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How has the Coronavirus Impacted Engineers?

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Almost everyone around the world has been impacted by the coronavirus, and engineers are no exception. In the forthcoming “2021 Pulse of Engineering” survey, GlobalSpec asked engineers three key questions about the coronavirus. Here are their responses.

1. Has the coronavirus impacted your department’s budget?

Forty-six percent of engineers said that the coronavirus has caused their budget to decrease, while 36 percent said it has not impacted their budget.

  • More midsized companies with 50-250 employees saw their budget decreased (64 percent) than larger or smaller companies.
  • The regions most impacted by budget decreases were Africa (75 percent), followed by South America (68 percent) and Asia (67 percent). The region least impacted was Australia, with only 28 percent of companies experience budget decreases. In North America, 46 percent of companies saw their budgets decreased.
  • The industry most impacted by budget decreases is Consumer Electronics (72 percent), followed by both Automotive and Education (each at 64 percent). Sixty-two percent have experienced budget decreases in Fabricated Materials, General Manufacturing, and Oil & Gas.
  • Several industries saw the average company experience either budget increases or stable budgets. These industries include Government, Aerospace & Defense, Engineering/Tech Design Services, Communications-Data/Telecom/Wireless/Network, Medical Equipment/Instrumentation, and Industrial Machinery/Tools & Equipment.

Key Takeaway: While many budgets have decreased due to coronavirus, some have increased or remained stable. Even in industries or regions where budgets have been most impacted, the show must go on. Marketers should continue their campaign efforts, making adjustments where necessary to account for lagging industries or markets.  

2. How has the coronavirus impacted your ability to complete projects?

The most common impact on the ability to complete projects is supply chain issues and the availability of necessary parts, which was reported by 40 percent of survey respondents.

  • Supply chain issues and availability of necessary parts has had a larger impact on smaller companies with fewer than 100 employees than on larger companies.
  • Australia (38 percent) and Asia (35 percent) are the regions most impacted by supply chain issues.
  • The industries most impacted by supply chain issues are Agriculture/Forestry, Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals, and Packaging Machinery, all at 40 percent.
  • The ability of half of those working in Semiconductor & Electronic Components to complete projects has been impacted by colleagues being laid off or furloughed.
  • Twenty-six percent of engineers said that working from home has impacted their ability to complete projects.

Key Takeaway: Because supply chain is the most common issue impacting engineers’ ability to complete projects, if there is any way you can expedite or improve the ability to get parts into the hands of your customers you should make that point clear in your marketing messages. Alternatively, think about some other ways you might be able to alleviate the pain their feeling from supply chain issues.

3. What has been your biggest challenge during the coronavirus?

The biggest challenge engineers face during the coronavirus aligns with the most common impact on the ability to complete projects: the availability of parts and components, reported by 26 percent of respondents.

  • Twenty-two percent of engineers said that working remotely was their biggest challenge; 16 percent said canceled work travel.
  • Working remotely and canceled travel were more of a challenge for engineers at larger companies.
  • The challenge of the availability of parts and components was felt particularly by engineers at smaller companies with up to 50 employees.
  • In most industries, the availability of parts and components is the biggest challenge. However, working remotely is the number one challenge for Government, Education, Utilities/Energy, Aerospace & Defense, Oil & Gas, and Consumer Electronics.

Key Takeaway: In addition to alleviating supply chain concerns, think about how your customer’s work environment is different than normal, and account for that in your outreach. Are there better times of day to reach them? Is a conversation via Zoom a better option? Your typical outreach might need to change.

Look for more insights into the work environment of an engineer in our upcoming research report, “2021 Pulse of Engineering.”

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Why Marketing is More Important than Ever

The global spread of COVID-19 is new territory for all of us, but what’s not new are disruptions in the market. Recessions, wars, and even technological breakthroughs such as the Internet have all impacted markets and marketing strategy throughout history.

Historically, some companies have cut back on marketing during disruptive times. They consider marketing to be discretionary spending, or they believe that marketing is a cost center rather than an investment in growth.

The fact is, many of those companies that cut back on marketing faltered, and others took their place as market leaders. Amazon became a leader during a recession. Toyota beat Volkswagen. Kellogg’s gained market share from Post. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell grew sales, while McDonald’s suffered.

You can go back one hundred years and see more examples of companies that innovated during economic declines ended up experiencing a surge in revenue and profit. Advertising executive Roland S. Vaile tracked 200 companies during the recession in 1923. He found those that continued to advertise during the downturn were 20 percent ahead of where they had been before the recession, while companies that reduced advertising were 7 percent below their 1920 levels.

When other companies cut back, there is less clutter in the market, fewer competitors seeking your customers’ attention, and often better rates on advertising placements.

The old adage is true: “During good times you should advertise. During bad times you must advertise.”

Sure, that’s easy to say, but may be hard to do if budgets and other resources are being threatened. That’s why companies need to look to marketing innovation and efficiency to see themselves through the economic impact of COVID-19.

Rely on marketing technology

The big three areas of marketing technology are email marketing platforms, web content management, and digital marketing analytics. Chances are you’ve already made some investments in these areas. Now is the time to get the most out of your investments.

In many ways, the global pandemic is presenting the perfect convergence of marketing technology and marketing tactics. Email, websites, and search (both paid and organic) are all working right now—and each of these marketing tactics is supported and optimized by marketing technology.

Continue to invest in sending emails to your house lists and advertising in industry e-newsletters. Maintain a robust and up-to-date website. Use search to drive qualified traffic that converts.

Even if customers aren’t ready to buy right now, they are continuing to work and are looking for the right vendors for when they are ready to buy. You want to be noticed during this period, you want to be remembered, and you want to be seen as a stable brand during uncertain times. You can only do that by continuing to maintain your marketing momentum.

Adjust your messaging

In your messaging to customers, you have to acknowledge what’s going on and how your company is responding.

Your customers are people, not just revenue sources. They have concerns just as you do. Their jobs and career and lifestyles may be in danger. It doesn’t help to pretend the pandemic isn’t happening or to act “business as usual.” An important part of marketing—during both good times and hard times—is showing empathy, and the current climate presents an opportunity for you to stay in close touch and tell your customers you are thinking about them.

You may also have an opportunity to reposition some of your products and services. Issues such as business continuity, supply chain security, and reliability of vendor partnerships are all on the minds of your customers.

This is the time to reassure, to show how your company is helping, to let them know if your products might play an important role in addressing their issues. Highlight the stability of your company, the reputation of your customer service and support, or the reliability of your product line.

Build a bridge through marketing

Marketing is the bridge that will get you from today’s difficult situation to a more stable future. It will keep you connected with your customers, visible in the market, and prepared to face additional uncertainty.

There may not be a “return to normal.” But there will be a future. Those companies that realize marketing is more important than ever will be best positioned to be successful, whatever the future may bring.

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Industrial Marketers Look Toward the Future as Coronavirus Continues to Impact Plans

Over the past few months, IEEE GlobalSpec has been tracking how industrial marketers have been impacted by the coronavirus. While things are far from back to normal, the initial shock of the pandemic has begun to wear off for many, and marketers in the manufacturing space are beginning to think about how the rest of their year might play out. As some businesses begin to reopen across the United States and around the globe, we asked industrial marketers how their 2020 marketing strategy has been affected.

Currently, 51 percent of respondents are required to work remotely, and another 25 percent say remote work is optional or encouraged, but not mandatory. Fourteen percent are required to work on site and 12 percent are working reduced hours.

Regardless of their current work situations, 34 percent would be comfortable working on-site now, and another 28 percent would be comfortable returning to the office in the next 1-2 months. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 16 percent of respondents indicate that they are not comfortable returning to work until a vaccine is available.

Overall, industrial marketers are reluctant to return to their previous ways when it comes to tradeshows. More than one-third of respondents indicate that they will not be comfortable attending a tradeshow or large in-person until a vaccine is available – the top survey choice among respondents. Another 24 percent wouldn’t be comfortable attending an event for at least six months.  Only 16 percent of respondents said that they would be comfortable attending a tradeshow or other large in-person gathering now.

Additionally, 61 percent of industrial marketers say shows they planned to attend or exhibit at have been canceled, and 30 percent have canceled all the 2020 tradeshow plans. 

This data brings up real questions about the future of tradeshows and in-person events. Most industrial marketers attend at least one tradeshow per year, and it is often cited as a top marketing channel. (2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing) Industrial marketers will have to find other ways to connect with potential customers when in-person conversations and demonstrations aren’t possible.

Our research also examined marketing budgets in the industrial space and the impact of the coronavirus. 44 percent of industrial marketers report that their budget had decreased, and another 14 percent anticipate that it will decrease. Conversely, 33 percent of respondents say their budget has not changed and they don’t anticipate that it will.

In response to the budget changes and the effects of the coronavirus, marketers have made modifications to their plans.  The most popular response, with 39 percent, is the choice to postpone some marketing spend. Twenty-eight percent have canceled some of their spend.  Thirty-five percent had shifted funds from other areas to digital advertising, and 27 percent have shifted funds to content creation.

With all these changes in the first half of the year, industrial marketers are only mildly optimistic about their plans. When asked how confident they are in their marketing plan from 1-10, the average answer is 6.3. Given such uncertainty and unprecedented economic and social changes, it’s not surprising that marketers are wary about what the second half of the year might bring.

With all these changes, what are industrial marketers confident about? When asked to predict what their most successful 2020 marketing channel will be, 36 percent chose content marketing. Organic website traffic and webinars were also popular choices, with 11 percent each. Other popular answers were e-newsletter advertising and email to in-house lists.

What else are industrial marketers thinking about? Here’s a selection of their commentary:

We’re focusing on radiating internally within our existing customers to consolidate opportunities as they emerge. Like everyone else, we know that things look good on the other side of the pandemic, but we have to survive to get there.

There is still much left unknown, but we are working as fluidly, creatively, and cost-effectively as we can while remaining relevant and delivering timely content to our audience across predominantly digital platforms.

People are distracted. Customers’ budgets are being cut to conserve cash. New projects may have a very hard time moving forward no matter the ROI.

We are ramping up certain areas of our marketing frequency, revising strategies, and planning for when customers fully reopen.

So, what should industrial marketers do to help increase their chances of success in 2020? Many are already on the right track. Without tradeshows and in-person events to connect with prospects, look to webinars to replicate that experience. Webinars offer you the same chance to demonstrate your products and answer questions in real-time.

Remember, while engineers have also had their workflow disrupted, they are still in need of technical information. Continue to create relevant content and stay tuned in to your audience’s needs.

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Updated Tips for Marketing During COVID-19

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Many businesses have never faced the level of uncertainty they are confronted with now during the global pandemic. Some are experiencing declining revenue and are beginning to institute cost-cutting measures, including reducing their advertising and marketing spending.

In the wake of the last recession in 2008, ad spending dropped 13 percent, as reported in Forbes.

But history shows that cutting back on marketing during challenging times can be a risky move, leading to depressed results over a longer period of time.

The Advertising Specialty Institute compiled a century’s worth of data about the benefits of continuing to market and advertise during a recession.

One example: McGraw-Hill Research analyzed 600 B2B companies from 1980 through 1985. Their research found that business-to-business firms that maintained or increased advertising expenditures during the 1981-1982 recession averaged significantly higher sales growth, both during the recession and for the following three years, than those that eliminated or decreased advertising.

Why Maintain Marketing Momentum?

Discretionary spending such as advertising and marketing may be easy targets for CFO’s attempting cost control, but executives should look first to reduce other operating expenses. Maintaining marketing momentum during this time has numerous advantages:

  • With some companies cutting back, there is less competition for your audience’s attention, and therefore getting noticed becomes easier.
  • You may be able to gain market share from competitors who don’t maintain their marketing presence.
  • The cost of advertising space can be lower as demand for inventory decreases.
  • By maintaining a marketing presence, you can project a company image of stability and strength. No one wants to do business with a company that is perceived to be struggling.
  • You can stay top of mind with your customers and prospects.
  • If you let campaigns languish, and your customers’ buy cycle is long, you may continue to struggle even when conditions are more favorable because the top of your sales funnel will be empty.
  • Currently, there is a huge surge in internet traffic with many people working remotely, helping to expand the potential audience for your digital presence.

Continue Marketing, but Make Changes

While the arguments are strong to continue advertising and marketing during economic downturns and other challenging times, you may not want to do exactly what you have been doing in the past.

  • Check your messaging and revise as needed. Make sure that all content you share with your audience at this time is relevant, authentic, and sensitive to what your customers might be going through. Also, if customers must interact with your company in a different way now, be sure to communicate that clearly.
  • Reposition products and services. If your product and service offerings are in any way related to providing assistance during the current crisis, you can do some repositioning. Testing equipment, protective material, products that increase efficiency, or a service that benefits a remote workforce—these are just a few examples of areas that might be ripe for repositioning. Make sure your messaging reads as being helpful rather than as taking advantage of the situation.
  • Share good news. Maybe your company is performing some type of community service to help others afflicted by the coronavirus, or you have employees who are volunteering their time for the cause. Highlight these cases in your next newsletter, or even publish a special edition. We could all use some positive news.
  • Justify your marketing budget. When potential cutbacks loom, you may be asked to defend your budget. Make sure you are prepared. Track your marketing metrics and produce reports to demonstrate to executives that your marketing programs are working—and prepare your talking points on the detrimental effects of pulling back on marketing.

    This infographic—“8 Talking Points to Justify Your Content Budgets and Projects During COVID-19”— from MarketingProfs, is an excellent complimentary resource to share with key stakeholders in your company.
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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.

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UX for Industrial Marketing: Your Top Questions Answered

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The concept of the user experience (UX) dominates the world of product design, but its reach has expanded much further. UX has an important role in industrial marketing. If you’re not familiar with UX and how it applies to your marketing efforts, this article will introduce you to the main ideas and how to incorporate UX in marketing.

What is UX?

There are many ways to define UX. Most definitions agree that UX is the process of designing products (digital or physical) that are useful, easy to use, and satisfying to the user. Because UX affects the user’s overall feelings or reactions to your company, a good UX can help to increase the value and desirability of your products, strengthen your brand, and build customer loyalty.

Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” That’s the essence of UX.

What is the relationship between UX and marketing?

There is a tight and natural bond between UX and marketing. Consider that product design often entails market research, focus groups, customer surveys, analytics, competitive research and other tasks that enable us to better understand user needs and desires.

Those same functions apply to marketing. We perform market research, conduct surveys, create customer personas, analyze data—all in the name of creating effective and targeted marketing that improves our audience’s experience with our message and content, and helps move them more smoothly along the path to conversion.

For example, a good UX that leads up to a clear call to action can result in greater conversion, while a bad UX may mean that the user never finds the call to action at all or drops off somewhere along the conversion path.

Why use UX concepts in marketing?

The goals of UX and the goals of marketing are very much the same: delight the customer to the point that they will purchase, and even advocate for, your products.

When applying UX concepts to marketing, these three goals stand out as the most important to pursue:

Get discovered—the user experience begins when a prospect discovers you. No discovery means no chance of a relationship. Marketers must pay attention to how engineers and technical professionals prefer to search for products, services and suppliers.

Engineers do most of their research up front and on their own, before contacting a supplier, using favorite channels such as search engines, websites, online directories, email and social media. Marketers must allocate their budgets to the appropriate channels in order to be discovered and initiate the user experience.

Offer a superb and intuitive visual experience—when users find you, do you make it easy for them to access the information they want? An intuitive visual experience can easily guide them. This can encompass everything from a clear and properly placed headline, to obvious places to click, to web pages and other content that can be quickly scanned, to conversion forms that are painless to fill out, and more.

Drive brand loyalty— UX affects a user’s overall attitude and response to your company and your products. A user who has a positive experience with your marketing and content is much more likely to convert, become a customer, and remain loyal. Your goal in tending to UX concepts is to always make it easy for them to like you.

Where should I apply UX principles in marketing?

The short answer is that UX should inform all your marketing decisions. But here are a few areas to pay special attention to and that should bring you the most benefit:

  • Targeting—The right message at the right place at the right time goes a long way toward creating an exceptional UX. Use your market research, customer personas and media partners to help choose appropriate channels to connect with your target audience. The first step of UX is finding the user.
  • Words—UX is not only visual; it touches other senses as well. Write copy for your customers, not for your company. Focus on what your audience needs and wants to know, provide all essential information, and use as few words as possible to get your points across. Explain any concepts that might not be familiar to them.
  • Layout—Display ads, spec sheets, web pages, forms, emails—everything you create and put in front of your audience must have a pleasing and functional layout that captures a user’s attention, directs them to what you want them to see, and persuades them to take action, whether that action is simply to click to download or to place an order. How we layout our pages and utilize on-page elements is central to our marketing efforts (and our success). A frustrated user who can’t find what they are looking for is unlikely to convert.
  • Accuracy—mistakes and errors can ruin the UX. If your content doesn’t project quality and attention to detail, a user will have a negative impression of your company and products, and will be unlikely to do business with you.

These are just a few of the factors that contribute to UX. If your company has UX product designers, you should consider forming a cross-functional team that shares insight into users and contributes to the produced product (think of marketing campaigns as products). You can improve the user experience through your marketing; it’s imperative that you do so.

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How Data Privacy Laws are Impacting Industrial Marketers

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You may remember that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018. GDPR impacts how every business handles the personal data of EU citizens, even if the company does not have a physical presence in Europe.

Following in the footsteps of GDPR, California passed its own digital privacy law, called the California Consumer Privacy Act, set to go into effect January 1, 2020. The law will allow consumers to know what information companies are collecting about them, why they are collecting that data and who they are sharing it with.

When GDPR went into effect, many marketers weren’t sure how to react, and questioned how this would impact the future of data and privacy. Now that California has passed its own law, it seems that this trend towards privacy isn’t going anywhere.

It’s likely that other states will follow by passing laws to regulate how businesses use personal data. There is even some momentum for a federal law. Mark Benioff, Salesforce CEO, has called for a national privacy law.  Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, believes the U.S. should pass its own version of GDPR.

The trend toward regulating how businesses use the personal data they collect from consumers has significant ramifications for industrial marketers. You need to devote resources to complying with the laws and change your marketing practices. Noncompliance can upset your customers and prospects—and draw unwanted attention from regulators. Fines for violations can be significant. Brand reputations can suffer.

Here are five actions you should take to help ensure your marketing tactics are aligned with privacy regulations:

1. Conduct a Comprehensive Reconsent Campaign

Thirty-five percent of marketers worldwide are asking everyone on their marketing lists to reconsent, while another 35 percent are taking a limited, country-by-country approach to reconsent. (eMarketer, subscription required).

Email is the most common way to execute a reconsent is a campaign. Reach out to everyone on your list and ask for their permission to continue to market to them. You may have already done this as part of GDPR compliance or as a list hygiene initiative. It’s a good idea to run a reconsent campaign every year.

As part of your reconsent campaign, ask people to confirm their opt-in decision. Give them clear and easy access to your data privacy policies, let them know how you will use their data, and remind them they can always opt-out.

Don’t just focus your reconsent messaging around compliance with privacy laws. Give your audience a business reason to reconsent. Remind them of the benefits of hearing from you, such as all of the great content and information they will have at their fingertips if they continue to opt-in to your marketing communications.

2. Create a Preferences Center

This action goes hand-in-hand with a reconsent campaign. A preferences center is a web page that allows your customers and prospects to select which channels they prefer for communication with you (email, text, etc.), what specific types of content they would like to receive, how often they want to hear from you, and other preferences.

3. Strengthen Options for Consumers

A typical scenario: you ask a prospect to fill out a form in order to download a white paper and your form includes an opt-in checkbox that’s already ticked, forcing the user to uncheck it. This is not only inconvenient for the visitor, it’s not in compliance with GDPR.

Also, make sure it’s easy and obvious for email recipients to access your polices and preferences center, and to unsubscribe from your communications. These links should be clearly labeled in every email you send. You can also put these links on your web pages headers and/or footers.

4. Keep Accurate Records

You should keep records of who consented, how they consented, when they consented, and what they consented to. When questions arise, the burden of proof for consent often rests with the company, not the consumer.

In addition, you should keep a “do not email list” of anyone who has unsubscribed or has not reconsented. Screen any new email addresses you get against this list to make sure you don’t add someone to your permission-based list who doesn’t belong there.

5. Vet Your Media Partners

Your media and marketing partners have to be as rigorous about compliance with privacy laws as you do. For example, before you sponsor or place an ad in a partner’s e-newsletter to their subscriber base, be sure to ask if they have conducted reconsent campaigns. Ask if their subscriber database is compliant with GDPR or other applicable data privacy laws.

If you are experiencing challenges understanding or complying with data privacy laws, consider working with a reputable partner that has an accurate, opt-in database comprised of engineering, technical and industrial professionals and has the marketing expertise to help you connect with this audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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GDPR is an Opportunity to Market More Effectively

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As most marketers know by now, Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a recent law that provides citizens of the European Union with greater control over their personal data. GDPR is intended to assure individuals that their information is secure, whether the data processing takes place in the European Union or not.

Industrial marketers with contacts in their database from the European Union should have taken steps by now to follow the law, which has been in effect now for six months. While the law contains many provisions, the biggest takeaways for marketers are that you cannot send marketing emails to someone without their expressed consent and you must offer subscription management tools, clear links to data and privacy policies, and easy opt-out.

And yet, 30 percent of marketers worldwide have not conducted the most important and primary of tactics: a reconsent campaign to their marketing list to ensure their subscribers are opt-in (eMarketer, subscription required).

An Opportunity, Not a Burden

It’s almost understandable why some marketers are lagging in compliance:

  • A reconsent campaign takes resources such as database management, the creation of web forms, and updated policies.
  • Marketers with a low percentage of email addresses from the European Union might be willing to risk noncompliance with the law.
  • The size of your opt-in subscriber list after a reconsent campaign will certainly be smaller, and therefore some of your metrics may temporarily skew to the negative.

But where some companies consider GDPR compliance a burden, others see new opportunity. For example:

  • GDPR has offered an opportunity for companies to clean up their messy marketing databases and improve their data quality. Governance of the marketing database shifts from tactical patchwork to a strategic initiative that will lead to better marketing results.
  • Marketers now have a mandate to execute true permission-based marketing and to communicate and engage with customers and prospects who are legitimately interested in their content and messages.
  • A culture of respecting personal privacy can become the norm within your organization—and across the industry—improving conditions for everyone involved. We all want our right to privacy to be respected.

Changes to Marketing Practices

Whether or not you have subscribers from the European Union in your database (you may not know for sure without analysis), you should implement a number of best practices including conducting reconsent campaigns, updating web forms and marketing emails, avoiding purchased lists and carefully choosing media partners.

Reconsent Campaign

You should have already conducted a reconsent campaign for your E.U. subscribers, but if not, it’s never too late. A reconsent campaign is a clear demonstration to your audience that you are serious about complying with marketing laws and respecting subscribers’ privacy.

Ask recipients to confirm that they want to continue receiving emails from you. Make clear exactly how you will store and use their data. Use subscription management tools to give users choices, such as narrowing the types of emails they receive from you or limiting frequency. This way, you might be able to hang on to some subscribers who are on the fence about opting in or out.

Web Forms

Web forms should have clear links on how to opt-in to lists and access your data usage and privacy policies. Boxes to opt-in cannot be “pre-checked” forcing the user to uncheck the box. That’s not opt-in. Also, just because a visitor signs up for a webinar or to download a white paper does not mean they are subscribing to every marketing email you send. They have to be given the choice to opt-in and manage their subscription.

Purchased Lists

Purchasing a list with email addresses has never been a good idea, and now it’s an even worse path to follow. If you acquire a list from a third-party, they need to have consent from the people on the list to share the information with you. You also are required to get specific consent to use the email addresses on the list unless the individuals have given their consent to be approached by associated partners.

Purchased lists have historically not performed well and the data quality can be poor, leading to bounces and spam complaints. Now, on top of those problems, you can be breaking the GDPR law.

Media Partners

Your media and marketing partners have to be as rigorous about compliance with GDPR as you do. For example, before you sponsor or place an ad in a partner’s e-newsletter to their subscriber base, be sure to ask if they have conducted reconsent campaigns. Ask if their subscriber database is compliant with GDPR. Also, ask what they do to ensure the accuracy and security of their data.

If you are experiencing challenges complying with GDPR, consider working with a reputable partner that has an accurate, opt-in database comprised of engineering, technical and industrial professionals and the marketing expertise to help you connect with this audience.

 

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millennial engineer professional

How to Market to Millennial Engineers

In many respects, millennials are like their older, more experienced engineering colleagues: smart, hardworking, ambitious problem-solvers. But in other ways, millennials set themselves apart, and not just in the ways you may have read about previously.

New research from IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions—“The Pulse of Engineering”—included exclusive analysis about millennials, which are generally considered born in the time period between the early 1980s and 2000, and for this report have less than ten years of engineering experience.

The results of the survey provide insight into work styles, engineer’s motivations, and their desired career path. A few things stand out about millennials that can help shape how you market to and communicate with them.

1. Millennials are more optimistic than more seasoned engineers.

Engineers of all ages report that the pace of engineering is constantly increasing and that lack of time and resources are their most significant challenges. However, millennials are more likely to believe that technology is improving productivity and they are not as concerned that their companies are losing senior expertise faster than they are gaining it.

Millennials are also more likely to report increasing budgets and new hires in their companies, growth in their engineering workforce, and are less likely to report that cost-cutting pressure is affecting their products.

Takeaway:

Millennials may be more responsive to messages about the benefits of new technology. At the same time, they may not be moved by dark or dire FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) marketing tactics that some manufacturers employ. They’re more optimistic—you should be too when communicating with them.

 

2. Millennials are eager to learn and find new opportunities.

When reporting on factors important to their careers, millennials are driven less by compensation and more by learning opportunity, growth potential and by good work/life balance.

The number one reason millennials would leave their current role is to move to another company to pursue new opportunities, followed by promotion to a more senior role.

For millennials that change jobs, many report they would need to upgrade their current skills by learning programming languages, software development, data science, business skills, and communication and presentation skills. The top four ways they maintain and advance their skills and become educated are colleagues, books, online training courses and webinars (true across all age groups), but millennials are much more likely to use online video and less likely to use technical white papers by vendors.

Younger engineers are also more likely to use datasheets, coding resources, and design kits to help complete projects they are working on.

Takeaway:

Create and deliver technical content that helps educate millennials and improve their skillsets. Plan online training courses for your audience, host webinars, and create instructional videos. Produce detailed datasheets. Offer comprehensive design kits. If you can become a millennial engineer’s trusted resource now, they are much more likely to remember your company and stick with you as they move up the ladder or change jobs.

3. Millennials want open access to information

Millennials are less willing than other engineers to register on a website for access to specific documents. They are also more likely to believe all content should be free and open access.

Takeaway:

These findings have important implications for your marketing programs. If you have gated content that requires user registration, millennials are less likely to fill out a form. It’s not that surprising they believe content should be free and open access—they grew up with the internet and a constant flow of freely available information at their fingertips.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have registration forms on your website to collect prospect information, but you may need to consider other ways to distribute content, such as through social media and email. Or make an executive summary of important content open access and require registration only after you’ve demonstrated your content’s exceptional value. You may also want to consider progressive forms that only require the bare minimum from prospects initially. Millenials may be more likely to fill out a form if it takes only seconds to do and doesn’t compromise too much of their privacy.

 

 

 

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