Native Advertising 101

Although almost everyone has seen a native ad, not everyone knows what they are or how best to use them. Native advertising is rapidly growing in the B2B space. MediaRadar saw 50% growth in native advertising from 2018 to 2019 – more than mobile, video, and display. When it comes to manufacturing marketers, 34% of marketers are already using native advertising to promote their content (Manufacturing Content
Marketing 2020 – Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends
).

While native advertising is gaining ground, questions remain for many industrial marketers.

WHAT IS NATIVE ADVERTISING?
Native advertising is simply paid advertising that matches the look, feel, and function of the media format in which they appear. Unlike traditional display advertising, these ads are designed to be non-disruptive. The consumer will be exposed to the advertising content seamlessly during the user experience, and in some cases will consume the content without realizing right away that it’s paid promotion.

While it is most common to see native advertising on web properties as an alternative to display ads, if you start to look at the content you consume, you’ll see native advertising in magazines, social media, and even television.

Native advertising is designed not to replace display advertising efforts, but to complement them. Display advertising remains an important component of your strategy, especially when it comes to brand awareness and intent to purchase.

HOW DO I KNOW IF NATIVE ADVERTISING WOULD BE A GOOD FIT FOR MY MARKETING PLANS?
If you’re considering adding native advertising to your arsenal of marketing tools, it’s important to consider a few things first. Native advertising is a good fit for those who are looking to build their thought leadership and brand awareness positions.

Many industrial marketers are investing time and resources into content marketing. If you already have whitepapers, videos, or other educational content to promote, native advertising can help you generate additional exposure for your content. Because native advertising blends in seamlessly with the look and feel of the page, you’ll want to promote your content on a website that is relevant to your audience.

If you currently run display ads, native advertising may also be a good fit for your marketing mix, as the objectives are often similar.

HOW CAN I GET THE MOST OUT OF NATIVE ADVERTISING?
Once you’ve determined that native advertising is a good addition to your marketing plan, here’s how to make the most of your campaign.

• A successful campaign always starts with a clear definition of your goals. In this case, you’ll want to outline a comprehensive content strategy. It should include a thoughtful mix of useful information in addition to promotional tactics.

• The content you’re promoting in your native advertising should be hosted on your website ungated. The focus of native advertising is primarily to drive traffic to your content. Allowing your audience access to the content will diminish your bounce rate and increase time on site, as well as time spent consuming your content.

• Understand how you are measuring your campaign’s performance, and how that relates to your campaign goals. Impressions and click-through rate should be your primary measurements.

• Invest in a robust A/B testing strategy. Regularly check on your campaign
performance and choose several variables to test. This could include headline, imagery, and changes to the content landing page.

• Pay close attention to the content. Your headline will be one of the first things readers notice about your ad, so take care to craft one that is relevant rather than promotional. It should introduce your reader to the text so that they immediately understand what the content is about. Use high-quality photos that match the look and feel of your brand. Images should be simple and easy to understand.

• If you’re just getting started with native advertising, be sure to lean on your media partners for guidance and support. Because the best native advertising aligns with the editorial content of the host site, they should be an integral part of your campaign. For example, IEEE GlobalSpec’s Native Advertising program includes ad creation – you provide the content assets, and they do the rest.

Native advertising is quickly finding a place in the B2B industrial marketer’s toolkit. Now’s the time to explore this advertising channel further, and how it can fit into your marketing goals and objectives.

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

8 Tips for Creating a Successful Webinar

woman learning attending webinar

In an era where engineering technical and industrial professionals are being bombarded with information, they continue to seek out webinars for valuable and timely educational information. Webinars are even more important in a time where digital encounters are our only option. Because an online event may be the only first impression a prospect gets of your company, it’s more important than ever to modernize your webinar experience and drive deeper engagement. Here are some tips for creating a successful webinar.

1. Coordinate an ideal promotion schedule.
A successful webinar is not built in a day. You should begin plans for your content at least eight weeks in advance, including thinking about audience, topic, and materials. Your promotion should include your initial invitation, a reminder, and emails when your webinar is available on demand. In addition, you should encourage your sales team to share the webinar in their email signature and with customers in conversations. Add information about the webinar to your social media channels, website, and any other customer communications.

2. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
Your topic should focus on solving a prominent problem for your audience. Before diving into content, make sure to define your goal. What message is right for this stage of the customer journey? Align your subject matter to your customers’ interests and pain points.

3. Strike a balance between education and product pitch.
Engineers can spot a sales pitch a mile away. Your webinar should provide value and education that engineers cannot find anywhere else. Tap into the unique information that only your organization can provide. Coordinate with subject matter experts internally, or consider asking an analyst in your field to contribute.

4. Get on board with training.
Engineers are most interested in training and upskilling, followed by insight and industry trends.* Think about what you can teach engineers, or what industry insight you are uniquely positioned to provide.

5. Success starts with the title.
List titles attract more registrants than non-list titles. Try to choose a title that includes “How To,” “101,” “A New Way to,” or “Trends in.”

6. Include visual interest.
Webinars today don’t need to be limited to just slides. Keep your audience’s interest with video clips when possible.

7. Experiment with interactive tools.
Another way to hold your audience’s attention is to get them involved. Make sure to solicit questions before the webinar, as well as during the presentation, if possible. If the poll option is available to you, it can offer valuable insight into your audience and even help you tailor your content.

8. Use webinar questions as ideas for future content offerings.
A successful webinar is not only measured in attendance and leads. Monitor the questions you receive, even if you don’t answer them during the live broadcast, to gain insight into your audience’s areas of interest. The polling tool can also help you meet your audience where they are in terms of sophistication.


*2019 Benchmarks, BrightTALK

Marketing, General Webinars

It’s Time for a Marketing Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your home. Marketing efforts also need periodic polishing, and this is a good time to complete some of those cleanup tasks that might have been on the back burner.

While marketing spring cleaning may take a bit of effort, it shouldn’t have much impact on your marketing budget. The results can help your company, brand, and marketing programs shine a little brighter.

Website

As one of your most important marketing assets, your website always needs to look and perform its best. Here are some cleaning tips:

  • Purge any pages that are no longer relevant, and update those that are out of date.
  • Refresh pages that play a role in your SEO efforts by updating content on those pages and making sure you are using the right keywords. Don’t forget to update meta tags.
  • Check that all internal and external links are working properly, including navigation elements and links in footers.
  • Review any conversion forms you have to make sure you are collecting the appropriate information from prospects and that the forms are getting delivered to the right people in your company.
  • Check all other contact information on the website for accuracy.
  • Make sure news items such as press releases are still relevant.
  • Replace any outdated logos and product imagery.
  • Review downloadable content such as white papers, presentations, and data sheets to ensure you have the most recent versions.
  • Play videos from beginning to end to check for any issues.

Marketing Content

  • Audit your other marketing content, including whitepapers, technical content, and videos to make sure they are up-to-date and accurate.
  • Eliminate old content, lacks current messaging, or is no longer useful.
  • Take note of any holes you have in your content marketing portfolio. If you don’t have the resources to create new content now, you can 
  • still compile a wish-list of your content needs and estimate the time, effort, and cost to get the job done.

Social Media

  • Over the past few years, you may have opened accounts on a variety of social media platforms as they were introduced or became popular. If you no longer use those channels or rarely post to them, consider closing the account. If you close any accounts, don’t forget to remove those icons from your website or other locations.
  • You may also choose to keep a page but make a post informing readers that the page is no longer active. You can then redirect them to your website or a page where you are still active.
  • For channels you continue to use, update your company profiles for accuracy and currency, including descriptions, products, logos, imagery, and contact information.
  • Review what companies and individuals you are following on social media. Stop following those that are no longer relevant. Conduct some quick research to discover any social media accounts in your industry that you should be following but haven’t yet.
  • Delete any inappropriate user or spam comments on any of your social media posts. In contrast, negative comments are not necessarily inappropriate—and can often be enlightening. It is better to keep constructive criticism or negative reviews on your page, as deleting them can backfire and cause the negative poster to leave more reviews.

Programs

  • Check that you are tracking the relevant metrics and KPIs for your marketing programs.
  • If you take advantage of marketing hubs or product discovery solutions such as those offered by IEEE GlobalSpec, make sure your profiles, product listings, and content are accurate and up to date.
  • Do a quick refresh of stale programs. For example: Update the headline in an advertisement to focus on a different benefit. Swap in new imagery for old. Change typeface and colors. Change the offer. Advertise in a different e-newsletter. Reposition an ongoing webinar.
  • Contact your media partners to set up reviews of your programs and to discover any new marketing possibilities you might have overlooked.

Marketing, General

Six No-Cost Marketing Ideas

Are you looking to get more mileage out of your marketing budget? Perhaps you’ve spent more than you expected in the first quarter of the year and need to increase marketing efficiency moving forward? Or maybe you like the idea of getting a positive return for very little investment (who doesn’t?).

If so, here are six no-cost marketing ideas that can give your marketing effectiveness a nice bump. You’ll still need to invest time, of course, and perhaps enlist the help of colleagues. But you shouldn’t have to spend your marketing budget.

1. Email your house list

You’re already using email marketing and likely publish a regular newsletter or send email campaigns to your internal list. Now is a good time to craft a “special” email that breaks your typical boundaries.

You could work with your sales and support teams to develop a free-trial offer, extended support policies, or a customer loyalty program. Or you could simply point out content that you’ve recently updated on your site, profile one of your employees or executives, list innovative ways customers might be using your products, and more.

The idea is to step outside the usual email marketing routine and do something fresh that will attract your audience’s attention without adding to your marketing costs.

2. Pitch stories to the media

Compile a list of editors of industry publications and websites that are relevant to your business and pitch them your best story ideas through email (or phone calls.)

Editors are always looking for interesting and relevant content for their readers. While they don’t want a sales pitch or product promotions, the story you pitch will likely include some aspect of your company’s offerings.

For example: How a customer solved a problem or used one of your products in a unique way. Or pitch a story idea based on the results of recent research you’ve compiled or conducted. Or how recent technological advances are changing or disrupting markets.

3. Shoot some video

All you need is your smartphone and a colleague who likes the limelight. Make a video showing how to perform a task or how one of your products works. You could also services like Webex or Zoom to interview one of your subject matter experts, a company executive, or even a support rep to associate people and faces with your company.

Make sure the lighting is decent. Narrate as needed. Keep the video short (1-5 minutes). Post the video on your website or use email to promote it to your house list.

4. Post more frequently on social media

Whatever social media platforms you use, ramp up your efforts. A blog post might take some time to write, but tweets and Facebook updates are quick. You can also consider starting a discussion topic on LinkedIn or participating in other discussions. You can repost or share content from partners or other allied professionals, or comment on their posts.

Increasing your presence on your current social media channels can help raise your visibility and brand awareness with your audience.

5. Re-purpose existing content

We’ve always been fans of repurposing content for use in other formats. You’ve already invested in producing the original content, why not get extended use from it?

Examples: White papers can be segmented into a series of short articles, blog posts or web pages. A presentation can become a webinar. A single slide with figures and data might make a good infographic.

Another idea is to curate educational or informational content that others produce, such as industry experts, partners, analysts, or others. Post links on your website and social media to the content.

6. Conduct market research

There are several free survey tools on the market you can take advantage of to survey your customers and prospects.

Create a brief survey that asks them questions about their needs, product wish lists, opinions about the industry, uses of technology and more. Only ask questions that will give you information that is useful and can help your company make business or marketing decisions.

Compile and publish the results. The benefits are two-fold: you have additional marketing content to distribute and you’ve gained valuable insight into your customer base.

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Tips for Marketing During Challenging Times

Your plan was set in place and the marketing machine was humming along, but then uncertainty set in.  You suddenly find that external factors you simply cannot control, such as the economy or the impact of the coronavirus, are affecting your marketing efforts.

Your instinct might be to pull back from marketing during difficult times, but this is unlikely to be the best strategy. Cut back and you could lose market share to competitors or you begin to fall behind leading to a downward spiral.

Instead, when faced with external challenges, you need to find ways to adjust your current marketing plan to be more effective. Your mantra should be to “prepare not panic.”

Here are some tips:

Focus on what you can control

While you can’t control the emergence of external factors, you can control how you react. For example:

  • Recognize where demand is and what markets are strong and allocate your investments in those areas.
  • Keep track of what your customers and prospects are saying and doing and adjust your marketing channels and messaging to align with their needs.
  • Maintain visibility in your most important sectors, even if it means reallocating budget from less essential or more experimental programs.

Re-examine your marketing goals

During challenging times, it’s important to take a close look at your marketing goals. You might have to make decisions regarding what goals are must-haves, such as supporting a new product launch, while others might be nice-to-have, such as trying to enter a new market.

Given the current situation, some of your goals may no longer be achievable or your plans no longer viable. The sooner you recognize what you can and can’t achieve—and prioritize what you must achieve—the quicker you can take effective action.

For example, if you usually promote a product launch at a trade show that has been canceled, you can reallocate that marketing budget to other activities, such as e-newsletter or display ads, webinars, or content marketing.

Stay on top of measurement

More than ever, you need to get the most out of every marketing dollar during challenging times. While it’s always the right time to purge marketing programs that don’t perform, it may be time to suspend or scale back any marketing plans whose results you can’t measure or are unsure about.

If uncertainty is causing rapid changes in the market, increase your frequency of measurement to spot any disturbing (or encouraging) performance trends in your marketing programs.

You might find that some programs are working better than expected, while others are underperforming your stated goals. Use this opportunity to reallocate your budget to those programs that are most effective.

Get more from your existing marketing assets

This could be a good time to focus on updating web pages, repurposing content for other uses, or even combining programs.

Whatever the external climate, your website is still the face of your company and prospects will continue to visit. Make sure the content is current and accurate, links work, and pages are optimized for search.

In addition, repurpose and reuse content. Take that white paper and create a series of blog posts or develop a webinar. Create infographics using market or product data. Conduct a customer survey. You remain the owner and in full control of your content, so focus on making the most of what you have.

Another possibility is combining programs. If you are running a webinar series and planning to exhibit at a trade show that is no longer part of your plan, you may want to integrate your tradeshow message into your webinar series and use email and e-newsletter advertisements to promote the combined event.

Stay visible in your most important markets

If you do have to make program adjustments due to external pressures or other factors, don’t sacrifice your most important markets or most effective programs. If anything, reallocate budget to those initiatives from weaker performing programs or uncertain markets. Challenging times are often the right time for “circling the wagons” and defending your territory.

Reap the benefits of working with media partners

In challenging times, you may be forced to make harder and smarter decisions about allocating budgets. You don’t have to do this alone. Ask existing or potential media partners, who may have a broader and deeper view of the market, their advice on how to handle market uncertainty.

Ask media partners to demonstrate how their marketing solutions can help your company achieve its goals during challenging times. You may come away with unique ideas to navigate this period of uncertainty and come out the other end in a position of strength.

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General Productivity

What to do About Tradeshows

Tradeshow

With many tradeshows and conferences being cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, industrial marketers are facing significant disruptions to their marketing plans.

An IEEE GlobalSpec survey conducted in the earlier days of the coronavirus outbreak found that 56 percent of marketers said the shows they planned to attend or exhibit at have been cancelled. Thirty-eight percent had cancelled their own plans. Those percentages can only be higher now.

The question for marketers is what they should be doing in place of tradeshows to pick up the marketing slack.

Reinvest or Cut Back?

The survey showed that 28 percent of industrial marketers will shift their tradeshow budget to digital ads, while 46 percent said they will not reinvest that budget.

It’s understandable that companies may want to save their budget during uncertain times. However, by reducing your presence in the marketplace you may lose business to competitors who don’t cut back and you may have a harder time regaining marketing momentum when conditions stabilize again.

Those companies that reinvest at least a percentage of their tradeshow budget to digital platforms can continue to maintain visibility and generate engagement opportunities with prospects who are in various stages of their buying cycle. When the situation improves, you will be in a better position to win new business.

Tradeshow Substitutes

One coveted feature of tradeshows is the ability to meet person-to-person. While that is no longer possible when a tradeshow is canceled or postponed, you can still engage your audience, show prospects who you are, and provide a personal touch.  

Webinars

For years, webinars have been carving into the tradeshow market, and with good reason. Ubiquitous broadband and technology advances have allowed webinars to become an interactive, engaging experience between presenters and their audiences.

You can include real-time polls, offer live Q&A, and show video during webinars, while your audience remains at their desk.

Webinar solutions from IEEE GlobalSpec offer additional benefits, including:

  • Promotion of your webinar to your chosen target audience
  • Audience registration and attendee tracking
  • Webinar files for continued on-demand viewing on your corporate website or other marketing channel such as YouTube

Video

Video is another effective substitute for a tradeshow. From your office, you can film that keynote speech or educational workshop you were going to present at a tradeshow and post the video on your website, social media or supplier hub on IEEE GlobalSpec.

Engineers, particularly younger ones, are steadily increasing their use of video as a way to discover companies, products and services.

Digital Ads

Digital platforms such as e-newsletter ads and display advertising can help you reach your tradeshow audience and achieve similar branding and visibility benefits:

  • Advertise in targeted, opt-in e-newsletters that reach the same audience as you were targeting with your tradeshow. You can use the ad to promote a video or webinar that might be serving as your tradeshow substitute.
  • Stay visible to your audience and keep your message in the market through the use of display ads on industrial websites. You will be able to showcase your brand to many of the same engineers and technical professionals who might see you at a tradeshow.

Content Marketing

Tradeshows have a reputation as being time and resource intensive. You can put some of the saved time and resources to good use by updating or creating content. Your audience is always looking for educational information to help them do their jobs better, and with travel and tradeshows down, many engineers and technical professionals will be conducting more online search for content to help keep them current.

You can also consider contributing content to Engineering360.com or taking advantage of an Engineering360 product advertorial which provides engineers new ways to learn about your product offerings—a good alternative to a tradeshow. Click here for more info.

Yes, these are uncertain and challenging times both personally and professionally. However, it’s no time to panic. Instead, carefully evaluate your situation to determine how you can best persevere and succeed in your role as a marketer.

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing, General Tradeshows

Lead Nurturing Simplified: 5 Core Principles

A prospect could be anywhere in their buy cycle when they first reach out to your company, but few of them are ready to make a purchase decision at that point.

That’s why lead nurturing is so essential to your marketing success. You must be able to keep your prospects interested, encourage them along their buying journey, and pass them off to your sales team when appropriate. That’s lead nurturing in a nutshell.

The lead nurturing process can be long—research shows it takes anywhere from six to thirteen touches to deliver a qualified lead to sales. Lead nurturing can also be very fruitful—studies show that 70 percent of business comes from long-term leads, those that aren’t ready to buy when you first connect with them.

Lead nurturing can also be complex, with many moving parts and variables affecting your ability to execute. However, if you adhere to these five core principles, you can simplify the process, gain efficiencies, and deliver more qualified opportunities to your sales team.

1. Use a Lead Nurturing System

It’s possible to use manual processes and spreadsheets to nurture leads, but the process will be labor intensive.

Many industrial companies are adopting marketing automation to help manage lead nurturing and other marketing efforts. Marketing automation allows you to capture prospect engagement across all digital channels and can help you score leads, create landing pages, track prospect actions, trigger automatic emails, report on the effectiveness of various content, produce analytics and much more.

Other companies are embracing specific email-based lead nurturing platforms such as IEEE GlobalSpec Catalyst. Whatever system you choose, the three core capabilities you must have for lead nurturing are the ability to segment your audience, create and send campaigns, and report results.

Develop the process you want to use for lead nurturing, then find the system that best supports that process.

2. Segment Your Audience

Unless all of your prospects are about the same, you will need to segment your audience so that you can craft different lead nurturing campaigns to meet the needs of different audiences.

Segments vary for different companies, but common segments include area of interest, phase of buy cycle, market, geography/territory, among others. You’ll also want to segment out hot leads that are sales-ready and that you immediately pass to your sales team.

The definition of a sales-ready lead, as well as your audience segments, should be determined jointly between you and your sales team. Lead nurturing only works if sales and marketing organizations are on the same page working from the same playbook.

3. Nourish Prospects

To maintain and grow prospect interest until they are ready to make a purchase decision, you should continually offer them educational, relevant information they want and need to feel confident that you are the right company.

Nourishing takes place through what are called email “drip” campaigns—meaning at regular intervals, you show up with a content offer in their inbox. Your campaign could touch prospects once a week for six months or once a month for a year. You decide, based on your segments and your prospects’ needs.

With each campaign touch, you should offer your prospects something of value: a white paper, infographic, webinar, video, article or other helpful content. Keep the content educational in nature rather than sales-oriented. Engineers hate to be sold to; they want to learn and discover.

If you are using marketing automation, you can set up rules for your campaign, such as “any prospect that downloads a white paper receives a webinar invitation the following week.”

4. Hand-off to Sales

Because you’ve already come to an agreement with your sales team about what constitutes a sales-ready lead, you’ll know when a prospect in a nurturing campaign is ready for sales.

Often a lead reaches sales-ready status when it achieves a score based on a scale you develop that awards points for specific prospect behaviors. For example, a prospect that clicks on every offer is a five and likely sales-ready, while a prospect that only visited a web page remains a one.

5. Track and Learn

Keep track of how the prospects in your campaign interact with your offers and content. You can find out what offers resonate and are popular, and which fall flat. Get rid of offers that don’t perform well, while building on content that is popular with other similar offers. Continually refine your campaigns and you should see improved results.

Those are the five basic principles. For a deeper dive into lead nurturing, including best practices to optimize your lead nurturing efforts and quick tips for following up with leads, download the complimentary toolkit, “The Industrial Marketer’s Guide to Lead Nurturing.” You’ll learn the finer points to be successful at lead nurturing. Download here.


 

Customer Relationships Lead Management Marketing, General

Content Creation and Distribution: 5 Best Practices for 2020

content marketing creation and distribution

Manufacturing marketers are taking a more strategic approach with their content marketing and are gaining confidence in communicating complex content.

In addition, many are reporting success with their overall approach to content marketing, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” produced by the Content Marketing Institute and sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec.

One key area covered in the report is content creation and distribution. Manufacturers were surveyed about their processes, and the results reveal a number of best practices manufacturers should adopt to help improve their content marketing efforts in 2020.

1. Create Content for Different Audiences

The more closely your content is targeted to the needs of your buyer, the more likely potential buyers will pay attention because the information is relevant to them.

On average, manufacturers create content for four different audiences, with 45 percent creating content for 2-3 audiences and 53 percent creating content for four or more audiences.

Unless all of your customers fit the same profile and have the same needs, you should be creating different types of content for different audiences. One way to define your different audience’s content needs is to create buyer personas, which are profiles of the different types of customers you have. This article can help.

2. Create Content for Different Stages of the Buying Cycle

Currently, 40 percent of manufacturing marketers create content based on specific stages of the customer journey: from awareness of need, to comparison and consideration, to purchasing decision.

Half of the content that manufacturers create is for audiences in the early stages of their buying journey. The purpose of this top-of-funnel content is to create awareness and interest. But manufacturers also need content for their customers’ consideration, evaluation and purchase stages, as well as post-sale content to drive loyalty and brand advocacy.

3. Choose a Variety of Formats for Content

Engineers have personal preferences when it comes to searching for, discovering and consuming content, which means you need a variety of content types in order to effectively connect with your audience.

The top five content formats manufacturers use are social media (such as tweets and stories), videos, email newsletters, blog posts/short articles and in-person events. The majority of manufacturers also use infographics/charts/photos/data visualization content and case studies.

4. Align Content to Marketing Goals

The Content Marketing Institute survey asked respondents which content types are the highest performing for their organization in terms of building brand awareness, securing leads, nurturing leads and converting leads.

For both securing and converting leads, in-person events was the most common response for what type of content was the highest performing. However, for building awareness, social media was the highest performing content. Manufacturers should conclude that they need some type of social media presence as part of their awareness campaigns, but should also realize that social media, while important for capturing attention, is not a primary lead generator.

For nurturing leads, email newsletters are the top performers. Most manufacturers that nurture leads set up email drip campaigns to stay in touch with prospects who are early in their buying journey and to help move them along toward a purchase decision.

5. Use the Right Channels

Manufacturers use both organic (nonpaid) and paid channels to distribute content to their target audiences.

The top organic content distribution channels that manufacturers used in the past 12 months are social media platforms, their organization’s website/blog, and email.

Of the organic social media platforms they use, respondents say that LinkedIn generates the best overall content marketing results, although Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are also widely used.

The top paid content distribution channels are social media advertising/promoted posts, search engine marketing/pay-per-click, sponsorships (booths, workshops, branding), and banner ads to promote content.

Content marketing is one of the most significant and most effective ways for manufacturers to connect with their target audiences and to generate opportunities. Download your complimentary copy of the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” to find out more about how manufacturers approach content marketing, including strategy, teams, budgets, and overcoming challenges. Click here for your report.

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing, General Social Media

What Engineers Want from Your Website

Collaboration

For any industrial company, your website is an important marketing asset. With engineers conducting the majority of their buying research online before contacting your company, a prospect is sure to visit your website in hopes of discovering information they are looking for.

If engineers find what they need, and if your products and services compare well against the competition, then you’ll likely generate a potential sales opportunity.

If your website falls short, you’ll miss out.

According to the research report, “Smart Marketing for Engineers,” produced by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, engineers want access to the basics on your website. They are looking, first and foremost, for technical content.

This audience is not as concerned with website bells and whistles. Items that an industrial marketer may view as a “must have” – pre-filled forms, interactive graphics, online chat, and more are not so special to engineers.

Get Technical, Get Specific

When asked what features of their favorite websites were most important to their experience, engineers overwhelming said in-depth technical information (81 percent) and technical specifications (75 percent).

The next closest were features to help configure products/systems (30 percent). Interestingly, only 11 percent said that a wide range of content was important to their experience.

The takeaway is clear: engineers want technical content specific to their need, and they don’t want other stuff getting in their way.

How to Structure Information

As for web usability, 75 percent of engineers prefer concise information with links to in-depth content, so they can drill down if needed. Forty-three percent want to see imagery/icons related to the content.

This puts the responsibility on you as a marketer to develop a logical taxonomy and clear hierarchy for organizing and presenting information on your website. The drill-down model works because you won’t overwhelm the engineer with too much information at once or confuse them by presenting secondary information before they are ready for it.

This type of information presentation makes sense. It somewhat mirrors the news story, inverted-pyramid approach, where the most important information is presented first, with secondary details to follow. The difference is that on the web, instead of writing a continuous narrative, you segment the content into discrete chunks users can access by clicking on links.

The Coveted Content

The content that engineers find most valuable when researching a product to purchase are datasheets, case studies, product demo videos and white papers.

You should have as much of this content as possible on your website. Whether you offer the content freely or keep it gated behind a form is a choice each company must make. But the majority of engineers are willing to provide work email, first name, company name, last name, job title, and industry in order to access content they deem valuable to them.

Don’t be afraid to put content behind forms—as long as the content is valuable. Engineers will trade their contact information for information that helps them.

Your Website Must Build Trust

Because most engineers are researching your offerings before contacting you, it’s important that your website helps to establish trust between your company and your potential customers.

When engineers were asked what causes them to lose trust in a company or brand after looking at their website, the top two answers were lack of technical information (69 percent) and lack of product information (50 percent), further reinforcing the need to have technical content on your website.

Other trust-eroding factors for engineers include getting no response after contacting a company and having no ability to contact a company for additional information.

You should have a contact link on every page on your website—and of course you should monitor and respond in a timely manner to any prospect that contacts you.

Keep it Simple

That’s the lesson here—your website should be simple. That lesson should also be encouraging to you. If you are struggling with limited resources (time, people, and budget), focus your website efforts on what will deliver the most value to your target audience. In this case, it is detailed, technical content that is easy to access and understand.

For a more in-depth look at engineers’ content, online and website preferences, along with survey results about an engineer’s buying journey, download your complimentary copy of the report “Smart Marketing for Engineers.”

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing, General Web Sites – Design & Usability

How to Address the Top Content Marketing Priorities and Challenges

What are manufacturing marketers prioritizing in 2020? According to the latest Content Marketing Institute (CMI) research, “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends,” it’s both content quality and quantity, as well as distribution and promotion.

Unique challenges manufacturing marketers face include overcoming the traditional marketing and sales mindset and creating content that appeals to multi-level roles within their target audiences.

This post takes a closer look at these priorities and challenges, and offers ideas on how to successfully address them.

Marry quality and quantity together

Fifty-six percent of manufacturing marketers will be focusing on content quality/quantity. However, the choice isn’t between creating a lot of average content or a few pieces of high-quality material. You need to have both quality and quantity. But with limited resources, how do you do it?

  • Focus content creation on your areas of expertise that are of most interest to your target audience. You will create better content if you have access to subject matter experts.
  • Always create content with the needs of your audience in mind. What do they need to know? How will this information help them?
  • Re-purpose content for multiple uses to increase the quantity of pieces. White papers can be become technical articles or a series of blog posts. Create both a video and a text version of a customer case study or testimonial. Use a trade show presentation as the basis for a webinar.
  • Outsource some aspects of content creation. Most manufacturers (64 percent) do. Contract with writers or designers who have experience and knowledge in your field to help ease your burden.

Seek new content distribution channels

Fifty-two percent of survey respondents want to improve content distribution/promotion. Most already rely on a combination of both paid (social media advertising/promoted posts, pay-per-click, sponsorships, banner ads) and unpaid (social media, company website/blog, email) distribution channels.

There are also other distribution and promotion tactics you can consider. For example:

  • Events and speaking engagements can be a conduit for content in the form of presentations and handouts.
  • Building relationships with the media and industry influencers can help you place articles or promote specific content.
  • Contributing guest posts or articles to third-party publications can extend the reach of your content to new audiences and markets.

Always be educating

Fifty-five percent of manufacturing marketers cited their top challenge is overcoming the traditional sales and marketing mindset. This isn’t surprising. It’s the nature of sales and marketing to be promotional, but the nature of content marketing is educational.

The challenge, then, is not only to make sure your marketing content is educational rather than promotional, but also to educate your marketing colleagues and executive team on how content marketing works.

Your audience is seeking relevant, educational information that can help them make more informed and confident buying decisions when they are further along in their cycle. But in the early stages of their buy cycle, before they have contacted you, it’s all about education. Engineers don’t like to be sold to, they like to be educated, and if you’re aggressively promoting early on, they will be more likely to turn away from you.

Keep reminding your team that tradition doesn’t apply when it comes to content marketing. Success is all based on educating your audience with facts, data, and defendable positions.

Create content for different buyer roles

The second unique challenge, reported by 53 percent of manufacturing marketers, is creating content that appeals to multi-level roles within their target audience(s).

Serving the information needs of technical professionals operating in different roles and different mindsets may seem complex, but there is a straightforward and useful way to approach the challenge. Whether an influencer, recommender or decision-maker, the audience you are creating content for is generally driven by one of three concerns. Make sure your content meets the needs of these three different buyer roles:

Analytical concerns — Does the product solve my problem?

The analytical buyer is often the first point of contact your company has with a potential customer. They’re the person who has performed initial research to identify the suppliers, products or components that could meet their needs.

They’re asking: What functions does the product perform? What are its specifications? Why is your product better than another product? Or: How does your service meet my needs?

Economic concerns — Will we earn a return on investment?

Economic buyers often have significant sway in any large or long-term purchase. Economic buyers ask if the return they earn in terms of economic benefit will be higher than the price they pay for your product or service.

The benefits to economic buyers might be measured in terms of expected time savings, increased efficiency, uptime, product lifespan, reliability, warranties, or other factors.

Technical concerns — Is it the right fit for my company?

The technical buyer is often behind the scenes and may not come into play early in the buy cycle. They are concerned with the bigger picture of whether your product, component or service will fit into the larger technical infrastructure, environment or policies at their company.

For example: Are your products compatible with other products the customer uses? Do your products integrate well or will modifications elsewhere be necessary? How is support provided? These questions are particularly relevant with software and hardware purchases, but also for other industrial products.

For complete survey results, download your complimentary copy of “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.” This report can help you improve your own content marketing efforts by discovering how other manufacturers view content marketing, where they plan to focus resources, and what challenges and opportunities they see on the horizon. Download your complimentary copy today.

Content Marketing Marketing, General