Native Advertising 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Six No-Cost Marketing Ideas

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

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

1. Email your house list

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

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

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

2. Pitch stories to the media

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

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

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

3. Shoot some video

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

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

4. Post more frequently on social media

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

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

5. Re-purpose existing content

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

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

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

6. Conduct market research

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

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

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

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Tips for Marketing During Challenging Times

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

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

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

Here are some tips:

Focus on what you can control

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

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

Re-examine your marketing goals

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

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

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

Stay on top of measurement

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

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

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

Get more from your existing marketing assets

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

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

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

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

Stay visible in your most important markets

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

Reap the benefits of working with media partners

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

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

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

What to do About Tradeshows

Tradeshow

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

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

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

Reinvest or Cut Back?

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

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

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

Tradeshow Substitutes

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

Webinars

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

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

Webinar solutions from IEEE GlobalSpec offer additional benefits, including:

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

Video

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

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

Digital Ads

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

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

Content Marketing

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

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

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

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing, General Tradeshows

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

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit – Part 1

Many industrial marketers are deep into planning for 2020. If you haven’t started yet, now is the time, and we’ve got resources to help you.

By beginning your planning process now, you can gather evidence to justify your expected expenditures, receive executive endorsement for your budget, and be ready to launch when the calendar changes. Companies getting an early start on their marketing plan can get a jump on competitors and be better positioned to win business going into the new year.

This two-part series (Part 2 is coming in October) will help you create an effective marketing plan for 2020 that aligns with market and customer trends, fits your budget and capabilities, and helps achieve your marketing goals.

Part 1 focuses on evaluating your current program and understanding the industrial marketing trends that will affect your strategy for 2020. Part 2 will offer tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan.

Assess the performance of your current plan

How are your current marketing programs performing? The complimentary IEEE GlobalSpec “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” offers a number of tools to help you measure the performance of your marketing. The kit includes a chart to plot the engagement and branding capabilities of your current programs and to identify gaps, a grid to compare the quality of your leads to your ideal customer profile, and a matrix to help you analyze the effectiveness of your expenditures across various media channels.

Access your complimentary copy of the “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” here.

The foundation of any performance assessment of your current marketing is the ability to measure marketing results. Measurability is just one of many reasons why industrial marketers are increasing their use of digital media, along with the engineering audience’s preference to seek information through digital channels.

Digital marketing programs offer the inherent advantage of measurement through page views, clicks, downloads, shares, conversions, and other trackable metrics. If your current channel mix is not mostly digital, then you should consider allocating more budget towards online in 2020.

Account for all channels

Keep in mind when evaluating current programs that your customers typically have multiple interactions with your company and content before they make a final purchasing decision. They might meet you at a trade show, visit your website, click on an e-newsletter advertisement, watch a video, and attend a webinar all as part of their buying journey.

Each of these marketing touches contributes to the eventual sale—not just the first action they took to connect with you or last action they took before making a purchase decision. Be sure to track all of these activities to properly evaluate marketing performance.

Five trends that can influence your plan

Before you begin to plan 2020 marketing programs and choose channels, you should familiarize yourself with industrial marketing trends that will influence your decisions. These include:

  1. According to the most recent IEEE GlobalSpec Industrial Marketing Trends survey, 60 percent of industrial marketers rely on email marketing and 43 percent expect to spend more on email in the year ahead. The trend in 2020 will be toward personalization, from connecting to email recipients by name, to providing email content based on their preferences and behaviors.
  2. More industrial marketers will invest in marketing automation software to help segment audiences more precisely, guide prospects through the buy cycle, and deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.
  3. Industrial marketers will improve ROI measurement by not only counting leads but also tracking all prospect engagement and marketing touches through the sales cycle. In addition, definitions of marketing success will become agreed upon across the organization, particularly with sales and executive teams, to ensure collective buy-in on the metrics that matter most to an organization.
  4. More than half of buyers complete at least 60 percent of their buying process online before speaking to someone at a company. This trend announces an imperative that industrial marketers continue to produce high quality content. In 2020, expect more industrial marketers to create content marketing strategies based on achieving specific, measurable objectives and to produce content designed for specific stages of the customers’ buy cycle. To avoid long lead times, now is the time to audit your content and determine what content you will need to create, refine or re-purpose to support your 2020 marketing plan and goals. Also make sure your marketing collateral and website are up-to-date with current messaging and the latest product versions.
  5. Digital and traditional channels will be more closely integrated. For example, many industrial marketers will continue to include traditional tradeshows in their marketing portfolio. However, now they will rely on digital channels before, during, and after the show to gain momentum, increase engagement, and build relationships.

Study your company’s 2020 business plan

If your company is planning to introduce new products, expand to new markets or customer segments, or launch other strategic initiatives in 2020, you will need to build your marketing plan and create content to account for these initiatives.

Meet with executives to learn about the timing of new plans. You should also meet with sales leaders to understand revenue growth objectives. This will not only give you information you need to create your marketing plan, it will demonstrate that you are proactive about developing a plan that supports your company’s 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. Add this valuable resource to your 2020 planning efforts today. Click here to download.

Content Marketing Digital Media E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Nine Ways to Stretch Your Marketing Dollars

Ask almost any industrial marketer and they will tell you there are never enough marketing resources. According to the research report, “2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing,” the leading marketing challenge is a lack of marketing resources—in terms of dollars, people and time. It was reported as a top three challenge by 37 percent of marketers, and as the single biggest challenge by 21 percent.

Further constraining resources, headcounts, and budgets are staying steady for the majority of industrial companies. Only 25 percent of companies are adding marketing people; just 31 percent are spending more on marketing.

Bemoaning the lack of resources doesn’t help, and subpar marketing performance because of a shortfall of marketing dollars simply isn’t acceptable. It’s up to marketers to find ways to stretch their budget and meet their marketing goals. Here’s what you can do:

1. Always Be Aligned

Your marketing programs should be perfectly aligned with your goals. This is the simplest way to make sure you are making the most efficient use of your resources. Before you invest in any program, always ask the question: Is this the best program for achieving our marketing goals? If not, don’t spend on it.

2. Repurpose Content

Content creation can be a resource drain. Look for efficiencies when creating marketing content. Make it a priority to create content that can be easily adapted for use across multiple channels, in multiple formats, and among different audiences. This offers the additional advantage of delivering a consistent message. Other content hacks include using templates to save on design costs, creating PDFs rather than printed pieces, and recruiting internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to help write technical content.

3. Use Marketing Automation Software

There is a good selection of low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market that can help you increase efficiency and save money. With marketing automation, you can easily segment lists, streamline lead nurturing, quickly access detailed reports and much more. A small investment can pay significant dividends.

4. Be Smart About Search Marketing

Optimize the pages on your website to rise in search results rankings for specific keywords that are important to your business. Keeping content fresh and current will also help. For paid search, focus on narrow search terms that will deliver more qualified traffic to your site. Don’t waste money on expensive keywords that everyone else is bidding on.

5. Focus Your Social Media Efforts

You don’t need to create and maintain profiles on every social media platform. It’s a waste of time and money, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep up or attract the attention you’re looking for. Instead, choose the social media channels that work best for you and that engineers are more likely to use. LinkedIn and Facebook are the two most popular channels for engineers. They’re great places to promote that reusable content you’ve been creating.

6. Don’t Purchase Email Lists

Purchased lists are a bad idea. They historically and dramatically under perform a clean in-house list. Plus, are you sure every name on that purchased list is verified as opt-in? Purchased email addresses are expensive and if you’re not careful you can run afoul of data privacy and protection laws.

A better idea is to advertise in a respected industrial email newsletter that you know is opt-in and is targeted to the audience you want to reach. Plus, your media partner will handle all list management functions, helping you to preserve your resources for other projects.

7. Cut Back on Travel

Industrial marketers still find tradeshows an effective marketing channel. But if you exhibit or attend multiple shows every year, the expenses pile up. Can you free up resources by going to one less show this year? If not, can you opt for a more modest presence? Can you negotiate a better sponsorship deal if you also host an educational session of interest to attendees?

8. Conduct Joint Marketing Programs

Work with a partner that offers complementary products and services to a similar target audience as yours. With two companies sharing the costs of a marketing program, your dollars can go a lot further. It’s also a good way to gain access to a potential new customer base.

9. Find a Trusted Media Partner

One way to help alleviate the lack of resources is to find a trusted, expert media partner who can help you optimize your mix and get the most out of your budget, while allowing you to free up some internal resources for other efforts. The right media partner will help you more efficiently reach your target audience and will be nimble enough to help you tweak programs along the way for better performance.

E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy

Six Tips to Make the Most of Your Summer Marketing

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Some industrial marketers believe they should scale back on marketing during the summer. They assume that many of their customers and prospects on vacation, and that dollars are wasted trying to connect with an audience that isn’t paying attention.

While many of your customers probably wish they could take a hiatus, in reality, engineers and technical professionals are still working during the summer months. Even if 10 percent of them are out of the office at any given time, that leaves 90 percent still searching for products and services, still researching and gaining exposure to your brand—that is, if you’re still marketing. If you’ve scaled back, your customers might see your competitor who has jumped in to fill the void.

Marketing is an imperative in every season. But summertime does present an opportunity to make some adjustments. Offices do tend to be a little quieter. Not everything you have on your to-do list is fire-drill urgent. So here are six summertime marketing tips, three for connecting with customers and three for your internal marketing operations.

Curate a Summer Reading List for Customers

Plenty of engineers and industrial professionals put aside time during summer months to research favorite ideas, new projects, innovative technologies, and potential suppliers. You could prepare and send them a package of your best content, both original and curated: articles, white papers, interviews, case studies and more.

You could even call such a package “Summer Reading.” Let them know in your introductory letter how easy and useful it would be to pack this folder with them if they take a summer trip. How about including a gift card for a cup of coffee?

Create a Podcast for Car Drives

Podcasts aren’t the most popular marketing channel in the industrial sector, but what a nice touch to have a downloadable podcast your customers could listen to on car rides or during flights. Try an interview with an industry expert on a popular topic. Ask a customer to narrate their case study story. This will take some planning, and you’ll need to write a script, but a ten-minute “news” segment can make for an interesting summer listening experience for your audience. This would be particularly doable if you have existing content that you could repurpose into an audio format.

Host a Subject Matter Expert

Summer is a good time to recruit your subject matter experts to host an online Q&A. Customers and prospects find great satisfaction when interacting with the technical and engineering minds behind your products. Everyone can learn from each other. Live “coffee and breakfast” chats can fill early morning hours. You can also archive the chat for later access, and just like that, you’re creating and repurposing valuable content.

Conduct a Content Audit

Content is the fuel that runs your marketing engine. You can’t afford to run out of or use inferior quality content. And yet, keeping content updated is often one of those important tasks that tends to slip down the list.

Summer is a good time to conduct an audit of marketing content. What do you have in your library? What’s popular and what’s not? What needs to be updated? What holes need to be filled? Don’t forget to include your web pages in the audit.

Once you’ve determined what content you need to produce or update to support your marketing efforts, you should prioritize and combine the tasks, then start recruiting internal and/or external resources to get the job done. Do this now and your fourth quarter marketing will run much smoother.

Analyze Six Months of Marketing Performance

You’ve got half a year of marketing in the books. How well are you doing? Summer is a good time to analyze the performance of all your marketing programs. Pull reports, compare channels, calculate ROI where you can. Work with your media partners to analyze how well you are meeting your goals.

Summer is often the time when budgets get adjusted for the second half of the year, hopefully up, possibly down. Armed with the insight as to how well your programs are doing, and with a second half budget established, you can make adjustments to channels and programs, moving dollars away from underperforming channels and into those that show more promise.

Research New Technologies and Channels

Maybe you’ve been putting off doing some of your own professional homework. Are there marketing channels you’ve heard about or other companies are using that you’re not familiar or comfortable with yet? Now is the time to research further. Media partners can help you here as well.

 

Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

When to Pull the Plug on a Marketing Campaign

mark-rabe-341219-unsplash

Almost every marketer has experienced the distress of a lackluster marketing campaign. You might get all the fundamentals right—target audience, relevant message, appropriate channel, strong creative, and lead capture—yet the results you expected still aren’t there.

It happens. Despite all the data available on which to base decisions, marketing remains an inexact science. External events and even luck play a part in marketing performance.

If you’re faced with a program that’s not meeting expectations, you might be tempted to cancel the campaign and cut your losses. On the other hand, you might hang in there and hope performance improves. A third option is to make changes to the program midstream and see if that helps.

Which decision is right for your situation?

Continue the campaign

In some ways, this is the easiest decision, because you don’t have to do anything except wait and see what happens. But it’s also difficult to simply hope things get better, especially when you’re reporting on your metrics to other colleagues. It’s natural to want to intervene.

Here are reasons to keep the campaign running in its current form:

  • Your campaign fundamentals are solid and you need to be patient.
  • If you’ve gotten positive results but not to the point you’ve hoped, it could be your expectations and not your campaign that needs adjustment.
  • The campaign has pulled in a new or unexpected type of customer and you’d like to get more of these.
  • An external event has caused a temporary disruption to your marketing flow. This could be anything from big industry news to a national crisis to a major storm.
  • The campaign is entirely new for you and you haven’t been able to accurately estimate the time it takes to see results.

Continue the campaign with changes

This is the most tempting option. If something is broken or not working properly, you want to fix it. Can you do it? Here’s why you should:

  • Some components of the campaign are performing well, while others lag. For example, you might be doing a great job driving prospects to a landing page, but they’re not completing a conversion form. You could tweak the landing page or simplify the form. Another example: Prospects are clicking to watch your video, but dropping off. You might need to edit the video to make it more compelling.
  • You’ve discovered a mistake in the campaign. You’ve used the wrong image, there’s a typo, the offer is misstated, a landing page url has changed, etc. In this case, you make the necessary repairs, keep going, and hope that does the trick.
  • You’ve had feedback from customers or salespeople that something is off about your messaging or channel approach. If this is the case, you could make suggested changes and keep the campaign running.

Cancel the campaign

Pulling the plug on a marketing campaign that isn’t working is a tough decision. You’ve already invested time and money. You hate to think you made a mistake. But sometimes, canceling a campaign is the best choice. Here’s when:

  • You’re far enough into the campaign to know that no matter how much performance improves it won’t cover your costs.
  • A change has created conditions in which your campaign is no longer viable. It could be a strategy change at your company such as the discontinuation of a product line. Or it could be a change in the market, such as a new technology or product that makes your campaign obsolete.
  • You have a better marketing opportunity and decide to take resources off of an underperforming campaign and devote them to another.

If there does comes a time when you must pull the plug on a campaign, think of it as a learning opportunity rather than as a failure. It happens to every marketer, sooner or later. Apply what you’ve learned, and do better next time.

 

 

Marketing Strategy

Can Influencer Marketing Work in the Industrial Sector?

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Influencer marketing is a huge topic in current consumer marketing. Influencer marketing uses advocates, spokespeople and content creators to drive conversations and engagement around a brand or products. These “third-party” voices add authenticity to brand messages and help companies reach and persuade an extended audience.

In the consumer space, you can recruit and utilize many influencers, from everyday consumers to celebrities who talk about your products, most often on social media. Think Instagram posts, Snapchats, blogs or Tweets that show photos of products being used or endorsed.

However, content spread through social media influencers doesn’t easily translate to the industrial space. Social media platforms are not the primary way engineers and other technical professionals discover products and services or advance through their buying process.

The industrial audience uses search tools, email, product directories, supplier websites and other “traditional” digital media for their product research. So, can influencer marketing work for industrial companies?

You might already be doing it

While influencer marketing is not a good fit for every industrial company, some companies are finding success with influencer marketing as a tactic. You might already be using it, but not necessarily applying this label.

For example, if you have relationships with industry thought leaders or analysts who talk about your company or products, or if you have a customer who presents at a conference about how they use your products, this constitutes influencer marketing.

The fact is, engineers are apt to listen to third-party influencers, which means influencer marketing can work in the industrial space. But to be successful, you must make a concerted effort to build an influencer marketing initiative, rather than rely on the occasional analyst comment or customer testimonial to spread your word.

Discover who is influential

The first step is to identify potential influencers. These might be bloggers, consultants, authors, engineers, academics—in short, anyone with a respected point of view in your industry and an audience that listens to them.

How do you find and engage this group of people? You might already have some relationships cultivated, but if you want to dig deeper and discover other influencers, what they are saying and who is listening, you can use a number of tools in your search, including:

These tools help identify influential voices and trending content that is relevant to your message and goals. Each tool has its own capabilities and sweet spot, so you’ll want to look at several to see what’s right for you.

Engage with content

If you approach an influencer and are able to establish a relationship, they may want to use your content or they may create their own using your content as source material and reference. One way to build relevant content to pitch to influencers is to focus on topics that influencers care about and that also intersect with your message and mission. Do some rs, ram posts, Snapchats, blogs ogyresearch about the influencer and their relevance to you and your content to help narrow the focus.

Partner with influencers

Engaging influencers with content is one way to jump into influencer marketing. However, unless a formal relationship with an influencer exists, you can’t control when or how they talk about your products or brand.

To gain more control of the narrative align yourself with a select number of influencers by engaging in tactics such as:

  • Inviting an influencer to write a guest post for your blog
  • Co-authoring a white paper with an influencer
  • Jointly hosting a webinar with an influencer
  • Creating a video interview with an influencer

These types of influencer tactics can work in the B2B space the way that Instagram or Snapchat might work in the consumer space.

How much effort should you put in?

While influencer marketing is certainly a valuable marketing tactic, it’s not time to put all your eggs in that basket. Your budget, time, and resources can only spread so far. That means you should focus most of your marketing energy on proven digital programs that have historically delivered results for you. These might include email, e-newsletter advertising, search engine marketing and product directories.

However, it would be wise to identify key influencers in your specific market sector, engage with them, and better understand their points of view and the types of topics they find important. Then you can decide on launching a concerted influencer marketing program.

Even if you only experiment with influencer marketing, by building some of these new relationships, you’ll raise the visibility of your company, brand, and products. Aligning yourself with key influencers in the industry can only lead to positive results.

 

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