step as a way to reinforce your value-propositions?

3. Answer the question: So what? — If you’re only talking about the marvelous technology that goes into your products, busy skeptics will wonder “So what?” Your product’s benefits and value will help you answer.

4. Spin a story —Every good story has a hero—why not make it your customer? The hero faces a problem which is costing money and time, and you step in with the solution to save the day. Corny? Not really. Customer testimonials and case studies are sought after by prospects and highly effective in helping make technical concepts relatable and win business.

5. Use visuals —Use charts, graphs and infographics to display quantitative data, explain technical ideas and support your marketing claims. These types of visuals can be quickly understood by your audience and make great additions to white papers, web pages and marketing collateral.

6. Make it move and talk —Video is an important medium for educating your customers and prospects, and many busy engineers and executives prefer to watch a short video over reading text. Video is ideal for showing a technical product in action, animating complex processes or ideas, or showing customer testimonials.

7. Choose a classic pattern of development —When writing white papers or technical articles, choose a pattern of content development that is proven to work for making technical content easier to understand. Step-by-step is one example, as mentioned above. The problem-and-solution approach works well for case studies. Cause-and-effect can help persuade readers, for example, why using old products or technology can be detrimental, or to help readers understand the effect of increased water flow on pump performance. In this case you are describing a situation that has a cause (increased water flow) and an effect (pump performance).

8. Create content for three types of buyers —Some industrial marketers create content only for the technical buyer—the engineer whose primary focus is whether a product meets their specification requirements. There are two other types of buyers: the analytical buyer and the economic buyer. Analytical buyers want to know they will be able to solve a problem using your products or technology. Economic buyers want to know the financial impact in terms of return on investment. Be sure to create marketing messages and content that speaks to all three types of buyers.

Content Marketing

Video and the Industrial Marketing Star


Two-thirds of engineers now use YouTube or other video-sharing websites for work-related purposes, as reported in the upcoming “2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey.

If video isn’t yet part of your marketing campaigns, now’s the time to get the camera rolling. According to the “B2B Content Marketing” research report published by the Content Marketing Institute, 79 percent of B2B marketers used video as a content marketing tactic in 2016 and 62 percent rate it as an effective tactic.

Consider these other statistics compiled by the marketing firm Hubspot:
• 90 percent of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process.
• Video can dramatically increase conversion rates. Video in an email increases click-through rates 200-300 percent. Including video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80 percent.
• 59 percent of executives would rather watch video than read text.

How to Get Started
If you’ve read the Maven for any length of time, you already know the first step in getting started with a new marketing tactic or campaign: establish your goals.
Stating your marketing goals will not only help you create a more concise, compelling video, it will guide you toward the metrics you need to track in order to measure your results. Your goal might be to:

• Generate an engagement opportunity
• Build brand awareness
• Educate the market about a trend or new technology
• Demonstrate a product or technical concept
• Entertain your audience

Whatever your purpose, there are a group of metrics that can help you determine how successful your video is. Some metrics you might consider include:

• Number of follow-throughs on your call-to-action
• Number of views
• Length of view (it’s important to know how many viewers dropped off before the video reaches the end)
• Number of shares via social media or email
• Number of comments/questions from viewers
Choose the metrics that are aligned with your goals, and track them for as long as your video is part of your campaign.

What Engineers Are Watching
Engineers and technical professionals have a strong preference for specific types of videos. According to the “2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector,” survey, how-to videos/tutorials (86 percent), product demos (85 percent) and training videos (71 percent) are the three most popular types of content to watch on video-sharing websites such as YouTube.

Purpose Drives Production Values
If you’re creating a corporate or investor presentation for your company, you might want to hire a professional video production company and go for all the bells and whistles. But if you’re demonstrating how to use a product or interviewing an expert, the video capabilities on your smartphone should do the trick. The two most important production values are lighting and sound. Make sure your video can be clearly seen and heard.

Short videos are more effective than longer ones. Your video should be between to be 1-3 minutes long and highly targeted. Focus on a single topic, such as a brief product demo, or three questions with an expert. Short videos with targeted keywords rank better for search optimization than do broad, general videos.
Other videos might be longer, such as recorded webinars or speeches. Whether short or long, you must capture and hold viewer interest. The best way to do that is to be relevant to your audience. They will watch what matters to them.

Channels to Post Video
Your video, no matter how great, is nothing if it’s not widely shared. In addition to YouTube, embed the video onto your website and your email sends.
Finally, digital marketing partners such as IEEE GlobalSpec offer marketers the opportunity to showcase videos on company profile pages and in e-newsletters, helping to further engage their audience and generate interest in their company, products and services.

Content Marketing Demand Generation Digital Media Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General Video

The Story of Content Marketing in Five Statistics

The results are in! Content Marketing Institute recently released the research report, “Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.”

Sponsored by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions, the report proclaims: “In the four years we’ve been reporting on how manufacturers use content marketing, this year’s results reveal the most progress they’ve made thus far. The fact that we see a 72 percent increase over last year in the percentage of manufacturing marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy indicates they’ve taken one of the most important steps toward achieving content marketing success: putting their strategy in writing.”

Not all of the research results point to success, however, and manufacturers must still overcome a number of content marketing challenges. The following five statistics, taken directly from the report, shed light on the state of content marketing today in the manufacturing sector.

1. Eighty-five percent of manufacturers are using content marketing
Manufacturers get it: content marketing is important. Done right, content marketing increases brand awareness and engagement opportunities with motivated prospects. Successful marketers set content marketing goals, establish metrics, and measure results.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers are experts at content marketing. Only 19 percent would rate their content marketing maturity level as sophisticated or mature. That’s okay, for now. Almost all manufacturers are in the game, and should become more sophisticated as they gain more experience.
You still have to wonder about the 15 percent not using content marketing. What’s their story? It’s all in the report.

2. Forty-nine percent are extremely or very committed to content marketing
Look a little further and you’ll find that 74 percent of companies that say they’re successful at content marketing also indicate that they are extremely or very committed to content marketing. Only 23 percent of the least successful companies say they are committed to content marketing.

No surprise there – commitment and success go hand-in-hand. Overall, marketers are improving: 59 percent are much more or somewhat more successful with content marketing than they were a year ago.

Increased success in content marketing was attributed to factors including: content creation (higher quality, more efficient); strategy (development or adjustment); content marketing has become a greater priority; spending more time on content marketing; and content distribution (better targeting, identification of what works)

3. Seventy-eight percent of manufacturing marketers use email newsletters
Email is the top content marketing tactic, and was also rated as the most important tactic to overall content marketing success, further reinforcing email’s importance to industrial marketing efforts.

The next most popular content marketing tactics are, in order: social media content, video, in-person events, print magazines, and blogs. Ebooks/white papers are also in the top 10, with 49 percent of respondents using that tactic. The average number of tactics used is eight.

In terms of paid content promotion, manufacturing marketers use an average of four methods, with social promotion, print, search engine marketing, banner ads, and native advertising rounding out the top five.

4. Eighty-two percent say that brand awareness is their top content marketing goal
While lead generation is often a marketers’ top goal, this isn’t the case when it comes to content marketing campaigns. Why? Content marketing can’t and shouldn’t stand alone. Rather, it should be included as part of an integrated program – to gain the attention of a target audience, educate and inform them, demonstrate thought leadership, and build brand awareness. And yes—generate leads.

Other content marketing goals include lead generation (71 percent), engagement (70 percent), sales (62 percent), lead nurturing (58 percent) and customer retention/loyalty (53 percent).

5. Sixty-seven percent don’t have enough time to devote to content marketing
Like economics, marketing can be considered a science of scarcity: how to allocate limited time, budget, and resources to what seems like an unlimited amount of marketing that must be done.

Lack of time was cited as the number one factor that resulted in stagnant content marketing success in the past year. Other leading factors included content creation challenges—62 percent; and strategy issues (lack of strategy, developing/adjusting strategy)—51 percent.

The reality is that content marketing can be a huge undertaking. You need to develop a coherent and integrated content marketing strategy, define measurable goals, create and distribute content, track performance and more.

And yet, 57 percent of industrial companies are limited to a one person marketing/content marketing team that serves the entire organization. That’s a lot of pressure.

Companies strapped for content marketing resources—yet still committed to content marketing because of its proven value—should consider using content marketing services from their media partners. IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions offers expert content marketing services to help you develop compelling content, get it into the hands of your target audience, and generate engagement opportunities. You can find out more here.

And don’t forget to download your complimentary copy of the research report: “Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.”

Content Marketing E-Mail Marketing Market Research Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General

Native Advertising: How to Do it Right

Although nearly everyone with an internet connection has seen a native ad, not everyone knows what they are. As an industrial marketer, you probably already know that native advertising is a company-sponsored article that is designed to look just like the other content of the publication in which it’s featured.

Native advertising is proven to be highly effective. It isn’t disruptive and doesn’t interfere with the flow of the user experience. It’s also much less vulnerable to ad blockers than other types of display advertising.

According to Business Insider, native advertising will make up 74 percent of all display ad revenue by 2021. Additionally, research from marketing firm Contently indicates that consumers who read native ads that they identified as high quality reported a significantly higher level of trust for the sponsoring brand.

Despite the high potential for success, native advertising is not without its challenges. Let’s discuss potential hurdles and how to overcome them.

A perfect fit for the industrial market.
Native advertising is an excellent vehicle to give engineers and technical professionals what they’re constantly seeking out during their buy cycle: reasoned, educational, and informative content.

However, you want to make sure that your native advertising program continues to uphold your reputation as a trusted provider of your products, goods, and services. The Contently research found that there is significant confusion on the part of readers as to what constitutes an article and what constitutes an ad, and consumers often have a difficult time identifying the brand associated with a piece of native advertising. Forty-eight percent have felt deceived upon realizing a piece of content was sponsored by a brand.

The key to success with native advertising is to make sure you work with a reputable publisher that has experience in native advertising and will ensure that your ad follows FTC guidelines. According to the FTC, “Advertising and promotional messages that are not identifiable as advertising to consumers are deceptive if they mislead consumers into believing they are independent, impartial, or not from the sponsoring advertiser itself.”

The FTC guidelines are anchored less on what type of content is acceptable in native ads and more on displaying and labeling them as advertisements. For example, native advertising should be clearly labeled as sponsored content. The use of the advertiser’s logo also helps clarify the publisher-advertiser dynamic, as well as helps build brand awareness and visibility for the advertiser.

Media partners can help guide you
The benefits of native advertising definitely outweigh any risks—especially if you execute properly. One recommendation is to work with a media partner and publisher that knows and adheres to FTC guidelines for native advertising. Whether your ad is native or not, you want your content displayed to your target audience and only on those sites or pages that are relevant to them. That might seem obvious, but some publishers don’t offer careful targeting—or clear labeling— of native advertising.

The content of a native ad remains up to you. It’s your chance to connect with your audience to demonstrate expertise, thought leadership, or other value propositions. A savvy and experienced media partner should also be able to assist you with content, which will add another layer of confidence that you’re not creating a deceptive or misleading ad.

Native advertising is one tactic that IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions offers in its comprehensive portfolio of content marketing solutions targeted exclusively to your audience of engineers and technical buyers. Learn more about native advertising opportunities.

Content Marketing

Three Big Reasons Why Engineers Need You

You need engineers and technical professionals. They are your customers and therefore the lifeblood of your company. But the relationship is mutual: Engineers need you as well.

Leveraging this mutual need is the key to building and maintaining long-term, loyal relationships with your customers.

The recent “2017 Pulse of Engineering” survey revealed three key areas where suppliers can focus their marketing efforts to provide more value to engineers and technical professionals. Let’s discuss your customer’s pain points and how to help them:

1. Provide Design and Project Assistance
The majority of engineers and technical professionals surveyed agreed that designs are becoming more complex at the same time that design cycles are shrinking and time-to-market pressures are increasing. Fifty-five percent of engineers are being required to do more with less; 68 percent are working on three or more projects simultaneously. Yet team size is not increasing. Seventy-six percent said the average size of the teams they work on has decreased or stayed the same.

Due to these pressures, many companies are looking outside for help. Thirty-eight percent said that design involvement from external partners, vendors and customers has increased. This represents a golden opportunity for suppliers to educate their customers and become more involved in their work processes.

However, expect engineers to choose their outside influences judiciously. You can demonstrate your expertise and get closer to customers by marketing your brand and value propositions across the channels that engineers use to locate suppliers, products, and services. Online catalogs, webinars, technical articles and white papers are all good vehicles to showcase your company’s expertise, and to demonstrate how you can add value in the design phase of projects.

2. Fill the Knowledge Gap
Forty-seven percent of engineers have 30 or more years of service, and many are nearing retirement. Thirty-six percent of industrial companies are experiencing increased losses of senior employees to retirement. Twenty-seven percent of technical professionals said they were only slightly or not at all likely to be employed by their current company in five years.

One result of changing demographics and worker mobility is a knowledge drain. Forty-five percent of survey respondents said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company was very or extremely important. Yet only 36 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.

As a supplier in the industrial sector, you can help preserve and grow your customers’ knowledge by educating and training them on trends and technologies, and serving as a trusted information resource. Engineers and technical professionals primarily maintain and advance their professional skills through colleagues, books, and technical white papers and training provided by vendors.

Make customer education, training and thought leadership cornerstone initiatives in your marketing strategy. By becoming more valuable to your customers you can become more entrenched in their work processes and serve as a primary source that they will turn to for technical and industry knowledge.

3. Help Engineers Do More with Less
While the pace of engineering continues to increase and engineers are asked to do more with less, 47 percent of survey respondents say that technology is helping to improve productivity. Embedded in these findings is a valuable question for suppliers to answer: How do your offerings help engineers improve their efficiency?

Research such as “2017 Pulse of Engineering” allows you to identify the challenges and concerns of your customers, and to align your messaging and solutions in a way that resonates with your audience. For example, the survey reveals that engineers often must meet aggressive launch dates for products that meet high standards for customer satisfaction. How do your products/services help engineers do more with less? Or shorten design cycles? Or increase efficiency? How are your technologies at the forefront of innovation or sustainable for long periods of time? Craft marketing messages in a way that positions your offerings to help engineers overcome their challenges.

The “2017 Pulse of Engineering” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions can help guide your marketing efforts. Results tell you exactly what engineers and technical professionals in the industrial sector think about the pace of engineering, work environment, competition, challenges, performance management and knowledge management practices.

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

Three Ways to Connect with Content

The recent “2017 Pulse of Engineering Survey” reveals how engineers and technical professionals work, the pace of engineering, their work environment, what they look for in a supplier and more.

The upcoming survey makes it clear that it’s more important than ever for suppliers to ramp up their content marketing efforts. Why? Engineers are being forced to do more with less, and are turning to outside vendors more and more for design input and technical information. Content marketing is a great way to provide this experience and demonstrate value to your customers and prospects.

But what kind of content are engineers looking for? And how do suppliers ramp up their content marketing efforts? The survey results help shine a light on the answers.

1. Seventy-one percent of engineers and technical professionals say that designs are more complex/sophisticated, 63 percent say there are more time-to-market pressures, and 61 percent say that design cycles are shrinking.

Your customers are looking to you for expertise. Thirty-eight percent of engineers and technical professionals said that design involvement from external partners, vendors and customers has increased. However, expect engineers to choose their outside influences judiciously. You can increase your opportunities to get closer to customers by creating content that markets your value proposition and approach to partnering on design. Why should customers consider partnering with you? White papers, webinars or technical articles can help get your message across.

2. Forty-five percent of engineers said that knowledge/information loss was very important or extremely important as employees left the company. But only 36 percent of companies have formal practices in place to preserve knowledge by leveraging senior-level and specialized experts.

What types of content can you produce that will align with your customers’ needs to preserve, protect and pass on knowledge? Approach customers and offer to form a partnership to develop a technical knowledge base or a library of articles. With many seasoned engineers nearing retirement age, it makes sense to reach out to a younger generation of technical professionals through articles, white papers, technical briefs and more to help them fill in knowledge gaps. Highlight your point of view on major industry trends and position your company as a thought leader and knowledgeable authority.

3. Colleagues, books, and technical white papers and training provided by vendors are the four most effective ways that engineers maintain and advance their professional skills.

The message here is pretty clear—offer technical content and training to educate engineers and help them advance their professional skills. Develop a series of training webinars or educational white papers that will help engineers grow their skills and knowledge as well as perform better in their jobs. If you can become a go-to resource for engineers to learn and improve, you will build a stable base of long-term, loyal customers. Engineers are asking for help. Give them the content they need.

I’m Ready to Create and Connect – Now What?

You may embrace the idea of ramping up your content marketing, but just don’t have the time and resources to do it. If you really want to overcome content marketing challenges, gain back time and earn a return on investment, you should probably consider turnkey content marketing services from a trusted media partner.

Content development and content marketing are just two of many services available from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. Check out all the advantages here. Also, to further advance your content marketing efforts, download the complimentary white paper: “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers: Establish Thought Leadership, Build Brand Awareness, and Drive Engagement Opportunities.”

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy

Are You Keeping Up with Content Marketing Trends?

Content is a valuable currency in the relationship between industrial marketers and their target audience of engineers and technical professionals. As marketers, you must work to acquire the contact information of prospects, and the way to get your audience to provide their contact details is to offer them something of value in return: relevant, helpful content.

As an essential part of their buying journey, engineers seek content to help educate them and to make more informed, intelligent decisions. By providing high quality content such as white papers, how-to guides, infographics, e-books, technical articles and more, your company can become a trusted resource to potential customers and be in better position to win of their business.

The vast majority use content marketing
Marketers in the B2B space already know the importance of content marketing—88% are already using it, according to joint research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs. These marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics. Their top tactics are social media, case studies, blogs and e-newsletters.
Industrial marketers are slightly behind other B2B marketers: 63% of industrial marketers use content marketing, as reported by the IEEE Engineering 360 Industrial Marketing Trends Survey. If content marketing isn’t part of your marketing plan, you should add it for 2017.

Content marketing goals and budgets
While lead generation (85%) and sales (84%) top the list of content marketing goals, objectives are varied and also focus on awareness and engagement (Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs). Seventy-eight percent state that lead nurturing is a content marketing goal, 77% seek brand awareness and 76% want to increase engagement. Few other marketing tactics have the power to help marketers achieve such a broad range of goals.

On average, 28% of an organization’s total marketing budget (not including staff) is being spent on content marketing. Fifty-four percent of industrial marketers are planning to increase their spending in content marketing.

Content challenges remain
Content marketing is a popular and proven tactic, but it is not without challenges. Marketers report struggling with producing a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis and measuring the effectiveness of their content. A lack of resources is also cited as a challenge.

Content creation tends to be resource intensive, requiring planners, writers, editors, designers and production specialists. Plus, you constantly have to come up with fresh ideas for content and you must understand what your audience will find interesting, helpful and relevant. Add these challenges to all of your other marketing responsibilities and you might consider seeking outside help for your content marketing efforts.

Are content marketing services right for you?
Many agencies, media companies and freelance consultants offer content marketing services. Some only write. Others design. Others strategize. But if you really want to overcome content marketing challenges, gain time back and earn a return on investment, you should probably consider turnkey content marketing services from a trusted media partner.

Make sure that your partner offers the following:

• Deep knowledge of your target audience and experience in your technical field. If you have to allocate too much time and energy getting a partner up to speed on your market, products and services, you might as well do the work yourself.
• A full stable of experienced writers, editors, designers and production experts that can produce compelling content in any format, from videos and e-books to white papers and infographics.
• The knowledge and expertise to develop an effective content marketing plan, distribute the content so that it gets into the hands of your target audience and provide reports showing the effectiveness of your content and marketing efforts.

To further advance your content marketing efforts, download the complimentary white paper: “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers: Establish Thought Leadership, Build Brand Awareness, and Drive Engagement Opportunities.”

Content Marketing

The Simple Solution for Overcoming Content Marketing Challenges

Content is an important tool to help industrial professionals make the right buying decisions. For purchases under $1,000, buyers review up to three pieces of content related to their purchase decision (Engineering360 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey). For purchases over $10,000, that number climbs to four or more pieces of content reviewed for 70% of buyers.

Marketers understand the need to produce and distribute valuable and authoritative content that positions their company as experts, builds trust with prospects, and ultimately makes it easier to sell products and services. Sixty-three percent of industrial marketers now use content marketing as a channel, and 54% are planning to increase spending on content creation (Engineering360 Industrial Marketing Trends Survey).

However, content marketing, while an essential marketing strategy, presents a number of pesky challenges that you must overcome to be successful. These challenges include:

• Lack of internal resources. Content creation is resource intensive, requiring planners, writers, editors, designers, and production specialists.
• Producing content consistently. Related to a lack of resources, and perhaps a shortage of ideas, it’s difficult to put out a steady stream of compelling, educational content while also fulfilling all of your other marketing responsibilities.
• Producing engaging content. Knowing what will interest and move the needle for prospects requires research and experience. You may need to analyze your audience, conduct interviews, and tap into the knowledge of your sales and customer service teams.
• Distributing content to the right audience. You have to know your audience and what channels they use to search for and access content.
There are a multitude of channels to choose from, including your company and industry websites, search engines, social media, email, video, online events, and more.
• Lack of marketing integration. Content marketing is just one strategy within your overall marketing plan. You must be able to integrate content marketing with other efforts and track the performance of your content in terms of views, downloads, conversions, and other metrics.

Content marketing services to the rescue
Ask your media partners about content marketing services that can help you overcome these challenges and deliver a return on your investment in content marketing. Some media companies in the industrial sector have expertise in content marketing and a strong portfolio of end-to-end services.

Before signing on with a partner, make sure they offer the following five content marketing services:

1. Assistance in creating compelling content. There are two parts to this service. First, you want to know if your potential partner has a stable of writers, editors, designers, and production experts that can make up for any lack of resources on your part. Second, do they have deep knowledge and experience in your technical field?
2. Expertise across a spectrum of content types. Your partner should be able to identify the best content format based on your audience preferences and your marketing goals. They should be able to produce white papers, advertorials, technical briefs, e-books, webinars, infographics, and more.
3. Ability to promote your content to your target audience. Does your media partner have the attention of your audience and the channels to reach them? Whether it’s through banner ads and targeted e-newsletters, or dedicated landing pages and visible spots on websites, your media partner must make your content highly visible to the buying audience you are trying to reach.
4. A persistent presence for your content. A one-and-done campaign or the posting of your content for only a limited time period likely isn’t enough to draw the attention and traction you’re looking for. Media partners should offer flexible options in terms of how long and where your content will be visible and available to potential customers.
5. Delivery of intelligent data in support of content marketing. Make sure your media partner can offer comprehensive reports about the performance of your content and the ability to identify who is accessing it. Media sites that require user registration on their sites should be able to provide this level of detail, including contact information for prospects who have expressed interest in your content.

Is it time for you to optimize your content marketing efforts by engaging with a partner for content marketing services? To further support your content marketing efforts, download the complimentary white paper: “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers: Establish Thought Leadership, Build Brand Awareness, and Drive Engagement Opportunities.”

Content Marketing

Five Best Practices for Infographics

 Infographics are a popular and effective way for industrial marketers to communicate information. Why does everyone love infographics? Because the best ones provide fast, easy access to important information. Our brains require less effort to digest visual content than text, and visual content drives more traffic and engagement than plain text does.

Here’s an example of three infographics from IHS Engineering360: an Infographic 3 Pack. Each one summarizes a set of research data that was also used to produce a white paper and other content. See how much you can learn from a quick scan of the infographic?

But as with any other type of content, some infographics are better at getting the job done than others. Make sure you adhere to these best practices when using infographics as part of your content marketing efforts.

1. Tell a visual story
You can’t simply assemble a collection of data and statistics and call it an infographic. Your infographics should tell a visual story that has a main theme or objective. It should adhere to both a logical and a visual flow. To determine the story you want to tell, ask yourself the following questions:
• What am I trying to communicate?
• What are the main points of the story?
• What should my audience learn?
• What do I want my audience to feel, think or do? (include a call to action)

2. Choose a compelling topic
Like a white paper, webinar or other marketing content, infographics must be interesting and relevant to your audience. Timeliness is also a factor with infographics. What’s happening right now in your industry? What research, data and statistics support your story and are compelling to your audience?

Dig deep into your research to uncover data behind key trends you want to tell a story about. Be sure that you cite the data sources that you use. You can either integrate the citations where the data appears or use some kind of footnoting and put citations at the end.

3. Adhere to design principles
Because infographics are so visual in nature, it’s essential that you create a harmonious and pleasing design that is attractive to your audience. Follow these principles:
• Keep visual elements such as icons as simple as possible. Complex designs are distracting and hard to understand. They also might not render well in small sizes. The same goes for fonts. Use simple, clean typography. Try to stick to one or two fonts and a limited number of font sizes.
• Choose a complementary color palette and group related information by color. But don’t use too many colors. You don’t want the infographic to look like a circus.
• Use white space. If you clutter up the entire canvas with information, your audience will be overwhelmed and won’t know where to look next. White space helps segment information and create a visual flow that moves your story in the right direction.
• Use a vertical, not a horizontal, layout. Your audience can scroll down as needed to see information below the limits of the screen, but horizontal scrolling is difficult. A good rule of thumb is to make your infographic no wider than 600 pixels.
• Use brief blocks of text to support or explain visuals. The main story should be told through the graphic elements; consider text as secondary and keep it to a minimum.

4. Create your infographics
Not everyone is an artist. If you’re not a designer, you can take advantage of online tools that let you create visually powerful infographics from templates. Or reach out to your media partners that offer content marketing services – infographic development may also be on their list of product offerings. One benefit of relying on a media partner for assistance versus using online tools is that they can help you with both the design, as well as identifying and organizing the right data and content.

5. Market your infographics
Infographics are for sharing. Be sure to add social sharing buttons to your infographics, along with your logo and a call to action. In addition, promote your infographics as you would any other content as part of your integrated marketing program. Post them to your website, link to them from emails, use them to pitch articles to editors, and highlight them on your social media accounts.

Also think about ways you can use the content of infographics in other ways. The infographics examples mentioned above from IHS Engineering360 were created from research reports. Repurposing content can flow in the other direction as well. Can elements of your infographics be used as slides in a presentation? Or as the basis of an executive brief or article? Smart marketers are always finding ways to effectively repurpose content.

Content Marketing Marketing Trends

Two Types of Content That Can Anchor Your Content Strategy

 Your target audience of engineering, industrial, and technical professionals is regularly searching for specifications, application notes, white papers, and other technical content relevant to their jobs. According to the IHS Engineering360 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, 70% of buyers review four or more pieces of content for purchases over $10,000.

White papers and technical articles are near the top of your audience’s list in terms of popularity and usefulness—and these two types of content can serve as the anchor of your content strategy.

White papers and technical articles are similar, with only slight differences. Technical articles tend to be shorter and focused, but deeply technical. White papers are longer, more in-depth, may be written for multiple audiences, and may have multiple authors. Both deliver the same types of benefits, including:

• Positioning your company as a valuable and expert source of information to your target audiences
• Helping you gain a reputation as a thought leader in your market
• Generating leads and engagement opportunities for your marketing and sales teams
• Serving as the foundation of other content, such as such as webinars, blog posts, executive briefs, infographics, and more

The Key to Good Content
Technical in nature? Yes. Boring? No. There’s no reason that your white papers and technical articles can’t be interesting, even fascinating. To be that way, you need to focus on the needs and interests of your audience and tell a good story—one that has a clear objective, a strong beginning that states what’s to come, a well-reasoned and researched middle, and a powerful and succinct conclusion.

You can achieve these goals if you do the necessary work up front, before you begin drafting the copy. Follow these steps:

Define your purpose. Why are you writing this piece? The answer to this question helps clarify your purpose. All white papers and technical articles have at their core the purpose of educating their audience about a specific topic. In addition, you will likely also identify one of four other purposes:
Describe a product and its uses. For example, define and describe a diode laser and how it is used.
Explain a concept or idea. For example, explain the concept of emissivity as it applies to measuring infrared temperature.
Describe a process. For example, explain the process by which a gas moves through a flow meter.
Provide an opinion or perspective on an industry trend. For example, describing your company’s viewpoint on the impact of a new regulation or new technology on your industry.

Analyze your audience. We say “analyze” your audience rather than “identify” your audience because it’s not granular enough to say your audience is “engineers” or “potential customers.” A thorough audience analysis will drive your content decisions and help you decide what to put in and what to leave out, as well as help you write to the level of your audience . Ask these questions about your audience:
• What do they already know about the topic? What do they still need to know?
• Why is this information important to my audience?
• What objections or differing perspectives might they have on the topic that you need to address?
• What do I want my audience to do or think after reading this content?

Not Just Words
The strongest white papers and technical articles use visual aids to help enhance understanding. They can also provide key information for readers who scan (many do not read beginning to end, no matter how well written your piece is).

Use tables to summarize and group information. Photographs and drawings can show what an object looks like. Diagrams are useful to explain a process or how something works. Data can be represented in bar charts, pie charts, tables, and other graphing formats.

Create and Distribute
PDF is one of the best formats for creating the distribution version of your content, and the one that will optimally display your graphics and layout. PDFs can be viewed online, printed, or downloaded and saved to the user’s computer.

Once you have a beautiful white paper or article, you need to get it into the hands of your audience. Here are some strategies that might work for you:
• Publish papers and articles on your website
• Use email marketing to drive your audience to your website to access the content; alternatively, attach the paper or article to the email
• Promote them through your social media channels
• Highlight them using targeted display advertising on industrial websites
• Use them to pitch story ideas and attract media attention
• Distribute them at trade shows or other events
• Print and mail them to customers and prospects
• Submit them to other websites that publish technical content

Want to learn more?  Download “Technical Articles and White Papers: Making a Content Connection,” the newest white paper from IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions.  

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy