Industrial marketers are becoming more adept at producing the technical and educational content engineers are looking for. This audience also needs information about a company that will build a sense of trust to help reassure them during these challenging times.
One way you can give engineers confidence about buying from your company is to align your messaging with the goals and measurements used to evaluate the performance of an engineering team or department.
Customer service is the single most important performance target, chosen by 27 percent of engineers. Twenty-five percent said product quality is most important.
Both product quality and meeting launch dates can fit under the umbrella of factors that determine overall customer satisfaction. In this way, all the factors of performance measurement are related.
You can fine-tune your messaging related to each of these areas:
Satisfy your customers and they will be more likely to satisfy theirs. Customers at any level are satisfied when they perceive value in their purchases. That means no unpleasant surprises, components fitting and working as expected, and responsive and knowledgeable customer support when needed.
When your customers are confident in what you are providing them, they in turn will be more confident in successfully completing their projects.
Fifty-seven percent of engineers report that product quality is a performance measurement for them. In your marketing messages to engineers, demonstrate how your products, components, parts, and services contribute to final product quality. Do you source the finest materials? Do you build to exacting standards? Do your products have a proven track record of reliability and expedient support? Use your own strengths as a company to help your customers showcase theirs.
In many cases, launch dates have become moving targets during these challenging times. Engineers report that supply chain/ availability of necessary parts is the most common issue impacting their ability to complete projects.
If you have any capacity to expedite or guarantee the delivery of parts to your customers, be sure to state this in your marketing materials. In addition, remind engineers of the stability and strength of your company, and of your ability to support them along the way as they work toward launch dates.
Other messaging related to pain points
Engineers report they are dealing with highly competitive markets, resource constraints, shrinking design cycles, and time-to-market pressures.
As marketers, you can step in and help alleviate these pressures by showing how your solutions can help customers rise above competitors, shorten design cycles, speed products to market faster, or otherwise gain efficiencies. Customers will respond to messaging that hits their pain points.
Advantages of updated messaging
Updating your messaging shows that you are aware of and care about the needs of your audience. It shows you are paying attention.
It shouldn’t be an overwhelming effort to incorporate these messages. A few visual tweaks or copy edits to marketing content can highlight specific points. Updated messaging also can offer a side benefit: potentially higher SEO rankings.
Adjusting and fine-tuning messaging on web pages will keep your content fresh, which is an important factor search engines take into account when determining results for search queries.
Stay current with what engineers are thinking about: how they view the pace of engineering, available resources, knowledge management practices, performance measurement, and the impact of megatrends on their day-to-day work environments. Download your complimentary copy of the research report, “2021 Pulse of Engineering.”
The pandemic has impacted many professions and industries, including engineers working in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. But engineers have long demonstrated they are a smart and resilient bunch—they have jobs to do and find ways to get them done, pandemic or not.
That’s not to say that engineers haven’t made adjustments to how they search for and connect with suppliers, and how they source and consume content. Here are some tendencies that have changed during the pandemic and that should be on your radar when crafting marketing programs during this unsettled period.
Participation is increasing in virtual events and webinars
First, there might be some confusion about the difference between virtual events and webinars. To help clarify, consider webinars as standalone, specific events—short, often technical, and focused on a single topic.
Virtual events are more expansive and last longer. While they often contain technical presentations that you might encounter in a webinar, virtual events may also include keynote speeches, exhibitions, discussion forums, sponsors, and other content and interactive features.
Of those engineers who attended a virtual event, 80 percent found the event a valuable experience. Still, engineers prefer webinars to virtual events by more than a two to one margin, while 28 percent aren’t sure which format they prefer. This makes sense, as virtual events in their current incarnation are relatively new.
Whether at a virtual event or a webinar, if an engineer shows up, they’re looking for technical content. When developing your own webinars, keep this in mind. If participating in or hosting a virtual event, make sure you have plenty of opportunities to deliver technical presentations to your audience that help them do their jobs better.
Podcasts are an emerging content type
Fifty-five percent of engineers now listen to podcasts for work. Thirty-seven percent subscribe to 1-5 podcasts.
Out of those engineers that listen to podcasts, 33 percent listen for 6-20 minutes a week, followed by 26 percent that say they listen for 5 minutes or less. Given that the average podcast is 15-25 minutes in length, this data indicates that engineers are listening to about one episode for work per week.
If you plan to delve into podcasts as a marketer, treat them like other content you produce. Make each episode focused on a single topic, don’t be afraid to get technical, and pay attention to production values.
Other tips: use good microphones, choose speakers who have strong and clear voices, be professional but also foster your personality, add beginning and ending themes to the podcast, and edit the file to create a tight and smooth final product.
Video is popular, but be careful
A whopping 96 percent of engineers watch some videos for work. Forty-eight percent watch less than one hour, while another 48 percent watch for one hour or more. By comparison, engineers spend twice as much time watching video as they do listening to podcasts.
Video has grown steadily in popularity, particularly among younger engineers. Thirty-two percent of engineers are willing to fill out a form to access gated video tutorials, making video a viable way to begin a relationship with engineers.
However, there are signs of video fatigue setting in. This is primarily due to the quality of videos. While a smartphone is all you need to make an effective video, not paying attention to production values can derail your efforts.
One way to make the most out of video is to use this content format for what it does best: showing visuals and movement as a way to explain concepts. That’s why demos and tutorials are the most popular subjects for videos, while talking heads can be snoozy.
Keep your videos as short as possible while still covering the topic. Pay close attention to your video statistics, particularly length of view. If a large portion of your viewing audience is dropping off around the same time, you’ve got a problem.
The biggest reason for drop off is lack of relevancy. Make sure your videos are about subjects your audience cares about and keep engineers interested by moving your story along.
Thank you to all who joined GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing for our 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers Research Findings live webinar.
We were not able to answer all of the fantastic questions posed by attendees during our live webinar, but have since tackled them all. We thought you might be interested in reading through the full Q&A, so that you can glean information to help inform your own industrial marketing efforts.
It’s hard to get the visitors to our website to engage with Chat, do you have any suggestions for how to get better engagement? We feel like they are just using us for our content and leaving.
Chat is best used as a means for website visitors to get an immediate question answered (such as where to find information, how to get in touch with sales, etc). If you’ve set up your website so that visitors can easily find info, you may not notice a lot of engagement in your chat, which is ok. The research data shows us that only 5% of engineers want to use chat as their first engagement with sales, signaling that they are not yet bought into this means of communication. Part of this might be due to the complexity of the need, but also a hesitation to interact with what might perceived as a salesy conversation. Consider experimenting with your chat settings and what the prompt is – striking a helpful tone may help engagement. And the silver lining is that we are seeing B2B chat growing in adoption (albeit at a faster pace than for engineers). As buyers interact with chat more and more in their B2C personal lives, you’ll see the behavior spill over more in B2B. Keep blazing the trail!
Has in-person meeting preferences with engineers changed with COVID?
We didn’t explore this topic in our research, but what we’ve experienced with our own businesses and clients’ businesses this year is, no surprise, a dramatic shift to virtual meetings. In speaking to engineering leaders, it seems that the pandemic has shifted work culture enough that virtual meetings and virtual working environments will become more of the norm after the pandemic. This will vary based on job function, so consider updating your audience personas with this question in mind, and monitor as the year progresses.
Could you speak briefly on the use of virtual calls?
Virtual meetings on platforms like GoToMeeting and Zoom became a norm this year. Our team at GlobalSpec has conducted virtual calls for years, but we were surprised by how many of our clients were suddenly eager to turn on their cameras when in the past had not. This visual aspect helped to forge a closer “human” connection with meeting attendees, and we now advise others to turn those towards cameras on (and worry less about the dog in the background — your furry pet is fodder for a perfect meeting icebreaker).
People are suffering from video meeting fatigue, how do you feel this will change over the next few months?
Long video calls tethered to a computer, starting into a camera can be exhausting. Consider breaking up lengthy meetings into shorter ones (no longer than 2 hours) and provide a brief break in the middle as well. Also, consider when video is not necessary. Old school phone calls can alleviate some video fatigue. I’ve had some of the most productive 1:1 calls with team members while taking a walk or sitting outside over the phone.
Do engineers have a preferred platform for webinars? (GoToWebinar, other?)
This would be a great question for the future. My suspicion is that content prevails over platform.
What type of podcast do engineers listen to?
This would be a great topic to dive into further in next year’s research. What we do know is that almost half listen to at least one podcast episode per week for work-purposes.
What are the professional networks they’re joining? What is a professional community network? How can marketers take advantage of those networks?
Professional networks include professional associations with networking opportunities and role-specific discussion boards. We did not ask specifically which professional networks (though next year I think it would be excellent topic to explore!). Examples of this include StackOverflow, GitHub, IEEE Collabratec, Quora and the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange. Some engineering publication online sites have networking communities as well.
Why is YouTube not listed as a social channel?
YouTube’s functionality leans more towards a search engine than a social channel, though you could make the case for both. You’ll find YouTube results on page 13 of the research report, which show that 27% of respondents turned to YouTube to seek information and/or networking opportunities, where as social media as a whole came in at 17%. In our 2020 report, we did include YouTube within social options, and found it to be highly valued, coming in 2nd place to professional community networks, edging LinkedIn to third. Our conclusion is that whichever way you categorize YouTube, it is a valued channel by engineers and with the overwhelming adoption of video as valued content, an important channel for 2021.
Do social channels change based on age?
We didn’t do this analysis for the 2021 report, but here is the social breakdown by age from the 2020 research (note that YouTube was included as a social channel in 2020 but not in 2021):
Ages 35 and under found the most value in YouTube (46%), LinkedIn (35%) and Professional Communities (35%); they found the least value in Instagram (61%), Facebook (57%), Pinterest (54%), and Twitter (54%), and Reddit (43%)
Ages 36-54 found the most value in LinkedIn (35%), YouTube (33%), Professional Communities (28%); they found the least value in Instagram (53%), Pinterest (53%), Facebook (44%), and Twitter (47%), and Reddit (47%)
Ages 46-55 found the most value in YouTube (32%), Professional Communities (29%), and LinkedIn (26%); they found the least value in Pinterest (64%), Instagram (63%), Twitter (61%), Reddit (59%), and Facebook (50%)
Ages 56-65 found the most value in Professional Communities (24%), YouTube (20%), and LinkedIn (14%); they found the least value in Reddit (71%), Instagram (70%), Pinterest (66%), Twitter (66%), and Facebook (57%)
Ages 65+ found the most value in Professional Communities (42%), YouTube (20%), and LinkedIn (14%); they found the least value in Instagram (68%), Reddit (64%), Pinterest (66%), Twitter (66%), and Facebook (64%)
Do you see more success with organic or sponsored LinkedIn posts?
We’ve found the most success through a two-pronged approach: keep a consistent cadence of organic content flowing, ideally posted by company spokespeople (in their own voice) rather than only company posts. Supplement with advertising in short bursts with an engaging ad and enticing call-to-action.
Do you think there is a correlation between the engineers age and their seniority, for example, the more senior the engineer is the more likely they are to be ‘reading around’ their subject matter and engaging with materials as they will be seen as the local expert and conversely the younger engineers haven’t needed to perform this at this stage in their career?
Great point about the correlation between age and seniority. It is interesting to consider the need for certain types of content by stage of career and role within the organization. We find younger engineers perform more long-tail specific searches and need more basic education in what is often a “specifier” role, whereas older engineers with more experience often have a broad network of colleagues to tap. This older group may seek new ideas and different angles to complement their established expertise, while others may have a tendency to fall back upon trusted solutions of the past.
Ebooks seem to be growing in popularity, did you consider those as an option in any of your survey questions or did it show up anywhere?
We included ebooks in our 2019 research, with the descriptor “longer, more in-depth than application notes/white papers” and found them to be similar in popularity to white papers and webinars. Because there seems to be a general lack of understanding between white papers versus ebooks amongst engineers, we choose to drop that option from this year’s survey, but this doesn’t reflect a lack of preference for ebooks. Through our own experience, we find ebooks to be very popular lead generators and highly memorable due to their graphic-heavy nature.
Do you have any recommendations on how to deal with a prospective engineering customer that says “Your product looks valuable and I am interested, but don’t have the time to take a detailed look right now.”? We get this continued response a lot.
Give your prospect time to get to know your company and solutions more fully, and build preference through targeted content. One way to keep the lead warm is through a nurturing email campaign. Create a 4-5 email sequence keeping each brief with one relevant content offer, and set expectations for the engineers on how long it will take to consume the content (e.g., include something at the top of the page or even right in the email saying how long it takes to read). The goal of the campaign can be to set up a meeting with a salesperson (use a calendar app to reduce friction for this step), but hold this offer until towards the end of the campaign sequence.
Since the majority of engineers spend half of their journey online before talking to someone, will they be “creeped out” or deterred from moving forward with us if we reach out to them early in the cycle (leads)?
The data suggests that reaching out too early may indeed repel your prospect. Using a marketing automation tool, look for buying signs such a repeat visits, downloads, and other engagement. These indicate a level of trust and implied receptiveness to receiving a sales email.
General Research Questions
What was the total number of respondents to this survey?
We had a total of 1,361 qualified responses.
What new findings surprised you the most in this year’s research compared to prior years?
The biggest surprise was the number of respondents — twice as many as last year! With the data itself, there were no massive YOY swings on the whole, rather incremental increases that support continuing trends: more of the buyer’s journey shifting online, more adoption of video, and lack of enthusiasm over most mainstream social media channels. LinkedIn was an interesting one…while it ranks high when compared to other social channels, the percent of “not very valuable” responses jumped from 28% to 46%. This suggests fatigue (I know I’m tired of the aggressive sales bot messages!) and supports a more targeted and thoughtful approach. I am hopeful with more changes on the horizon in the LinkedIn platform, this channel will be seen as more, not less valuable, in our next research report.
Is the survey data specific to US market or global? If only US, do you think these behaviors are similar across the globe?
This survey includes respondents from around the world. In our past surveys, we have found that while small differences emerge in what types of companies engineers work at and what social media channels they prefer, the larger trends prevail
I would be interested to see & analyze the survey data, is this made available?
An integrated marketing campaign arranges multiple marketing channels that work together to achieve a specific marketing goal. While integrated marketing relies on multiple channels to achieve results, it is more than just multichannel marketing, because the integration comes from having aligned messaging and goals.
The benefits of running an integrated marketing campaign include:
Reaching a wider audience than you could through any single channel or tactic.
Strengthening your brand by increasing visibility in the market and reinforcing your message across channels.
Building trust among your customers by maintaining a consistent message.
Saving resources by reusing marketing assets such as images, copy, video clips, and other content.
Start with a SMART Goal
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Attainable and Realistic are not the same thing, because a goal can be attainable if you marshal every resource you have towards it, but still not be realistic because you can’t put all your time, energy, and resources into one endeavor.
Let’s use an example: Your goal might be to increase conversions through your website by 20 percent over the next six months in support of a new product launch. That’s specific (conversions) and measurable (how many completed forms). You have a time period of six months.
But is the goal attainable and realistic? If website conversions are down six percent, increasing them up to 20 percent might not be attainable and realistic. But if conversions have been increasing at a rate of 10 percent every six months, then getting to 20 percent is certainly attainable. If you have resources to devote to the initiative, it makes it all the more realistic.
Align Messaging to Support Your Goal
Sticking with the example goal of increasing website conversions to support a product launch, make sure your messaging is consistent around this goal. Maybe your ads focus on one or two top benefits. Your calls to action all revolve around going to your website to download a white paper or to register for a webinar.
Repeated messaging increases the likelihood of getting noticed by your customers and prospects, no matter what channel they use to find you. Conventional wisdom says that a prospect may have to hear your message up to seven times before responding in a positive manner. So make sure you’re delivering the same message across your campaign.
In addition, strive to use the same look and feel across all channels. For example, if you’re using photographs of your products, use similar style treatments in display ads, e-newsletter sponsorships, and landing pages.
Whenever possible, use the same fonts, colors and other visible branding elements across all media.
Choose a Mix of Channels
Your mix of marketing channels is your point of connection with potential customers. Engineers and other technical professionals have their individual preferences for media, but almost all of them use digital media to research products, services, and suppliers in the early stages of their buying process.
In the increasing conversions example, you might place ads in industry e-newsletters and display ads on targeted industrial websites, optimize web pages for key search terms, fine-tune messaging on content hubs, create supporting social media content, and distribute press releases.
While the messages on each of these channels can be slightly different, they all must align to support the product launch. The call to action in every case should motivate engineers to take the next step and arrive at a landing page on your website to take advantage of your offer, such as getting a white paper or viewing a webinar.
Fine-tuning your media mix in an integrated marketing campaign requires both skill and creativity to make sure your channels work together but are not redundant. GlobalSpec offers a wide range of marketing channels and the necessary expertise to help you create an effective integrated marketing campaign. Contact us today for more information or download our media kit.
For many industrial marketers, 2020 was unlike any year they’ve faced. And there’s no forecasting what 2021 might bring: more of the same, better, or worse?
But uncertainty doesn’t mean you don’t have any control. One thing you can do is to devote your energy and resources to three specific areas of focus that will help your marketing organization perform better, no matter what market conditions are like.
Concentrate on Digital Channels
Industrial marketers for years have been skewing their budgets in the direction of digital channels such as email, websites, search, webinars, and social. These and other digital assets are the online resources their target audience of engineers prefers to use to connect with suppliers and to find products and services.
The events of 2020 caused an even greater reliance on digital as in-person events were postponed or canceled. Beyond the acute impact of the pandemic, trending influences include a new generation of digital-first engineers as well as technological advances that make digital even more relevant and enticing.
Now, in 2021, our advice to you is to go digital-heavy to increase your visibility and generate opportunities. Webinars, online conferences and meetings, and other virtual events have proven to be highly effective in terms of results and costs. Furthermore, digital channels continue to offer the advantage of being easier to track and measure.
This year, make sure your website is the best it can be, your webinars are engaging, your display ads capture attention, and your email marketing targeted. Your media partners can help you develop an integrated, multi-channel digital marketing program that fits your budget and is aligned with your marketing goals.
Maintain a Consistent Message
Customers prefer to do business with brands they are familiar with and trust. One way to build trust and demonstrate what you stand for is to maintain consistency in your messaging.
Too often companies can become scattershot with their messaging in an attempt to “be everything to everybody” in hopes of not letting a single potential customer slip through the cracks. However, this approach can dilute your message, resulting in confused customers and becoming “nothing to nobody.”
A coherent and cohesive message that spans all of your marketing channels can help you cut through the clutter of intense competition and gain mindshare with your customers. This doesn’t mean you have to say the same thing using the same words every time, but you do want to align all your messaging within your overall value proposition and brand statement.
Use color palettes, visuals, text styles, and layouts to support and affirm your messaging. If your company can become known in the market for a couple of exceptional benefits delivered to customers, you will likely find marketing success in 2021.
Enable the Buying Process
In a survey of more than 250 B2B customers, Gartner found that 77 percent of them rated their purchase experience as extremely complex or difficult.
A data point like that leaves a lot of room for improvement—and opportunity.
The fact is, buyers are in control of the buying process, not marketing, sales, or business development. In addition, the majority of buyers don’t contact a potential supplier until they are well into their buying process.
Our job as marketers is to make the entire buying process efficient and easy for our customers.
We can do that by producing customer-centric content to meet buyer needs at all stages of their buying cycle. Content such as educational articles, white papers and webinars in the early stages, and practical case studies, comparisons, and ROI calculators in the later stages. Don’t try to wow them with fancy content—try to be useful to them.
Get content into the hands of potential customers through an easy-to-navigate website and through the digital marketing channels that engineers use.
Moreover, enable your buyers to connect with you by providing numerous and flexible options, including email, online chat, forums, phone, and social media. Make 2021 about making buying decisions easier for your customers, and you will be rewarded.
Many marketing budgets are subject to changes throughout the year, based on first half results and second half expectations. But now, almost every marketing budget has already undergone significant upheaval due to the COVID-19.
Now is the time to conduct a marketing budget checkup and make the necessary adjustments to put yourself in the best possible position to achieve success for the remainder of the year.
Here are some questions to ask while reviewing your budget situation:
Have your company’s business goals or marketing goals changed?
Your company may have had to re-calibrate its business goals, resulting in marketing goals changing as well.
Perhaps a scheduled product launch is being pushed out or you are scaling back from one of your markets. On the other hand, maybe you have new opportunity with products and services that are in higher demand.
Make sure your marketing goals are aligned with any changes in business goals, and that you reallocate your budget accordingly. If you do need to change marketing goals, choose goals that are relevant to your situation, measurable, and achievable given your budget.
Are you anticipating additional financial changes?
Another round of budget adjustments could be on the horizon come the fourth quarter. If this is a possibility for your company, you may want to hold some of your budget back and plan only for the next quarter.
Consider using programs that allow you to make quick adjustments in terms of reallocating budgets and resources. One example would be to reduce paid search spending and instead invest in webinar development, or reallocate tradeshow budget to ramp up email campaigns.
Can you take advantage of cost-effective channels?
Social media, email, and public relations are examples of channels where you likely have already invested fixed costs and built marketing infrastructure. For example, you already have social media profiles set up, an email marketing platform, or a media relations expert.
If your budget is under strain, you can—with very little cost—post more often to social media, email your house list with special campaigns, or pitch story ideas to media outlets.
What about partnership marketing?
One budget-conscious marketing initiative is to team up with a partner that has a complementary product and service line and a potentially shared customer base.
For example, you can conduct joint- or cross-promotions of each other’s offerings, co-author marketing content, or develop co-hosted webinars. Partnership marketing allows you to reach a wider audience without investing more budget.
Do current customers need more attention?
There’s a well-known saying that it costs seven times as much to find a new customer as it does to keep a current one. If you need to make difficult budget decisions, make sure you don’t skimp on your current customer base.
Your customers want to know the state of your business and how your company is responding to current market conditions. During times of uncertainty, your customers are more likely to continue doing business with a familiar and trusted vendor than to take a chance on the unknown. Stay in touch with customers. Let them know you are there for them. Consider developing a special offer just for current customers.
Do you have three marketing budgets?
As part of your mid-year budget checkup, you can benefit from developing three different budget scenarios for the rest of the year:
Best-case scenario—if business returns to some sense of normalcy, what is your best-case budget and how will you allocate it to achieve your marketing goals?
Worst-case scenario—if the economy continues to drag and your markets don’t recover, what are the bare-bones marketing essentials that you must continue to fund? (Such as your company website or your email campaigns.)
Realistic scenario—Chances are neither the best or worse cases will come to be. So what does the most realistic scenario look like? Build your marketing plan for the second half of the year around the most likely situation, and you’ll still be ready to adjust up and down if you’ve built all three budget scenarios.
Over the past few months, GlobalSpec has been tracking how industrial marketers have been impacted by the coronavirus. While things are far from back to normal, the initial shock of the pandemic has begun to wear off for many, and marketers in the manufacturing space are beginning to think about how the rest of their year might play out. As some businesses begin to reopen across the United States and around the globe, we asked industrial marketers how their 2020 marketing strategy has been affected.
Currently, 51 percent of respondents are required to work remotely, and another 25 percent say remote work is optional or encouraged, but not mandatory. Fourteen percent are required to work on site and 12 percent are working reduced hours.
Regardless of their current work situations, 34 percent would be comfortable working on-site now, and another 28 percent would be comfortable returning to the office in the next 1-2 months. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 16 percent of respondents indicate that they are not comfortable returning to work until a vaccine is available.
Overall, industrial marketers are reluctant to return to their previous ways when it comes to tradeshows. More than one-third of respondents indicate that they will not be comfortable attending a tradeshow or large in-person until a vaccine is available – the top survey choice among respondents. Another 24 percent wouldn’t be comfortable attending an event for at least six months. Only 16 percent of respondents said that they would be comfortable attending a tradeshow or other large in-person gathering now.
Additionally, 61 percent of industrial marketers say shows they planned to attend or exhibit at have been canceled, and 30 percent have canceled all the 2020 tradeshow plans.
This data brings up real questions about the future of tradeshows and in-person events. Most industrial marketers attend at least one tradeshow per year, and it is often cited as a top marketing channel. (2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing) Industrial marketers will have to find other ways to connect with potential customers when in-person conversations and demonstrations aren’t possible.
Our research also examined marketing budgets in the industrial space and the impact of the coronavirus. 44 percent of industrial marketers report that their budget had decreased, and another 14 percent anticipate that it will decrease. Conversely, 33 percent of respondents say their budget has not changed and they don’t anticipate that it will.
In response to the budget changes and the effects of the coronavirus, marketers have made modifications to their plans. The most popular response, with 39 percent, is the choice to postpone some marketing spend. Twenty-eight percent have canceled some of their spend. Thirty-five percent had shifted funds from other areas to digital advertising, and 27 percent have shifted funds to content creation.
With all these changes in the first half of the year, industrial marketers are only mildly optimistic about their plans. When asked how confident they are in their marketing plan from 1-10, the average answer is 6.3. Given such uncertainty and unprecedented economic and social changes, it’s not surprising that marketers are wary about what the second half of the year might bring.
With all these changes, what are industrial marketers confident about? When asked to predict what their most successful 2020 marketing channel will be, 36 percent chose content marketing. Organic website traffic and webinars were also popular choices, with 11 percent each. Other popular answers were e-newsletter advertising and email to in-house lists.
What else are industrial marketers thinking about? Here’s a selection of their commentary:
We’re focusing on radiating internally within our existing customers to consolidate opportunities as they emerge. Like everyone else, we know that things look good on the other side of the pandemic, but we have to survive to get there.
There is still much left unknown, but we are working as fluidly, creatively, and cost-effectively as we can while remaining relevant and delivering timely content to our audience across predominantly digital platforms.
People are distracted. Customers’ budgets are being cut to conserve cash. New projects may have a very hard time moving forward no matter the ROI.
We are ramping up certain areas of our marketing frequency, revising strategies, and planning for when customers fully reopen.
So, what should industrial marketers do to help increase their chances of success in 2020? Many are already on the right track. Without tradeshows and in-person events to connect with prospects, look to webinars to replicate that experience. Webinars offer you the same chance to demonstrate your products and answer questions in real-time.
Remember, while engineers have also had their workflow disrupted, they are still in need of technical information. Continue to create relevant content and stay tuned in to your audience’s needs.
Many businesses have never faced the level of uncertainty they are confronted with now during the global pandemic. Some are experiencing declining revenue and are beginning to institute cost-cutting measures, including reducing their advertising and marketing spending.
In the wake of the last recession in 2008, ad spending dropped 13 percent, as reported in Forbes.
But history shows that cutting back on marketing during challenging times can be a risky move, leading to depressed results over a longer period of time.
One example: McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 B2B companies from 1980 through 1985. Their research found that business-to-business firms that maintained or increased advertising expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth, both during the recession and for the following three years, than those that eliminated or decreased advertising.
Why Maintain Marketing Momentum?
Discretionary spending such as advertising and marketing may be easy targets for CFO’s attempting cost control, but executives should look first to reduce other operating expenses. Maintaining marketing momentum during this time has numerous advantages:
With some companies cutting back, there is less competition for your audience’s attention, and therefore getting noticed becomes easier.
You may be able to gain market share from competitors who don’t maintain their marketing presence.
The cost of advertising space can be lower as demand for inventory decreases.
By maintaining a marketing presence, you can project a company image of stability and strength. No one wants to do business with a company that is perceived to be struggling.
You can stay top of mind with your customers and prospects.
If you let campaigns languish, and your customers’ buy cycle is long, you may continue to struggle even when conditions are more favorable because the top of your sales funnel will be empty.
Currently, there is a huge surge in internet traffic with many people working remotely, helping to expand the potential audience for your digital presence.
Continue Marketing, but Make Changes
While the arguments are strong to continue advertising and marketing during economic downturns and other challenging times, you may not want to do exactly what you have been doing in the past.
Check your messaging and revise as needed. Make sure that all content you share with your audience at this time is relevant, authentic, and sensitive to what your customers might be going through. Also, if customers must interact with your company in a different way now, be sure to communicate that clearly.
Reposition products and services. If your product and service offerings are in any way related to providing assistance during the current crisis, you can do some repositioning. Testing equipment, protective material, products that increase efficiency, or a service that benefits a remote workforce—these are just a few examples of areas that might be ripe for repositioning. Make sure your messaging reads as being helpful rather than as taking advantage of the situation.
Share good news. Maybe your company is performing some type of community service to help others afflicted by the coronavirus, or you have employees who are volunteering their time for the cause. Highlight these cases in your next newsletter, or even publish a special edition. We could all use some positive news.
Justify your marketing budget. When potential cutbacks loom, you may be asked to defend your budget. Make sure you are prepared. Track your marketing metrics and produce reports to demonstrate to executives that your marketing programs are working—and prepare your talking points on the detrimental effects of pulling back on marketing.
Although almost everyone has seen a native ad, not everyone knows what they are or how best to use them. Native advertising is rapidly growing in the B2B space. MediaRadar saw 50% growth in native advertising from 2018 to 2019 – more than mobile, video, and display. When it comes to manufacturing marketers, 34% of marketers are already using native advertising to promote their content (Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020 – Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends).
While native advertising is gaining ground, questions remain for many industrial marketers.
WHAT IS NATIVE ADVERTISING? Native advertising is simply paid advertising that matches the look, feel, and function of the media format in which they appear. Unlike traditional display advertising, these ads are designed to be non-disruptive. The consumer will be exposed to the advertising content seamlessly during the user experience, and in some cases will consume the content without realizing right away that it’s paid promotion.
While it is most common to see native advertising on web properties as an alternative to display ads, if you start to look at the content you consume, you’ll see native advertising in magazines, social media, and even television.
Native advertising is designed not to replace display advertising efforts, but to complement them. Display advertising remains an important component of your strategy, especially when it comes to brand awareness and intent to purchase.
HOW DO I KNOW IF NATIVE ADVERTISING WOULD BE A GOOD FIT FOR MY MARKETING PLANS? If you’re considering adding native advertising to your arsenal of marketing tools, it’s important to consider a few things first. Native advertising is a good fit for those who are looking to build their thought leadership and brand awareness positions.
Many industrial marketers are investing time and resources into content marketing. If you already have whitepapers, videos, or other educational content to promote, native advertising can help you generate additional exposure for your content. Because native advertising blends in seamlessly with the look and feel of the page, you’ll want to promote your content on a website that is relevant to your audience.
If you currently run display ads, native advertising may also be a good fit for your marketing mix, as the objectives are often similar.
HOW CAN I GET THE MOST OUT OF NATIVE ADVERTISING? Once you’ve determined that native advertising is a good addition to your marketing plan, here’s how to make the most of your campaign.
• A successful campaign always starts with a clear definition of your goals. In this case, you’ll want to outline a comprehensive content strategy. It should include a thoughtful mix of useful information in addition to promotional tactics.
• The content you’re promoting in your native advertising should be hosted on your website ungated. The focus of native advertising is primarily to drive traffic to your content. Allowing your audience access to the content will diminish your bounce rate and increase time on site, as well as time spent consuming your content.
• Understand how you are measuring your campaign’s performance, and how that relates to your campaign goals. Impressions and click-through rate should be your primary measurements.
• Invest in a robust A/B testing strategy. Regularly check on your campaign performance and choose several variables to test. This could include headline, imagery, and changes to the content landing page.
• Pay close attention to the content. Your headline will be one of the first things readers notice about your ad, so take care to craft one that is relevant rather than promotional. It should introduce your reader to the text so that they immediately understand what the content is about. Use high-quality photos that match the look and feel of your brand. Images should be simple and easy to understand.
• If you’re just getting started with native advertising, be sure to lean on your media partners for guidance and support. Because the best native advertising aligns with the editorial content of the host site, they should be an integral part of your campaign. For example, GlobalSpec’s Native Advertising program includes ad creation – you provide the content assets, and they do the rest.
Native advertising is quickly finding a place in the B2B industrial marketer’s toolkit. Now’s the time to explore this advertising channel further, and how it can fit into your marketing goals and objectives.
In an era where engineering technical and industrial professionals are being bombarded with information, they continue to seek out webinars for valuable and timely educational information. Webinars are even more important in a time where digital encounters are our only option. Because an online event may be the only first impression a prospect gets of your company, it’s more important than ever to modernize your webinar experience and drive deeper engagement. Here are some tips for creating a successful webinar.
1. Coordinate an ideal promotion schedule. A successful webinar is not built in a day. You should begin plans for your content at least eight weeks in advance, including thinking about audience, topic, and materials. Your promotion should include your initial invitation, a reminder, and emails when your webinar is available on demand. In addition, you should encourage your sales team to share the webinar in their email signature and with customers in conversations. Add information about the webinar to your social media channels, website, and any other customer communications.
2. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Your topic should focus on solving a prominent problem for your audience. Before diving into content, make sure to define your goal. What message is right for this stage of the customer journey? Align your subject matter to your customers’ interests and pain points.
3. Strike a balance between education and product pitch. Engineers can spot a sales pitch a mile away. Your webinar should provide value and education that engineers cannot find anywhere else. Tap into the unique information that only your organization can provide. Coordinate with subject matter experts internally, or consider asking an analyst in your field to contribute.
4. Get on board with training. Engineers are most interested in training and upskilling, followed by insight and industry trends.* Think about what you can teach engineers, or what industry insight you are uniquely positioned to provide.
5. Success starts with the title. List titles attract more registrants than non-list titles. Try to choose a title that includes “How To,” “101,” “A New Way to,” or “Trends in.”
6. Include visual interest. Webinars today don’t need to be limited to just slides. Keep your audience’s interest with video clips when possible.
7. Experiment with interactive tools. Another way to hold your audience’s attention is to get them involved. Make sure to solicit questions before the webinar, as well as during the presentation, if possible. If the poll option is available to you, it can offer valuable insight into your audience and even help you tailor your content.
8. Use webinar questions as ideas for future content offerings. A successful webinar is not only measured in attendance and leads. Monitor the questions you receive, even if you don’t answer them during the live broadcast, to gain insight into your audience’s areas of interest. The polling tool can also help you meet your audience where they are in terms of sophistication.