Three Industrial Marketing Predictions for 2018

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There might be as many marketing predictions out there for 2018 as there are marketing gurus. Everyone has their crystal ball out this time of year. Here at the Maven, we focus exclusively on the industrial sector. Our top three predictions for 2018 are all about you and what we expect you’ll be doing in the upcoming year.

1. Industrial Marketers Will Expand Multichannel Capabilities

Recent data from a survey sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec and conducted by the Content Marketing Institute reveals that B2B marketers are using eight different marketing tactics in the development of content. Social media content (83 percent), blogs (80 percent) and email newsletters (77 percent) rise to the top as the most frequent tactics used.

The most successful marketers in 2018 will use a mix of push/outbound (email, tradeshows) and pull/inbound marketing tactics (corporate website, online catalogs). Currently, 50 percent of industrial marketers are using such a mix. Only 26 percent are satisfied with their marketing mix and only 25 percent are satisfied with their online marketing efforts (with 50 percent neutral).

These results indicate an opportunity for marketers to expand and diversify their mix more, especially in online channels, to better connect with their audience.  Past research about the “Cross-Media Multiplier” demonstrates the performance benefits of diversifying your marketing spend across multiple digital media channels rather than relying on a single platform

2. Industrial Marketers Will Document their Strategies

Forty-one percent of B2B marketers have a content strategy but it’s not documented, compared to 19 percent who have a documented strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute survey.

It’s great to have a concept or general idea of where you want to go and what you want to achieve, but that’s not always enough to succeed. It’s all about having a clear and concise strategy that is documented, reviewed, and shared company-wide with all active participants so that everyone is aligned and aware of your marketing goals. Too many companies are starting from scratch every year, which is inefficient and can waste resources, but this will be the year that industrial marketers document their strategies to serve as signposts as well as a measuring stick of performance against expectations.

3. Industrial Marketers Will Work with Partners for Content Marketing

If you are like most industrial marketers, content marketing is going to play a role in your 2018 plan. However, content marketing, while an essential marketing strategy, presents a number of challenges you must overcome. Industrial marketers cite a lack of internal resources, difficulty in producing engaging content on a regular basis, and distributing content to their target audience as three of their more pressing challenges.

To overcome these challenges, more industrial marketers will turn to partners for help. The right partner will have deep knowledge and expertise in your technical field so they can help you create targeted, relevant content without having to take a long time to get up to speed. The right partner will also be able to create a variety of content types, including white papers, native advertising, technical briefs, e-books, webinars, infographics, and more.

A trusted media partner will also be able to turn your goals and objectives into action by designing effective campaigns to get your content in front of your target audience. Make sure you work with a partner that has the capabilities to offer comprehensive reports about the performance of your content and the ability to identify who is accessing it.

 

Marketing Trends Marketing, General

Five Marketing Resolutions for 2018

As marketers we tend to start off each new year with a mix of excitement and concern. We’re excited because the marketing canvas is clean, our plans are plentiful, and success lies just ahead. But we’re also concerned— we’re starting from scratch, we have to choose among many marketing ideas, and there’s always the chance we don’t meet expectations.

To stay confident in 2018, adopt some marketing resolutions. Here are five specific strategies and tactics you can resolve to adopt to help you have a successful year in marketing.

1. Stick with the channels your customers use

In this era of digital media, there is a proliferation of channels commanding attention from engineers. Technical professionals have more digital tools and sources of information that help them to do their jobs better and more efficiently. They are also exposed to more companies and have many options when ready to buy. This leaves marketers having to choose among many possible channels for their marketing investments.

Resolve to use the channels that your customers use. This will give you the greatest opportunity to connect with your target audience.

When researching a work-related purchase, the top three channels for technical professionals are search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites. However, your audience uses many other channels to keep up with the latest technologies and product news. In addition to the top three, continue to invest in e-newsletters, webinars, in-person tradeshows, and industry websites and publications. These are all important industry information sources for your customers.

2. Use both creative and directional advertising

Creative advertising generates awareness for your brand in the marketplace, helping your target audience understand who you are and what you have to offer. Banner ads, webinars, technical articles—these are good vehicles for creating awareness.

Directional advertising is where professionals turn to find a business like yours. They know exactly what they are looking for and simply need to find the right supplier. Online catalogs, e-newsletters, and search engines are marketing tactics often used to capture potential buyers. Your company website can serve as both an awareness and lead generation machine.

By implementing both creative and directional strategies, you will build awareness among the potential customers you want to reach—and be there when they are researching or making a purchasing decision.

3. Deliver the content potential buyers need

Content is critical to the buying process. According to the IEEE GlobalSpec Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, 70 percent of buyers review four or more pieces of content prior to purchases greater than $10,000. Being a provider of valuable, authoritative content positions your company as an expert in your industry; builds trust with your prospects; and ultimately makes it easier to sell your products and services, and drive revenue.

It’s important that your marketing collateral and website are up-to-date. If you choose to enter new markets, you may need to revise some messaging and re-purpose existing case studies, white papers and other materials. Create an inventory of content assets and determine what else is needed to move your customers through the buy cycle. Do it now to avoid long lead times.

4. Be mindful of measurement

You’re likely under pressure to justify marketing expenditures and show a return on marketing investment. You also might need to change marketing plans mid-journey if you are not getting the results you expected. Measurement is the key to supporting marketing decisions and justifying budgets.

Today, the most effective marketing programs are ones that demonstrate branding, awareness and engagement opportunities for your company. Online channels, which easily lend themselves to measurement (views, clicks, conversions, etc.), let you easily see what is working in order to focus marketing dollars on the most successful programs.

5. Work with new media partners

You shouldn’t have to navigate the complexities of industrial marketing alone. The beginning of the year is a good time to consult with an experienced media partner that understands and has the attention of the industrial audience you need to reach.

Discuss your marketing objectives with your media partners and have them show you an integrated, multichannel media plan that will help achieve your goals and objectives. Remember that media partners are your allies—they want you to succeed as much as you do.

Marketing, General

Don’t Make These Three Marketing Mistakes

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Marketing in the industrial sector is increasingly complex. Your audience of engineers and technical professionals has access to more information during the buy cycle, and are exposed to more buying options than ever.

As a marketer, you must allocate a limited budget across multiple channels in order to best connect with customers and prospects. It can be a daunting process, and errors are often made. Here are three of the biggest errors marketers make and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Failing to Monitor Marketing Programs

The phrase “you can only manage what you can measure” is true. If you don’t know what‘s working and what’s not, then you can’t make appropriate changes to improve your marketing effectiveness.

According to the soon-to-be-published “2017 Trends in Industrial Marketing” report, the top measurements for marketing success are customer acquisition, sales attributed to marketing campaigns and customer satisfaction.

Customer acquisition is relatively straightforward to measure: How many new customers did we gain through our marketing programs? Similarly, you can get a grasp on customer satisfaction easily by looking at customer retention rates and conducting customer surveys.

Sales attributed to marketing campaigns takes more nuance to measure. Don’t fall into the “last click” trap, which attributes sales only to the last action your customer took before purchasing. In fact, many influencing actions took place before the final one. Page views, clicks, completed forms, downloads, shares, comments and more can all be counted.

The point is to keep measuring programs. Count every interaction with customers and prospects, and determine which ones work best and are deserving of more resources, and which need refining or eliminating.

Mistake #2: Moving Ahead Without a Plan

The infamous fourth quarter push is beginning, and the 2018 will quickly follow. Are you developing your road map for the future? Set aside time now to brainstorm your goals and objectives, review your results to date, and plan your tactics for the year ahead, including marketing channels that align with your goals.

Be sure to check in with your sales team to ensure that your channels and campaigns are delivering the kind of exposure and engagement opportunities that ultimately support sales. Include both push/outbound tactics (email, tradeshows) and pull/inbound (online directories and catalogs, search engine optimization, etc.) in your marketing mix.

This is often a good time to plan because budgets for 2018 are being formed. As marketers, you must be able to defend budgets by pointing to past results and forecasting expected ROI on marketing programs. This data takes time to gather and interpret, so again, now is the time to make a plan.

Mistake #3: Neglecting to Maximize Your Media Partner Relationships

While planning and accountability are essential to any marketing program, you shouldn’t be expected to shoulder the burden on your own. Marketers site a lack of resources as their biggest challenge today (2017 Trends in Industrial Marketing). Budgets are remaining mostly steady, while the number of available marketing channels continues to grow.

This an ideal time to find a trusted, expert media partner who can help you optimize your mix of channels and get the most out of your budget, while allowing you to free up some internal resources for other efforts. No matter the size of your company, whether you need strategic advice or detailed planning, the right media partner is your essential ally, not only during planning and budgeting, but while you are in the midst of executing and measuring campaign results.

Marketing, General

The Two Types of Marketing Essential to Your Success

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Most industrial marketers are familiar with the terms push and pull marketing. Others use the phrases outbound and inbound marketing, or creative and directional. Whatever their names, these two types of marketing are essential to your success.

Though they are different, creative and directional advertising must work together to form an integrated marketing strategy. As you begin your initial marketing planning for 2018, keep these two approaches in mind.

Push, Outbound, Creative

These are the classic marketing tactics, where you push your message out to create brand awareness or raise a need in your audience.

  • Examples: Direct mail, email blasts, online ads, mobile text marketing, event marketing, telephone calls
  • Benefits: The marketer controls the timing, channel, content and frequency of outbound promotions. Tactics help build brand visibility in the market and awareness among your audience.
  • Challenges: Because push marketing is disruptive, many of those you reach will have no interest in your message at the time when it arrives. Also, while the marketer is in control of the campaign, the customer decides whether or not to pay attention to your marketing efforts.
  • Best practices: Segment your audience as much as possible by advertising on industry-specific sites or emailing only to a target audience.

Pull, Inbound, Directional

Although this type of marketing has been around for years (i.e., a person with a recognized need used to turn to the yellow pages), the rise of the internet and the digital age has led to the dramatic growth in pull marketing.

Directional advertising is placing your business in front of people who are actually looking for your product or service. Your audience has a recognized need and is searching for a solution. Your goal is to make sure they find you.

  • Examples: Supplier websites, presence on industry websites, search engine optimization/paid keyword search, social media recommendations, public relations/article placement
  • Benefits: Ability to connect with your target audience when they are motivated and searching, particularly early in their buy cycle before they make contact with a vendor. Typically, lower cost per opportunity generated
  • Challenges: Requires optimal allocation of resources across the variety of channels that your customers use today to access information and search for products, services and suppliers
  • Best use: Focus on maintaining an effective company website as well as building a broad and visible presence on industry sites that your customers use on a regular basis

Putting Creative and Directional Together

You need both creative and directional tactics to execute an effective marketing program. By implementing both strategies, you will build awareness among the potential customers you want to reach, and be highly visible to them when they are researching or making a purchasing decision.

Push and pull tactics work hand-in-hand for greater efficiency and effectiveness. For example, a web page optimized for specific search terms (pull) that you also drive prospects to using email blasts or banner advertising (push).

Another example is a supplier hub on Engineering360.com where engineers can find you when searching for solutions like those you offer (pull), and where you can also drive traffic to your hub or products through display ads on the site or by advertising in a targeted e-newsletter.

According to the upcoming Trends in Industrial Marketing research report, 69 percent of industrial marketers use both push and pull marketing tactics, but say they could be diversifying their mix more. How do you find the right mix? You can get more tips about creative and directional advertising, plus tools and recommendations to build a stellar marketing plan, in the just-published 2018 Marketing Planning Kit. Download your complimentary copy today.

Marketing, General Multichannel Marketing

How Many Marketing Channels Are You Using? Why the Cross Media Multiplier Can Work For You

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By this time of the year, you should have a good idea of how your 2017 marketing plan is performing. You may even be looking ahead to 2018.

The recently updated Marketing Planning Kit is designed to help you assess your current marketing mix with an eye toward creating an even stronger marketing plan for next year. Let’s take a look at why the channels you’re using matters.

Many digital channels are available to marketers and engineers.

Technical professionals have more digital tools and information sources than ever before to do their jobs better and more efficiently. When customers have many tools at their disposal, you need to broaden and deepen your presence to engage them in ways that match their searching and sourcing preferences.

With your customers being exposed to more companies and having many options when ready to buy, you might discover competitors you never knew existed.

Only by diversifying your marketing spend across multiple channels can you generate the results you need, including brand visibility as well as contact quantity and quality. Expanding your media program to multiple channels will put your company and products front and center during the early stages of the buying cycle, when prospects are seeking suppliers and before they are ready to make contact.

Simply stated, you will earn higher ROI investing in well-designed cross media campaigns than by relying solely on any single media channel. This is known as the Cross Media Multiplier.

Marketers are expanding the number of channels they use.

Analyst firm Outsell anticipates the number of tools in the marketing stack to increase between the years 2016 and 2018. In 2016, 58 percent of companies used between 1-5 marketing channels and 18 percent used between 6-10. By 2018, 45 percent will use 1-5 marketing channels and 23 percent will use 6-10.

According to the “Industrial Marketing Trends Survey” conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, 69%  percent of industrial marketers use both push/outbound marketing channels (email marketing, e-newsletter advertising, et al.) and pull/inbound marketing channels (company website, SEO, catalog listings, et al.)

Content marketing tactics and distribution channels are on the rise.

Most B2B marketers are making extensive use of content marketing to demonstrate thought leadership, increase brand awareness, educate potential customers, and generate quality engagement opportunities.

Research from Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs, “2017 Manufacturing Content Marketing,” found that:

  • B2B manufacturing marketers report that their organizations use an average of 8 content marketing tactics, including e-newsletters, videos, white papers, and social media.
  • On average, manufacturing marketers use four paid advertising methods to promote/distribute content.

For your 2018 marketing plan, choose a number of key channels you know work for you, and also experiment with several newer opportunities.

When researching a work-related purchase, the top three channels for technical professionals are search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites.

In reality, your audience uses many other digital channels to keep up with the latest technologies, product news, companies and brands—all of which influence buying decisions. E-newsletters, industry sites, social media, video sharing sites, webinars and email are all important industry information sources for your customers.

Include your media partners when evaluating marketing channels.

Planning an integrated, multichannel marketing program is no easy task, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. Take time to consult with an experienced digital media partner that understands and has the attention of the industrial audience you need to reach. Discuss your marketing objectives and have them show you multichannel plan that will help achieve your goals and objectives.

IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions produced a Marketing Planning Kit to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your current marketing choices, calculate the value of existing marketing programs, understand today’s marketing landscape, and plan more effective strategies for 2018. Our intent is to help you define and achieve your marketing goals and objectives for the year ahead.

Download your complimentary copy of the Marketing Planning Kit and get a head start on your 2018 plan today.

Marketing, General

How to Connect with Younger Engineers

As a marketer, you likely have long-term relationships with many seasoned engineers who are in leadership roles and in a position to influence decisions and make purchases. You’re probably comfortable communicating with this engineer. They are likely comfortable with your brand and know what you stand for.

These engineers are the strongest advocates for your products, services, brand, and company. Additionally, they can pass their preferences to younger engineers or to colleagues at other companies if they change jobs. Clearly, you should continue to focus on nurturing these technical professionals in your marketing efforts.

At the same time, many older engineers are nearing retirement. Forty-seven percent have been in the engineering field for 30 or more years, and 22 percent for 20-29 years, according to the “2017 Pulse of the Engineer Survey” from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions. Younger engineers, many of them millennials, are beginning to step into positions of authority. This requires you to cultivate new relationships with the next generation of customers.

While many aspects of marketing to engineers hold true regardless of your customer’s age, younger technical professionals have their own preferences that vary slightly from the habits of their older colleagues. Follow these tips to make stronger connections with the next generation of engineers:

Make digital your primary focus.

According to the “Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions, millennials use a variety of channels in their buying process and there is no single channel preferred. They use social media more than their older colleagues, conduct more product searches , read more news and more e-newsletters. The three most popular channels to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs. You can connect with engineers young and old by having a broad and consistent online.

Build a presence in online forums.

Online forums have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them. The top three activities in online forums are finding technical support (57 percent), searching for product information (52 percent) and viewing videos (40 percent).

Use content to build trust.

Younger engineers may not be familiar with your brand or value propositions.. It’s important that you provide relevant, educational information to them to help build trust for your brand and to increase your younger prospect’s confidence in choosing to work with your company. You can also build trust through Customer case studies that demonstrate ROI, clear warranty and support policies, as well as white papers and articles. Consider working with an industry analyst or respected media partner to sponsor a white paper or research. You can also sponsor a webinar hosted by a trusted third party.

Develop quick-hitting content that is easily consumed.

Sometimes your younger audience wants to dig deep with a 3,000-word white paper. But often, they prefer nuggets of valuable content. This can include a few charts and graphs showing industry trends or product performance, or A two-minute video that explains a technical process or how your product works. You can usually parse longer content such as white papers and webinars into smaller, discrete chunks that can easily be consumed and shared.

Update your website regularly.

Engineers of any age want the latest information, whether it comes from their news feeds or your website. Make sure the content on your site is fresh and reflects your most recent positioning and product portfolio. Purge the old and outdated. If you work with media partners to publish an online catalog or gain industry exposure, make sure your catalog, featured products and banner ads represent and highlight your newest offerings.

Optimize for mobile devices.

While engineers still do the majority of their heavy-lifting work on desktop computers, their mobile usage is increasing. This is especially true for younger engineers, who use their phones for reading email and articles, and conducting product searches. Websites and email should adhere to responsive design standards, so that they can easily be scanned, read and searched on mobile devices. Make sure that media partners and other vendors you work with are mobile friendly and follow best practices for displaying websites on mobile devices. It’s frustrating to users when they have trouble viewing content on their mobile devices. Younger technical professionals might quickly turn elsewhere.

What do you think? Have you struggled to connect with the next generation, or do you already have a strategy in place?

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing, General Thought Leadership

Why You Should Take Time for a Mid-Year Marketing Checkup

Believe it or not, you’ve been executing your 2017 marketing plan for six months. How’s it going? Whether you’re floundering or charging full steam ahead, we recommend you perform a mid-year marketing checkup.

A mid-year checkup will help you take steps to keep your marketing plan healthy and on course. You’ll discover what’s working, what’s not, and what you can do to improve results (there’s always opportunity for improvement). This post offers you several ways to approach the checkup and how to take action based on what you find.

Analyze Quantitative Data

If measurable marketing objectives are part of your plan, you can compare a snapshot of current marketing data against those benchmarks. Gather up reports from your online media partners, social platforms, and web analytics programs, as well as your in house reporting tools. Take a good look at your click-through rates on e-newsletter ads, attendees and engagement opportunities from webinars, video views and time spent viewing videos, and white paper downloads.

Are you halfway to your goals? Are there any surprises—pleasant or unpleasant?

A challenge arises if you didn’t set up measurable goals at the beginning of the year, are using programs that are difficult to measure, or established only general objectives such as “increase brand awareness in our target markets” or “generate leads for sales” or “increase customer satisfaction.”

If this is your situation, take time now to determine what metrics are important, re-allocate resources to measurable programs, and commit to tracking performance for the remainder of the year.

Collect Qualitative Data

Talk to sales people about their volume and quality of engagement opportunities. Ask if they have any feedback on your marketing programs. Ask if any of their customers have said anything (positive or negative) about your company’s marketing presence or messaging.

Speak to customer service managers to find out what customers are saying. Ask your company’s executives what they’re hearing in the market. Perhaps the best strategy would be talking to a few customers or prospects and asking them what they find engaging about your market presence.

If you work with partners or distributors, make sure you check in with them. Are they aware of your marketing programs? Have they noticed anything about your company’s presence in the market?

Look for common themes in the anecdotal information you compile. What story does it tell? Between quantitative data and qualitative data, you’ll have a great understanding of how marketing is performing.

Look ahead

If you’re halfway to or ahead of year-end goals, you deserve congratulations. But if the metrics and anecdotal evidence show that your marketing is not as healthy as it needs to be, now is the time to make adjustments. If your business is dependent on the seasons or if the fourth quarter is always your biggest, you should account for those variations before drawing conclusions and jumping to make changes.

When deciding where to make changes for the second half of the year, follow these tips:

• Take resources from programs that aren’t working or whose performance you can’t measure, and put them into measurable programs that are more specifically aligned with your goals.

• Add more resource to programs that are working well. Keep in mind that at some point a program could be “saturated” and you’ll experience diminishing returns.

• Diversify your marketing spending across a greater variety of programs—as long as each one can laser target your audience and the programs work together as a cohesive whole.

• Share your results with your media partners and/or your marketing agency to get their recommendations.

• Change your marketing goals. This isn’t the cover-up it might sound like. If your industry or the economic climate has changed, or if something occurs beyond your control (budget reduction, acquisition, elimination of product line), you may need to change your plans for the second half of the year.

• Pick one or two new or revised objectives you want to achieve over the rest of the year, determine the measurements of success, and adjust your marketing resources to achieve them.

Most of all, stay optimistic, make decisions based on data whenever possible, work hard, and keep marketing. You’re halfway there.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Measurement Marketing ROI Marketing, General

Video and the Industrial Marketing Star

 

Two-thirds of engineers now use YouTube or other video-sharing websites for work-related purposes, as reported in the upcoming “2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey.

If video isn’t yet part of your marketing campaigns, now’s the time to get the camera rolling. According to the “B2B Content Marketing” research report published by the Content Marketing Institute, 79 percent of B2B marketers used video as a content marketing tactic in 2016 and 62 percent rate it as an effective tactic.

Consider these other statistics compiled by the marketing firm Hubspot:
• 90 percent of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process.
• Video can dramatically increase conversion rates. Video in an email increases click-through rates 200-300 percent. Including video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80 percent.
• 59 percent of executives would rather watch video than read text.

How to Get Started
If you’ve read the Maven for any length of time, you already know the first step in getting started with a new marketing tactic or campaign: establish your goals.
Stating your marketing goals will not only help you create a more concise, compelling video, it will guide you toward the metrics you need to track in order to measure your results. Your goal might be to:

• Generate an engagement opportunity
• Build brand awareness
• Educate the market about a trend or new technology
• Demonstrate a product or technical concept
• Entertain your audience

Whatever your purpose, there are a group of metrics that can help you determine how successful your video is. Some metrics you might consider include:

• Number of follow-throughs on your call-to-action
• Number of views
• Length of view (it’s important to know how many viewers dropped off before the video reaches the end)
• Number of shares via social media or email
• Number of comments/questions from viewers
Choose the metrics that are aligned with your goals, and track them for as long as your video is part of your campaign.

What Engineers Are Watching
Engineers and technical professionals have a strong preference for specific types of videos. According to the “2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector,” survey, how-to videos/tutorials (86 percent), product demos (85 percent) and training videos (71 percent) are the three most popular types of content to watch on video-sharing websites such as YouTube.

Purpose Drives Production Values
If you’re creating a corporate or investor presentation for your company, you might want to hire a professional video production company and go for all the bells and whistles. But if you’re demonstrating how to use a product or interviewing an expert, the video capabilities on your smartphone should do the trick. The two most important production values are lighting and sound. Make sure your video can be clearly seen and heard.

Short videos are more effective than longer ones. Your video should be between to be 1-3 minutes long and highly targeted. Focus on a single topic, such as a brief product demo, or three questions with an expert. Short videos with targeted keywords rank better for search optimization than do broad, general videos.
Other videos might be longer, such as recorded webinars or speeches. Whether short or long, you must capture and hold viewer interest. The best way to do that is to be relevant to your audience. They will watch what matters to them.

Channels to Post Video
Your video, no matter how great, is nothing if it’s not widely shared. In addition to YouTube, embed the video onto your website and your email sends.
Finally, digital marketing partners such as IEEE GlobalSpec offer marketers the opportunity to showcase videos on company profile pages and in e-newsletters, helping to further engage their audience and generate interest in their company, products and services.

Content Marketing Demand Generation Digital Media Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General Video

Are You Generating the Right Kind of Leads?

For most marketers, generating leads is their number one priority. Without leads, there won’t be many sales, and without sales . . . well, you know what happens next.

However, it’s not enough to simply produce an impressive volume of leads and toss them over to your sales team. Any seasoned salesperson will tell you that quality is preferable to quantity. Moreover, if marketing efforts focus solely on quantity rather than quality, fewer opportunities will convert, sales people will distrust these opportunities, and your marketing team may lose credibility in your organization.

Is your company generating the right kind of leads, or just a bucketful of the wrong kind? Here are some tips on how to weed through them to see which are right for your organization.

Attributes that signal lead quality
Timeliness: Engagement opportunities that arrive in real time, as they are generated from marketing programs, are more likely to convert to a sale than those that are weeks or even days old. Therefore, your actions play a role in determining the quality of a lead. If you don’t respond to inquiries quickly, potential buyers will move to find other vendors who are responsive to their needs.

Lead source: Leads from general search engines or unknown sources are unlikely to be as valuable as a lead from a website or publication that is directly targeted to your audience and industry. Leads from targeted sources have already met some qualification criteria as soon as they are generated.

Details: The more detail you can capture from a prospect, the more quickly you can determine if you have the right kind of lead. That doesn’t mean you should present prospects with long, cumbersome forms to fill out. Instead, capture just enough information to know whether continued dialog is worthwhile.

Buyer profiles: If a prospect shares attributes—such as similar titles, company sizes, industries, and specified needs— with some of your best or most recent customers, you likely have the right kind of lead on your hands, and your products and services are probably a good fit.

Social Engagement: You should be regularly monitoring your brands for mentions on social media. Jump on any opportunities by responding to those mentions and trying to cultivate new relationships. You may end up with a good lead, or, if the mention was negative, you may have an opportunity to repair any brand damage.

Tell us – what are your tried and true markers for a quality lead? How do you generate these leads?

Demand Generation Lead Management Marketing, General

The Story of Content Marketing in Five Statistics

The results are in! Content Marketing Institute recently released the research report, “Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.”

Sponsored by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions, the report proclaims: “In the four years we’ve been reporting on how manufacturers use content marketing, this year’s results reveal the most progress they’ve made thus far. The fact that we see a 72 percent increase over last year in the percentage of manufacturing marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy indicates they’ve taken one of the most important steps toward achieving content marketing success: putting their strategy in writing.”

Not all of the research results point to success, however, and manufacturers must still overcome a number of content marketing challenges. The following five statistics, taken directly from the report, shed light on the state of content marketing today in the manufacturing sector.

1. Eighty-five percent of manufacturers are using content marketing
Manufacturers get it: content marketing is important. Done right, content marketing increases brand awareness and engagement opportunities with motivated prospects. Successful marketers set content marketing goals, establish metrics, and measure results.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers are experts at content marketing. Only 19 percent would rate their content marketing maturity level as sophisticated or mature. That’s okay, for now. Almost all manufacturers are in the game, and should become more sophisticated as they gain more experience.
You still have to wonder about the 15 percent not using content marketing. What’s their story? It’s all in the report.

2. Forty-nine percent are extremely or very committed to content marketing
Look a little further and you’ll find that 74 percent of companies that say they’re successful at content marketing also indicate that they are extremely or very committed to content marketing. Only 23 percent of the least successful companies say they are committed to content marketing.

No surprise there – commitment and success go hand-in-hand. Overall, marketers are improving: 59 percent are much more or somewhat more successful with content marketing than they were a year ago.

Increased success in content marketing was attributed to factors including: content creation (higher quality, more efficient); strategy (development or adjustment); content marketing has become a greater priority; spending more time on content marketing; and content distribution (better targeting, identification of what works)

3. Seventy-eight percent of manufacturing marketers use email newsletters
Email is the top content marketing tactic, and was also rated as the most important tactic to overall content marketing success, further reinforcing email’s importance to industrial marketing efforts.

The next most popular content marketing tactics are, in order: social media content, video, in-person events, print magazines, and blogs. Ebooks/white papers are also in the top 10, with 49 percent of respondents using that tactic. The average number of tactics used is eight.

In terms of paid content promotion, manufacturing marketers use an average of four methods, with social promotion, print, search engine marketing, banner ads, and native advertising rounding out the top five.

4. Eighty-two percent say that brand awareness is their top content marketing goal
While lead generation is often a marketers’ top goal, this isn’t the case when it comes to content marketing campaigns. Why? Content marketing can’t and shouldn’t stand alone. Rather, it should be included as part of an integrated program – to gain the attention of a target audience, educate and inform them, demonstrate thought leadership, and build brand awareness. And yes—generate leads.

Other content marketing goals include lead generation (71 percent), engagement (70 percent), sales (62 percent), lead nurturing (58 percent) and customer retention/loyalty (53 percent).

5. Sixty-seven percent don’t have enough time to devote to content marketing
Like economics, marketing can be considered a science of scarcity: how to allocate limited time, budget, and resources to what seems like an unlimited amount of marketing that must be done.

Lack of time was cited as the number one factor that resulted in stagnant content marketing success in the past year. Other leading factors included content creation challenges—62 percent; and strategy issues (lack of strategy, developing/adjusting strategy)—51 percent.

The reality is that content marketing can be a huge undertaking. You need to develop a coherent and integrated content marketing strategy, define measurable goals, create and distribute content, track performance and more.

And yet, 57 percent of industrial companies are limited to a one person marketing/content marketing team that serves the entire organization. That’s a lot of pressure.

Companies strapped for content marketing resources—yet still committed to content marketing because of its proven value—should consider using content marketing services from their media partners. IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions offers expert content marketing services to help you develop compelling content, get it into the hands of your target audience, and generate engagement opportunities. You can find out more here.

And don’t forget to download your complimentary copy of the research report: “Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.”
 

Content Marketing E-Mail Marketing Market Research Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General