Industrial Marketers Look Toward the Future as Coronavirus Continues to Impact Plans

Over the past few months, IEEE GlobalSpec has been tracking how industrial marketers have been impacted by the coronavirus. While things are far from back to normal, the initial shock of the pandemic has begun to wear off for many, and marketers in the manufacturing space are beginning to think about how the rest of their year might play out. As some businesses begin to reopen across the United States and around the globe, we asked industrial marketers how their 2020 marketing strategy has been affected.

Currently, 51 percent of respondents are required to work remotely, and another 25 percent say remote work is optional or encouraged, but not mandatory. Fourteen percent are required to work on site and 12 percent are working reduced hours.

Regardless of their current work situations, 34 percent would be comfortable working on-site now, and another 28 percent would be comfortable returning to the office in the next 1-2 months. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 16 percent of respondents indicate that they are not comfortable returning to work until a vaccine is available.

Overall, industrial marketers are reluctant to return to their previous ways when it comes to tradeshows. More than one-third of respondents indicate that they will not be comfortable attending a tradeshow or large in-person until a vaccine is available – the top survey choice among respondents. Another 24 percent wouldn’t be comfortable attending an event for at least six months.  Only 16 percent of respondents said that they would be comfortable attending a tradeshow or other large in-person gathering now.

Additionally, 61 percent of industrial marketers say shows they planned to attend or exhibit at have been canceled, and 30 percent have canceled all the 2020 tradeshow plans. 

This data brings up real questions about the future of tradeshows and in-person events. Most industrial marketers attend at least one tradeshow per year, and it is often cited as a top marketing channel. (2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing) Industrial marketers will have to find other ways to connect with potential customers when in-person conversations and demonstrations aren’t possible.

Our research also examined marketing budgets in the industrial space and the impact of the coronavirus. 44 percent of industrial marketers report that their budget had decreased, and another 14 percent anticipate that it will decrease. Conversely, 33 percent of respondents say their budget has not changed and they don’t anticipate that it will.

In response to the budget changes and the effects of the coronavirus, marketers have made modifications to their plans.  The most popular response, with 39 percent, is the choice to postpone some marketing spend. Twenty-eight percent have canceled some of their spend.  Thirty-five percent had shifted funds from other areas to digital advertising, and 27 percent have shifted funds to content creation.

With all these changes in the first half of the year, industrial marketers are only mildly optimistic about their plans. When asked how confident they are in their marketing plan from 1-10, the average answer is 6.3. Given such uncertainty and unprecedented economic and social changes, it’s not surprising that marketers are wary about what the second half of the year might bring.

With all these changes, what are industrial marketers confident about? When asked to predict what their most successful 2020 marketing channel will be, 36 percent chose content marketing. Organic website traffic and webinars were also popular choices, with 11 percent each. Other popular answers were e-newsletter advertising and email to in-house lists.

What else are industrial marketers thinking about? Here’s a selection of their commentary:

We’re focusing on radiating internally within our existing customers to consolidate opportunities as they emerge. Like everyone else, we know that things look good on the other side of the pandemic, but we have to survive to get there.

There is still much left unknown, but we are working as fluidly, creatively, and cost-effectively as we can while remaining relevant and delivering timely content to our audience across predominantly digital platforms.

People are distracted. Customers’ budgets are being cut to conserve cash. New projects may have a very hard time moving forward no matter the ROI.

We are ramping up certain areas of our marketing frequency, revising strategies, and planning for when customers fully reopen.

So, what should industrial marketers do to help increase their chances of success in 2020? Many are already on the right track. Without tradeshows and in-person events to connect with prospects, look to webinars to replicate that experience. Webinars offer you the same chance to demonstrate your products and answer questions in real-time.

Remember, while engineers have also had their workflow disrupted, they are still in need of technical information. Continue to create relevant content and stay tuned in to your audience’s needs.

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Pulse of Engineering – Part 1

New Research Reveals Insight into Engineers

To successfully connect and communicate with your target audience, you must know the habits, mindset, and working conditions of engineers. To this end, many manufacturers invest time and resources into conducting research and building customer personas.

Fortunately for industrial marketers, IEEE GlobalSpec has published its “2019 Pulse of Engineering” research report to help you with the task of understanding engineers and technical professionals. The survey collected data about engineers’ work environment, the challenges and pressures they face, how they learn skills and manage knowledge, and more.

The results produced several insights that can help you better understand your audience and help develop more effective communication strategies.

The pressure on engineers is constant.

Engineers and technical professionals are pulled in multiple directions. On average, they are working on four projects concurrently. One of the top challenges that they face is a lack of time and resources. The majority agree that the “pace of engineering is constantly increasing” and half of them say they are “required to do more with less.”

In addition:

  • Seventy-eight percent say designs are becoming more complex
  • Sixty-seven percent agree there are more time-to-market pressures
  • Sixty-three percent agree design cycles are shrinking

These results have implications for manufacturers trying to connect with such a busy, pressured audience. Any message or content you want to deliver to engineers must be laser-targeted and highly relevant, if you want to gain a moment of their attention.

Take a close look at how you position and talk about your products and services. Will you be able to capture a busy engineer’s attention? Do you have something to say that can help alleviate some of the pressures they face? For example, do your products reduce their time to market, speed up the design cycle, or explain complex ideas simply?

Engineers are concerned about a knowledge drain.

Sixty-one percent of engineers said that knowledge/information loss was very important or extremely important as employees left the company. Only four percent said it was not at all important.

A major contributor to knowledge drain is that almost half of companies have no 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. This leads not only to the loss of important skills, but also to the loss of knowledge of vendor relationships.

The goal for manufacturers should be to make themselves so valuable to a customer—in terms of providing expertise, technical knowledge, and access to content—as to become embedded in the company’s culture and way of doing business.

Competition is fierce.

Engineers are aware they operate in a highly competitive marketplace. Sixty-two percent agree or strongly agree the competitive landscape is global and competes 24/7; 58 percent said the number of competitors is growing.

As we have seen over the years, the Internet makes it easier for new suppliers to disrupt the market, level the playing field among suppliers, and provide engineers exposure to more companies to buy from. What about your digital presence and messaging make you rise above the others?

Performance measurements matter.

As is the case with many professionals, engineers are measured in terms of achieving stated objectives. The most common objectives to measure team performance are product quality and customer service/satisfaction, followed by launch dates and product unit cost.

Not surprisingly, most engineers meet their top objectives:

  • Fifty-three percent frequently or always meet product quality objectives
  • Fifty-eight percent frequently or always meet customer satisfaction/service goals

The conclusion to draw is that engineers and technical professionals are successfully fulfilling the requirements of their profession, at a time when internal and external pressures are increasing. You’ve got an admirable and dedicated target audience out there. Make sure you tell them that in your communications with them.

What career factors are most important to engineers.

Engineers and other technical professionals report that the most important factors in their careers are having interesting work/projects (selected by 77 percent), good work/life balance (61 percent), and learning (58 percent).

While factors leading to career satisfaction may remain consistent, engineers themselves are on the move. Only 35 percent say they are very or completely likely to be employed at the same company five years from now. If engineers change jobs, they are most likely to need to upgrade their financial/business management skills, programming languages, and education on new and emerging standards such as 5G.

Manufacturers that can establish a strong relationship with engineers have a better opportunity to be “brought along” when engineers change companies.

View the complete survey results.

The engineering work environment is changing—and manufacturers must make changes as well to keep up with their target audience. Find out more about engineers by downloading the full report—“2019 Pulse of Engineering”—with complete survey results including recommendations for manufacturers. Get your copy today.

Market Research Marketing, General

Can Influencer Marketing Work in the Industrial Sector?

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Influencer marketing is a huge topic in current consumer marketing. Influencer marketing uses advocates, spokespeople and content creators to drive conversations and engagement around a brand or products. These “third-party” voices add authenticity to brand messages and help companies reach and persuade an extended audience.

In the consumer space, you can recruit and utilize many influencers, from everyday consumers to celebrities who talk about your products, most often on social media. Think Instagram posts, Snapchats, blogs or Tweets that show photos of products being used or endorsed.

However, content spread through social media influencers doesn’t easily translate to the industrial space. Social media platforms are not the primary way engineers and other technical professionals discover products and services or advance through their buying process.

The industrial audience uses search tools, email, product directories, supplier websites and other “traditional” digital media for their product research. So, can influencer marketing work for industrial companies?

You might already be doing it

While influencer marketing is not a good fit for every industrial company, some companies are finding success with influencer marketing as a tactic. You might already be using it, but not necessarily applying this label.

For example, if you have relationships with industry thought leaders or analysts who talk about your company or products, or if you have a customer who presents at a conference about how they use your products, this constitutes influencer marketing.

The fact is, engineers are apt to listen to third-party influencers, which means influencer marketing can work in the industrial space. But to be successful, you must make a concerted effort to build an influencer marketing initiative, rather than rely on the occasional analyst comment or customer testimonial to spread your word.

Discover who is influential

The first step is to identify potential influencers. These might be bloggers, consultants, authors, engineers, academics—in short, anyone with a respected point of view in your industry and an audience that listens to them.

How do you find and engage this group of people? You might already have some relationships cultivated, but if you want to dig deeper and discover other influencers, what they are saying and who is listening, you can use a number of tools in your search, including:

These tools help identify influential voices and trending content that is relevant to your message and goals. Each tool has its own capabilities and sweet spot, so you’ll want to look at several to see what’s right for you.

Engage with content

If you approach an influencer and are able to establish a relationship, they may want to use your content or they may create their own using your content as source material and reference. One way to build relevant content to pitch to influencers is to focus on topics that influencers care about and that also intersect with your message and mission. Do some rs, ram posts, Snapchats, blogs ogyresearch about the influencer and their relevance to you and your content to help narrow the focus.

Partner with influencers

Engaging influencers with content is one way to jump into influencer marketing. However, unless a formal relationship with an influencer exists, you can’t control when or how they talk about your products or brand.

To gain more control of the narrative align yourself with a select number of influencers by engaging in tactics such as:

  • Inviting an influencer to write a guest post for your blog
  • Co-authoring a white paper with an influencer
  • Jointly hosting a webinar with an influencer
  • Creating a video interview with an influencer

These types of influencer tactics can work in the B2B space the way that Instagram or Snapchat might work in the consumer space.

How much effort should you put in?

While influencer marketing is certainly a valuable marketing tactic, it’s not time to put all your eggs in that basket. Your budget, time, and resources can only spread so far. That means you should focus most of your marketing energy on proven digital programs that have historically delivered results for you. These might include email, e-newsletter advertising, search engine marketing and product directories.

However, it would be wise to identify key influencers in your specific market sector, engage with them, and better understand their points of view and the types of topics they find important. Then you can decide on launching a concerted influencer marketing program.

Even if you only experiment with influencer marketing, by building some of these new relationships, you’ll raise the visibility of your company, brand, and products. Aligning yourself with key influencers in the industry can only lead to positive results.

 

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Ten Tips for Online Customer Surveys

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You can learn a lot surveying your customers and prospects: how satisfied they are, how well your products and services meet their needs, how to best connect with them, which competitors are formidable and much more.

It’s easy to conduct an online survey in the digital age, with many free survey tools available to you. But it’s not foolproof. A poorly designed and executed survey can frustrate your customers, give you skewed or invalid results, and lead to decisions based on bad data. Follow these ten tips to avoid survey pitfalls and help ensure your efforts yield positive results.

1. Determine Your Purpose and Goals

Why are you conducting this survey? Here are some common scenarios in the industrial sector:

  • Purpose: Discover what customers think is missing from your products. Goal: Guide or prioritize development decisions.
  • Purpose: Find out what channels your customers use to research potential purchases. Goal: Better allocate marketing investments.
  • Purpose: Measure the level of customer satisfaction. Goal: Revise policies to better serve customers.
  • Purpose: Uncover the most important issues and challenges your customers face. Goal: Create targeted marketing content that addresses their needs.

2. Decide Who to Survey

Your purpose and goals will help you select the appropriate audience to survey. It might be every customer on your list, or customer and prospects, or anyone that visits your website.

You also might consider surveying an audience that you currently don’t have access to. If you’re trying to discover market trends or gauge the viability of new products, you might ask a media partner if you can survey their customers as well as your own customers and prospects.

3. Choose a Survey Tool

There are many free or low-cost online survey tools to choose from. Some of the popular ones include SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, SoGoSurvey, and Typeform.

In addition, some email marketing services offer survey tools within their platforms. You might already have access to one.

Look for a tool that offers a variety of question types, tips on how to create effective surveys, flexible ways to distribute your survey, and tools to easily analyze survey results.

4. Design Valid and Useful Questions

Writing a good survey question is both an art and a science. Here are two common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Leading questions. Don’t word questions that can sway the user to one side of the argument. Non-neutral wording often signals a leading question. For example: “How fast does the product work?” makes the user think in terms of speed. A better question: “How would you describe the product’s performance?”
  • Double questions. “How satisfied are you with the pumping capacity and ease-of-use of our product?” You’re asking two questions in one. Not only will the user not be sure how to answer, but you also won’t be able to interpret the answer. This example should be split into two questions.

For every question: Don’t ask any question that doesn’t have a clear reason for being in the survey. A good guideline is to determine ahead of time how each question contributes to your overall goal and how you will use the data collected. If you’re not sure, strike the question from your survey.

5. Collect Both Quantitative and Qualitative Data

  • Quantitative data is numerical information that can be measured and analyzed. For example, how many respondents chose to answer “A” to question number six. You can reach conclusions such as “64 percent of our customers are likely to purchase product Y in the next year” or “58 percent of survey respondents say that our chemical test kits are easy to use.”
  • Qualitative data is less structured and more open to interpretation. Survey questions that ask respondents to fill in a blank using their own words give you qualitative data. It can be useful for uncovering insights you can’t get from quantitative research.

6. Keep the Survey Short

Keep your surveys to 10-15 questions or 10 minutes of time. Let your audience know up front how long the survey should take to complete. The longer the survey, the more drop off you will get along the way.

Even with a short survey, you may need to offer an incentive to complete the survey, such as entering names into a drawing for a prize.

7. Promote the Survey

Depending on who your audience is, you may use a variety of ways to reach them. Some include:

  • Emails announcing the survey
  • Links on your website to the survey
  • Display ads or e-newsletter ads that promote the survey
  • Posts on social media

8. Compile and Analyze Results

Most survey tools will provide analytical reports on quantitative survey results. You can typically view compiled results at any time while the survey is still running. You can create charts and graphs that are easy to understand and share.

Qualitative data you will need to read and interpret. If you uncover interesting information, you may want to follow up with a respondent (if they give permission) to dig deeper or perhaps to request a case study.

9. Take Action

The purpose of conducting the survey is to gain new intelligence and actionable information. Compile your results into a white paper or webinar, share with product development to help shape product direction, consider changes in marketing investments or use the results in other meaningful ways.

One thing to keep in mind: before making any major decisions based on survey results, make sure you have a statistically valid dataset. The number of respondents you need is based on a number of variables. Calculators can help determine a statistically valid sample size. Your survey tool may offer one, or they may be found on the internet.

 

Market Research Marketing, General

Buyer Personas: Much More than Imaginary Friends

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Buyer personas are like imaginary friends. They’re not real, but they serve a real purpose. Just as imaginary friends can offer companionship and stimulate creative thinking, buyer personas can help you significantly improve the results of your marketing efforts.

Buyer personas are profiles of the different types of customers you have. This may sound basic, but you will need time and resources to develop thorough buyer personas. Don’t worry, the payback is worth the effort. With buyer personas as your guide you can:

Create targeted content for different customer types. The more closely content is targeted to the needs of your buyer, the more effective it will be. Potential buyers will pay attention because the information is relevant to them and they are more likely to believe you understand them. That, of course, translates into being more likely to make a purchase.

Creating different content for different personas doesn’t mean you’ll have a logistical nightmare on your hands. You can often use foundational content and make small tweaks in messaging and points of emphasis to customize the information for each buyer persona. File naming conventions, color-coding, and inventory management can help you efficiently organize and distinguish your expanded library of content.

Make smarter advertising decisions. Whether you are purchasing display ads, e-newsletter ads, directory listings or other advertising, by aligning your buyer personas with the profile of an advertising channel’s audience you can make more targeted and effective media buys. You won’t waste budget or resources on the wrong audience. Be sure to work with media partners who have in-depth profiles of their audiences and the ability to target them precisely.

Segment your internal email lists. A primary source of data for building buyer personas comes from customer information in your own database. Once the personas are complete, you can use them to segment your own email lists for more targeted and relevant marketing campaigns.

Fill in marketing gaps. Many companies discover that when they create buyer personas they might come up with three or four different profiles only to discover they’ve been producing marketing campaigns and content that are only relevant to one or two of those personas. You can easily identify the gap and devote resources to better reach an under-served potential customer.

What Does a Buyer Persona Include?

Buyer personas need to strike a balance between painting a clear picture of a customer type and providing more information than is useful. A B2B buyer persona likely includes a subset of the following information, depending on what’s important to you and what information you can acquire:

  • Professional title and area of responsibility
  • Industry and type of company
  • Day-to-day responsibilities
  • Pain points and challenges
  • Goals and motivations
  • What the customer needs to do their job better
  • How your company can help (messaging)
  • Potential objections to your solutions

B2B buyer personas typically don’t include extensive demographics and lifestyle information. This type of data is more useful to the B2C markets. For example, age, gender, and personal interests are not as important to B2B marketers. You might not want to invest in that type of third-party data.

How to Create a Buyer Persona

  • Start in your own database. Run reports to discover your best customers in each market segment you serve, then analyze the attributes of those customers to glean information you can use in building a buyer persona.
  • Speak to sales people. Your sales team can offer a lot of anecdotal information about pain points, challenges, needs, objections and successful messaging. They’re the ones closest to customers. Rely on their expertise.
  • Interview customers. Pick out a few customers in each market or product segment you sell into and request a short interview. Tell them exactly what you are working on with the goal of serving them better. There’s nothing like first-hand information from a customer to help you build accurate profiles.
  • Give each buyer persona a name. This might seem silly, but it’s actually quite helpful. Attaching a name to a buyer persona helps everyone understand who these buyers are and makes them more memorable. Who won’t remember Accounting Anna, Engineer Ed or Technical Support Specialist Sam?

Final tips: create a one-page buyer persona template that makes the information easy to scan, comprehend and use. You could even make posters of your buyer personas and hang them on the walls of sales and marketing departments to remind everyone who you are targeting. Don’t forget to revisit your buyer personas once a year to make sure they are still up to date and accurate.

 

 

 

Market Research Marketing, General

Market Research: Why You Need It and How to Use It

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It’s a given that  knowledge and insight into your audience is vital to a successful marketing plan. While experience can provide a lot of this knowledge, you also need to keep up with how markets are changing, technologies are advancing, and the emergence of new customers.

To make sure your marketing plan keeps pace, give it an injection of market research.

According to research conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, industrial marketers conduct market research for three primary reasons:

  1. To gain knowledge about the marketplace/target audience (76 percent)
  2. To develop competitive analyses (70 percent)
  3. To understand existing customers (68 percent)

Entering a new market is the top reason industrial marketers use (or would potentially invest in) market research. The results of market research can help you prioritize marketing investments, improve products, create more effective content, fend off competitors and more.  If you have goals or challenges in any of these areas, you likely want to invest in market research.

Primary and Secondary Research

Primary research is conducted by you, or by a research firm you hire for the project. Examples of primary research include focus groups, surveys, interviews and observations. With primary research, you are trying to answer questions or find out information specifically relevant to your company and situation.

Secondary research is the use of previously completed studies, such as analyst reports, scientific studies and other third-party research and content. Marketers must interpret the findings of secondary research to apply to their own situations. It’s relatively easy to find free or low cost secondary research using the internet or research journals.

Both primary and secondary research are useful and important in shaping your marketing plan. Which type of research you rely on first or most depends on a number of factors, including the specificity of your goals and your budget.

The Budget Issue

While many industrial marketers understand the value of market research, it’s no surprise that budgets don’t always line up with desires. Of those industrial marketers that use market research, 63 percent invest less than ten percent of their budget in primary or secondary market research. Of those that don’t use research, 57 percent say budgetary constraints prevent them from using primary research.

Do-it-Yourself or Work with a Vendor?

Sixty-four percent of marketers take the do-it-yourself approach when it comes to conducting primary research. That means taking responsibility for setting research goals, designing and sending out surveys, making calls, conducting focus groups, etc.—and also compiling and analyzing the data you collect. Conducting research yourself can help with budget constraints, but it can also be difficult to accomplish if you’re short on time and manpower.

Forty-six percent hire an outside vendor to conduct primary market research. Industrial marketers state they want a market research provider that has:

  • Experience working in my industry (56 percent)
  • Research specific to my industry (49 percent)
  • Depth of knowledge in my industry (42 percent)

The takeaway is that if you’re going to hire an outside firm, make sure they know your specific industry and have experience conducting research among its audience.

When it comes to obtaining secondary research, 85 percent of marketers search the internet, with some positive results: 30 percent of their secondary research comes from internet searches.

Often, a company will start by compiling secondary research and then fill in missing intelligence by conducting primary research.

Make More Informed Decisions

With the insight you gain through both primary and secondary market research, you can make more informed and  confident decisions about which markets to enter, products to develop, and how to market to customers and prospects.

For a quick, one-page guide on this topic, download the infographic “How Industrial Marketers Use Market Research.”

 

Market Research Marketing, General
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?

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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