How to Connect with Younger Engineers Reply

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

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

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

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

Make digital your primary focus.

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

Build a presence in online forums.

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

Use content to build trust.

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

Develop quick-hitting content that is easily consumed.

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

Update your website regularly.

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

Optimize for mobile devices.

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

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

Should Marketing Take a Summer Vacation? 2

 If you’re marketing sunglasses, beer, or barbecue grills, this question is a no-brainer. But if you work in the industrial sector and your prospects are engineers and technical professionals, you might pause. Are your customers on vacation? If they’re in the office, are they too distracted to pay attention to your email, read your whitepaper, or register for your webinar?

In reality, summer is not the time to take a break from marketing. In fact, this is the perfect time to push aside competitors who mistakenly scale back marketing efforts during summer. Here are five reasons why marketing is for all seasons:

 

1. Numbers support continued marketing. Even though we know it’s not reasonable, let’s assume for argument’s sake that every technical professional takes a vacation in summer. Summer lasts for approximately 13 weeks. That averages out to less than 8% of engineers being on vacation in any given week (if everyone takes a summer vacation, and not everyone does). So you might ask: Can you afford to spend on marketing programs when 8% of your prospects might not get your message during the week it arrives? A better question is this: Can you afford not to market when 92% of your target audience is working and likely to receive your message? By the way, your marketers will miss 100% of the messages you don’t send.

2. The pressure on engineers doesn’t let up. Engineers are working on an average of five projects at any given time, according to buy cycle research from IEEE Engineering360. The work pressure on technical professionals doesn’t ease up just because summer has arrived, which means your customers are still searching for products, components and suppliers. Engineers are still busy seeking information and knowledge, preparing to wrap up their projects in Q4 and looking ahead to their plans for next year. It’s a good time for you to connect with your audience.

3. Frequency, Consistency. Because you’ve been regularly marketing to engineers all winter and spring—building brand awareness, cultivating relationships, generating engagement opportunities, filling the pipeline—if you stop or slow down in the summer months, you’ll feel the negative impact later in your customers’ buy cycle. They can and will forget about your company, products and services if you stop keeping in touch.

4. End of year planning. For many companies, summer is the season when they plan a push to finish the year strong. They might start new projects or pounce on short-term opportunities. If you’re in front of customers and prospects now, they’re more likely to remember that you can solve a problem they’re struggling with, increasing the chances they’ll include an investment in your products and services. In fact, summer is a good time to remind them to do just that.

5. Always connected. Sure, we all take vacations, but we also all have our jobs to do. For better or worse, more and more technical professionals are staying connected to work during vacation to keep projects moving along. Many of them might take along a work version of summer reading to stay up-to-date on recent news, industry trends, hot new technologies and other information they seek, but may not have time to interact with when in the office. This is a good time to send out valuable content, such as a key white paper or important article, maybe even labeled “Summer Reading.”

Before you head out on your summer vacation, let us know – what’s your summer marketing push?

Video and the Industrial Marketing Star Reply

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Story of Content Marketing in Five Statistics Reply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Ways to Connect with Content Reply

The recent “2017 Pulse of Engineering Survey” reveals how engineers and technical professionals work, the pace of engineering, their work environment, what they look for in a supplier and more.

The upcoming survey makes it clear that it’s more important than ever for suppliers to ramp up their content marketing efforts. Why? Engineers are being forced to do more with less, and are turning to outside vendors more and more for design input and technical information. Content marketing is a great way to provide this experience and demonstrate value to your customers and prospects.

But what kind of content are engineers looking for? And how do suppliers ramp up their content marketing efforts? The survey results help shine a light on the answers.

1. Seventy-one percent of engineers and technical professionals say that designs are more complex/sophisticated, 63 percent say there are more time-to-market pressures, and 61 percent say that design cycles are shrinking.

Your customers are looking to you for expertise. Thirty-eight percent of engineers and technical professionals said that design involvement from external partners, vendors and customers has increased. However, expect engineers to choose their outside influences judiciously. You can increase your opportunities to get closer to customers by creating content that markets your value proposition and approach to partnering on design. Why should customers consider partnering with you? White papers, webinars or technical articles can help get your message across.

2. Forty-five percent of engineers said that knowledge/information loss was very important or extremely important as employees left the company. But only 36 percent of companies have formal practices in place to preserve knowledge by leveraging senior-level and specialized experts.

What types of content can you produce that will align with your customers’ needs to preserve, protect and pass on knowledge? Approach customers and offer to form a partnership to develop a technical knowledge base or a library of articles. With many seasoned engineers nearing retirement age, it makes sense to reach out to a younger generation of technical professionals through articles, white papers, technical briefs and more to help them fill in knowledge gaps. Highlight your point of view on major industry trends and position your company as a thought leader and knowledgeable authority.

3. Colleagues, books, and technical white papers and training provided by vendors are the four most effective ways that engineers maintain and advance their professional skills.

The message here is pretty clear—offer technical content and training to educate engineers and help them advance their professional skills. Develop a series of training webinars or educational white papers that will help engineers grow their skills and knowledge as well as perform better in their jobs. If you can become a go-to resource for engineers to learn and improve, you will build a stable base of long-term, loyal customers. Engineers are asking for help. Give them the content they need.

I’m Ready to Create and Connect – Now What?

You may embrace the idea of ramping up your content marketing, but just don’t have the time and resources to do it. If you really want to overcome content marketing challenges, gain back time and earn a return on investment, you should probably consider turnkey content marketing services from a trusted media partner.

Content development and content marketing are just two of many services available from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. Check out all the advantages here. Also, to further advance your content marketing efforts, download the complimentary white paper: “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers: Establish Thought Leadership, Build Brand Awareness, and Drive Engagement Opportunities.”
 

Why Print Media Should Still be Part of Your Advertising Mix Reply

For the past few years, the B2B marketing world has been buzzing about the rise and relevance of digital media. It’s true that there are many digital channels available to help companies connect with their potential customers. From social media to webinars, online catalogs to video, email to apps—B2B marketing has experienced a sea of change.

Conversely, spending on print is declining. According to research from CMO Survey, investments in traditional advertising have consistently dropped by single digit percentages each year for the last half decade. Digital marketing spend, by comparison, has consistently grown by double digit increments year after year.

And yet, data shows that print media still plays a role in a successful multichannel marketing strategy:

• The CMO Survey also found that digital spend is only a portion of total marketing spend for most businesses, and that companies are also spending marketing dollars on offline/traditional media.
• Fifty-seven percent of B2B marketers use print or other offline promotions as part of their marketing mix.. (2016 B2B Content Marketing Trends – North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs)

The Benefits of Print
There are many benefits to reaching your customers using print media. Print is still a top-of-funnel medium, and can help you establish the value of your brand. Additional benefits of print include:

• With print circulation down, readership for most publications has been culled to only the most engaged, targeted audience, which is a desirable trait from an advertising standpoint.
• Print is perceived to offer credibility, especially in the B2B industrial space.
• Readers of print are not interrupted by targeted digital ads being served up in real-time based on browsing history or digital footprint.
• Readers are more focused when engaged with print, rather than multitasking like they do when consuming digital content.
• Print offers pass-along exposure among colleagues.
• Print offers high visibility—fewer ads mean more impact.

Finding Where Print Belongs
Research by the sales and marketing firm Outsell showed that marketers are increasing the number of tools in their marketing stack. Research from Lewis PR found that 84 percent of senior marketers worldwide state multichannel marketing is a key focus of their current marketing strategy.

Print advertising can still have a place within your stack of tools and overall marketing mix. . The question is finding the right fit in an integrated and multichannel marketing program.

When choosing print media, keep in mind that the real value in print advertising may be in brand awareness and perception, and in getting your message or offer to stick over the long run. By simultaneously using both print and digital media, you can achieve concurrency of media and have a greater opportunity to connect with your target audience in different settings—whether they are at their desks, on their mobile device or offline.

Measuring the effectiveness of print is easier than in the past.. Do this by integrating print and digital efforts. Marketers can include scannable QR codes, or set up ad-specific URLs and corresponding landing pages so that they can track how much traffic is generated from a particular print promotion.

Digital channels are more plentiful, and offer concrete measurements and flexibility. Plus, the majority of the technical audience goes online first when searching for product, services and suppliers. However, a well-planned print should still play an role in your marketing mix – as long as it’s integrated with
digital in your multichannel marketing strategy.

Tell us – Where do you see value in print advertising? How are you merging digital and print?

Five Industrial Marketing Trends that Matter in 2017 Reply

With the new year comes a fresh perspective and another chance to improve and optimize your marketing program. To make sure your plan is rock solid, check out the top industrial marketing trends for 2017 from the Marketing Maven and consider how to best implement them into your own strategy.

Trend #1: Media Mix is More Diversified
With so many media channels now in use, marketers have more competition than ever for share of voice, making it harder to capture the attention of your audience. Moving into 2017, we predict that more industrial marketers will incorporate a carefully planned, comprehensive mix of channels into their marketing plans.

According to a Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs survey, marketers use an average of 13 different channels to promote their message to the market. Leading the way are social media content, case studies, blogs and e-newsletters. B2B marketers also use an average of three paid advertising channels. The top three are search engine marketing, print or other offline promotion, and traditional banner ads. It’s not just paid search engine ads anymore.

The Industrial Marketing Trends Survey from IEEE Engineering360 shows that about 80 percent of industrial marketers are diversifying their mix, but the majority say they need to diversify more. If this describes your situation, you might want to work with media partners, agencies and other experts to help you determine the most effective mix for you.

Trend #2: Digital Spend Will Continue to Grow
The statistics are plentiful: At $83 billion, digital B2B spending outweighs all other B2B marketing spending by two times or more (Outsell). Forty-two percent of industrial marketers are growing their online budgets. Online display advertising is up 28 percent, while email spending is up 9.1 percent (Winterberry Group). Overall, 41 percent of marketing budgets will be spent online, a percentage that steadily increases year over year (Industrial Marketing Trends).
Industrial marketers are increasing their spending across a diverse mix of channels. The top areas of increased spending are content creation, search engine marketing, direct mail using in-house lists, social media, online directories/websites, and webinars. With the exception of direct mail, all of these channels are online or directly impact online marketing efforts. Digital is where your peers are focusing more marketing budget, and we expect this focus to continue in the year ahead.

Trend #3: Measuring ROI is a Priority and a Challenge
The pressure continues to rise for marketers to demonstrate ROI on marketing investments. Marketing budgets have gotten tighter, and are often under more scrutiny by executives. Additionally, the growth of digital media channels means an increased ability to measure marketing efforts — making demonstrating ROI no longer the exception, but the rule.

According to The Content Formula by Michael Brenner, 81 percent of B2B marketers say that measuring marketing effectiveness is their greatest challenge. But how is success measured? It depends on what metrics matter.
Salesforce reported that revenue growth is the top metric for digital marketing success. This makes sense, although it is often difficult to attribute a sale to a specific marketing program. A prospect has many touches with a potential supplier and there are often many decision makers and influencers involved before a purchasing decision is made. Hence, it remains a challenge to attach revenue gains to specific marketing initiatives.

After revenue growth, customer satisfaction and retention rates are the most important measures of success. In this way, the industrial space mirrors the overall B2B space. The number one metric of success is sales attributed to marketing campaigns. After that, metrics such as customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, leads and customer retention come into play.

Twelve percent of industrial marketers don’t have a method to measure success. If you fall into this category, consider working with your executive team and media partners to determine what results matter to you, and how you can begin measuring them.

Trend #4: Content is the Kingdom
As marketing expert Lee Odden says, “Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom.” Content marketing is becoming more evolved, more sophisticated and is driving key performance indicators and measurements. Content is how companies get their message out to the market.

In a recent Content Marketing Institute survey, 88 percent of B2B respondents say they are using content in some way, shape or form. However, effectiveness varies. Only eight percent say they are sophisticated content marketers. Eleven percent say they are just taking first steps and have not yet made content marketing a process. Everyone else falls somewhere between these two extremes.

If you are just getting started with content marketing, you are not alone. Thirty-nine percent of industrial marketers are in the same situation (Industrial Marketing Trends). This means that 2017 presents a big opportunity for improvement and success in this area. Be sure to devote time and resources this year to developing a content strategy, producing engaging content on a consistent basis, and measuring content effectiveness.

Trend #5: Email Marketing Maintains its Value
You may have heard that email is dead, but that simply isn’t true. Email has remained a cornerstone marketing tactic for B2B marketers for almost two decades. With mobile phones and tablets, your audience can connect with email almost anytime, anywhere. And don’t forget that email marketing offers easy to measure metrics like opens, clicks, forwards and conversions.

Data reinforces email’s continued popularity and effectiveness. Salesforce reported that 73 percent of marketers believe email marketing is core to their business, 65 percent say email is an effective marketing channel and 58 percent are increasing their email marketing spend. Newsletters are the most popular email marketing tactic.

As you continue to shape your marketing efforts in 2017, be sure to keep email in your portfolio. If you already publish a newsletter, consider advertising in other industry newsletters to reach a broader yet still targeted audience.

Where do you see 2017 heading for industrial marketers? Comment below and tell us where you’re focusing your efforts in the year ahead.

Connect with Potential Customers Throughout the Buy Cycle Reply

 Engineers and industrial professionals are problem solvers, and the way they solve the problem of sourcing and purchasing products and services is by engaging in a well-documented buy cycle. The cycle consists of three stages: research and analysis, comparison and evaluation, and purchase.

From the results of the “2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey,” we also know:

• Access to information throughout the buy cycle is vital to engineers, and their dependence on proven sources of information is part of what gives them a leg up in their search for solutions and know-how, and to keep current with technology and business trends.
• Purchasing is a collaborative effort, with influence from engineers, management, operations, purchasing and more. Budget authority resides throughout the organization—not just with senior managers.
• The buy cycle averages 12-weeks and the cycle constantly repeats with every new project that comes an engineer’s way, an average of four buy cycles per year for an engineer.

From these facts, industrial marketers can draw two conclusions that will help steer their marketing decisions:

1. Create compelling content—You need to have a consistent overall message to market, but you also need to ensure that you are creating compelling content for and communicating with the entire extended engineering team (including operations, corporate management, and purchasing).
2. Choose the most effective media—A constantly regenerating buy cycle means engineers are regularly looking for products and services, which in turn is always bringing you new opportunities if you are using the most effective media channels to consistently connect with potential customers.

Create Compelling Content
In the early stages of the buy cycle—research and analysis—your engineering audience is searching for approaches to solving their problems, insight on which suppliers might have offerings to fit their needs, or guidance on what new technologies might have an impact on their buying decisions. Your job is to educate them on how you can help solve their problems. It’s too early in the buy cycle to be in selling mode.

As the buy cycle progresses, more team members get involved in the purchasing process. Engineering management, IT and operations, and finance, for example. They want to know not only if your product or service will solve the problem, but also if it will fit into the customer’s environment and deliver a return on investment. Potential customers will compare your offering to competitive solutions. At this stage content such as specification sheets, how-to videos, success stories, product samples, and cost and ROI calculators are important.

In the final buy cycle stages, when the entire team might have a hand in the decision making, you need clear pricing sheets, terms and support policies. For every stage of the buy cycle, your goal should be to develop and deliver content that makes the purchasing decision simple and straightforward, and that gives your buyers confidence. Make sure your messaging focuses on relevant issues and salient benefits, not just glittering generalities regarding supplier capabilities.

Choose the Most Effective Media
The “2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey” shows the many different information sources that engineers and technical professionals use throughout the buying process. The takeaway is that there is no single “go-to” resource preferred by industrial professionals at any stage of the buy cycle. Therefore, you need a multi-channel marketing strategy to connect with potential customers. The name of the game is consistency across multiple modes of information delivery.

Asked about which sources of information they typically use when purchasing products and services, engineers and technical professionals have settled on several:
• Colleagues
• Search engines and the websites of suppliers and other industry players
• GlobalSpec.com/Engineering360.com and its e-newsletters
• Catalogs—online or print
• Printed publications, directories and buyer’s guides (including materials from industry standards organizations like IEEE or ASME)
• Trade shows and conferences
• Educational materials such as video as well as white papers and webinars
• Online communities, blogs and social media

Some sources are used consistently throughout the buy cycle—including colleagues, search engines, online catalogs, and supplier and industry websites. You should concentrate on showcasing your products and expertise and maintaining a consistent presence on these channels (except for colleagues, of course), particularly the digital media, where engineers turn first when beginning their buy cycle research. This way, you can increase the odds that you will connect with potential customers during their buy cycle.

Results of the “2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey” have just been published by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. You can download your complimentary copy to see all the survey results, read the analysis, and access recommendations for industrial marketers. Click here to download.

How to Meet Marketing ROI Milestones Reply

 Measuring the success of marketing programs is nothing new. There has always been a focus among B2B marketers to quantify the reach and engagement of their initiatives. In the past, much of this measurement focused on metrics like the circulation of print publications, the growth of catalog mailing lists, business cards collected at trade shows, and completed magazine “bingo cards.”

Today, online channels command the bulk of B2B marketing budgets, providing marketers access to more data, more metrics, and more insight than ever before. So it’s not surprising that B2B marketers at all levels of an organization are under unprecedented pressure to quantify the return on their marketing investment. In fact, ROI is the number-one objective for B2B marketers in 2016. According to The Content Formula’s Michael Brenner, 93 percent of CMOs state that their greatest challenge is showing measurable ROI. And 81 percent of B2B marketers claim that measuring marketing effectiveness is their biggest riddle to solve.

Whether you are looking to quantify the performance of your current marketing initiatives, or want to have a plan in place for 2017 that will help you reach your ROI goals, these five keys will help you get started.

1. Target your desired outcome. Return on investment is the name of the game, but ROI is not a “one size fits all” term.

According to the 2015 State of B2B Marketing Report from Salesforce, the top three digital marketing metrics for success are revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and retention rates. And when IEEE GlobalSpec asked industrial marketers how they measure the success of their marketing initiatives as part of our annual Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, we found that marketers care most about sales attributed to marketing campaigns, acquisition, satisfaction, leads, and retention.

By having a strong understanding of the goals and objectives of your organization, you have built the foundation for your marketing plan. From there, you can define objectives and tactics that will help you reach your goals.

2. Diversify your marketing mix. Your audience has more digital tools and sources of information to do their jobs better and more efficiently, and they are also exposed to many options when ready to buy. And as companies continue to allocate more of their marketing dollars to digital media, it will become increasingly important to fend off competition online. That’s why diversifying your marketing mix is critical.

Our research shows that a majority of B2B industrial marketers are reaching their target audience via multiple channels and tactics, but many feel like they could be doing more. Not sure how to get started? Consider working with a media partner to develop a multichannel marketing strategy that is measurable and can reach your marketing goals.

3. Understand your customer’s buy cycle. In the B2B space, the buy cycle is often long and complicated, involving multiple stages – needs assessment, comparison, evaluation, and purchase. As a result, it can be difficult to correlate sales to specific marketing channels.

Buyers will often interact with your content and brand many times before contacting you or making a purchasing decision. For example, they may download a technical article they found in an e-newsletter advertisement, attend a webinar that you are hosting, watch a video, type your company name into a search engine, and visit your website – all before beginning a conversation.

Understanding your customer’s buy cycle – and having content that helps them meet their needs at each stage – will help you define and capitalize on the value that your marketing programs deliver.

4. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. It sounds simple enough – reach your audience by understanding what they seek. But remember that a key desired outcome is to reach your target audience where they can be found. Go beyond search engine marketing and consider the websites they rely on, the e-newsletters they read, and more.

Being found in the right place at the right time isn’t enough. Ask yourself, “Are we offering them content they want?” Your ability to answer this question correctly is dependent upon the tools you use to understand your customer and the quality of your analysis. In addition to the product data they are seeking, offer educational materials that position you as a thought leader and help them make a better, more informed decision. White papers, technical articles, datasheets, webinars, and videos are just some of the different content types used by today’s B2B buyers.

5. Implement a formal lead nurturing program. Now that marketing has brought in the leads, it’s time to convert them, right? Wrong.

Very few leads translate into an instant purchasing decision. Adding a clear lead nurturing program to the marketing mix has several distinct benefits that directly tie into ROI. First, you deliver more qualified leads to sales – making them happier and more productive. Next, you can successfully track contacts and inquiries along the sales process, resulting in easier and more accurate measurement. And finally, leads are less likely to fall through the cracks, reducing the potential for lost sales and wasted resources.

Hitting ROI milestones can seem like a daunting challenge. By taking a strategic approach to defining, executing and reaching your measurement goals, you will be well prepared to illustrate the value of your marketing efforts to the c-suite.

Patrick D. Mahoney is President and CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec. IEEE GlobalSpec connects a global audience of engineers and allied technical professionals with suppliers of industrial and electronic equipment, components, materials, and technology. The company combines rich technical product information with comprehensive digital media solutions that deliver measurable awareness, demand, and engagement opportunities at all stages of the buy cycle. Learn more by visiting www.globalspec.com/advertising.  

This was originally published on Marketing Tech News: http://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2016/sep/15/how-meet-marketing-roi-milestones/

2017 Marketing Planning: Part 2 Reply

 Last month we got you jump-started with marketing planning for 2017, offering advice on evaluating your current marketing program, identifying trends that will affect your strategy moving forward, and pointing out ways to align your marketing efforts with business goals. Read Part 1 here. This month, as we’re nearing the final quarter of the year, we offer tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan that fits your budget and targets your audience of engineers and industrial professionals.

Meet the Mandate of Multichannel Marketing
Recent research (Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector) demonstrates just how important digital media is to your audience. Seventy-one percent of technical professionals visit at least six websites each week for work-related purposes. Nearly half of technical professionals use 10 or more work-related websites each week.

Due to this diversification, you will find it increasingly difficult to capture your target audience’s attention by using only a limited suite of online channels in your marketing efforts. Instead, try to diversify your marketing spend across multiple channels to generate the results you need.

There are proven benefits to engaging in multichannel marketing. Manufacturers that can display their products and services simultaneously across multiple markets will have the best opportunity to gain new customers. According to the research firm Outsell, advertisers will achieve higher ROI by investing in well-designed cross-media campaigns than by relying on any single media channel. This is known as the Cross-Media Multiplier—integrated cross media campaigns perform better than single channel campaigns.

Focus on the Channels Your Audience Uses
Given the benefits of the Cross-Media Multiplier, wouldn’t it be great if you could use every possible marketing channel available to you? Unfortunately, reality and budgets prohibit such a strategy, which is why you must prioritize your marketing investments according to your audience’s behavior and how well your programs work together.

Your goal should be to maximize the visibility of your brand and opportunities for engagement. When researching a work-related purchase, the top three channels for technical professionals are search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites. But in reality, your audience uses many other digital channels to keep up with the latest technologies, product news, companies, and brands.

Webinars, e-newsletters, industry sites, and social media are all important influences on your customers’ buying decisions. To fund additional digital channels, consider moving investments away from traditional channels such as print that may no longer perform well or that are difficult to measure.

Invest in Content Marketing
Your customers and prospects are constantly looking for content to help them solve problems, understand new technologies, and make more informed buying decisions. Suppliers that can deliver valuable, authoritative content can position their companies as industry experts, build trust with prospects, and ultimately make it easier for sales teams to close deals and drive revenue.

Research from the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs found that 88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing. You should, too.

Plan out the content you will need by creating an editorial calendar. Match up content to expected events in 2017, such as new product launches or major announcements. You’ll also need to line up resources for producing and/or repurposing content. Next, select the channels for distributing content. Here’s where your multichannel strategy pays off. For example, you can promote a webinar in an e-newsletter advertisement or on social media and drive prospects to your site to register.

Use Only Measurable Marketing Programs
Marketers are under tremendous pressure to demonstrate return on marketing investment (ROMI). However, ROMI can be complex to measure because it’s highly unlikely that any single campaign or tactic can be correlated on a one-to-one basis with a sale, especially in industries with long and complex buy cycles. Most prospects will have multiple touches with your company throughout their buy cycle. Keep track of all touchpoints because your tactics and channels work together.

A good starting point for measuring ROMI is answering a simple question: For the total marketing dollars you spend, what kind of return do you get in terms of engagement opportunities? Programs such as webinars tend to have high return because prospects have proactively registered for the event, which already indicates their interest. Inquiries on your website from existing customers also offer high return; it’s lower for new customers. Specialized search engines and searchable catalogs tend to deliver good engagement opportunities because only your target audience would be using them, as opposed to general search engines which are used by everyone.

Work with Media Partners
Preparing an integrated, multichannel marketing plan is challenging, which is why it’s best to start now. As you begin, consult with an experienced digital media partner that understands and has the attention of the industrial audience you need to reach. Discuss your marketing objectives and have your media partners help you develop an integrated, multichannel media plan that will help achieve your goals and objectives.

2017 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit
IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions created the 2017 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 2017 planning efforts today. Click here to download.