The Millennials are Coming!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Industrial Marketing Trends that Matter in 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Survey Your Customers for Content Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are few ideas for surveys and polls:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Content Marketing Market Research Marketing, General

How Industrial Marketing Professionals Use Market Research

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

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

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

Types of research industrial marketers rely on

Primary and Secondary

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

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

Qualitative and Quantitative

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

What industrial marketers want to gain from research

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

Five Tips for Creating a Survey

1. Only ask useful questions.

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

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

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

3. Avoid leading or loaded questions.

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

4. Use a funnel approach.

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

5. Keep the survey short and simple.

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

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

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

Image courtesy of jannoon028 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Market Research

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

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.

Customer Relationships Digital Media Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Multichannel Marketing Social Media

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

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.

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Optimism Brewing in the Industrial Sector Despite Concerns About Economy

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.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research

Economic Outlook: Opportunity in an Unsettled Marketplace

If you want to know the economic outlook in the industrial sector, here’s one answer: signs point to improving conditions, which means there are opportunities to grow your business. Here’s the other answer: signs point to continuing challenges, which means you need to make smart decisions on where to invest your marketing resources. In other words, economic indicators are decidedly mixed, with some companies optimistic and others more cautious, according to the results of the 2012 GlobalSpec Economic Outlook Survey.

This annual survey of engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial professionals in the U.S. measures the impact of economic conditions in the industrial sector. In the most recent survey results, 49 percent of companies anticipate growth for the remainder of the year, while 51 percent of companies expect to remain flat or fall short of plan. And although 40 percent expect higher sales than last year, 32 percent estimate sales will be lower. Clearly it’s an up and down economic environment.

Outlook varies by industry
Some industries are faring better than others in this economy. In the Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals sector, the majority (58 percent) estimate that sales will be ahead of plan in 2012, making it the best performing sector. Additionally, 50 percent of those working in Computers, Systems & Peripherals and in Industrial Machinery/Tools & Equipment expect sales to be up. Communications – Data/Telecom/Wireless Networks is the hardest hit industry, with 57 percent expecting sales to be down from their 2012 plan.

Companies are focused on growth
Despite these conditions, many companies are focusing on growth. Industrial companies anticipate spending more or the same over the next six months compared to the last six months in all product and service areas. They also are focusing on growth initiatives such as entering new markets (56 percent), new product design and development (50 percent), and researching future projects (50 percent). And 42 percent of engineers are working on more projects this year than last year.

These are positive signs for manufacturers and suppliers marketing to an industrial customer because the growth initiatives will lead to product, services, and component spending.

New markets are attractive
When economic conditions are in flux, companies often seek to expand their presence in markets that are performing better than the average and where their products and services may be a good fit. This strategy also helps to limit their exposure and risk in other markets that may be underperforming. Fifty-six percent of companies are applying time and effort on entering new markets, the top initiative reported among respondents. Thirty-eight percent stated they were focused on new markets, and 26 percent stated they are specifically expanding sales into new markets.

Biggest area of concern? It’s the economy.
When asked what issues or areas of concern their companies were focused on, 55 percent of respondents said the economy. No surprise there. Other frequently noted issues or areas of concern were quality, improving production efficiencies, and expanding into new markets.

These survey results offer several key takeaways for industrial marketers.

First, manufacturers can find new opportunities by focusing on the markets expected to perform the best, such as Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals; Computers, Systems & Peripherals; and Industrial Machinery/Tools & Equipment.

Second, now is the time to build awareness and recognition among engineers who will need to research and specify products and components to support their growth initiatives. Over the next six months, industrial companies will be focusing on entering new markets, new product design and development, and researching future projects.

Online programs allow you to display your products and services simultaneously across multiple markets, giving you the best opportunities to connect with potential customers in both current and new markets, while making the most efficient use of your marketing investments. Research shows that engineers and technical professionals spend significant time online for work-related purposes such as searching for products and services. That’s where you need a strong presence as well.

For complete survey results, including charts, analysis, and recommendations on how to use the survey findings to measure or adjust your marketing strategies, download your complimentary copy of this latest GlobalSpec research report, “Economic Outlook Survey 2012: State of the Industrial Marketplace.”
 

Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing, General

2012 Industrial Marketing Trends: What You Need to Know

The Industrial Marketing Trends Research Report is compiled from an annual survey conducted by GlobalSpec of marketing and sales professionals in the manufacturing sector. The survey reported that many companies are increasing their marketing spend in 2012, especially their online marketing. Thirty-five percent of companies are spending more overall on marketing in 2012 compared to 2011, and 42 percent are increasing the percentage they allocate to online marketing. Hiring is increasing as well, with 22 percent of companies adding marketing headcount in 2012.

Of the top ten areas where marketing spending is increasing, eight of those are online channels. In addition, four of the top six demand generation sources are online: company Web sites, e-mail marketing, search engine optimization, and online directories.

The most prevalent area for increased spending is on Webinars, with 68 percent of companies stating they will increase spending on this channel. This includes both Webinars that companies host on their own and custom Webinars produced in conjunction with a media partner to connect with a broader, yet still targeted audience.

Some trends are lasting
Year over year, industrial companies report that their top two marketing goals are lead generation and customer acquisition, although brand awareness is trending to become a strong third. Sixty-seven percent of companies stated that customer acquisition or lead generation is their primary marketing goal in 2012, the same top two marketing goals for the past six years. Twenty percent said brand awareness was their top marketing goal.

Marketers face many challenges
Industrial markers state the top challenges in their profession are generating leads for sales, measuring marketing ROI, and understanding how to incorporate social media into their marketing efforts.

If you can relate to any of these challenges, there are steps to overcome them. For instance, a diverse mix of marketing programs that offer both engagement opportunities and brand awareness can help your lead generation efforts. Those struggling with measuring ROI would benefit from using online marketing programs, which not only help you connect with the industrial audience where they are today, but also lend themselves to measurement through the tracking of impressions, views, clicks, and conversions.

Also, a Web analytics program can help you measure the performance of your company Web site. While 68 percent of companies are using Web analytics, that still leaves 32 percent who are not able to track the effectiveness of their Web site.

Integrating social media into your marketing can be facilitated by choosing digital channels such as online directories and Web sites that offer marketers opportunities to integrate their social media presence.

Speaking of social media
The survey demonstrates that social media has become part of the equation in the industrial sector. The majority of companies (57 percent) now use social media applications in their marketing efforts. The most popular applications are LinkedIn (used by 73 percent), Facebook (55 percent), and Twitter (40 percent).

However, social media presents its own set of challenges. While marketers understand that social media now belongs in their marketing mix, only 17 percent are satisfied or very satisfied with their company’s social media efforts, while 32 percent are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Only 7 percent have a full-time employee dedicated solely to social media.

If you are struggling with incorporating social media into your marketing mix, you can find some good advice and recommendations in the GlobalSpec research report, Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector.

A strengthening industrial economy
A significant majority of industrial sector companies — 83 percent — anticipate an increase in sales compared to 2011. This indicator of a strengthening industrial economy represents the third consecutive year the economic climate has been positive in the manufacturing sector.

Trends in Industrial Marketing 2012
A complimentary copy of the “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2012” research report will be available on Wednesday, July 11. View the survey results in graph form, read in-depth analysis, and discover recommendations to help you optimally allocate your marketing budget and plan marketing programs more effectively.

Chris Chariton, Senior Vice President, Product Management and Supplier Marketing at GlobalSpec, will present “Industrial Marketing Trends Survey Results: What You Need to Know” at the Industrial Marketing Digital Summit on Wednesday, July 11. This is the only online event focused on marketing in the industrial sector. Free to attendees, industrial marketers will lead educational sessions on using social media, driving more leads, capitalizing on your content and more. You can also connect with your peers in real-time and chat with marketing services companies about their latest products. Register now.
 

Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing, General

How to Successfully Survey Your Customers

The prevalence of low-cost online survey tools gives industrial marketers the opportunity to easily capture the thoughts and feedback of their customers. The results of a properly designed and targeted survey can help you make decisions about product direction, technical support policies, communication strategies with customers, and more.

To survey your customers, all you need is an objective, a customer e-mail list, and an online survey tool, such as SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com) or eSurveysPro (www.esurvesypro.com). There are a number of online survey tools out there; a quick Internet search will return many offerings.

What are the different types of surveys?
In the industrial space, there are two main types of surveys that marketing might conduct to gain valuable, actionable information.

• Market research survey — solicit customer feedback on potential new products or planned services.
• Customer satisfaction survey — this could entail satisfaction with products, services, your company, technical support, or anything else your company offers.

Why ask THAT question?
When conducting a customer survey, the first thing to do is define the reason you are surveying customers, what you expect (hope) to discover, and — perhaps most importantly — how you will use the survey results.

The reason this last item is so important is that you can use it as a litmus test for every question you ask in a survey. For example, let’s say your company manufactures ball bearings. You might ask this question: Which of the following types of bearings do you anticipate purchasing in the next year (check all that apply):

• Radial Ball Bearing
• Angular Contact Ball Bearing
• Mast Guide Bearing
• Thrust Bearing
• Slewing Ring/Turntable Bearing

Before including that question in your survey, ask yourself how the results will help you make an informed decision. If you discover from the answers that most customers anticipate needs for thrust bearings and radial ball bearings, will that information influence product or production decisions? If you don’t think you can use the results of a question to help make a decision, you probably don’t need it in your survey.

What questions have value?
The more you can gather quantifiable data from a survey, the more analysis you can perform on the results. Two types of effective questions that provide quantifiable data are a forced ranking question or a multiple-choice grid that allows only one answer per row.

Let’s say you make centrifugal pumps. You could ask a customer to rank the importance, on a scale of 1-7, of the following pump benefits:

• High Efficiency
• Low Maintenance
• Gentle Product Handling
• Low NPSH Requirements
• Long Seal Life
• Quiet Operation
• Reliability and Durability

In this question, your customer weighs the benefits in relation to each other and in that way prioritizes them. You might discover that the top two benefits are ‘Reliability and Durability’ and ‘High Efficiency.’ You can then evaluate your products against these benefits or highlight these features in your marketing communications.

Another way to present a question like this is in multiple-choice grid style, with each benefit its own row, and columns across the top with a ranking scale from, for example, ‘not important’ to ‘important’ or the 1-7 scale. In this way, each attribute gets ranked on its own, rather than in relation to other attributes.

How long should a survey be?
There is no set length for a customer survey, although ten minutes seems to be a magic number. Anything less and you might not capture enough information to make the survey worthwhile. Anything more and customers might not finish the survey. You should be able to create a 15-question survey that can be completed in ten minutes or less.

Consider it a best practice to tell customers at the beginning how long the survey should take to complete. And you will know how long it takes because you’ve tested and revised and tested again and again. A status bar showing the percentage of the survey completed is a nice touch. Most survey tools will offer this.

Your survey should be made up of multiple choice questions to help your customers quickly respond. You could include some questions like “Please provide additional information you would like to share about our products,” which require an open-ended response. However, you may not want to require a response to those questions, which brings us to…

Should we require an answer on all questions?
Probably. This comes under the thinking that if you don’t need an answer, you don’t need the question. The usual reason to make a question optional is that the survey taker may not be qualified to answer a question or may not know the answer, despite your effort at creating a relevant survey for a targeted list. Therefore, they might just choose any answer, which compromises the validity of your data. A way around this issue is to offer ‘N/A’ (not applicable) answer choices, or ‘Don’t Know.’

Do we need to offer an incentive?
The short answer is yes. An incentive for completing the survey, such as entering their name into a drawing for a cool electronic gadget or giving every customer who completes the survey a discount on their next order, can help you in several ways. First, it will increase your response rate. Second, it will demonstrate that you know your customer’s time is valuable and you are willing to reward them for their time.

How do we get the word out for customers to take the survey?
Since you’re offering an online survey, e-mail may be the best way to inform your customers that you’d like their input. You can send a separate e-mail to your mailing list or include it in a regular communication like a newsletter. Another idea is to have the e-mail come from the client’s customer service or sales rep or some other familiar name to make the e-mail more personal. You may need to also send a reminder depending on your response rate. Don’t forget to let your clients know it’s a quick survey and include your incentive in the e-mail.

What if my customers are concerned about privacy?
You should let them know up front that you take their privacy seriously and they can take the survey anonymously. If they wish to participate in the incentive, they may need to provide an e-mail address or other contact info but that, in no way, will be linked to their responses. Asking for general demographic information such as industry, job title, and company size is common but you really don’t need to ask for any personally identifiable information to create a successful survey.

How do we analyze the results?
Most online survey tools provide a wealth of analytic features, including the graphing of answers and the ability to create pivots that provide different views of the data. For example, you might have a question that asks about the size of your customer’s company. Then, while analyzing results, you might create a view that shows only the answers for companies of a specific size.

Have you conducted successful customer surveys? What were the keys to your success? What best practices would you like to share with other industrial marketers? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
 

Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing, General