Tips for Marketing During Challenging Times

Your plan was set in place and the marketing machine was humming along, but then uncertainty set in.  You suddenly find that external factors you simply cannot control, such as the economy or the impact of the coronavirus, are affecting your marketing efforts.

Your instinct might be to pull back from marketing during difficult times, but this is unlikely to be the best strategy. Cut back and you could lose market share to competitors or you begin to fall behind leading to a downward spiral.

Instead, when faced with external challenges, you need to find ways to adjust your current marketing plan to be more effective. Your mantra should be to “prepare not panic.”

Here are some tips:

Focus on what you can control

While you can’t control the emergence of external factors, you can control how you react. For example:

  • Recognize where demand is and what markets are strong and allocate your investments in those areas.
  • Keep track of what your customers and prospects are saying and doing and adjust your marketing channels and messaging to align with their needs.
  • Maintain visibility in your most important sectors, even if it means reallocating budget from less essential or more experimental programs.

Re-examine your marketing goals

During challenging times, it’s important to take a close look at your marketing goals. You might have to make decisions regarding what goals are must-haves, such as supporting a new product launch, while others might be nice-to-have, such as trying to enter a new market.

Given the current situation, some of your goals may no longer be achievable or your plans no longer viable. The sooner you recognize what you can and can’t achieve—and prioritize what you must achieve—the quicker you can take effective action.

For example, if you usually promote a product launch at a trade show that has been canceled, you can reallocate that marketing budget to other activities, such as e-newsletter or display ads, webinars, or content marketing.

Stay on top of measurement

More than ever, you need to get the most out of every marketing dollar during challenging times. While it’s always the right time to purge marketing programs that don’t perform, it may be time to suspend or scale back any marketing plans whose results you can’t measure or are unsure about.

If uncertainty is causing rapid changes in the market, increase your frequency of measurement to spot any disturbing (or encouraging) performance trends in your marketing programs.

You might find that some programs are working better than expected, while others are underperforming your stated goals. Use this opportunity to reallocate your budget to those programs that are most effective.

Get more from your existing marketing assets

This could be a good time to focus on updating web pages, repurposing content for other uses, or even combining programs.

Whatever the external climate, your website is still the face of your company and prospects will continue to visit. Make sure the content is current and accurate, links work, and pages are optimized for search.

In addition, repurpose and reuse content. Take that white paper and create a series of blog posts or develop a webinar. Create infographics using market or product data. Conduct a customer survey. You remain the owner and in full control of your content, so focus on making the most of what you have.

Another possibility is combining programs. If you are running a webinar series and planning to exhibit at a trade show that is no longer part of your plan, you may want to integrate your tradeshow message into your webinar series and use email and e-newsletter advertisements to promote the combined event.

Stay visible in your most important markets

If you do have to make program adjustments due to external pressures or other factors, don’t sacrifice your most important markets or most effective programs. If anything, reallocate budget to those initiatives from weaker performing programs or uncertain markets. Challenging times are often the right time for “circling the wagons” and defending your territory.

Reap the benefits of working with media partners

In challenging times, you may be forced to make harder and smarter decisions about allocating budgets. You don’t have to do this alone. Ask existing or potential media partners, who may have a broader and deeper view of the market, their advice on how to handle market uncertainty.

Ask media partners to demonstrate how their marketing solutions can help your company achieve its goals during challenging times. You may come away with unique ideas to navigate this period of uncertainty and come out the other end in a position of strength.

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General Productivity

Content Creation and Distribution: 5 Best Practices for 2020

content marketing creation and distribution

Manufacturing marketers are taking a more strategic approach with their content marketing and are gaining confidence in communicating complex content.

In addition, many are reporting success with their overall approach to content marketing, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” produced by the Content Marketing Institute and sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec.

One key area covered in the report is content creation and distribution. Manufacturers were surveyed about their processes, and the results reveal a number of best practices manufacturers should adopt to help improve their content marketing efforts in 2020.

1. Create Content for Different Audiences

The more closely your content is targeted to the needs of your buyer, the more likely potential buyers will pay attention because the information is relevant to them.

On average, manufacturers create content for four different audiences, with 45 percent creating content for 2-3 audiences and 53 percent creating content for four or more audiences.

Unless all of your customers fit the same profile and have the same needs, you should be creating different types of content for different audiences. One way to define your different audience’s content needs is to create buyer personas, which are profiles of the different types of customers you have. This article can help.

2. Create Content for Different Stages of the Buying Cycle

Currently, 40 percent of manufacturing marketers create content based on specific stages of the customer journey: from awareness of need, to comparison and consideration, to purchasing decision.

Half of the content that manufacturers create is for audiences in the early stages of their buying journey. The purpose of this top-of-funnel content is to create awareness and interest. But manufacturers also need content for their customers’ consideration, evaluation and purchase stages, as well as post-sale content to drive loyalty and brand advocacy.

3. Choose a Variety of Formats for Content

Engineers have personal preferences when it comes to searching for, discovering and consuming content, which means you need a variety of content types in order to effectively connect with your audience.

The top five content formats manufacturers use are social media (such as tweets and stories), videos, email newsletters, blog posts/short articles and in-person events. The majority of manufacturers also use infographics/charts/photos/data visualization content and case studies.

4. Align Content to Marketing Goals

The Content Marketing Institute survey asked respondents which content types are the highest performing for their organization in terms of building brand awareness, securing leads, nurturing leads and converting leads.

For both securing and converting leads, in-person events was the most common response for what type of content was the highest performing. However, for building awareness, social media was the highest performing content. Manufacturers should conclude that they need some type of social media presence as part of their awareness campaigns, but should also realize that social media, while important for capturing attention, is not a primary lead generator.

For nurturing leads, email newsletters are the top performers. Most manufacturers that nurture leads set up email drip campaigns to stay in touch with prospects who are early in their buying journey and to help move them along toward a purchase decision.

5. Use the Right Channels

Manufacturers use both organic (nonpaid) and paid channels to distribute content to their target audiences.

The top organic content distribution channels that manufacturers used in the past 12 months are social media platforms, their organization’s website/blog, and email.

Of the organic social media platforms they use, respondents say that LinkedIn generates the best overall content marketing results, although Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are also widely used.

The top paid content distribution channels are social media advertising/promoted posts, search engine marketing/pay-per-click, sponsorships (booths, workshops, branding), and banner ads to promote content.

Content marketing is one of the most significant and most effective ways for manufacturers to connect with their target audiences and to generate opportunities. Download your complimentary copy of the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” to find out more about how manufacturers approach content marketing, including strategy, teams, budgets, and overcoming challenges. Click here for your report.

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing, General Social Media

What Engineers Want from Your Website

Collaboration

For any industrial company, your website is an important marketing asset. With engineers conducting the majority of their buying research online before contacting your company, a prospect is sure to visit your website in hopes of discovering information they are looking for.

If engineers find what they need, and if your products and services compare well against the competition, then you’ll likely generate a potential sales opportunity.

If your website falls short, you’ll miss out.

According to the research report, “Smart Marketing for Engineers,” produced by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, engineers want access to the basics on your website. They are looking, first and foremost, for technical content.

This audience is not as concerned with website bells and whistles. Items that an industrial marketer may view as a “must have” – pre-filled forms, interactive graphics, online chat, and more are not so special to engineers.

Get Technical, Get Specific

When asked what features of their favorite websites were most important to their experience, engineers overwhelming said in-depth technical information (81 percent) and technical specifications (75 percent).

The next closest were features to help configure products/systems (30 percent). Interestingly, only 11 percent said that a wide range of content was important to their experience.

The takeaway is clear: engineers want technical content specific to their need, and they don’t want other stuff getting in their way.

How to Structure Information

As for web usability, 75 percent of engineers prefer concise information with links to in-depth content, so they can drill down if needed. Forty-three percent want to see imagery/icons related to the content.

This puts the responsibility on you as a marketer to develop a logical taxonomy and clear hierarchy for organizing and presenting information on your website. The drill-down model works because you won’t overwhelm the engineer with too much information at once or confuse them by presenting secondary information before they are ready for it.

This type of information presentation makes sense. It somewhat mirrors the news story, inverted-pyramid approach, where the most important information is presented first, with secondary details to follow. The difference is that on the web, instead of writing a continuous narrative, you segment the content into discrete chunks users can access by clicking on links.

The Coveted Content

The content that engineers find most valuable when researching a product to purchase are datasheets, case studies, product demo videos and white papers.

You should have as much of this content as possible on your website. Whether you offer the content freely or keep it gated behind a form is a choice each company must make. But the majority of engineers are willing to provide work email, first name, company name, last name, job title, and industry in order to access content they deem valuable to them.

Don’t be afraid to put content behind forms—as long as the content is valuable. Engineers will trade their contact information for information that helps them.

Your Website Must Build Trust

Because most engineers are researching your offerings before contacting you, it’s important that your website helps to establish trust between your company and your potential customers.

When engineers were asked what causes them to lose trust in a company or brand after looking at their website, the top two answers were lack of technical information (69 percent) and lack of product information (50 percent), further reinforcing the need to have technical content on your website.

Other trust-eroding factors for engineers include getting no response after contacting a company and having no ability to contact a company for additional information.

You should have a contact link on every page on your website—and of course you should monitor and respond in a timely manner to any prospect that contacts you.

Keep it Simple

That’s the lesson here—your website should be simple. That lesson should also be encouraging to you. If you are struggling with limited resources (time, people, and budget), focus your website efforts on what will deliver the most value to your target audience. In this case, it is detailed, technical content that is easy to access and understand.

For a more in-depth look at engineers’ content, online and website preferences, along with survey results about an engineer’s buying journey, download your complimentary copy of the report “Smart Marketing for Engineers.”

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing, General Web Sites – Design & Usability

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit – Part 1

Many industrial marketers are deep into planning for 2020. If you haven’t started yet, now is the time, and we’ve got resources to help you.

By beginning your planning process now, you can gather evidence to justify your expected expenditures, receive executive endorsement for your budget, and be ready to launch when the calendar changes. Companies getting an early start on their marketing plan can get a jump on competitors and be better positioned to win business going into the new year.

This two-part series (Part 2 is coming in October) will help you create an effective marketing plan for 2020 that aligns with market and customer trends, fits your budget and capabilities, and helps achieve your marketing goals.

Part 1 focuses on evaluating your current program and understanding the industrial marketing trends that will affect your strategy for 2020. Part 2 will offer tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan.

Assess the performance of your current plan

How are your current marketing programs performing? The complimentary IEEE GlobalSpec “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” offers a number of tools to help you measure the performance of your marketing. The kit includes a chart to plot the engagement and branding capabilities of your current programs and to identify gaps, a grid to compare the quality of your leads to your ideal customer profile, and a matrix to help you analyze the effectiveness of your expenditures across various media channels.

Access your complimentary copy of the “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” here.

The foundation of any performance assessment of your current marketing is the ability to measure marketing results. Measurability is just one of many reasons why industrial marketers are increasing their use of digital media, along with the engineering audience’s preference to seek information through digital channels.

Digital marketing programs offer the inherent advantage of measurement through page views, clicks, downloads, shares, conversions, and other trackable metrics. If your current channel mix is not mostly digital, then you should consider allocating more budget towards online in 2020.

Account for all channels

Keep in mind when evaluating current programs that your customers typically have multiple interactions with your company and content before they make a final purchasing decision. They might meet you at a trade show, visit your website, click on an e-newsletter advertisement, watch a video, and attend a webinar all as part of their buying journey.

Each of these marketing touches contributes to the eventual sale—not just the first action they took to connect with you or last action they took before making a purchase decision. Be sure to track all of these activities to properly evaluate marketing performance.

Five trends that can influence your plan

Before you begin to plan 2020 marketing programs and choose channels, you should familiarize yourself with industrial marketing trends that will influence your decisions. These include:

  1. According to the most recent IEEE GlobalSpec Industrial Marketing Trends survey, 60 percent of industrial marketers rely on email marketing and 43 percent expect to spend more on email in the year ahead. The trend in 2020 will be toward personalization, from connecting to email recipients by name, to providing email content based on their preferences and behaviors.
  2. More industrial marketers will invest in marketing automation software to help segment audiences more precisely, guide prospects through the buy cycle, and deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.
  3. Industrial marketers will improve ROI measurement by not only counting leads but also tracking all prospect engagement and marketing touches through the sales cycle. In addition, definitions of marketing success will become agreed upon across the organization, particularly with sales and executive teams, to ensure collective buy-in on the metrics that matter most to an organization.
  4. More than half of buyers complete at least 60 percent of their buying process online before speaking to someone at a company. This trend announces an imperative that industrial marketers continue to produce high quality content. In 2020, expect more industrial marketers to create content marketing strategies based on achieving specific, measurable objectives and to produce content designed for specific stages of the customers’ buy cycle. To avoid long lead times, now is the time to audit your content and determine what content you will need to create, refine or re-purpose to support your 2020 marketing plan and goals. Also make sure your marketing collateral and website are up-to-date with current messaging and the latest product versions.
  5. Digital and traditional channels will be more closely integrated. For example, many industrial marketers will continue to include traditional tradeshows in their marketing portfolio. However, now they will rely on digital channels before, during, and after the show to gain momentum, increase engagement, and build relationships.

Study your company’s 2020 business plan

If your company is planning to introduce new products, expand to new markets or customer segments, or launch other strategic initiatives in 2020, you will need to build your marketing plan and create content to account for these initiatives.

Meet with executives to learn about the timing of new plans. You should also meet with sales leaders to understand revenue growth objectives. This will not only give you information you need to create your marketing plan, it will demonstrate that you are proactive about developing a plan that supports your company’s 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. Add this valuable resource to your 2020 planning efforts today. Click here to download.

Content Marketing Digital Media E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

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

Quick Tips to Integrate Your Print and Digital Advertising

If you’re like most industrial marketers, print and digital media can seem like they’re ever at odds, fighting for a share of your budget. Rather than thinking of these two tactics as adversaries, consider the fact that they can be much more effective when they work together rather than separately.

Over the past few years, industrial marketers have been devoting an ever-greater share of their annual marketing budgets to digital channels. Digital is where engineers and other technical professionals turn to first when researching suppliers, products and services. Digital is easy to measure. It offers a wide variety of channels that may appeal to your audience. However, traditional media is still an important information source and a viable channel for industrial marketers.

According to the 2017 Manufacturing Content Marketing report, the top three paid content promotion methods in the B2B sphere in North America were Social Promotion at 85%, Print or Other Offline Promotion at82% and Search Engine Marketing at 73%.

Just because print is one of the top three paid content advertising methods, doesn’t mean it’s making as much of an impact as it can. By taking steps to integrate digital and print, you can get better results from your overall marketing strategy and achieve higher ROI.

Putting it all together
Digital is by nature an interactive medium. Readers are encouraged to click on links, fill out forms to request information, leave comments, and more. On the other hand, a lot of printed marketing material is passive and designed primarily to spread a product offer or raise awareness of a brand.

You can build bridges between print and digital marketing efforts by following these tips:

• First, always include a website address in your print ad. This is a no brainer.
• Next, make sure print and digital ads share the same look and feel. Using similar layouts, colors, graphics, headlines and messages creates a unified, integrated, and easily recognizable campaign. When devising any type of marketing campaign, evaluate all possible digital and print channels where the campaign fits, and create ads that are consistent in content and design across media channels.
• Use printed material to drive traffic to your website. Include a strong call to action in print ads that encourages readers to visit your website or social media page for more information or exclusive offers.
• Make use of hashtags in print that users can search digitally to find more content.
• Use custom URLs to track print to digital conversions. Personalized URLs may represent nothing more than tracking devices or can point to customized page content. Using them can help you measure the effectiveness of your campaign and know exactly who responded and when.
• Conversely, remind visitors to your website or on digital ads to see your print ad in a specific publication. This demonstrates that your brand has a broad and deep presence in the market.
• Promote offline articles through online resources. If your company lands a story or article in a print publication, announce it on your website, banner ads and social media.

Coordinate strategies and departments
One of the main challenges when creating integrated marketing campaigns is internal coordination, especially if print and digital responsibilities reside in different departments or with different people. It’s best to gather your team and begin planning your campaigns well in advance, because print production often takes longer than digital production.

What do you see as your organization’s greatest challenge when it comes to marrying print and digital? Let us know – we may be able to provide some insight.
 

Digital Media Market Research

Five Industrial Marketing Trends that Matter in 2017

With the new year comes a fresh perspective and another chance to improve and optimize your marketing program. To make sure your plan is rock solid, check out the top industrial marketing trends for 2017 from the Marketing Maven and consider how to best implement them into your own strategy.

Trend #1: Media Mix is More Diversified
With so many media channels now in use, marketers have more competition than ever for share of voice, making it harder to capture the attention of your audience. Moving into 2017, we predict that more industrial marketers will incorporate a carefully planned, comprehensive mix of channels into their marketing plans.

According to a Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs survey, marketers use an average of 13 different channels to promote their message to the market. Leading the way are social media content, case studies, blogs and e-newsletters. B2B marketers also use an average of three paid advertising channels. The top three are search engine marketing, print or other offline promotion, and traditional banner ads. It’s not just paid search engine ads anymore.

The Industrial Marketing Trends Survey from IEEE Engineering360 shows that about 80 percent of industrial marketers are diversifying their mix, but the majority say they need to diversify more. If this describes your situation, you might want to work with media partners, agencies and other experts to help you determine the most effective mix for you.

Trend #2: Digital Spend Will Continue to Grow
The statistics are plentiful: At $83 billion, digital B2B spending outweighs all other B2B marketing spending by two times or more (Outsell). Forty-two percent of industrial marketers are growing their online budgets. Online display advertising is up 28 percent, while email spending is up 9.1 percent (Winterberry Group). Overall, 41 percent of marketing budgets will be spent online, a percentage that steadily increases year over year (Industrial Marketing Trends).
Industrial marketers are increasing their spending across a diverse mix of channels. The top areas of increased spending are content creation, search engine marketing, direct mail using in-house lists, social media, online directories/websites, and webinars. With the exception of direct mail, all of these channels are online or directly impact online marketing efforts. Digital is where your peers are focusing more marketing budget, and we expect this focus to continue in the year ahead.

Trend #3: Measuring ROI is a Priority and a Challenge
The pressure continues to rise for marketers to demonstrate ROI on marketing investments. Marketing budgets have gotten tighter, and are often under more scrutiny by executives. Additionally, the growth of digital media channels means an increased ability to measure marketing efforts — making demonstrating ROI no longer the exception, but the rule.

According to The Content Formula by Michael Brenner, 81 percent of B2B marketers say that measuring marketing effectiveness is their greatest challenge. But how is success measured? It depends on what metrics matter.
Salesforce reported that revenue growth is the top metric for digital marketing success. This makes sense, although it is often difficult to attribute a sale to a specific marketing program. A prospect has many touches with a potential supplier and there are often many decision makers and influencers involved before a purchasing decision is made. Hence, it remains a challenge to attach revenue gains to specific marketing initiatives.

After revenue growth, customer satisfaction and retention rates are the most important measures of success. In this way, the industrial space mirrors the overall B2B space. The number one metric of success is sales attributed to marketing campaigns. After that, metrics such as customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, leads and customer retention come into play.

Twelve percent of industrial marketers don’t have a method to measure success. If you fall into this category, consider working with your executive team and media partners to determine what results matter to you, and how you can begin measuring them.

Trend #4: Content is the Kingdom
As marketing expert Lee Odden says, “Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom.” Content marketing is becoming more evolved, more sophisticated and is driving key performance indicators and measurements. Content is how companies get their message out to the market.

In a recent Content Marketing Institute survey, 88 percent of B2B respondents say they are using content in some way, shape or form. However, effectiveness varies. Only eight percent say they are sophisticated content marketers. Eleven percent say they are just taking first steps and have not yet made content marketing a process. Everyone else falls somewhere between these two extremes.

If you are just getting started with content marketing, you are not alone. Thirty-nine percent of industrial marketers are in the same situation (Industrial Marketing Trends). This means that 2017 presents a big opportunity for improvement and success in this area. Be sure to devote time and resources this year to developing a content strategy, producing engaging content on a consistent basis, and measuring content effectiveness.

Trend #5: Email Marketing Maintains its Value
You may have heard that email is dead, but that simply isn’t true. Email has remained a cornerstone marketing tactic for B2B marketers for almost two decades. With mobile phones and tablets, your audience can connect with email almost anytime, anywhere. And don’t forget that email marketing offers easy to measure metrics like opens, clicks, forwards and conversions.

Data reinforces email’s continued popularity and effectiveness. Salesforce reported that 73 percent of marketers believe email marketing is core to their business, 65 percent say email is an effective marketing channel and 58 percent are increasing their email marketing spend. Newsletters are the most popular email marketing tactic.

As you continue to shape your marketing efforts in 2017, be sure to keep email in your portfolio. If you already publish a newsletter, consider advertising in other industry newsletters to reach a broader yet still targeted audience.

Where do you see 2017 heading for industrial marketers? Comment below and tell us where you’re focusing your efforts in the year ahead.

Digital Media Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General Thought Leadership

Digital Media is Essential to the Engineer’s Work Process

 Using digital media for work-related purposes is now “business as usual” for engineers and other industrial professionals, according to results from the IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions 2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector survey. And as the use of digital resources continues to rise for such activities as finding components, equipment, services, and suppliers; obtaining product specifications; and performing research, the use of traditional media platforms continues to decline.

Year over year, the results of this survey have supported the same conclusion: digital channels are the industrial professional’s preferred resources. For marketers, that means you must continue to adapt to these trends by deploying a multi-channel digital media strategy to connect with your target audience.

Below are some of the highlights of the survey. You can download your own copy of the research report, “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector,” including complete survey results, analysis, and recommendations to improve your marketing results.

Industrial professionals log hours online
Engineers spend a good portion of their time performing work-related tasks online. Fifty-three percent spend at least six hours per week online for work-related purposes. Forty-three percent visit more than 10 work-related websites each week. Online communities have experienced a marked increase in use.

Engineers of all ages use digital
Industrial professionals of all ages use digital media, although patterns vary somewhat based on age. The up-and-coming younger generation of engineers has slightly different preferences. This is important to note because almost half of the engineering workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next few years.

Younger technical professionals use social media more than their older colleagues, and conduct more product searches and read more news and e-newsletters. Thirty-nine percent of the 18-34 age group actively engages with online communities. They also use smartphones more, so be sure your digital content displays well on mobile devices.

Use is consistent throughout buy cycle
Consistency of usage when compared to previous years demonstrates that digital resources are firmly entrenched among industrial buyers, regardless of age, in nearly every facet of their jobs. Throughout all stages of the buy cycle — from needs analysis/research, to comparison/evaluation and purchase — the top digital sources for information are search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites.

The primary uses of the Internet for technical professionals has not changed much either, demonstrating that engineers have established the value of digital media to perform specific work-related tasks in their buy cycle: find components, equipment, services, and suppliers (77%); obtain product specifications (73%); find product availability information (70%); perform research (67%); and compare products across suppliers (66%).

Webinars and digital publications are replacing traditional media
As in-person tradeshows continue to experience decline, webinars have filled the void for interaction between technical professionals and vendors.

More than half of all industrial professionals (53%) attended no in-person tradeshows in 2014, an increase from 49% over the previous year. On the other hand, technical professionals are finding value in attending webinars and other online events. In 2014, two-thirds of industrial professionals attended at least one webinar or online event, and 30% attended four or more. Webinars and online events have proven to be effective marketing platforms, attracting a motivated audience willing to take time out of their busy workdays to attend.

Digital publications trump printed trade magazines as an information resource across all age groups. In 2015, technical professionals are subscribing to an average of 4.4 digital publications, such as e-newsletters and digital trade magazines, versus an average of 1.4 printed trade magazines, a difference of more than three-fold.

The upshot for suppliers and manufacturers
It used to be enough to have a website as your primary digital presence. This is no longer the case. These survey results reinforce the need for suppliers to have a highly visible, multi-channel digital marketing presence that touches influencers and buyers at various stages of their buy cycle. The research shows that no single digital resource is the favorite among industrial professionals. Rather, they use a variety of online sources, from search engines to supplier websites, webinars to online events, and e-newsletters to online catalogs.

The new research report will help you better understand how your customers and prospects use digital media, and how you can optimally incorporate digital channels into your marketing mix in 2016 to gain advantage, remain competitive and win business.

Click here for your complimentary copy of “Digital Use in the Industrial Sector.”

Digital Media Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General

Why You Should Consider Display Advertising

 Banner ads that appear across digital networks and highly targeted sites are sometimes overlooked by industrial marketers as an effective marketing tactic. They shouldn’t be. This is a good time to consider whether display advertising can help you develop a stronger 2016 marketing plan.

Digital media has become embedded in the work habits of industrial professionals, and this audience uses a wide variety of digital resources including search engines, websites, online catalogs and more to conduct research, locate suppliers and specify products and services. Display ads appear in many of those places, and your ad can give you exposure to a highly targeted and motivated audience that is actively engaged in their buy cycle.

Display ads are particularly effective for meeting three marketing objectives:

Build brand awareness—When your ad regularly appears across a network of targeted sites, your audience will become familiar with your brand, look and message.
Reach new markets—Display ads can help you reach potential customers in new or hard to reach markets that you otherwise struggle to access.
Launch new products—Many display ads are visual in nature or offer rich media format which can help you get attention when promoting new products.

The Basics of Display Ads
You have two options with display ads. You can choose one or the other, or for maximum effectiveness and visibility, combine the two approaches.

1. Place ads on specific, targeted websites. In this approach, you focus on a single industrial website or destination that is visited extensively for work-related purposes by your target audience. Your ad might appear on a variety of pages within the site, such as alongside a searchable catalog, relevant blog post or news article. With this approach you will reach an audience of highly-targeted, active and motivated searchers.

2. Place your banner ad across a network of sites. Media companies often have a network of targeted sites that have the attention of your audience. This approach allows you to significantly extend your reach into the industry yet still maintain targeting. Ad networks tend to be efficient and affordable in terms of timing, exposure and reach.

Combining these two approaches with a single media buy offers the best of both worlds: the targeting you need with the extensive reach to increase brand awareness across markets.

Other Considerations
Typically you would work with a media partner to purchase display ads. They often have access to the best networks and sites and can package a program to fit your goals and objectives. When speaking to potential partners ask them:

1. Do they reach your target audience? No sense in wasting resources on a broad network of advertising banners if they’re not targeted to the industrial audience you need to reach. Find out what type of sites your ads would appear on and ask for the audience profile. Even for broader branding strategies, you want to stay focused on potential customers and prospects.

2. How do they track and optimize ad performance? You want to know more than impressions and clicks. You want your partner to offer guidance on optimizing the placement of your ad based on where it performs best. You also want robust reporting so that you can see for yourself the performance and include the results in your overall marketing measurements.

3. Do they offer geo-targeting and native-language translations? Many times you will want to reach only a specific geographic market or you may need your ads translated to local languages. Your media partner should offer these capabilities.

4. Do they offer a variety of ad formats and sizes? Display ads come in all shapes, sizes and media. The more options you have available to you, the more creative you can be and the more effective you can make your ad campaign. Skyscrapers, banners, sliders, overlays, rich media ads and more can all be incorporated into your ad portfolio.

Get started today by asking your media partners about their display advertising programs and how they can be seamlessly and effectively integrated into your overall marketing plan for 2016.

Digital Media

2016 Marketing Planning: Five Ideas to Guide You

 Last month we got you jump-started with marketing planning for 2016, offering tips on evaluating your current marketing program and pointing out trends that will affect your strategy moving forward. You can read Part 1 here. This month, as we’re nearing the final quarter of the year, we offer five ideas to help you develop the optimal marketing plan to fit your business needs and meet your marketing goals.

1. Think Digital
When creating your 2016 marketing plan, weigh your channel mix heavily towards digital. Traditional print media and in-person tradeshows continue to decline as digital resources become “business as usual” in the work habits of industrial professionals.

Recent research from IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions demonstrates just how important digital media is to this audience. Sixty-eight percent of technical professionals visit at least six websites each week for work-related purposes. More than half of technical professionals spend six or more hours per week on the Internet for work-related purposes, and one-third spend nine-plus hours (a full day) online.

If you’re not allocating the majority of your marketing budget to digital channels, you’re likely missing out on opportunities to connect with potential customers when they are performing their top online work-related activities: finding components, equipment, services, and suppliers; obtaining product specifications; performing research; and comparing products across suppliers.

2. Prioritize Your Marketing Investments
You’d like to use every possible channel to connect with your target audience, but reality and budgets say that’s not possible. Instead, prioritize your marketing investments according to your audience’s behavior and how well your programs work together. Your goal should be to maximize the visibility of your brand and opportunities for engagement, and to reach prospects and customers at every stage of their buying cycle, particularly early on when they are performing research and forming impressions of potential vendors before contacting them.

Search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs are all top resources for industrial professionals. In addition, webinars, e-newsletters, and online display ads can help you penetrate new markets and connect with hard-to-reach professionals not in your database.

3. Create a Plan for Content Marketing
Your customers and prospects are constantly looking for content to help them solve problems, understand new technologies, and make more informed buying decisions. Suppliers that can deliver valuable, authoritative content can position their companies as industry experts, build trust with prospects, and ultimately make it easier for sales teams to close deals and drive revenue.

Make content marketing part of your overall marketing plan. Think ahead by creating an editorial calendar of the content you will produce. Match up content to expected events in 2016, such as new product launches or major announcements. Select the channels for distributing content. Here’s where your multichannel strategy pays off. For example, you can promote a webinar in an e-newsletter advertisement or in a display ad and drive prospects to your site to register.

Also, review your existing content. Make sure your marketing collateral and website are up-to-date with current messaging and the latest product versions. If you choose to enter new markets, you may need to revise some messaging and re-purpose existing case studies, white papers, and other materials. Create an inventory of content assets and determine what else is needed to move your customers through the buy cycle. Do it now to avoid long lead times.

4. Make Sure it’s Measurable
If you want full support for your marketing plan, make sure it’s measurable. This is another advantage of digital media. Page views, clicks, downloads, and conversions can all be easily counted.

ROI can be complex to measure, but a good starting point is answering a simple question: For the total marketing dollars you spend, what kind of return do you get in terms of engagement opportunities? Programs such as webinars tend to have high return because prospects have proactively registered for the event, which already indicates their interest. Inquiries on your website from existing customers also offer high return; it’s lower for new customers.

Specialized search engines and searchable catalogs tend to deliver good engagement opportunities because only your target audience would be using them, as opposed to general search engines which are used by the world.

Remember that with an integrated marketing plan, your tactics and channels work together. Most prospects will have multiple touches with your company throughout their buy cycle. Keep track of all touchpoints to prevent the mistake of attributing a sale only to their last interaction with you.

5. Work with Experts
Preparing a comprehensive, integrated marketing plan can be challenging, especially with all the new channels available to you and the wide variety of preferences among your target audience. You don’t have to do this work alone. Now is a good time to consult with an experienced digital media partner that understands and has the attention of the industrial audience you need to reach. Discuss your marketing objectives and have them show you an integrated, multi-channel media plan that will help achieve your goals and objectives.

2016 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit
IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions has created the Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your current marketing choices, calculate the value of existing marketing programs, understand changes in the marketing climate, and plan more effective prospect and client engagement strategies for 2016. Download your complimentary copy.

Digital Media Marketing Strategy Marketing, General