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.

 

Lead Management Marketing Trends Marketing, General
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.

 

 

 

Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

Three Industrial Marketing Predictions for 2018

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

1. Industrial Marketers Will Expand Multichannel Capabilities

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

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

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

2. Industrial Marketers Will Document their Strategies

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

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

3. Industrial Marketers Will Work with Partners for Content Marketing

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

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

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

 

Marketing Trends Marketing, General

Industrial Marketing Survey Reveals a Challenging Environment

IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions recently conducted its annual Industrial Marketing Trends Survey. The online survey asked marketing professionals about the marketing trends, challenges and expenditures within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities.

Below are some of the key findings of the survey.  How does your marketing situation compare with these survey findings? You can access detailed results, analysis and recommendations by downloading a complimentary copy of the upcoming 2017 Trends in Industrial Marketing white paper.

Marketing Goals & Challenges

For the sixth consecutive year, industrial marketers report that customer acquisition is their primary marketing goal, followed by demand generation.

The majority of respondents say that the quality of products/services offered is their organization’s main differentiator. Only six percent of companies focus on price as their differentiator.

Limited marketing resources, the need to generate enough high quality leads, and increased competition are the three most common marketing challenges.

The top three measures of success for marketing initiatives are customer acquisition, sales attributed to marketing campaigns and customer satisfaction.

Marketing Channels & Programs

Email marketing using in-house lists, social media and tradeshows are the top marketing channels in the industrial sector, followed by search engine optimization and online directories/websites. Four of the top five channels used are digital channels, indicating that many marketers understand the importance of devoting resources to a mix of digital channels.

Half of industrial companies use a balanced approach, mixing both push/outbound marketing (e-newsletters, direct mail, etc.) and pull/inbound marketing (corporate website, online catalogs, etc.). However, industrial marketers state that they want to diversify their mix more—only 25 percent are satisfied with their marketing mix.

While most marketers are neutral, about the same percentage are satisfied as dissatisfied with their online marketing efforts. Overall, only 25 percent of marketers are satisfied or very satisfied, meaning there’s opportunity for many marketers to grow and adopt new strategies.

Content Marketing

Content marketing has become an essential marketing tactic for industrial marketers, although 34 percent are just getting started (down from 39 percent in 2015) and only 12 percent can show how content marketing contributes to sales (same as 2015). Twenty-eight percent have a content strategy in place and 34 percent repurpose content for use in different formats.

Marketing Budgets

Overall, budgets have remained fairly steady since 2011. Seventy-nine percent report that they will spend the same or more on marketing as in 2016.

Thirty-nine percent of industrial companies are increasing online spending as a portion of their overall marketing budgets, with 45 percent of companies remaining the same. These results indicate that industrial marketers know how important online marketing is to connecting with engineers and other technical professionals.

Marketing as a Profession

When asked about the biggest single challenge in their profession, 29 percent of marketers cited generating leads for sales and 25 percent said measuring the ROI of their efforts. These challenges often arise due to a lack of resources, meaning that marketers struggling with these challenges should consider working with a trusted media partner that can help free up some of these resources.

These findings represent the state of marketing in the industrial sector. What should you do with this intelligence? We’ve produced a complimentary white paper that analyzes and presents the results of the survey, and offers recommendations to industrial marketers to help them allocate their budgets, develop a sound marketing strategy and plan effective programs and campaigns for the upcoming year. Click here to be one of the first to receive a copy of the report when it’s released.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Trends

Video and the Industrial Marketing Star

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Story of Content Marketing in Five Statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Big Reasons Why Engineers Need You

You need engineers and technical professionals. They are your customers and therefore the lifeblood of your company. But the relationship is mutual: Engineers need you as well.

Leveraging this mutual need is the key to building and maintaining long-term, loyal relationships with your customers.

The recent “2017 Pulse of Engineering” survey revealed three key areas where suppliers can focus their marketing efforts to provide more value to engineers and technical professionals. Let’s discuss your customer’s pain points and how to help them:

1. Provide Design and Project Assistance
The majority of engineers and technical professionals surveyed agreed that designs are becoming more complex at the same time that design cycles are shrinking and time-to-market pressures are increasing. Fifty-five percent of engineers are being required to do more with less; 68 percent are working on three or more projects simultaneously. Yet team size is not increasing. Seventy-six percent said the average size of the teams they work on has decreased or stayed the same.

Due to these pressures, many companies are looking outside for help. Thirty-eight percent said that design involvement from external partners, vendors and customers has increased. This represents a golden opportunity for suppliers to educate their customers and become more involved in their work processes.

However, expect engineers to choose their outside influences judiciously. You can demonstrate your expertise and get closer to customers by marketing your brand and value propositions across the channels that engineers use to locate suppliers, products, and services. Online catalogs, webinars, technical articles and white papers are all good vehicles to showcase your company’s expertise, and to demonstrate how you can add value in the design phase of projects.

2. Fill the Knowledge Gap
Forty-seven percent of engineers have 30 or more years of service, and many are nearing retirement. Thirty-six percent of industrial companies are experiencing increased losses of senior employees to retirement. Twenty-seven percent of technical professionals said they were only slightly or not at all likely to be employed by their current company in five years.

One result of changing demographics and worker mobility is a knowledge drain. Forty-five percent of survey respondents said that knowledge and/or information loss as employees left the company was very or extremely important. Yet only 36 percent of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.

As a supplier in the industrial sector, you can help preserve and grow your customers’ knowledge by educating and training them on trends and technologies, and serving as a trusted information resource. Engineers and technical professionals primarily maintain and advance their professional skills through colleagues, books, and technical white papers and training provided by vendors.

Make customer education, training and thought leadership cornerstone initiatives in your marketing strategy. By becoming more valuable to your customers you can become more entrenched in their work processes and serve as a primary source that they will turn to for technical and industry knowledge.

3. Help Engineers Do More with Less
While the pace of engineering continues to increase and engineers are asked to do more with less, 47 percent of survey respondents say that technology is helping to improve productivity. Embedded in these findings is a valuable question for suppliers to answer: How do your offerings help engineers improve their efficiency?

Research such as “2017 Pulse of Engineering” allows you to identify the challenges and concerns of your customers, and to align your messaging and solutions in a way that resonates with your audience. For example, the survey reveals that engineers often must meet aggressive launch dates for products that meet high standards for customer satisfaction. How do your products/services help engineers do more with less? Or shorten design cycles? Or increase efficiency? How are your technologies at the forefront of innovation or sustainable for long periods of time? Craft marketing messages in a way that positions your offerings to help engineers overcome their challenges.

The “2017 Pulse of Engineering” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions can help guide your marketing efforts. Results tell you exactly what engineers and technical professionals in the industrial sector think about the pace of engineering, work environment, competition, challenges, performance management and knowledge management practices.
 

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Market Research Marketing Trends

The Millennials are Coming!

Actually, they’re already here. While there are no precise dates for when this generation begins or ends, most consider anyone born from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990‘s to be a millennial. That puts the majority of millennials in the sought after 18-34 demographic.

According to the Pew Research Center, there were approximately 55.2 million millennials in the U.S. workforce in 2015. By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 74 million, representing 44 percent of the workforce.

Millennials are flooding the B2B industrial sector and advancing into positions where they influence and/or make buying decisions. Research conducted by the B2B marketing firm Sacunas found that 73 percent of millennials are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies. Approximately one-third of millennials report being the sole decision-maker for their department.

As marketers, you must learn to connect with this group and win them over.

Preferred Channels for Millennials
Millennials are less reliant on any one information source than other age groups. A report compiled by Chief Marketer claims there is no “silver bullet” to reach the millennial audience, and that a “mix of channels and approaches is your best bet.”

Fortunately, a multichannel strategy is the best way to reach engineers and technical professionals of any age. The three most popular channels to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, supplier websites and online catalogs, according to the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions. In addition, online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them.

Naturally, social media is an attractive channel for millennials. Eighty-five percent use social media to research products and services for their companies. Facebook is the most popular platform, and the majority also use LinkedIn (Sacunas).

2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” found that professionals under age 35 are more likely to make contact during the needs analysis/research phase of the buy cycle, while professionals over 49 are more likely to wait until the purchasing stage. The takeaway is that suppliers must be discoverable and approachable during any phase of the buy cycle, through a variety of marketing channels. This conclusion aligns with millennials’ desire for a hassle-free, multi-channel client experience that is tailored to their specific needs.

Types of Content Millennials Consume
According to Sacunas, when researching new products and services to make B2B purchasing decisions, millennials prefer video-based content and case studies. In terms of targeted content, they rate training, demos and product news as being the most helpful information to receive from vendors.

The way that millennials consume content is worth noting as well. Technical professionals under age 35 conduct significantly more product searches and read more news and e-newsletters on their smartphones than their older colleagues (“2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector”). Suppliers should consider creating websites and e-newsletters that are compatible with mobile.

What Millennials Look for in a B2B Vendor
What are millennials looking for in a B2B vendor? The top priority was ease of doing business (35%), followed by willingness to work collaboratively with their organization (33%), and industry/marketplace experience (31%), as reported by IBM. Eighty percent of millennials in the Sacunas survey indicated that social, environmental, or philanthropic efforts of companies are important to their purchase decisions.

How do you ensure you are the right company for a millennial customer? Pay attention to this audience’s preferences for channels, content and brand attributes during their buy cycle, and adjust your marketing accordingly. You might find your customer base becoming both younger and larger as a result.
 

Customer Relationships Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing Trends Marketing, General Thought Leadership

Five Industrial Marketing Trends that Matter in 2017

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.

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5 Key Takeaways from the Industrial Buy Cycle Survey

 Every industrial marketer must be tuned into the industrial buy cycle—a complex, three-stage collaborative process for recommending, specifying and purchasing equipment, components and software, and services in the industrial and electronics space. The three stages of the buy cycle are:

1. Research and Needs Analysis—when you identify specific needs for your company and explore available options. Activities might include web searches, attending webinars, reading white papers, scanning industry news and connecting with peers.
2. Comparison and Evaluation—when you determine the most suitable options for your company. Activities might include comparing specifications, watching how-to videos, testing samples, and interacting with the supplier’s technical staff.
3. Purchase—when you make a specific purchase decision. Many engineers still stay involved when it’s time to negotiate terms, get proper signatures and finalize pricing and scope.

Recently, IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions conducted the “2106 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey.” Its purpose was to better understand the buying process engineers and other technical professionals engage in, and to provide useful information for industrial marketers who must connect with this target audience. Below are the five key takeaways from the survey.

1. Engineers Have Substantial Buying Authority
Engineers are in the problem-solving business, and if you can demonstrate that your solutions help solve their problems, they will authorize a purchase. Engineers have substantial buying and sign off authority, and they employ this authority to purchase a wide variety of components, software, equipment and services.

Engineers possess an average sign-off authority of nearly US $5,000 when purchasing products and services. In addition, they personally are responsible for an average of $110,900 in spending. Those holding managerial titles are responsible for more personal spending—37 percent more spend than staff engineers—and a commensurately larger sign off authorization level.

2. The Average Buying Cycle is 12 Weeks
The average buying cycle is 12 weeks—although 20 percent of engineers report buying cycles of four weeks or less, and 14 percent of 20 weeks or more. The average annual workload of engineers is four projects per year, regardless of product/service under consideration. When you consider the average number of projects (four) and the average length of buy cycle (12 weeks), engineers are actively involved in buy cycle activities all year long.

This means that engineers and other technical professionals are constantly searching for products and services that will meet the demands of their projects. The question for industrial marketers is: When engineers are searching for solutions like yours, will they find you?

3. Engineers Influence All Phases
While it’s true that the buying process is a team effort, engineers and engineering managers hold the majority of influence—52 percent. They are most involved in specifying, evaluating and recommending products/services to be purchased. Corporate management (particularly financial management) and purchasing are most influential during the purchase stage when terms and conditions are negotiated and the supplier relationship is cemented.

For a supplier, this means that cultivating connections with engineers early in the buy cycle are as important as establishing relationships with the people who ultimately issue the purchase orders.

4. Remember the Rule of Three
Engineering teams are remarkably consistent with regard to the number of suppliers they evaluate or ask to submit quotes. During the buying process, three competing suppliers on average are evaluated and sent RFQs—the “rule of three.” Those spending $1 million or more on products or services are more likely to evaluate or request quotes from four suppliers, but overall this “rule of three” is consistent across product categories, project loads or company sizes.

5. Engineers Have a List of Buying Criteria
Engineers and technical buyers want to work with suppliers that possess certain characteristics. These criteria fall under three general categories (another “rule of three”): supply chain, support and brand.

• Supply chain considerations have to do with product availability, delivery schedule and comfort with the supplier—such as having purchased from the vendor in the past or the supplier being an approved vendor. Lowest cost is also a factor, but not the most important one.
• Technical support is the single most important consideration, with 78 percent of engineers saying it is very important or somewhat important. After-sale customer assistance, design assistance, help with system integration or compatibility with legacy solutions, or simple access to a knowledgeable sales team are all considerations when making a purchase decision. For approximately 40 percent of engineers, the location of a supplier’s manufacturing facilities or service centers is of preeminent concern, especially for those buying services.
• Only half of engineers around the world feel it is critical to deal primarily with vendors with “recognized company names.” This should encourage smaller or lesser known suppliers. However, to win business from the half of engineers who prefer to work with known brands, these lesser known companies must successfully demonstrate there is little risk in doing business with them, both in terms of products and ability to deliver.

Read the Entire Survey Report
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.

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