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

Ten Quick Tips for Sales and Marketing Alignment

Engine misfires reduce gas mileage and performance, and can cause damage to other engine parts, such as oxygen sensors or the catalytic converter. Similar poor outcomes occur when your sales and marketing teams are not in alignment, leading to wasted resources, under performance, and unnecessary problems.

That’s why sales and marketing alignment is so critical in the industrial sector.

Alignment ensures that sales and marketing are communicating clearly and working toward shared goals in an efficient and effective manner. Here are 10 ways to get and keep your sales and marketing operations in alignment.

1. Develop shared accountability

This first suggestion starts at the top, with the leaders of sales and marketing (if it’s only one person, this part should be easy). Leadership must agree on what goals you will work on together to achieve, how you will measure results, and where the path of accountability leads. There’s nothing like both teams having skin in the game to improve performance.

2. Use the same language

Work together to define terms that you will use jointly, such as what constitutes a “sales-ready lead” or a “marketing lead” or a “prospect.” You will likely use specific scoring criteria to help determine the definitions.

Among others, some terms that are useful to define include program, campaign, branding, ROI, and account. In addition, define titles, roles and responsibilities of team members so everyone knows who is responsible for each activity.

3. Begin at the onboarding stage

New hires—whether in sales or marketing—should be introduced to how the teams align during their onboarding processes. Some cross-training between the two departments can help establish communication channels and shared goals from the beginning.

4. Give cross-functional teams deliverables

Lots of companies create cross-functional sales and marketing teams, but the most effective teams have deliverables, whether that be creating training or customer presentations, developing lead-scoring criteria, or fielding tradeshow teams.

5. Collaborate on customer personas

Creating customer personas, which are detailed fictional representations of your different types of customers, should be a collaborative effort between sales and marketing. Sales is closest to the customer; marketing has a target in mind. Bring the two points of view together.

6. Keep sales enablement resources together

Use a single shared platform to manage, audit, and update marketing and sales content. Make sure both teams have access to the latest content at all times: articles, presentations, data sheets, white papers, videos, shared documents, links to web pages and social posts. All of it.

7. Have marketing team members join sales calls

One of the best things a marketing person can do is get on the phone (or go to a meeting) when a salesperson is speaking with a customer or prospect. You can learn how customers talk about their challenges and objections. You can learn how account executives position your company’s solutions in different scenarios. This will improve your content creation and marketing messaging.

8. Allow the sales team to offer campaign input

During the campaign development stage, meet with salespeople to introduce a proposed campaign: the audience, offer, timing, and goals. This exercise can result in useful feedback and ideas from your sales team that will help you shape a better campaign that the sales team fully supports.

9. Share a communication channel

Whether it’s an email group, intranet site, or online collaboration tool, choose a communication channel where marketing and sales can share updates with each other, ask questions, get support, and more.

10. Do things together

The more time sales and marketing spends together, the closer the teams will be and the more they will be able to empathize with each other. Lunch n’ Learns, team building, and other shared activities help build a sense of cohesion and allow team members to cultivate strong relationships with each other.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General

Nine Ways to Stretch Your Marketing Dollars

Ask almost any industrial marketer and they will tell you there are never enough marketing resources. According to the research report, “2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing,” the leading marketing challenge is a lack of marketing resources—in terms of dollars, people and time. It was reported as a top three challenge by 37 percent of marketers, and as the single biggest challenge by 21 percent.

Further constraining resources, headcounts, and budgets are staying steady for the majority of industrial companies. Only 25 percent of companies are adding marketing people; just 31 percent are spending more on marketing.

Bemoaning the lack of resources doesn’t help, and subpar marketing performance because of a shortfall of marketing dollars simply isn’t acceptable. It’s up to marketers to find ways to stretch their budget and meet their marketing goals. Here’s what you can do:

1. Always Be Aligned

Your marketing programs should be perfectly aligned with your goals. This is the simplest way to make sure you are making the most efficient use of your resources. Before you invest in any program, always ask the question: Is this the best program for achieving our marketing goals? If not, don’t spend on it.

2. Repurpose Content

Content creation can be a resource drain. Look for efficiencies when creating marketing content. Make it a priority to create content that can be easily adapted for use across multiple channels, in multiple formats, and among different audiences. This offers the additional advantage of delivering a consistent message. Other content hacks include using templates to save on design costs, creating PDFs rather than printed pieces, and recruiting internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to help write technical content.

3. Use Marketing Automation Software

There is a good selection of low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market that can help you increase efficiency and save money. With marketing automation, you can easily segment lists, streamline lead nurturing, quickly access detailed reports and much more. A small investment can pay significant dividends.

4. Be Smart About Search Marketing

Optimize the pages on your website to rise in search results rankings for specific keywords that are important to your business. Keeping content fresh and current will also help. For paid search, focus on narrow search terms that will deliver more qualified traffic to your site. Don’t waste money on expensive keywords that everyone else is bidding on.

5. Focus Your Social Media Efforts

You don’t need to create and maintain profiles on every social media platform. It’s a waste of time and money, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep up or attract the attention you’re looking for. Instead, choose the social media channels that work best for you and that engineers are more likely to use. LinkedIn and Facebook are the two most popular channels for engineers. They’re great places to promote that reusable content you’ve been creating.

6. Don’t Purchase Email Lists

Purchased lists are a bad idea. They historically and dramatically under perform a clean in-house list. Plus, are you sure every name on that purchased list is verified as opt-in? Purchased email addresses are expensive and if you’re not careful you can run afoul of data privacy and protection laws.

A better idea is to advertise in a respected industrial email newsletter that you know is opt-in and is targeted to the audience you want to reach. Plus, your media partner will handle all list management functions, helping you to preserve your resources for other projects.

7. Cut Back on Travel

Industrial marketers still find tradeshows an effective marketing channel. But if you exhibit or attend multiple shows every year, the expenses pile up. Can you free up resources by going to one less show this year? If not, can you opt for a more modest presence? Can you negotiate a better sponsorship deal if you also host an educational session of interest to attendees?

8. Conduct Joint Marketing Programs

Work with a partner that offers complementary products and services to a similar target audience as yours. With two companies sharing the costs of a marketing program, your dollars can go a lot further. It’s also a good way to gain access to a potential new customer base.

9. Find a Trusted Media Partner

One way to help alleviate the lack of resources is to find a trusted, expert media partner who can help you optimize your mix and get the most out of your budget, while allowing you to free up some internal resources for other efforts. The right media partner will help you more efficiently reach your target audience and will be nimble enough to help you tweak programs along the way for better performance.

E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy

Industrial Marketing Survey Reveals a Challenging Environment

IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions recently conducted its annual Industrial Marketing Trends Survey. The online survey asked marketing professionals about the marketing trends, challenges and expenditures within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities.

Below are some of the key findings of the survey.  How does your marketing situation compare with these survey findings? You can access detailed results, analysis and recommendations by downloading a complimentary copy of the upcoming 2017 Trends in Industrial Marketing white paper.

Marketing Goals & Challenges

For the sixth consecutive year, industrial marketers report that customer acquisition is their primary marketing goal, followed by demand generation.

The majority of respondents say that the quality of products/services offered is their organization’s main differentiator. Only six percent of companies focus on price as their differentiator.

Limited marketing resources, the need to generate enough high quality leads, and increased competition are the three most common marketing challenges.

The top three measures of success for marketing initiatives are customer acquisition, sales attributed to marketing campaigns and customer satisfaction.

Marketing Channels & Programs

Email marketing using in-house lists, social media and tradeshows are the top marketing channels in the industrial sector, followed by search engine optimization and online directories/websites. Four of the top five channels used are digital channels, indicating that many marketers understand the importance of devoting resources to a mix of digital channels.

Half of industrial companies use a balanced approach, mixing both push/outbound marketing (e-newsletters, direct mail, etc.) and pull/inbound marketing (corporate website, online catalogs, etc.). However, industrial marketers state that they want to diversify their mix more—only 25 percent are satisfied with their marketing mix.

While most marketers are neutral, about the same percentage are satisfied as dissatisfied with their online marketing efforts. Overall, only 25 percent of marketers are satisfied or very satisfied, meaning there’s opportunity for many marketers to grow and adopt new strategies.

Content Marketing

Content marketing has become an essential marketing tactic for industrial marketers, although 34 percent are just getting started (down from 39 percent in 2015) and only 12 percent can show how content marketing contributes to sales (same as 2015). Twenty-eight percent have a content strategy in place and 34 percent repurpose content for use in different formats.

Marketing Budgets

Overall, budgets have remained fairly steady since 2011. Seventy-nine percent report that they will spend the same or more on marketing as in 2016.

Thirty-nine percent of industrial companies are increasing online spending as a portion of their overall marketing budgets, with 45 percent of companies remaining the same. These results indicate that industrial marketers know how important online marketing is to connecting with engineers and other technical professionals.

Marketing as a Profession

When asked about the biggest single challenge in their profession, 29 percent of marketers cited generating leads for sales and 25 percent said measuring the ROI of their efforts. These challenges often arise due to a lack of resources, meaning that marketers struggling with these challenges should consider working with a trusted media partner that can help free up some of these resources.

These findings represent the state of marketing in the industrial sector. What should you do with this intelligence? We’ve produced a complimentary white paper that analyzes and presents the results of the survey, and offers recommendations to industrial marketers to help them allocate their budgets, develop a sound marketing strategy and plan effective programs and campaigns for the upcoming year. Click here to be one of the first to receive a copy of the report when it’s released.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Trends

How to Succeed with Limited Marketing Resources

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Marketers report that their biggest challenge is a lack of marketing resources—dollars, people and time. This is one of the key findings in the upcoming 2017 Industrial Marketing Trends survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions.

Not only are marketers struggling in the face of limited marketing resources, and with budgets that have remained mostly steady over the past few years, they are operating in an era of increasing marketing complexity. Technical professionals use more channels than ever to research information and aid their buying process, forcing marketers to allocate limited resources across an array of marketing channels and programs.

No marketer has an unlimited budget, or the time to do everything on their list. Yet many industrial marketers are still achieving their goals and objectives. How do they do it? Here are a number of tips to help you solve the marketing resource challenge.

Make Content Marketing More Efficient

Many marketers are increasing their content marketing spend, but make sure you spend smartly. Developing fresh content on a regular basis can drain resources quickly. Follow these tips to alleviate some of this stress:

  • Re-purpose content from one format to another. For example, a white paper can become an article as well as a series of social media posts, a webinar can become a video, and a support page on your website can become a how-to tutorial. In addition to having more content, your audience will be able to access content in their preferred formats, since preferences vary.
  • Conduct a content audit. You might find you have old content no longer used that can be easily updated. Or, you may decide to purge and stop updating content that no longer serves an appropriate purpose.
  • Curate third-party content. Provide links (and attribution) to content that others produce and will be of interest to your target audience. Curated content is often less salesy because it doesn’t come directly from your company.
  • Rather than always focusing on producing and distributing original content, try commenting via social media or in comments sections on third party content. You can still create brand visibility and focus on your company’s positioning and messaging while providing thoughtful, helpful responses.

Double-Dip On Your Marketing Programs

Most marketers use a combination of programs, some intended to generate engagement opportunities, others to increase brand awareness. Try choosing programs that can serve both masters. Tactics such as sponsored listings on product directories/online catalogs, webinars, e-newsletter advertising and display advertising can highlight your brand while including a call-to-action to create engagement opportunities with prospects.

Work Incrementally On Your Website

Marketers should continually invest in their websites. While a complete overhaul can be cost prohibitive, you may be able to make incremental changes to your website that still create impact. Focus on the home page or on specific landing pages associated with campaigns.  Consider outsourcing a searchable product catalog to a media partner with expertise. Add short video clips—interviews, presentation snippets, tutorials and more—which you can create on a limited budget using a smartphone.

Be Smart on Social Media

Social media, with its array of platforms, can eat up resources. Accounts must be regularly updated and monitored. Rather than spread yourself thin trying to keep up with multiple social media channels, choose one or two (LinkedIn and Facebook are most popular with technical professionals) and focus your efforts on those. If you post interesting information regularly, respond to comments, and comment on postings you follow, you will end up being more effective than you would by having a limited presence on multiple social media platforms.

Find a Trusted Media Partner

This an ideal time to find a trusted, expert media partner who can help alleviate your marketing resources challenges. The right partner can help you optimize your marketing mix, laser-target your audience of engineers and technical professionals and get the most out of your budget, while allowing you to free up some internal resources for other efforts.

Some media companies offer extensive solutions and partnering, including content marketing, co-sponsored white papers and webinars, targeted email marketing, and extensive reporting on program performance. Keep in mind that the right media partner is your essential ally, not only during strategic planning and budgeting, but while you are in the midst of executing and measuring campaign results.

 

 

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Content Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy

Four Guidelines for More Effective Marketing Measurement

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More than ever, executives are demanding accountability for marketing expenditures.

The need to show return on marketing investment (ROMI) often leaves marketers dwelling on questions such as: How much did this email campaign contribute to the bottom line? How much revenue did that banner ad produce? However, these might not be the best questions to be asking.

It’s highly unlikely that any single campaign or tactic can be correlated on a one-to-one basis with a sale, especially in industries with long and complex buy cycles, and in an environment where your customers use a wide variety of digital tools and information resources to research a potential purchase.

As you begin planning for next year, you might be tempted to drop a marketing program that doesn’t have sales directly associated with it. This may be a mistake, and may lead to abandoning programs that are making real contributions to your overall marketing effectiveness.

Here are four guidelines to help you improve your marketing measurement and ensure that your integrated, multichannel marketing strategy is delivering a positive ROMI. For a more comprehensive analysis of marketing measurement, please download a complimentary copy of the 2018 Marketing Planning Kit.

1. Measure Engagement at Individual Touchpoints

Sixty-two percent of technical professionals wait until at least the Comparison & Evaluation stage of the buy cycle to make contact with a vendor (Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector). They may have already downloaded a white paper, clicked on a newsletter ad, watched a video, explored your online catalog—and finally decided to reach out. Each of these marketing touchpoints exists as parts of an entire ecosystem of campaigns and they all contributed to this engagement opportunity. Since it’s difficult to match a specific campaign to a sale, try measuring activity and engagement at each touchpoint: clicks, downloads, forms completed, etc.

2. Measure Awareness that Leads to Later Sales Opportunities

Multiple touchpoints—especially early in the buy cycle when prospects are assessing their needs—can help your company establish credibility and be considered when it comes time for engineers to make contact with vendors.

Maintain a broad and consistent presence on the channels that your customers use to help you get noticed early in the buy cycle. You can measure brand awareness by tracking metrics such as impressions, page views, social media shares and mentions.

3. Measure Two Types of Leads

There are two types of marketing leads that can turn into customers: the marketing qualified lead and the marketing influenced lead.

The marketing qualified lead is a lead that marketing has generated through one of its campaigns and passed on to the sales team after qualifying it. Qualified leads are gems. You’ve generated interest from a potential client, and routed that prospect through your lead qualification process. Your sales team wants qualified leads that require less effort and are more likely to convert into customers.

The marketing influenced lead is sometimes overlooked because this lead hasn’t gone through the qualification process and been handed off to sales. It’s less visible than the marketing qualified lead.

However, the marketing influenced lead is any person who engaged with your marketing content before becoming a customer. If these future customers haven’t filled out a form (such as a registration), you may not even know about them yet—but they know about you, and they are being influenced by your marketing content. When they eventually make a buying decision and become a customer, your marketing efforts helped define their path and contribute to their decision, and marketing should get credit for this marketing influenced lead.

4. Don’t Measure Only the “Last Click”

The “last click” attributes a sale to the last marketing-related touch point a customer has before making a buying decision. Last click attribution is a mistake because we know the buy cycle includes many campaign touches that cumulatively add up to help achieve a sale. Today’s path through the buy cycle crosses multiple devices, platforms, sites, and user needs and behaviors. Last click ignores the many supporting tactics that help drive a purchasing decision.

Find out more about marketing measurement, plus gain access to tools and recommendations to build a stellar marketing plan, in the just-published 2018 Marketing Planning Kit. Download your complimentary copy today.

 

 

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Measurement Marketing ROI

How to Connect with Younger Engineers

As a marketer, you likely have long-term relationships with many seasoned engineers who are in leadership roles and in a position to influence decisions and make purchases. You’re probably comfortable communicating with this engineer. They are likely comfortable with your brand and know what you stand for.

These engineers are the strongest advocates for your products, services, brand, and company. Additionally, they can pass their preferences to younger engineers or to colleagues at other companies if they change jobs. Clearly, you should continue to focus on nurturing these technical professionals in your marketing efforts.

At the same time, many older engineers are nearing retirement. Forty-seven percent have been in the engineering field for 30 or more years, and 22 percent for 20-29 years, according to the “2017 Pulse of the Engineer Survey” from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions. Younger engineers, many of them millennials, are beginning to step into positions of authority. This requires you to cultivate new relationships with the next generation of customers.

While many aspects of marketing to engineers hold true regardless of your customer’s age, younger technical professionals have their own preferences that vary slightly from the habits of their older colleagues. Follow these tips to make stronger connections with the next generation of engineers:

Make digital your primary focus.

According to the “Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, millennials use a variety of channels in their buying process and there is no single channel preferred. They use social media more than their older colleagues, conduct more product searches , read more news and more e-newsletters. The three most popular channels to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs. You can connect with engineers young and old by having a broad and consistent online.

Build a presence in online forums.

Online forums have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them. The top three activities in online forums are finding technical support (57 percent), searching for product information (52 percent) and viewing videos (40 percent).

Use content to build trust.

Younger engineers may not be familiar with your brand or value propositions.. It’s important that you provide relevant, educational information to them to help build trust for your brand and to increase your younger prospect’s confidence in choosing to work with your company. You can also build trust through Customer case studies that demonstrate ROI, clear warranty and support policies, as well as white papers and articles. Consider working with an industry analyst or respected media partner to sponsor a white paper or research. You can also sponsor a webinar hosted by a trusted third party.

Develop quick-hitting content that is easily consumed.

Sometimes your younger audience wants to dig deep with a 3,000-word white paper. But often, they prefer nuggets of valuable content. This can include a few charts and graphs showing industry trends or product performance, or A two-minute video that explains a technical process or how your product works. You can usually parse longer content such as white papers and webinars into smaller, discrete chunks that can easily be consumed and shared.

Update your website regularly.

Engineers of any age want the latest information, whether it comes from their news feeds or your website. Make sure the content on your site is fresh and reflects your most recent positioning and product portfolio. Purge the old and outdated. If you work with media partners to publish an online catalog or gain industry exposure, make sure your catalog, featured products and banner ads represent and highlight your newest offerings.

Optimize for mobile devices.

While engineers still do the majority of their heavy-lifting work on desktop computers, their mobile usage is increasing. This is especially true for younger engineers, who use their phones for reading email and articles, and conducting product searches. Websites and email should adhere to responsive design standards, so that they can easily be scanned, read and searched on mobile devices. Make sure that media partners and other vendors you work with are mobile friendly and follow best practices for displaying websites on mobile devices. It’s frustrating to users when they have trouble viewing content on their mobile devices. Younger technical professionals might quickly turn elsewhere.

What do you think? Have you struggled to connect with the next generation, or do you already have a strategy in place?

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing, General Thought Leadership

Why You Should Take Time for a Mid-Year Marketing Checkup

Believe it or not, you’ve been executing your 2017 marketing plan for six months. How’s it going? Whether you’re floundering or charging full steam ahead, we recommend you perform a mid-year marketing checkup.

A mid-year checkup will help you take steps to keep your marketing plan healthy and on course. You’ll discover what’s working, what’s not, and what you can do to improve results (there’s always opportunity for improvement). This post offers you several ways to approach the checkup and how to take action based on what you find.

Analyze Quantitative Data

If measurable marketing objectives are part of your plan, you can compare a snapshot of current marketing data against those benchmarks. Gather up reports from your online media partners, social platforms, and web analytics programs, as well as your in house reporting tools. Take a good look at your click-through rates on e-newsletter ads, attendees and engagement opportunities from webinars, video views and time spent viewing videos, and white paper downloads.

Are you halfway to your goals? Are there any surprises—pleasant or unpleasant?

A challenge arises if you didn’t set up measurable goals at the beginning of the year, are using programs that are difficult to measure, or established only general objectives such as “increase brand awareness in our target markets” or “generate leads for sales” or “increase customer satisfaction.”

If this is your situation, take time now to determine what metrics are important, re-allocate resources to measurable programs, and commit to tracking performance for the remainder of the year.

Collect Qualitative Data

Talk to sales people about their volume and quality of engagement opportunities. Ask if they have any feedback on your marketing programs. Ask if any of their customers have said anything (positive or negative) about your company’s marketing presence or messaging.

Speak to customer service managers to find out what customers are saying. Ask your company’s executives what they’re hearing in the market. Perhaps the best strategy would be talking to a few customers or prospects and asking them what they find engaging about your market presence.

If you work with partners or distributors, make sure you check in with them. Are they aware of your marketing programs? Have they noticed anything about your company’s presence in the market?

Look for common themes in the anecdotal information you compile. What story does it tell? Between quantitative data and qualitative data, you’ll have a great understanding of how marketing is performing.

Look ahead

If you’re halfway to or ahead of year-end goals, you deserve congratulations. But if the metrics and anecdotal evidence show that your marketing is not as healthy as it needs to be, now is the time to make adjustments. If your business is dependent on the seasons or if the fourth quarter is always your biggest, you should account for those variations before drawing conclusions and jumping to make changes.

When deciding where to make changes for the second half of the year, follow these tips:

• Take resources from programs that aren’t working or whose performance you can’t measure, and put them into measurable programs that are more specifically aligned with your goals.

• Add more resource to programs that are working well. Keep in mind that at some point a program could be “saturated” and you’ll experience diminishing returns.

• Diversify your marketing spending across a greater variety of programs—as long as each one can laser target your audience and the programs work together as a cohesive whole.

• Share your results with your media partners and/or your marketing agency to get their recommendations.

• Change your marketing goals. This isn’t the cover-up it might sound like. If your industry or the economic climate has changed, or if something occurs beyond your control (budget reduction, acquisition, elimination of product line), you may need to change your plans for the second half of the year.

• Pick one or two new or revised objectives you want to achieve over the rest of the year, determine the measurements of success, and adjust your marketing resources to achieve them.

Most of all, stay optimistic, make decisions based on data whenever possible, work hard, and keep marketing. You’re halfway there.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Measurement Marketing ROI Marketing, General

The Millennials are Coming!

Actually, they’re already here. While there are no precise dates for when this generation begins or ends, most consider anyone born from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990‘s to be a millennial. That puts the majority of millennials in the sought after 18-34 demographic.

According to the Pew Research Center, there were approximately 55.2 million millennials in the U.S. workforce in 2015. By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 74 million, representing 44 percent of the workforce.

Millennials are flooding the B2B industrial sector and advancing into positions where they influence and/or make buying decisions. Research conducted by the B2B marketing firm Sacunas found that 73 percent of millennials are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies. Approximately one-third of millennials report being the sole decision-maker for their department.

As marketers, you must learn to connect with this group and win them over.

Preferred Channels for Millennials
Millennials are less reliant on any one information source than other age groups. A report compiled by Chief Marketer claims there is no “silver bullet” to reach the millennial audience, and that a “mix of channels and approaches is your best bet.”

Fortunately, a multichannel strategy is the best way to reach engineers and technical professionals of any age. The three most popular channels to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, supplier websites and online catalogs, according to the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. In addition, online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them.

Naturally, social media is an attractive channel for millennials. Eighty-five percent use social media to research products and services for their companies. Facebook is the most popular platform, and the majority also use LinkedIn (Sacunas).

2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” found that professionals under age 35 are more likely to make contact during the needs analysis/research phase of the buy cycle, while professionals over 49 are more likely to wait until the purchasing stage. The takeaway is that suppliers must be discoverable and approachable during any phase of the buy cycle, through a variety of marketing channels. This conclusion aligns with millennials’ desire for a hassle-free, multi-channel client experience that is tailored to their specific needs.

Types of Content Millennials Consume
According to Sacunas, when researching new products and services to make B2B purchasing decisions, millennials prefer video-based content and case studies. In terms of targeted content, they rate training, demos and product news as being the most helpful information to receive from vendors.

The way that millennials consume content is worth noting as well. Technical professionals under age 35 conduct significantly more product searches and read more news and e-newsletters on their smartphones than their older colleagues (“2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector”). Suppliers should consider creating websites and e-newsletters that are compatible with mobile.

What Millennials Look for in a B2B Vendor
What are millennials looking for in a B2B vendor? The top priority was ease of doing business (35%), followed by willingness to work collaboratively with their organization (33%), and industry/marketplace experience (31%), as reported by IBM. Eighty percent of millennials in the Sacunas survey indicated that social, environmental, or philanthropic efforts of companies are important to their purchase decisions.

How do you ensure you are the right company for a millennial customer? Pay attention to this audience’s preferences for channels, content and brand attributes during their buy cycle, and adjust your marketing accordingly. You might find your customer base becoming both younger and larger as a result.
 

Customer Relationships Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing Trends Marketing, General Thought Leadership

Three Tips for More Effective e-Newsletter Marketing

Chances are your company publishes one or more marketing e-newsletters. Eighty-one percent of B2B marketers use e-newsletters as a content marketing tactic, according to joint research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Sixty-four percent of B2B marketers rate e-newsletters as very effective or effective.

Your audience gravitates toward digital publications. They subscribe to an average of 4.4 digital publications, in contrast to 1.4 printed trade magazines, as reported in the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions.

This audience uses e-newsletters as an important information source through all phases of their buy cycle, from early awareness, to research, to consideration and comparison. Engineers and technical professionals are looking for specific types of information in e-newsletters. They don’t want to be sold to; they want to learn and become educated. They want to know who’s who in the supplier world. They want to discover the newest products and technologies, stay-up-to date on industry trends and check the latest news.

Whether e-newsletters have a long-standing role in your marketing program or you’re of the 19 percent that don’t yet use e-newsletters (you should), here are three tips to pump up the effectiveness of e-newsletter marketing.

1. Determine goals and measurements in advance
At the Maven, we like to drill this message home: no matter what marketing campaign you’re launching, establish your campaign goals and metrics for success up front. If you already have them, see if they need tweaking. Also, make sure you know your audience: what they want and need. The reason that goals, audience and measurements come first is that these factors drive all other decisions.

One thing you don’t want to do is keep publishing the same old e-newsletter just because that’s the status quo. Instead, have purpose.. Do you want to increase exposure? Then you should measure opens and forwards. Do you want to drive readers to a web site to take further action? Count clicks and forms completed. Analyze what is working and tweak the aspects that your readers aren’t responding to.

2. Allow form to follow function
The “form follows function” principle says that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose. The same holds true for e-newsletters, in regards to both advertisements and editorial content. Design follows goals.

For example, if you’re primarily sharing articles, your design might include a branded graphic header, followed by a list of compelling headlines, snippets of copy and links to more information. These design elements combine to make for easy user recognition, scanning and action.

Many organizations include house ads in their company e-newsletters. These should be designed around what action you want the user to take. Provide value through a benefit-oriented headline, image, a bullet point or two, and a compelling call to action—that’s all you really need.

Use images in a similar fashion. If you’re introducing a new product, show a clear photo of it and ask the user to take action: “Download the data sheet.” “Read the article.” “Request a demo.” If you’re promoting a white paper or analyst report, use an image of the document in the banner ad. Show users what they are getting.
Buttons and arrows, as simplistic as they may seem, make good visual cues for the user to take action. The same is true for “action” verbs. All the examples above include action verbs: Download, Read, Request.

3. Think beyond your company newsletter
If you’ve been publishing a newsletter for a number of years, it might be hard to move the needle further forward in terms of user engagement. That’s to be expected. Applying the two tips above will help improve results.

When you take a look at your goals, you might realize they can’t all be achieved through your current newsletter alone. Maybe you want to connect with hard-to-reach prospects who aren’t in your database. Maybe your goal is to penetrate a new sector or geographic market this year. Or, maybe you’re strapped for marketing and production resources but you want to expand your newsletter advertising efforts.

The solution is often to advertise in a respected and relevant third-party newsletter. Ads in third-party newsletters, such as the dozens published by IEEE Engineering 360, deliver broader yet still targeted exposure, giving you access to a highly engaged audience and new markets.

Another advantage of advertising in third-party newsletters is that someone else does all the heavy lifting. The right media partner will handle database and list management, newsletter design and production, and sending and tracking. If the newsletter is opt-in, you should receive timely reports about who clicked on your ad, which will offer new engagement opportunities for your company.

Finally, a media partner can help you integrate newsletter advertising with other digital campaigns, resulting in a holistic approach to the market and producing greater impact for your overall marketing program. To learn more about newsletter advertising options from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions, click here.

 

E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Thought Leadership