The Story of Content Marketing in Five Statistics Reply

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.”
 

Quick Tips to Integrate Your Print and Digital Advertising 1

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.
 

Three Big Reasons Why Engineers Need You Reply

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.
 

The Millennials are Coming! Reply

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.
 

Five Industrial Marketing Trends that Matter in 2017 Reply

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.

Survey Your Customers for Content Ideas Reply

 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.

How Industrial Marketing Professionals Use Market Research Reply

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.

Industrial Marketing Trends: Shift to Digital Continues; Focus on Customers Intensifies Reply

All marketers know you can’t achieve business success without paying attention to your customers, but this year the focus on customers is especially intense in the industrial sector. Forty-three percent of industrial companies say that customer acquisition is their primary marketing goal, according to the recent IHS GlobalSpec research report, 2013 Trends in Industrial Marketing, which is based on a survey of marketing and sales professionals in the industrial sector.

You can download the research report to access complete results along with analysis and recommendations.

The survey also found that customer acquisition, customer satisfaction and customer retention represent three of the top four ways industrial marketers measure success. In addition, focusing on the customer will be the number one area of emphasis over the next five years in marketing departments.

It’s not a surprise that customers are receiving so much attention. They have more control over the buying process (often not contacting vendors until they are near decision time), more information resources than ever before, and more suppliers to choose from. In response, industrial marketers are putting more effort and budget into digital channels to connect with customers, forge stronger relationships, and keep customers in the fold.

Industrial marketers face challenges, make spending changes
Marketers are feeling the pressure to demonstrate ROI from their efforts. Thirty-one percent say it’s the biggest challenge in their profession, while 58 percent consider sales attributed to marketing campaigns as a measure of success.

At least most marketers are shifting more of their budgets to digital channels, whose performance is easy to measure in terms of impressions, clicks and conversions. Fifty-four percent of industrial marketers are spending more on online marketing in 2013 than they did last year. Fifty percent will spend at least 36 percent of their overall budget on online channels. Five of the top seven most popular marketing channels are digital.

Traditional marketing channels will experience a decrease in spending. Direct mail, printed directories and trade magazine advertising are among the channels taking the biggest budget hits by marketers in the industrial sector.

In terms of overall marketing spend, 32 percent of companies are spending more on marketing in 2013 than they did in 2012. About half are spending the same as last year.

Content plays an important marketing role
Content continues to play an important role in industrial marketing as engineers and other technical professionals seem to have an insatiable appetite for information and education to help them do their jobs better. Fifty-one percent of industrial marketers will spend more on content creation this year. Video (58 percent) and webinars (49 percent) will see increases as well. In addition, creating and distributing content will play a major role in marketing plans over the next five years.

Social media finds its place
After a number of years of experimenting with how to use social media, industrial marketers are settling on branding and content delivery as their top goals for these platforms. LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform in the industrial sector, with 72 percent of marketers now using it.

It’s time to evaluate marketing efforts
While industrial companies are wisely reallocating resources to digital channels, just 35 percent of companies report satisfaction with their online marketing initiatives. This is a good time to evaluate the initiatives you are employing, before planning begins for next year. Are you allocating your marketing resources to those same channels that your target audience of industrial professionals relies on most frequently? Your audience is fragmented online, using multiple platforms. You need to use those same platforms to build awareness and generate engagement opportunities.

Download the full results, analysis, and recommendations of the 2013 Trends in Industrial Marketing research report.

To get a better sense of how your target audience is using digital media and the best ways to reach industrial professionals online, download these complimentary reports: Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector and New in Digital Media: Marketers Require Multichannel Solutions to Achieve the Cross-Media Multiplier Effect.

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What trends do you see in industrial marketing? Are you focusing more on the customer and/or shifting more resources to digital channels? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Digital Disruption: Three Digital Usage Trends in the Industrial Sector Reply

Engineers and other industrial professionals are spending more time online and using a variety of digital resources to perform work-related tasks, which has transformed their buy cycle and challenged traditional marketing and sales processes for suppliers and manufacturers. This phenomenon is called the Digital Disruption.

IHS GlobalSpec recently conducted a survey of industrial professionals that helped uncover the key trends leading to the Digital Disruption. You can download the complimentary research report, Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector, to access the results, analysis and recommendations.

Here are three of the key trends:

1. Industrial Professionals Rely More than Ever on the Internet
It’s no surprise that engineers and industrial professionals are going online for work-related information. Forty-six percent visit 10 or more work-related websites in a week, while 23 percent visit 20 or more sites. Fifty-three percent of engineers spend at least 6 hours a week on the Internet for work. In the 18-34 age group, 39 percent spend more than 8 hours a week on the Internet for work.
One of the reasons the Internet is so valuable to engineers is that they can and do perform a variety of work-related tasks online. Eighty-four percent use the Internet to find components, equipment, services and suppliers. This “searching and finding” is the most commonly performed task. Other top uses include comparing products across suppliers, obtaining product specifications, and finding pricing information.

The variety of uses reinforces the need for suppliers to shift away from traditional media to be found by their target audience online and to provide timely, accurate and relevant content that meets the needs of customers and prospects.

2. Customers Wait Longer and Longer in the Buy Cycle to Contact Suppliers
The industrial buy cycle consists of distinct stages: Needs Awareness and Research, Comparison and Evaluation, and Purchase. At one time, suppliers were engaged with buyers throughout the stages of the buy cycle. Today, the Digital Disruption has changed that. Fifty-six percent of buyers don’t contact a vendor until they reach at least the Comparison and Evaluation stage of the buy cycle. Nineteen percent don’t contact the vendor until they are ready to make a purchase. Buyers are relying on digital resources to discover and research information about products, services and suppliers, and to narrow down their options before even getting a vendor involved.

The key takeaway for suppliers: You must be found in the early stages of the buy cycle to be on a buyer’s short list. During the Needs Awareness and Research phase, the most frequently used resources are general search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs, and GlobalSpec.com.

You also must be able to connect with a variety of buyers, recommenders, influencers and decision makers during the buy cycle. For purchases under $1,000, there is only one decision maker 54 percent of the time. But for purchases of more than $10,000, there are three or more decision makers involved 65 percent of the time.

3. The Number of Digital Resources Available for Industrial Professionals Continues to Grow
The Internet isn’t just a single destination for industrial professionals, but rather a collection of innovative, relevant and useful digital resources for helping engineers be more productive and efficient in their work processes.
The top four resources engineers use to find what they are looking for are digital resources: general search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites, and GlobalSpec.com.

While attendance by industrial professionals at traditional tradeshows has declined, the majority of engineers (51 percent) did not attend an in-person tradeshow in 2012, this audience’s participation in webinars and other online events is robust. Nearly two-thirds of industrial professionals said they attended at least one webinar or online event last year. Twenty-six percent said they went to four or more.

Another trend contributing to the Digital Disruption is that digital publications have taken over from print publications. Engineers subscribe to three times as many digital publications, such as e-newsletters, as they do printed trade magazines. Social media is also being used for work purposes. LinkedIn is the most popular channel, with 58 percent of engineers having an account.
Because your target audience relies on multiple digital channels, you must have a highly visible presence on those channels to connect with customers and prospects. Only through a multichannel approach can you achieve effective marketing results.

For a more in-depth analysis of the digital usage in the industrial sector and the Digital Disruption it is causing, read the complimentary report Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector. It will help you make more informed decisions about your marketing strategy and tactics.

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How have you responded to the Digital Disruption? What tips and ideas would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Optimism Brewing in the Industrial Sector Despite Concerns About Economy Reply

The industrial economy is showing a number of positive signs. Nearly half of companies expect higher sales in 2013 than last year. Engineers are working on more projects and companies are focused on expanding sales to new markets. Yet there are no equivalent positive dynamics showing up in company budgets. Sales and marketing spending is flat and hiring is sluggish.

IHS GlobalSpec conducts an Economic Outlook Survey every year to determine the state of the industrial economy. Engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial professionals are asked questions about their company’s revenue projections and areas of focus and concern, as well as individual factors such as workload and job satisfaction.

This survey represents the audience you must connect with, and the economic conditions you must operate within. IHS GlobalSpec developed a research report that presents the complete results of the survey and offers analysis and advice to suppliers and manufacturers about how to succeed in the current economy. Download your complimentary copy of Economic Outlook Survey 2013: State of the Industrial Marketplace.

Results: positives and negatives
2013 is proving to be a representative year for the industrial economy: some signs are positive, others are not. As mentioned, many companies expect higher sales this year, engineers are working on more projects and new markets are being explored for expansion. All bright spots.

Yet companies are slow to invest more in their marketing efforts and reluctant to hire additional engineers to handle an increased workload.

Simply put, the economy is an era of concern for the majority of companies (58 percent), and that can lead to caution. Nevertheless, in any economy, there are winners, and there is business to be won.

Hot and cold sectors
Sectors with the brightest sales outlook for 2013 are Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals (64 percent expect higher sales), Instrumentation & Controls (60 percent), and Automotive (59 percent). Among sectors expecting to be down this year compared to last year are Computers, Systems & Peripherals (52 percent); Government (46 percent); Education (41 percent); and Communications (40 percent).

If you sell into sectors that are doing well, ramp up your marketing efforts there to help capture more business. If you primarily do business in lower performing sectors, see if your products and services are a good fit for industries that are doing well. Look for online programs such as online catalogs, directories, banner ads and others that can display your offerings simultaneously across multiple markets.

New markets beckon
Forty percent of companies are increasing sales into new markets, and 60 percent report they are focused on entering new markets. Attention on new markets is to be expected, for several reasons. First, when sales are flat in traditional markets, it’s natural for companies to seek new markets. Second, it’s easier than ever to connect with customers and prospects in new markets through online marketing. With 28 percent of companies reducing travel, market expansion plans may increasingly rely on channels such as online events, which provide all of the benefits of an in-person trade show but without the travel costs and time spent away from the office.

Where companies are spending
It’s a positive sign that in a year when 51 percent of companies are reducing spending, very few companies are reducing spending on components, parts, products and services. In all product and service categories measured, the vast majority will spend the same or more in 2013 compared to 2012. Leading the field are calibration & testing services, electronic components and mechanical components.

Manufacturers are planning for a better future
Industrial companies are investing to put themselves in a stronger position as the economy continues to improve. The majority (54 percent) are spending more time and effort on new product design and development. In addition, 51 percent are researching future projects and 45 percent are engaged in new technology research. While waiting for the future to arrive, companies are becoming more efficient in the near term. Forty-five percent are focusing on increasing production capacity from existing lines, and 44 percent are concentrating on decreasing quality rejects.

Engineers are satisfied—and busy
We asked engineers about their jobs. Ninety-four percent would recommend engineering as a career choice to high school students. That’s a powerful testament to a high level of job satisfaction. It’s a good thing they like their jobs, because they work hard. Forty-six percent are working on more projects in 2013 than they did in 2012. And the extra work may not go away anytime soon, because headcounts are stabilizing. Almost an equal percentage of companies are adding headcount (21 percent) as reducing headcount (19 percent).

Put these results to work
Get your copy of Economic Outlook Survey 2013: State of the Industrial Marketplace. You can use the reported data as a benchmark to measure your company’s activities, and the conclusions and recommendations to plan for the remainder of the year and to adjust your marketing strategy and positioning based on customer behavior and trends in the marketplace.

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What are your observations on the economy and the industrial marketplace? Are you seeing optimism? Caution? Or perhaps it’s a cautious optimism. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.