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

Why You Should Document Your 2020 Marketing Strategy

Document

Most manufacturing marketers craft a marketing strategy for each new year. The “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” research report by the Content Marketing Institute found that 78 percent of survey respondents now have a content marketing strategy.

However, only 41 percent have documented their strategy. This is problematic, given the importance and benefits of having a documented marketing strategy. A documented marketing strategy can:

  • Align your entire team, and even those outside marketing such as subject matter experts and salespeople, around a common mission and established goals.
  • Define what success means for your marketing efforts and the metrics by which success is measured.
  • Help you prioritize your own resource allocations in terms of people, time, and budgets devoted to creating content and managing programs.
  • Help you respond quickly and intelligently to unexpected marketing opportunities or company/market changes that arise throughout the year.
  • Provide a basis on which to justify and defend marketing budgets.
  • Serve as an historical record and source of learning to improve your marketing strategy over time.

That’s a significant list of benefits for having a documented marketing strategy. But how do you create this document and what should go into it?

It’s Similar to a Business Plan

If you don’t yet have a documented marketing strategy for 2020, it’s time to get one written. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are different. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in.

Most marketing strategy documents include some or all of the key components discussed below.

Start with Your Goals

Goals are statements of what you want to accomplish through your marketing strategy. Examples of goals might be to grow brand awareness, increase market share, generate qualified leads, enter new markets, or support new product launches, among others.

Your goals drive all other marketing decisions and serve as an arbitrator when you might be deciding between alternative programs, channels, content, etc. You always ask the question: What goal will this help us achieve?

Define Your Audience(s)

Who are you trying to reach through your marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. Much more effective than vague definitions that include only title, industry and demographics, buyer personas are detailed descriptions of the different types of customers that you have, including their needs, motivations and influences. Buyer personas are essential aides in helping to product the right content. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.

Allocate Resources

Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals and fulfill your marketing strategy. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Who is on the marketing team? What secondary people are needed to support a successful marketing strategy (such as subject matter experts, website personnel, or your media partners)? Have you budgeted for key initiatives such as product launches or new market penetration?

Determine Metrics for Success

How will you measure the success of your marketing strategy? What metrics are most important? How will you define key performance indicators?

The answers will vary depending on your marketing tactics and channels, and will also be different for high level goals vs. campaign-specific goals. For example, you might measure the success of your overall email marketing by the number of qualified opportunities generated, but specific campaign measurements might include opens, clicks, shares, downloads, and conversions.

Be aware that measuring marketing ROI is not an exact science. The nature of your customers’ buying cycle can make it difficult to correlate sales to specific marketing channels. The industrial buy cycle is often long and complex, involving multiple stages, from needs assessment to comparison and evaluation, to a final purchasing decision. In the vast majority of cases, buyers will interact with your company’s content and brand many times and through multiple channels, often without contacting you, before they make a purchasing decision.

For these reasons, it’s best to track every interaction a prospect has with your company, because ultimately each touch contributes to a sale. For more on measurement and ROI, read the “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit.”

Programs and Channels

The meat of your strategy is how you will execute it. Your documented strategy should include a list of marketing programs and channels you plan to use throughout the year.

In this era of digital media, few companies rely on just one or two channels. Rather, manufacturers need a mix of traditional and digital media to successfully connect with their target audience.

The top five channels that manufacturing marketers plan to use this year are email marketing using in-house lists, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), tradeshows, and organic social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

How do your channels compare to others? Are your programs designed to meet the documented goals of your marketing strategy and the needs of your defined audiences?

Additional Resources

These two complimentary reports can help you develop and hone your marketing strategy, putting you on the path for success in 2020. Download them today:

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

On-Demand Webinars: Tips for Success

Webinars are one of those marketing tactics that can keep on giving. You host the live event, and afterward you can offer a packaged version of the webinar for on-demand viewing.

Data gleaned from IEEE GlobalSpec’s webinars are consistent with industry standards, which report that 84 percent of B2B audiences opt for replays over live webinars. That’s a huge percentage. The reasons are primarily two-fold:

  • Only a small percentage of your potential audience will be available on the exact date and time of your live webinar.
  • Engineers and technical professionals—much like other professionals—prefer to consume content on their own terms.

On-demand webinars offer several advantages to the marketer:

  • Any technical difficulties that sometimes happen during live presentations are eliminated during on-demand viewing.
  • Most of your webinar costs have already been sunk into the live event. The costs to provide on-demand viewing are much lower.
  • The webinar can add value to your marketing portfolio for months to come.

However, you should also be aware of several caveats regarding on-demand webinars:

  • Interaction in an on-demand webinar is limited. You can’t have real-time Q&A, live polls, or other interactive features.
  • Promotion efforts rarely match the level of the live event, so some of your target audience may not know about the availability of the on-demand version.

With careful planning and targeted outreach, you can incorporate on-demand webinars into a successful, integrated marketing program that helps you attract a motivated audience and generate more demand for your products and services.

Create a “webinar hub.”

Make sure your on-demand webinars are easy to find by creating a webinar hub where you post your content. Whether you have a few webinars or dozens, make the webinar hub an important part of your website by adding it to navigation schemas and site indexes, and using house ads to promote it.

Be sure to curate the content on your hub. Classify the webinars under appropriate headings. Delete out-of-date webinars. Rearrange as needed for emphasis.

IEEE GlobalSpec’s webinar hub is a single, comprehensive destination that offers engineers the opportunity to view on-demand webinars and to participate in live events. Click here to view.

Build a registration form.

Click on any on-demand webinar link on IEEE GlobalSpec and you’ll be taken to a page with a thorough description of the content and key takeaways, along with a registration form.

The whole purpose of the on-demand webinar is to begin a conversation with a potential prospect, so you’ll need to ask them for some information by setting up a registration form. Name, email address, and company are likely enough to get the conversation going. You can fill in more information later as your relationship deepens.

Make content changes.

You’ll want to tweak your webinar for the on-demand version. First, remove the date, which often appears on the first slide. This way, the webinar will never feel dated to your audience.

You’ll also likely need to strip out live polls, but you can keep the results of polls from the live event. As for Q&A, while it isn’t feasible to have a live session, you can provide a prompt for your audience to submit questions you can answer asynchronously via email. It’s a great way to open the lines of communication and learn more about what your audience is thinking.

Promote the on-demand version.

As soon as you’ve posted the on-demand webinar, you should begin promoting it. Here are some ideas:

  • Contact everyone who signed up for the live event but didn’t attend. This might be up to half of your registrants. The registered-but-didn’t-attend group is your most qualified (other than live attendees) because they’ve already expressed interest. Invite them to view the on-demand webinar and remind them of what they missed.
  • Promote the on-demand webinar using house email lists, social media, e-newsletter advertisements, banner ads on your website or on an ad network—use any channel that you used for the live event.
  • Mix things up and promote the webinar from different angles: highlight the speaker, or the technology, or the problem being solved. This gives your content a fresh feel.
  • Divide the webinar into shorter snippets that are easier for your audience to consume. Instead of requiring 45-minutes of their time, for example, you’re asking for seven minutes. This technique can work well as long as you plan from the beginning to build a webinar that can be chunked into logical standalone sections.
Marketing, General Webinars

SEO Versus Paid Search: Which is Better?

Generating qualified traffic is the heartbeat of all search engine marketing efforts. Whether it’s by the means of search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC), appearing near the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) is every marketer’s goal.

So which tactic is better—SEO or PPC?

The short answer is that both SEO and PPC can be effective. To succeed with either method, or with both, manufacturing marketers need to know the advantages and disadvantages of each. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions on where to allocate your resources.

What is SEO?

SEO, often called organic search, is the process of optimizing your web pages so that they organically appear near the top of SERPs for specific keyword searches.

What is PPC?

PPC is a marketing program in which manufacturers create advertisements that appear on SERPs for specific keyword searches. You pay a set amount each time your ad is clicked on.

When looking at a typical search engine results page, you’ll see that the sponsored PPC ads take up the first few positions (and sometimes the last few), and the organic, or SEO results, take up the rest of the results listings.

What are the advantages of SEO?

  • It may take a long time to achieve high rankings, but once you’ve reached the position you want to be in, you can often maintain a consistent, persistent presence on SERPs for specific keyword searches.
  • Websites that organically appear near the top on SERPs are often considered authority sites. If you are ranking high on specific SERPs, you will be perceived as an expert, which should help you build trust with your target audience.
  • You don’t need to pay for clicks, including those from unqualified users.

What are the disadvantages of SEO?

  • SEO is a long game. It can take months to rise in the rankings and there is no guarantee that you will.
  • Search engine algorithms can change, causing you to lose hard-earned high positions.
  • While you don’t have to pay for clicks, SEO is not free. You need expertise, time, and budget to research keywords; develop keyword-focused page content; write meta tags, descriptions, and snippets for search engines; execute an incoming link strategy; stay abreast of search engine algorithm changes; and more. SEO is both a specialized science and a creative art.

What are the advantages of PPC?

  • You can gain instant top-of-the-page positions and dominate SERPs for a given keyword category, if you’re willing to pay for that position.
  • Campaigns can be up and running quickly.
  • It’s your only alternative if your website isn’t built to be optimized for search engines.
  • You can target beyond keywords: by geography, for example, or by demographics on social media sites.

What are the disadvantages of PPC?

  • Costs can climb quickly, particularly for competitive keywords.
  • Many searchers ignore the paid ads and only focus on organic results.
  • Invariably, you will pay for some amount of unqualified traffic.
  • You must create ads and manage campaigns and budgets, or pay someone to do it.

Are there similarities between SEO and PPC?

  • Extensive keyword targeting is required to be successful at either.
  • Both require effective landing pages to convert users who click and visit your site.
  • Either tactic can get you near the top of SERPs.

How can you use SEO and PPC together?

Ultimately, both SEO and PPC belong in your search engine marketing strategy. How you use them in conjunction with each other depends on your timeframe, budget, and goals.

As stated above, SEO is the long game. Use it to gain visibility for your best products, services, and value propositions—those that are foundational and don’t change much over time. Find the keywords that are the best fit and optimize specific pages for them.

While waiting for your SEO efforts to deliver results, you can fill in with PPC ads. You can also use paid search to quickly make a splash in new markets or to promote a time-sensitive offer. Additionally, having a website with good SEO will mean that when users visit your site after clicking on an ad, they’ll find what they’re looking for.

Used together and deployed appropriately, SEO and PPC can be effective tactics in every manufacturer’s marketing portfolio.

Marketing, General SEO

Pulse of Engineering Takeaways Part 2: Content Marketing

Make sure to also read: Pulse of Engineering – Part 1

IEEE GlobalSpec has recently published the results of its “2019 Pulse of Engineering” survey. The survey collected data about engineers’ work environment, the challenges and pressures they face, how they learn skills and manage knowledge, and more.

One of the key findings of the survey is that engineers are constantly seeking quality content from manufacturers. Good content from vendors helps to educate engineers and increase their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend.

But being an effective content marketer is not as simple as producing and publishing content. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Only by laser-focusing on your audience’s needs in this way can you build the trust that will lead to a long-term and fruitful relationship for both you and your engineering customers.

Here’s how:

Put your audience first.

Manufacturers are making strident improvements to their content marketing, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” developed by the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs and sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec.

However, there are still missteps. While manufacturing companies obviously need to explain how their products or services work, about half of the survey respondents said they always or frequently prioritize their promotional message over their audience’s informational needs when creating content for content marketing purposes.

This approach will likely not work. Engineers are wary of being “sold to.” Furthermore, promotional content is not what they are looking for.

The “Pulse of Engineering Report” found that, for engineers, three of their four leading content tools to complete projects are: technical documentation, product specification data, and datasheets (the fourth is software and development tools). Not surprisingly, none of these are overtly promotional materials.

If you can supply the technical content engineers are looking for, you will likely be in a better position to win business and become an essential ally to your customers.

Focus on their challenges.

Most engineers say that designs are becoming more complex/sophisticated, design cycles are shrinking, and there is more time-to-market pressure. These are serious challenges, and the manufacturer that can help them overcome these challenges can gain a significant advantage.

When creating content, focus on how your products and services can help speed up design cycles or reduce time-to-market pressures. In an era in which designs are more complex, does your content explain difficult concepts clearly, helping engineers grasp what you have to say quickly and easily? When you hit your customers’ pain points, they will respond to your messaging.

Help engineers advance their skills.

To increase their knowledge and skills, engineers most often rely on colleagues, books, online training courses, webinars, training courses offered by vendors, and technical white papers from vendors. Younger engineers are more likely than their older colleagues to rely on video as an information source.

Make sure that your content portfolio includes training, webinars, white papers, and videos that are designed to educate engineers and help them develop and improve their technical skills.

Exchange content for contact information.

The “2019 Pulse of Engineering” report found that 55 percent of engineers are willing to register on a website for access to technical documents. However, less than 20 percent are willing to pay for access to premium content, marking a steady decline over the past few years. More millennial engineers believe that all content should be free and open access.

Before you ask for an engineer to register to access technical content, make sure the content you are offering is of value to them. Only in that way can you entice them to give you their contact information, the first step in developing a mutually beneficial relationship.

The “2019 Pulse of Engineering” report has clear takeaways for manufacturers: Become the vendor that meets your audience’s information needs. Improve your content marketing efforts. Don’t be afraid to take a deep dive into your products and services, offering the technical, in-depth knowledge that engineers and technical professionals are looking for. They will thank you with their business.

Download your complimentary copy of the “2019 Pulse of Engineering” research report to get the complete survey results, along with analysis and recommendations for manufacturers.

Content Marketing Marketing, General

The Five “Bonus Benefits” of Content Marketing

The majority of manufacturing content marketers (52 percent) say that their organizations are extremely/very committed to content marketing, with another 40 percent saying they are somewhat committed, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019”, a research report authored by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs.

The top three goals that manufacturers have achieved using content marketing in the past 12 months are creating brand awareness, educating audiences, and generating demand/leads. These are all worthy goals and justification for engaging in content marketing, which by nature is a long game.

Planning, creating, distributing, and tracking content takes time and resources, and building brand awareness and educating audiences doesn’t happen overnight. Because the investment is significant and the results are not always immediate, content marketers may begin to question their strategy and experience frustration.

But we urge all content marketers to stay the course, not only to stay on track toward achieving their stated benefits, but because content marketing can help your organization realize many additional “bonus benefits.”

These include:

1. Gain greater credibility.

While credibility is related to brand awareness, it is a benefit in its own right. Ninety percent of manufacturing content marketers agree that their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource.

When you’re focused on using content to educate your audience, to provide valuable information to help them through their buying cycle, when you’re seen as being a helpful partner rather than aggressively trying to sell, you build credibility.

And the credibility earned isn’t limited to your target audience. The overall market will discover that your company is known as trustworthy and believable, which leads to the second bonus benefit.

2. Earn a reputation as an expert.

Content marketers work hard to balance their company’s need to promote products and services with their audiences’ needs for objective information that will help them make a better purchasing decision. Create the right balance and your company earns a reputation: That’s the company that does “X.” That’s the “Y” company. They’re experts in “Z.”

Every marketer knows you can’t be everything to everyone, but if you can be something important to your target audience, that is a huge win and a bonus benefit. In business, reputation precedes all else. Customers want to buy from vendors who have reputations as experts.

3. Strengthen relationships with your sales team.

The number one way content marketers research their target audience is through feedback from the sales team. Your salespeople are the ones closest to the customer and have access to inside information about customer needs, challenges, and objections. Content marketing offers opportunities for marketing and sales teams to collaborate, which in turn can strengthen relationships between the two groups.

Sales and marketing teams will be more integrated and will work toward a common goal if they are on the same page in terms of who the organization is trying to target, what type of content will be most effective, and how the content can be used.

4. Create recruitment opportunities.

Content that you create will likely have a prominent place on your website for all to see. It’s not just your potential customers looking at your website, it’s anyone who has an interest in your company, including prospective employees, who always visit a company’s website.

Recruiting talented professionals is a competitive business. If potential employees see that your content is clear, informative, and helpful, they will gain a positive impression and likely be more interested in working for your organization.

5. Spread consistent messaging across the company.

Marketing produces more messaging and positioning content for a company than any other department. If it’s quality content, other departments will use it – not just your sales team. Others may not use your marketing content in its complete form, but lifted paragraphs, sections, key points and other content can be helpful to customer support, finance, the executive team and others. It wouldn’t be unusual for content produced by marketing to appear in an annual report or a letter to investors.

Another benefit is that if various departments are making use of marketing content, workload for others is reduced and the entire company stays on message.

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Pulse of Engineering – Part 1

New Research Reveals Insight into Engineers

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

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

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

The pressure on engineers is constant.

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

In addition:

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

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

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

Engineers are concerned about a knowledge drain.

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

A major contributor to knowledge drain is that almost half of companies have no formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage, or retain their knowledge among others in the organization. This leads not only to the loss of important skills, but also to the loss of knowledge of vendor relationships.

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

Competition is fierce.

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

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

Performance measurements matter.

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

Not surprisingly, most engineers meet their top objectives:

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

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

What career factors are most important to engineers.

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

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

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

View the complete survey results.

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

Market Research Marketing, General

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit – Part 2

Last month in Part 1 of our 2020 Marketing Planning series, we offered advice on how to assess the performance of your current marketing program, account for industry trends that will affect your strategy moving forward, and align your marketing plan with your company’s overall business goals and objectives. Read Part 1 here.

This month, in Part 2, we are offering tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan that fits your budget, provides measurable results, and targets your audience of engineers and industrial professionals.

Focus on the channels your target audience uses.

When researching a work-related purchase, the top three channels that engineers use are search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites. These channels are foundational elements in your marketing mix.

E-newsletters, industry websites, social media, email, webinars, and trade shows are all important information sources for your customers and have influence on their buying decisions. At the same time, your audience relies on other channels to keep up with the latest technologies, including industry news, products, and companies.

Of course, you can’t use every possible marketing channel available to you, since resources are always limited, but you also can’t focus solely on only one or two channels. Instead, try to diversify your marketing spend across multiple channels to generate the results you need.

Seek efficiency and integration across channels.

The marketing channels where you allocate budget should work together to reach your audience at every stage of their buy cycle. Early buy-stage resources such as search engines and websites should point the way to useful, educational content that you can distribute through email, social media, webinars, and other channels.

Plan to use multiple channels for important events such as new product launches, updates, or technology announcements. Make sure each channel upholds a consistent brand message and contributes to your stated marketing goals. When your marketing efforts are integrated across channels, you will experience a spike in efficiency and will likely achieve better results.

Plan your cornerstone content.

Engineers and technical professionals are constantly in search of content to help them solve problems, understand new technologies, and make more informed buying decisions. Being a provider of valuable, authoritative content helps position your company as an industry expert, builds trust with prospects, and ultimately makes it easier to sell your products and services to drive revenue.

While impromptu content needs will pop up throughout the year, you should plan several cornerstone pieces of content. What key white papers, webinars, or articles will you need to support your goals in 2020? By planning now, you can avoid the long lead times that producing quality content requires.

In addition, plan what channels you will use for distributing content. Here’s where your multichannel strategy pays off. For example, you can promote a webinar in an e-newsletter advertisement or on social media and drive prospects to your site to register.

Set aside budget for new markets.

Given the almost instant worldwide reach of digital marketing channels, you should plan to explore new, untapped sectors where your products and services may be a good fit. Manufacturers that can display their products and services simultaneously across multiple markets will have the best opportunity to gain new customers.

You may need to tweak your content or messaging in order to appeal to customers across different sectors. Focus on your core value propositions. Ad networks and targeted e-newsletter advertising are effective ways to reach specific customers in new markets.

Determine your measurement strategy.

Everyone knows the saying that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. How will you measure your marketing ROI?

Many manufacturers are allocating a greater percentage of their marketing budget to digital programs, which your audience turns to first for researching work-related purchases and are easily measurable.  Views, opens, clicks, shares, downloads, and conversions are all trackable data points.

Marketing automation is growing in popularity as a way to measure results, as well as to manage campaigns and content distribution. Marketing automation makes it easier to track the multiple touches that a prospect will typically have with your company throughout their buy cycle, helping you understand the contribution of each channel. There are a number of low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market.

Work with media partners.

Preparing an integrated, multichannel marketing plan is challenging, which is why it’s best to start now. But you shouldn’t have to do it alone. As you begin, consult with an experienced media partner that understands and has the attention of the industrial audience you need to reach. Discuss your marketing objectives and have your media partners show you an integrated, multichannel media plan that will help achieve your goals and objectives.

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit

IEEE GlobalSpec created the 2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you develop an effective marketing plan that targets your audience of engineering and technical professionals. Get a jump on 2020 and add this valuable resource to your planning efforts today. Click here to download.

Content Marketing E-Mail Marketing Marketing ROI Marketing, General Multichannel Marketing