Video and the Industrial Marketing Star Reply

 

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.

Are You Generating the Right Kind of Leads? 1

For most marketers, generating leads is their number one priority. Without leads, there won’t be many sales, and without sales . . . well, you know what happens next.

However, it’s not enough to simply produce an impressive volume of leads and toss them over to your sales team. Any seasoned salesperson will tell you that quality is preferable to quantity. Moreover, if marketing efforts focus solely on quantity rather than quality, fewer opportunities will convert, sales people will distrust these opportunities, and your marketing team may lose credibility in your organization.

Is your company generating the right kind of leads, or just a bucketful of the wrong kind? Here are some tips on how to weed through them to see which are right for your organization.

Attributes that signal lead quality
Timeliness: Engagement opportunities that arrive in real time, as they are generated from marketing programs, are more likely to convert to a sale than those that are weeks or even days old. Therefore, your actions play a role in determining the quality of a lead. If you don’t respond to inquiries quickly, potential buyers will move to find other vendors who are responsive to their needs.

Lead source: Leads from general search engines or unknown sources are unlikely to be as valuable as a lead from a website or publication that is directly targeted to your audience and industry. Leads from targeted sources have already met some qualification criteria as soon as they are generated.

Details: The more detail you can capture from a prospect, the more quickly you can determine if you have the right kind of lead. That doesn’t mean you should present prospects with long, cumbersome forms to fill out. Instead, capture just enough information to know whether continued dialog is worthwhile.

Buyer profiles: If a prospect shares attributes—such as similar titles, company sizes, industries, and specified needs— with some of your best or most recent customers, you likely have the right kind of lead on your hands, and your products and services are probably a good fit.

Social Engagement: You should be regularly monitoring your brands for mentions on social media. Jump on any opportunities by responding to those mentions and trying to cultivate new relationships. You may end up with a good lead, or, if the mention was negative, you may have an opportunity to repair any brand damage.

Tell us – what are your tried and true markers for a quality lead? How do you generate these leads?

Why Webinars Have an Important Role in Your Marketing Mix Reply

 Webinars provide strong demand generation opportunities, and the ability to build brand awareness, engage with your target audience, and establish thought leadership.

One of the key reasons why webinars are an effective marketing tactic is that your attending audience is motivated and interested. They are committing an hour or so of their busy day to listen to your message and interact with your presenters. That takes a lot more effort on their part than, for instance, scanning an email or reading a web page. Additionally, webinars require less time, effort, and especially cost to attend than an in-person event, which helps increase their popularity.

As in-person tradeshows continue to experience decline in this digital era, webinars have filled the void for interaction between technical professionals and vendors.

Seventy percent of technical professionals attended at least one webinar or online event in the past year, and 32% attended four or more (IHS Enginering360 “Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey).

Industrial marketers realize that webinars have an important role in their marketing mix. Thirty-six percent now use webinars as a marketing tactic, and 40% are increasing spending on webinars (IHS Engineering360 “Industrial Marketing Trends” survey).

A variety of webinar options
Webinars can require a lot of work to be successful – from choosing a topic; to creating the presentation and script; to promoting your event; to registering and reminding your audience; to having a platform to host the webinar; to following up with opportunities post-event; to archiving the event on your website for future on-demand viewing and lead generation.

Doing all of this on your own requires resources, technology, and expertise. You also must attract a targeted audience on your own. If you’ve successfully been producing and hosting webinars, and generating engagement opportunities, you deserve credit for a job well done. If you’re just getting started, don’t be intimidated by the work involved. There are other options available.

Whether or not you have experience with webinars, working with a media partner for webinar marketing offers a number of advantages:

• A broad, yet still targeted audience. The right media partner will have access to a motivated and targeted audience you may not be able to reach on your own, and will develop and manage a multi-channel marketing plan to target the specific audience you want to attract and to promote your webinar.

• Comprehensive project management. Partners offer easy registration capabilities, email reminders, post-webinar follow-ups, and other features to help increase registration, attendance, and audience satisfaction. They can also handle all the technical aspects of webinar production and delivery. These services free you up to focus on webinar content and integrating the event into your overall marketing mix.

• Additional webinar options. Media partners that have webinar expertise can offer you a broad array of options. For example, you may want to create and deliver the webinar presentation, and have your partner handle the audience and production aspects. This is the more traditional route. But forward-thinking media companies offer other options for industrial marketers. For instance, your company could sponsor and brand a pre-determined webinar comprised of a panel discussion with industry experts. This option is a great way to build credibility and thought leadership around key topics that are important to your company. Another option is a more hybrid approach, with your media partner providing experts to collaborate with you and co-present on a mutually agreed upon topic.

Webinars are expected to show increased growth in the industrial sector. The main reason: they are effective. And more and more industrial marketers are working with media partners to strengthen their webinars and increase the return on their investment. For more information on custom webinar services from IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions, click here.

Top Priorities and Challenges for Industrial Marketers Reply

 In the recent IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions research report, Trends in Industrial Marketing, we revealed the top priorities and challenges that industrial marketers are facing today. The priorities that matter to industrial marketers include customer acquisition and retention, brand awareness, and content production and distribution. The list of challenges includes increased competition, generating leads, and measuring success.

That’s a lot to manage for any marketing team. The Maven is here to help. We’ll look at each of these priorities and challenges and put them into context for you. Why are they important? And what can you do to best manage your priorities and conquer your challenges?

Priority: Customer Focus
Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Industrial marketers know this. Customer acquisition is the primary marketing goal for 43% of survey respondents, earning it the top spot six years running. In addition, focus on customer retention has grown every year for the past several years, with 15% stating it is their primary marketing goal in 2015. Moreover, 54% state that customer acquisition is used to measure marketing success.

To stay focused on customers, industrial marketers are investing in digital programs such as email marketing, e-newsletters, webinars, and catalog programs to get closer to customers and potential customers. They also are focusing on working with media partners who best understand the customer and can offer programs that produce significant levels of awareness and engagement.

Priority: Brand Awareness
Over the next five years, industrial marketers indicated their marketing teams will be placing more emphasis on brand awareness. Having a brand that is positively recognized in your market puts your company in a position to shorten the sales cycle and win more business.

Marketing programs that deliver a consistent and persistent presence – such as your website, online catalogs, and banner ads – can increase the visibility of your brand. Webinars and content marketing initiatives can help personalize and strengthen your brand.

Priority: Creating and Distributing Content
Another area of focus for marketing departments will be creating and distributing content. Engineers and other industrial professionals are constantly looking for relevant, educational content to help them do their jobs better, such as webinars, articles, how-tos, white papers, spec sheets, and more.

Fifty-one percent of industrial marketers increased spending on content creation in 2015. However, 39% are just getting started with content marketing, and only 12% can show how content marketing contributes to sales. Marketing teams should develop a content marketing plan and schedule, which will help them produce needed content and get it into the hands of customers and prospects using the digital channels they prefer.

Challenge: Increased Competition
For the first time, industrial marketers report that increased competition is their number-one challenge. The digital era and its multitude of channels has largely leveled the playing field for competitors. Engineers and technical professionals now have more resources than ever at their disposal to discover information and research purchases, making it harder for marketers to be highly visible and to differentiate their company, products, and services.

The solution is to diversity your marketing presence across the channels your customers prefer to use. Putting too much emphasis on one area, such as the company website, can leave you vulnerable to competitors who are increasing visibility and generating engagement opportunities across a variety of digital channels. Past research demonstrates the performance benefits of diversifying your marketing spend across multiple digital media channels versus relying on a single platform.

Challenge: Generating Qualified Leads for Sales
Thirty-five percent of industrial marketers report that generating enough qualified leads for sales is one of their top three marketing challenges. What’s more, demand generation is the second most important marketing goal for industrial marketers and a precursor to the top priority — customer acquisition.

The key to overcoming this challenge is to invest in marketing that generates valuable engagement opportunities for you. You can often measure the worth of a contact or inquiry in its timeliness. Engagement opportunities coming to you in real time, as they are generated, are more likely to convert to a sale than those weeks or even just days old.

In addition, marketers should have lead nurturing processes in place to help transition early-stage leads into qualified prospects ready for your sales team. For additional advice and best practices in this area, download the complimentary white paper, “Best Practices for Managing and Increasing Engagement Opportunities.”

Challenge: Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)
The top measurements for marketing successes are sales attributed to marketing campaigns and customer acquisition. Because the industrial buy cycle can be long, complex, and involve multiple decision makers, you will likely engage with customers along a number of marketing touchpoints before they make a buying decision.

For example, a customer may first see your banner ad, later visit your website, download a white paper, and eventually attend a webinar. It’s important to track all of these interactions along the buying journey in order to measure the effectiveness of individual marketing tactics and your program as a whole. This will also prevent the mistake of attributing a sale to the last touchpoint with a customer, because rarely is any one interaction, or even the most recent one, the sole contributor to marketing success.

Download the white paper “2015 Trends in Industrial Marketing” for an in-depth look at the goals, challenges, budgets, and plans of industrial marketers, along with recommendations on how you can strengthen your marketing efforts in the coming year.

The Early Stage Buy Cycle is When the Relationship Starts 9

The early stage buy cycle for engineers and technical professionals is the equivalent of the top of the sales funnel for the manufacturer’s and supplier’s sales teams. It’s the beginning, when a buyer becomes aware of a problem or need and then begins to conceive of and search for a solution. If your company is already known to them, or becomes visible and sparks interest during a search, that’s when your relationship starts with a potential customer.

man with bouquet flowers
Begin your relationship with prospects early as generating initial awareness is critically important to the success of your sales and marketing efforts.

Because of the vast amount of content available from digital sources, it’s easier than ever for early-stage technical buyers to discover and research information about products, services and suppliers, and to narrow down their options before getting a vendor involved.

In this early stage, you might not yet have any personal contact with your prospect, you may not even have captured their name, but this is when they enter the top of your funnel.

Generating this early-stage awareness is critically important to the success of your sales and marketing efforts. You must connect with potential customers early in order to be a contender later when they are ready to make a purchase decision. Beginning the relationship early, even an anonymous one, offers key benefits to your organization:

  • You make a positive first impression on potential customers. If your company name comes up when they begin their search, it’s only natural that they gravitate toward you. Your widespread visibility in itself instills a sense of expertise and fosters trust. For example, the engineer searching for new diode laser technologies will be interested if they keep coming across your name (especially if it’s linked to quality, useful content … but more on that in a bit).
  • You stay top of mind. If you put consistent effort into branding and visibility tactics that raise awareness and help to widen and populate the top of the funnel, prospects will be exposed to you more often and will keep your company and products in their mind when they have a need.
  • Perhaps most importantly, marketing for the early-stage of the buy cycle can help to shorten the sales cycle for your sales team. Your prospects will already be aware of your company and what you offer. They’ve been accessing valuable content that’s helping to educate them. This means your sales people are speaking to an informed prospect and don’t have to start from the very beginning every time.

The keys to early-stage success

The first thing to realize is that if a potential buyer does not know about you or find out about you in their early stage, they will not be contacting you in a later stage. They will be contacting one of your competitors. To be the brand that matters to your target audience, you should:

  • Build and maintain a strong online presence on those digital resources your customers use most in the early buy cycle stages. Research shows that general search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs and industry-specific search engines and information resources such as Engineering360.com are the most popular digital channels for engineers and technical buyers early in the buy cycle. Diversify your presence across these channels.
  • Produce and publish a steady stream of content on digital channels for your prospects and customers. Your audience is eagerly searching for content as they engage in their buy cycle. They are looking for white papers and technical reports, watching webinars and product demos and reading articles, newsletters, blog posts and more. At this stage, your content should be educating prospects on a high level by, for instance, comparing approaches to solving problems, explaining how something works or commenting on trends. Your goal is to get in the game by demonstrating knowledge and expertise. It’s too early to be selling and trying to close the deals.
  • Recognize and respond when prospects move to later buy cycle stages, such as consideration and comparison. At some point, either the buyer has dropped out or you will have generated an engagement opportunity, with your prospect registering for a webinar, subscribing to your blog, or initiating contact with your company. You should have in place a plan to manage your engagement opportunities, either through ongoing lead nurturing programs or escalating a prospect to your sales team if they are giving off indications they are ready to buy. Don’t waste those early stage efforts—make sure you know how to move prospects through the funnel.

Industrial marketers can sometimes overlook the importance of their customers’ early buy cycle. By focusing resources on building brand and raising visibility, you’ll attract more prospects at the top of your funnel, helping to ensure you have a pool of potential customers when it’s time for them to make a purchasing decision.

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How are you expanding the top of your sales funnel? What advice or tips would you give your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Six Tips to Get the Best Return from Your Webinars Reply

One of the key reasons why webinars are an effective marketing tactic is that your attending audience tends to be motivated and interested. Think about it: they are taking 30 minutes to an hour or so out of their busy day to listen to your message and interact with your presenters. That takes a lot more effort on their part than, for instance, scanning an email or reading a web page.

If you aren’t already, you should integrate webinars into your marketing mix. If you currently are using webinars, you can make them stronger and more successful. Here are six tips (plus a bonus!) on how to be efficient and earn a higher return on your webinar efforts.

siemens plm software
WeBINARS ATTRACT MOTIVATED AND ENGAGED ENGINEERS AND TECHNICAL PROFESSIONALS. mAKE THEM WORK EVEN HARDER FOR YOU WITH THESE SIX TIPS.

1. Leverage content you already have

You might have an existing presentation from an industry conference, technical report, white paper, product demo, customer testimonial or other content that can make a strong foundation for a webinar or at least help generate ideas for a webinar. You don’t have to start from scratch every time. Another benefit of leveraging existing content is that it helps you deliver a consistent message to the market.

2. Be clear on your topic and the audience you want to reach

You need to be honest with your audience on what to expect during your webinar or they will lose trust in your brand and company. Webinars are ideal to deliver thought leadership content. If your webinar is about how additive manufacturing is transforming the automotive industry, then it shouldn’t be about your 3D printers. It’s standard practice for the host or sponsor of a webinar to deliver a brief promotion about its products. However, if you want to devote an entire webinar to the benefits of your products, then that needs to be clear in your webinar promotions.

Before creating your webinar, you not only need to define your topic but also the audience you wish to attract. Leveraging your existing content can again provide an advantage here. For example, you might invite everyone who downloaded a certain white paper to a webinar on a topic related to the white paper. That way, you are matching topic to audience, and will increase the likelihood of keeping your audience engaged.

3. Promote the webinar through multiple channels

First follow the tip above about identifying your topic and the audience you want to attract, and then determine the best channels to promote your webinar. Your in-house email list is a likely choice as are your own website and social media platforms. You might consider reaching farther out to connect with a wider audience, as long as your content is relevant to them. Advertising in industry-specific e-newsletters is an effective way to reach a potentially new, yet still targeted audience. If you are working with a partner on the webinar, reach out to their email list in addition to your own. For an even broader audience, try promoting your webinar through banner ads on industrial websites, distributing press releases, or posting on your directory listings.

4. Generate new content during the live webinar

Today’s webinar hosting platforms offer sophisticated features such as real-time polls and live Q & A. Not only can you deliver educational content to your audience, you can capture content from your audience in return. Poll questions can serve as effective transitions between topics, help involve your audience, and return to you valuable information. You can display answers in real-time and offer comments on the results, making the webinar even more interactive. After the webinar, results of your polls can be the basis for blog articles, social media postings, infographics and more.

At the end of the webinar, you will typically leave time for a question and answer period. Again, you can gain valuable information from your audience based on the questions they ask. You might be able to use this content to create an FAQ document to share on your blog, website and through social media.

5. Extend the shelf life of your webinar content

Your webinar content can remain useful long after the live event itself is over. You can archive the webinar on your website for on-demand viewing. Post it to YouTube or SlideShare. Write a blog post re-cap of the event. These other channels provide an opportunity for those in your audience who missed or didn’t know about the webinar to access the content. On-demand availability also gives you another opportunity to reach out to your email list (Sorry we missed you, now you can view the webinar at your convenience…). You can reasonably ask for registration information from visitors who want to view recorded webinars, resulting in additional engagement opportunities for you.

6. Follow-up with attendees

An engineer or technical professional who attended your webinar has demonstrated an active interest in your content. Be sure to have in place a marketing process to stay in touch with those attendees. Some of them might have expressed enough interest to qualify as a good engagement opportunity for your sales team; others may be better suited to a longer-term nurturing program. However you score these opportunities, be sure to deliver relevant content to them based on their interest in your webinar topic.

Bonus: Sponsor a webinar featuring an industry thought leader

If you would like to take advantage of the engagement opportunities generated by a webinar, without putting together and executing the actual presentation, you may want to consider sponsoring a webinar delivered by an expert in your industry.

These types of webinars are usually on a pre-determined topic (although the sponsor may have some input) and feature a trusted authority in the market presenting on a topic of interest to your audience.

The sponsor receives branding and association with the expert’s thought leadership as well as exposure to an audience they might not otherwise have attracted to their content.

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How are you using webinars in your marketing strategy? What advice or tips would you give your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Learn more about webinar solutions from IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions.

5 Tips to Turn Your Website into a Customer Magnet Reply

Technical professionals use a wide range of digital resources to search for suppliers, products and components. That’s why you need a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that creates a broad and deep online presence to connect with customers and prospects. Online catalogs, e-newsletters, webinars, social media, content marketing, search engine optimization and banner advertising all have a place in your marketing portfolio. At the hub of this interdependent marketing universe is your company website.

woman at laptop800

Driving customers and prospects to your website, and keeping them engaged once they get there, will help keep your audience connected to your brand and your company and products top of mind when customers are ready to buy. Here are the top tips for turning your website into a hub of productive customer activity.

1. Provide links to relevant pages
Use your other marketing channels, such as e-newsletter ads, social media or directory listings to drive technical professionals to specific pages on your website. It doesn’t have to be the home page, which is often a general page, but instead a page related directly to the message that motivated the click. It could be a custom landing page or another page that resides deeper in your site. For example, an e-newsletter ad or a directory listing for a specific product should link to a landing page about that product. A social media entry can link to your latest blog post.

2. Give reasons to explore
If a customer lands on a page other than your home page, make it easy to explore related content. You can do this by providing clear and simple navigation options and by grouping related content so that it’s easy to find. Secondary content columns can show related links, such as white papers related to the page topic or links to complementary products or services. From any page a visitor should be no more than one click away from accessing your contact information. A search box can help visitors find exactly what they’re looking for.

3. Offer more
Encourage your audience to stay engaged with your brand. Try these tactics: Offer downloads (with or without registration forms, depending on your strategy), invite customers to follow you on social media or subscribe to your newsletter, add polls or short surveys to solicit their opinions and collect useful data, and prompt technical professionals to view archived webinars or read your latest piece of thought leadership. Try adding live chat functionality or creating a discussion area for customers to interact with each other or your subject matter experts. Some visitors will naturally explore your site once they arrive, but most will need to be encouraged and offered information they find valuable.

4. Keep updating
Why does anyone visit a website on a regular basis? Answer: Because there’s something new to discover. Outdated or stale content will drive your audience away and can even damage your reputation and brand. Make a focused effort to keep content fresh and to add new content on a regular basis. The weekly blog post, the monthly webinar, the new offer—promote these items in e-mails and on social media to entice your customers and prospects back to your site on a regular basis. Also, you should audit your existing website content at least twice a year for accuracy and currency, and purge or update any content that is outdated or no longer relevant.

5. Be responsive
More and more technical professionals are using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones for work-related purposes, but not all websites render well on mobile devices. If your site is too difficult to use on a mobile device, your customer might click away. The next time you’re refreshing or replacing your website, create a website that is “responsive” in design, which means that navigation and pages will automatically render in a way that optimizes the experience on a mobile device. At the least consider creating responsive landing pages that are tied to marketing campaigns such as e-newsletter ads or white paper offers.

Your company website shouldn’t be your only marketing channel, but it can serve as the hub for your marketing strategy. Your goals should be to drive customers to your site, give them reasons to stay, and motivate them to engage with you.

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What tips would you add to turn a website into a magnet? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Three Ways to Prioritize Your Marketing Investments Reply

Now is a good time to make a few tweaks to your marketing programs for the last quarter and to begin marketing planning for next year. In both cases, you should prioritize your marketing investments in a way that allows you to use multiple tactics to maximize your exposure and opportunities for engagement opportunities. The other goal to keep in mind is reaching your prospects and clients at every stage of the buying cycle.

marketing planning

Here are three different approaches to consider when prioritizing your marketing investments. Choose the one that works best for you, or create a hybrid approach that takes advantage of elements from each.

1. Prioritize based on objectives
Your marketing objectives probably include both raising brand awareness in the markets you serve and generating engagement opportunities with clients and prospects. Some channels are proven effective at meeting both objectives. These include webinars, online catalogs, online events, tradeshows and e-newsletters. Channels that tend to be low in both brand awareness and engagement opportunities are general search engines, print directories, and rented e-mail and direct mail lists.

2. Prioritize based on audience behavior
Technical professionals have more digital tools and sources of information than ever before to do their jobs better and more efficiently. They are also exposed to more companies and have many options when ready to buy. Therefore, you can no longer rely on a limited portfolio of online channels to achieve the marketing results you are looking for. For instance, it’s not enough to put most of your resources into your company website. Instead, try to broaden and deepen your online presence to engage your audience in ways that match their searching and sourcing preferences.

When researching a specific work-related purchase, the top three channels technical professionals use are search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites. However, your audience uses many other digital channels to keep up with the latest technologies, product news, companies and brands—all of which influence their buying decisions. E-newsletters, industry-focused websites, social media, online events and webinars are all important industry information sources for your customers.

3. Prioritize based on the buy cycle
For many companies, the industrial buy cycle is long and complex, involving multiple stages, from needs assessment to comparison and evaluation, to a final purchasing decision that may be influenced by recommendations from multiple stakeholders within a company. 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.
Therefore it is essential that you have a highly visible and uninterrupted presence on those channels your customers favor during the early, research-oriented buy cycle stages. These are the channels buyers favor: e-newsletters, online events, webinars and online catalogs. By taking advantage of these channels you increase your opportunities to connect with potential customers early on, so that they keep you top of mind when ready to make a purchasing decision.

Try Something New
The industrial marketing landscape is constantly changing. If you’ve been using the same marketing channels over the past year or longer and haven’t achieved your goals, it may be time to try something new. The fourth quarter is a good time to experiment. It’s not a high-risk proposition. Try sponsoring an online event. Or raising brand awareness through banner advertising on industrial sites. You could even combine several tactics. For example, place ads in industry-specific e-newsletters to increase attendance at an upcoming webinar.
Work with your media partners to evaluate new ideas and choose a tactic or two that fits best with your objectives and your overall marketing portfolio.

Get the Marketing Planning Kit
Each year, IHS GlobalSpec publishes the Industrial Marketing Planning Kit that includes analysis of the industrial market and channels, worksheets to analyze your current marketing mix, and recommendations on developing marketing strategies that target engineers and technical professionals. The 2015 version just came out and you can download your complimentary copy. The 2015 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit is one tool you don’t want to be without when it’s time to prioritize your marketing investments.

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How do prioritize your marketing investments? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

How to Respond to the Evolving Industrial Buy Cycle Reply

Recent research has shown that the widespread availability and use of digital resources is resulting in changes to how technical professionals approach their buy cycle. The stages of the cycle are still the same, but the timing of contact between buyer and seller has changed.

The industrial buy cycle consists of distinct stages: Research & Needs Analysis, Comparison & Evaluation and Purchase. The cycle can be long and complex, involving multiple decision makers, recommenders and influencers; or it can be short and straightforward, with a single person presiding over a purchase decision. However, regardless of length or complexity, the buy cycle is evolving.

Technical professionals today use digital resources at every stage of their buy cycle, particularly during the Research & Needs Analysis stage. The most popular resources are general search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs and industry-specific search engines such as GlobalSpec.com. Because of the vast amount of useful information available from these digital sources, it’s easier than ever for customers to discover and research information about products, services and suppliers, and to narrow down their options before getting a vendor involved.

In 2014, only 41 percent of technical professionals are contacting a supplier in the early Research & Needs Analysis stage of their buy cycle. Thirty-eight percent wait until the Comparison & Evaluation stage and 21 percent don’t contact a vendor until they are ready to make a purchase.

The evolving nature of the buy cycle has a number of implications for suppliers, including:

  • You must connect with potential customers early in their buy cycle in order to be a contender later when they are ready to make a purchase decision. This means you must build and maintain a strong online presence on those digital resources your customers use most in the early buy cycle stages.
  • From a sales perspective, think of your digital presence as a way for potential customers to add themselves to the top of your sales funnel when they are searching for products and services. They will then engage with you as they advance through the funnel.
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking if you choose not to provide relevant, educational content to customers early in their buy cycle, that they will contact you earlier in order to get that information. Instead what will happen is customers will forget about your company and instead focus their attention on those suppliers who are meeting their needs for content over digital channels.
  • You should publish a steady stream of content on digital channels for your prospects and customers, including blog posts, product information, white papers, webinars, videos, web pages, spec sheets and more. Your audience is eagerly searching for this content as they engage in their buy cycle.
  • Your digital presence is required to build brand awareness and visibility so that when a customer recognizes a need and begins their research, they will already have your company top of mind and be able to find you easily, which will increase your opportunities to be under consideration from the beginning of the buy cycle.
  • When a customer or prospect does contact you, they are likely to be more educated than the person who reaches out to a supplier at the beginning of their buy cycle. This fact may affect your processes for handling engagement opportunities. Some prospects may be more sales ready. Most of them will have specific questions at this point and want detailed information, including product availability, specifications, pricing, testimonials, ROI calculators and other content that will help them make a purchasing decision.
  • Technical professionals rely on different digital resources at different buy cycle stages, according to the research. General search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs and industry-specific search engines such as GlobalSpec.com have increased in importance to support the Research & Needs Analysis and the Comparison & Evaluation stages of the buy cycle. In the Purchase stage, industry-specific search engines and online catalogs increased in importance.

The industrial buy cycle has been around as long as there has been industrial commerce, but the nature of it continually evolves. Stay on top of the current evolution by creating a strong digital presence and providing technical professionals with the information they are looking for. To gain greater insight into your customers’ digital behavior, download a complimentary copy of the new IHS GlobalSpec research report 2014 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector.

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Follow the Three V’s of Managing Your Engagement Opportunities Reply

In this era of marketing accountability, industrial marketers need an effective framework to manage and measure their engagement opportunities. You can’t measure everything—and you don’t want to measure everything. You want to focus on specific measurements providing valuable insight, which in turn can help you make decisions to improve the performance of your marketing program.

measuring roi

According to Forrester Research, the hallmark of top marketing performers is their ability to generate marketing leads at the right velocity, volume, and value. These three metrics are key indicators of funnel health—and a healthy funnel generally means healthy revenue.

  • Volume is the count of engagement opportunities or deals delivered by a marketing program.
  • Value is how much an engagement opportunity is worth in terms of dollar value.
  • Velocity is the speed at which an engagement opportunity converts to a sale.

What marketers must determine is how much weight and priority to give to each of the three V’s in order to optimize your marketing efforts and maximize your return. The answer is different for every company, based on your marketing goals, the makeup of your sales force and the nature of your customers’ buying behavior.

The dream world of every marketer is that the volume and value of engagement opportunities is high and the velocity of conversion is lightning speed. However, we all work in the real world, not the dream world. Therefore you must put these three V’s in perspective, understand how they align with your goals and use them to help make marketing decisions.

Volume, value and velocity intelligence can also help you segment engagement opportunities. For example, if a marketing program produces a high volume of opportunities, chances are many of those opportunities are not yet sales ready. They should remain with marketing in a lead nurturing program until more qualified. It might make sense to assign high-value opportunities to a salesperson for one-on-one cultivation and personal attention. Handle high-velocity opportunities in whatever manner will close the sale quickly.

Volume requires ironclad processes
Volume is historically the metric that gets the most attention, deservedly or not. What sales team doesn’t want more engagement opportunities? Some marketing programs are designed to maximize the volume of engagement opportunities. The upside of this approach is that you have more potential customers to convert and more of your target audience exposed to your message, which helps increase brand awareness.

On the other hand, the greater the volume of engagement opportunities, the more you need sound lead management processes. You must be able to separate real prospects from tire-kickers, prevent good opportunities from slipping through the cracks and avoid inundating your sales team with unqualified prospects who will never convert.

Value can trump volume
A highly targeted or specialized marketing program may not deliver a high volume of engagement opportunities. It can still be a strong program because the engagement opportunities generated should have a higher conversion rate and produce a higher amount of sales.

If your company’s objective is to close bigger deals or sell highly customized products or services, you’re likely looking at implementing a program that delivers fewer, but highly motivated prospects. You’re looking at quality over quantity.

Velocity offers intelligence
Velocity—the speed at which a prospect converts to a sale—can be considered independently or in relation to volume and value. Velocity is often directly related to your customers’ buy cycle and the nature of what you are selling. A long, complex purchasing process involving multiple decision makers and a significant investment may not have much in way of velocity. But if you’re selling parts or components that the market considers a commodity, you should expect high velocity.

No matter what you are selling, if you have a hot prospect motivated to buy, treat them as a high-velocity engagement opportunity. By tracking the velocity of deals, you can gain valuable intelligence on the length of your sales cycle and how well your marketing and sales processes are performing.

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How do you manage the 3V’s of lead management? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.