millennial engineer professional

How to Market to Millennial Engineers

In many respects, millennials are like their older, more experienced engineering colleagues: smart, hardworking, ambitious problem-solvers. But in other ways, millennials set themselves apart, and not just in the ways you may have read about previously.

New research from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions—“The Pulse of Engineering”—included exclusive analysis about millennials, which are generally considered born in the time period between the early 1980s and 2000, and for this report have less than ten years of engineering experience.

The results of the survey provide insight into work styles, engineer’s motivations, and their desired career path. A few things stand out about millennials that can help shape how you market to and communicate with them.

1. Millennials are more optimistic than more seasoned engineers.

Engineers of all ages report that the pace of engineering is constantly increasing and that lack of time and resources are their most significant challenges. However, millennials are more likely to believe that technology is improving productivity and they are not as concerned that their companies are losing senior expertise faster than they are gaining it.

Millennials are also more likely to report increasing budgets and new hires in their companies, growth in their engineering workforce, and are less likely to report that cost-cutting pressure is affecting their products.

Takeaway:

Millennials may be more responsive to messages about the benefits of new technology. At the same time, they may not be moved by dark or dire FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) marketing tactics that some manufacturers employ. They’re more optimistic—you should be too when communicating with them.

 

2. Millennials are eager to learn and find new opportunities.

When reporting on factors important to their careers, millennials are driven less by compensation and more by learning opportunity, growth potential and by good work/life balance.

The number one reason millennials would leave their current role is to move to another company to pursue new opportunities, followed by promotion to a more senior role.

For millennials that change jobs, many report they would need to upgrade their current skills by learning programming languages, software development, data science, business skills, and communication and presentation skills. The top four ways they maintain and advance their skills and become educated are colleagues, books, online training courses and webinars (true across all age groups), but millennials are much more likely to use online video and less likely to use technical white papers by vendors.

Younger engineers are also more likely to use datasheets, coding resources, and design kits to help complete projects they are working on.

Takeaway:

Create and deliver technical content that helps educate millennials and improve their skillsets. Plan online training courses for your audience, host webinars, and create instructional videos. Produce detailed datasheets. Offer comprehensive design kits. If you can become a millennial engineer’s trusted resource now, they are much more likely to remember your company and stick with you as they move up the ladder or change jobs.

3. Millennials want open access to information

Millennials are less willing than other engineers to register on a website for access to specific documents. They are also more likely to believe all content should be free and open access.

Takeaway:

These findings have important implications for your marketing programs. If you have gated content that requires user registration, millennials are less likely to fill out a form. It’s not that surprising they believe content should be free and open access—they grew up with the internet and a constant flow of freely available information at their fingertips.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have registration forms on your website to collect prospect information, but you may need to consider other ways to distribute content, such as through social media and email. Or make an executive summary of important content open access and require registration only after you’ve demonstrated your content’s exceptional value. You may also want to consider progressive forms that only require the bare minimum from prospects initially. Millenials may be more likely to fill out a form if it takes only seconds to do and doesn’t compromise too much of their privacy.

 

 

 

Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

Does Good Content = New Business?

matthew-guay-148463

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard that engineers and technical professionals rely heavily on content to make informed purchasing decisions. New research underscores this fact: 92 percent of engineers responding to an IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing survey said they are more likely to do business with companies that regularly produce new and current content.

Succeeding in content marketing and attracting customers, however, is no easy task. You must create a diverse portfolio of content that engineers and technical professionals find valuable, distribute the content to them, track their interaction with the content, and follow up with them to be their ally during their buying journey.

What Types of Content?

The survey found that engineers find significant value in case studies/application notes, with 81 percent of respondents ranking this type of content as either very or moderately valuable.

The next most valuable is longer-copy content such as e-books (75 percent find them valuable), white papers (74 percent) and books (73 percent). Videos also have a strong showing, regardless of length, with both how-to and product demos performing well.

Webinars are an established content type for this audience as well, with nearly all respondents (91 percent) ranking them at least “somewhat valuable.” In fact, very few engineers rated any content type as “not very valuable”, which demonstrates that you should focus on building a broad portfolio.

Distributing Content

The IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing survey reinforces previous research that shows that the top three content sources that engineers find most valuable are all online: search engines (43 percent), supplier/vendor websites (37 percent), and trade publication websites (29 percent).

YouTube is a valuable channel for distributing video content. Email, including your own e-newsletters and those of third parties, are effective vehicles for promoting content as well.

Among offline/traditional media, engineers and technical professionals value trade shows and trade print publications, with about a third of respondents finding each source very valuable. Social media channels – including Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Twitter – are not viewed by respondents as exceptionally valuable sources for work-related information.

Trustworthy Content

While engineers and technical professionals are thirsty for content, the level of trust they have in content types vary. However, content written by an engineering expert at a vendor company is regarded as most trusted by respondents (4.5/6 on a scale of trustworthiness). This is great news for industrial marketers who might worry about how their content will be perceived.

Consider choosing one or more engineering experts at your company to promote as thought leaders. You can create content for them, such as white papers, articles, application notes, e-books and more. Your audience will learn to recognize the names of your experts and trust the content that is produced in their names. You can also partner with other respected experts in your field to produce content.

Integrate Content into Campaigns

Creating and distributing valuable, trusted content is only part of the content marketing equation.  Your goal should be to plan campaigns that help engineers and technical professionals make confident, informed buying decisions.

In the early stages of their buy cycle, engineers are seeking educational content that informs and generates trust. As they interact with your content and make contact with your company, offer additional content that can help them make a final decision, such as ROI calculators, competitive comparisons, detailed specifications, and support and warranty information.

If possible, you should track every interaction a prospect has with your content so you know where they are in their buying process. This enables you to respond appropriately with the next piece of content or to pass qualified prospects on to your sales team.

To find out more about how you can more effectively and successfully target technical audiences through your marketing efforts, download your complimentary copy of the latest research from IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, “Smart Marketing for Engineers.” This is one tool you’ll want on hand as you finalize your 2018 marketing plans.

Content Marketing Market Research

List Health Practices to Maintain an Engaged Audience

IEEE GlobalSpec’s own Linda Uslaner, Director of Product Management, was interviewed for eMarketers latest report “Email Marketing Benchmarks 2017: Metrics Steady as Data Creates Better Context and Relevance.”

You can view the entire report here.

emarketer

Sustaining and growing subscriber lists is another aspect of email marketing that’s also improved. A July 2016 poll from software services firm Clutch found that roughly six in 10 US email marketers used an opt-in form on their website, social media and online purchases to get new email addresses for their lists. About half as many relied on renting and paying for lists.

List health can decline in two ways, according to [Kyle] Henderick [Yes Lifecycle Marketing Senior Director, Client Services] . First, email marketers will always have users that unsubscribe on their own, but it is also important to consider passive opt-outs, in which recipients become unengaged over time by either deleting emails or just letting them sit in the inbox, unread.

“We’ve increased the frequency of doing list pruning for our clients from once a year to twice a year,” said Linda Uslaner, director of product management at engineering and industrial platform IEEE GlobalSpec. “That’s really helping drive performance and improve metrics across the board. If somebody’s not responsive and they’re really not engaging with the content, they should be removed.”

You can learn more about list hygiene by downloading the entire report from eMarketer here.

Charts E-Mail Marketing Market Research

The Story of Content Marketing in Five Statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Big Reasons Why Engineers Need You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

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

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

Survey Your Customers for Content Ideas

 The wellspring of ideas can run dry even for the most creative and dedicated content marketers. With engineers and industrial professionals constantly searching for content to help them do their jobs, it’s a challenge for marketers to continually develop fresh material for them to consume.

One excellent source of content is your company’s own customers. Surveys and polls of your customers can elicit a trove of valuable information and insight that you can shape into content and publish as part of your content marketing plan. Customers like to know what others similar to them think and do, and content that reports this information should be popular. Plus, there are plenty of free or low-cost survey tools you can use to put this practice into place.

Poll or Survey?
A poll is single-question survey. It often appears on a web page, in an email, or on your social media feeds. Most polls will allow the user to answer a question or cast their vote and then display poll results in real time. For example:

When researching a work-related purchase, what online resource do you use the most?
a) Supplier websites
b) Search engines
c) Online catalogs
d) Engineering360.com
e) Other

Use a poll if you want to encourage interactivity and participation from your audience while still collecting valuable snippets of data you can use to create content. For instance, the results of the poll question above could lead to a blog post about how industrial professionals research work-related purchases.

A survey is longer and more complex, often 5-20 questions or more, and taking five minutes or longer to complete. Use a survey if you want to conduct more in-depth research of your customers. Following the poll question example above, you might ask not only the most-used resource for researching work-related purchases, but also a series of questions that dig deeper into resources used through various stages of the buy cycle as well as buying patterns and more.

Have a Goal in Mind
You can use the results of customer surveys and polls to develop white papers, webinars, articles, eBooks, blog posts, case studies, testimonials, and other content. The key is to determine what your goals are in surveying customers and how you will use the information you get. You want to find the perfect balance between gathering information you’re looking for while asking relevant and interesting questions of your audience.

You should always state that you will share the results of the survey with your audience. This, along with other incentives such as entries in drawings or gift card giveaways, will increase participation rates.

Here are few ideas for surveys and polls:

• Conduct a survey that profiles your customers: where they work; what their roles and responsibilities are; level of job satisfaction; how their work has changed in the past five years, and so on.
• Ask their opinions about trends or news in the industry.
• Ask about pain points or what concerns them the most; also, what are they most optimistic about.
• Ask customers for unique stories about their experiences with your products or services. You can follow up on their answers for potential case studies and testimonials.
• Survey customers on how they use your products, their feature wish list, or their impressions of your company.
• Ask questions to discover the kind of content your customers favor: how-to guides, technical specifications, novel approaches to solving problems, or analysis of industry news.
• Ask what format your customers like to get their content in: e-mail; e-book; webinars; articles; white papers; videos, etc.

Question Types
Survey tools will offer a variety of question types, from multiple choice, to select all that apply, to more complex ranking grids and open-ended questions. All of these are viable question types and the survey tools should explain how and when to use each one.

One word of advice: Keep to a minimum open-ended questions that allow survey takers to write what they want. Open-ended answers are hard to compile, quantify, and analyze. One exception is if you’re asking a customer to share an anecdote or story about how they use your products or services.

You can turn most open-ended questions into closed-ended questions by rephrasing them. Example:

• What do you think about the future of self-driving cars? (open-ended)
• Which statement best describes your beliefs on the future of self-driving cars? (closed-ended, because the user would be presented with a series of statements and be asked to choose one)

You can get started with polls and surveys quickly and begin generating new content. Create an account at one of survey tool services and get a poll or survey up and running.

Content Marketing Market Research Marketing, General

How Industrial Marketing Professionals Use Market Research

Half of industrial marketers now use primary market research to plan their marketing strategy, according to the results of IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions’ latest research report How Industrial Marketers Use Market Research.

Market research is rated as above average in importance by industrial marketers, yet 63 percent spend less than 10 percent of their annual budget on it, and 54 percent say that budget is a primary barrier to using market research. So there is some disconnect on the part of marketers between perceived value and willingness to invest in market research.

market research
Half of industrial marketers now use primary market research to plan their marketing strategy.

Types of research industrial marketers rely on

Primary and Secondary

There are two types of market research: primary and secondary. Half of industrial marketers use primary research, which is new and original research. Those that rely on primary research either conduct it themselves (64 percent), have other internal people do it (63 percent) or hire an outside vendor (46 percent).

Forty-eight percent of industrial marketers use secondary research, which makes use of information previously researched for other purposes and is publicly available. The most popular secondary research sources are Internet search, used by 85 percent, followed by industry analyst reports (78 percent) and books, periodicals and magazines (62 percent). The industry analyst reports most often used come from Forrester, Frost & Sullivan and IHS.

Qualitative and Quantitative

Market research can be qualitative or quantitative in nature. Qualitative research tends to provide information that has depth and subjectivity. Quantitative research is focused on being statistically relevant. Qualitative tactics include one-on-one interviews, phone interviews, usability surveys and focus groups. Quantitative tactics are typically surveys conducted online (the most popular tactic) or by phone or direct mail.

What industrial marketers want to gain from research

For those industrial marketers that conduct primary research, their goals are to gain knowledge about the marketplace/target audience (76 percent), develop competitive analysis (70 percent), understand existing customers (68 percent) and identify potential customers (65 percent). Entering a new market is the top reason why industrial marketers will invest in research.

Five Tips for Creating a Survey

1. Only ask useful questions.

Every question in your survey should have a purpose. The answer to any question should provide data you can use to help make better marketing or business decisions. If it won’t, strike it.

2. Use rating scales in a balanced and consistent manner.

On questions with rating scales, the lowest (or most negative) point should be the worst possible situation and the highest (or most positive) should be the best possible. The labels in between should be evenly spread. For example, “strongly disagree–disagree–neutral–agree–strongly agree” scale is a popular, balanced scale. Your scale direction (negative to positive or vice versa) should always go in the same direction. If “1” is the worst and “5” is the best, keep that rating model consistent throughout.

3. Avoid leading or loaded questions.

These types of questions will give you unreliable data. For example: “Expert reviewers have rated our oscillating water pumps the highest in the industry. Do you agree?” Most respondents will tend to strongly agree or agree with the statement because experts say so. A better way to phrase that question is: “How would you rate our oscillating water pumps?” and provide a rating scale for survey takers to offer their responses.

4. Use a funnel approach.

Ask broad questions first to introduce a topic, followed by more specific or complex questions. This helps your respondents loosen up before getting to the in-depth questions. End with your demographic questions, which are easy to answer.

5. Keep the survey short and simple.

The longer and more complicated your survey, the fewer number of respondents will complete it and some respondents may begin to answer questions without thinking them through. Having clear goals for your survey and making sure each question is relevant and has a purpose will help guide your structure and length. Market research experts agree that 15 minutes is the upper limit of what you can ask for your respondent’s time.

For additional tips on creating and designing market research surveys, and to access all survey results in chart form, download your complimentary copy of the How Industrial Marketers Use Market Research.

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What have you found successful with your market research efforts? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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