Connect with Potential Customers Throughout the Buy Cycle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends

How to Meet Marketing ROI Milestones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing Measurement Marketing ROI Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends

Is Email Dead?

Has the sun set on email as an effective B2B marketing tactic? It’s hard to get the attention of your intended recipients. Open rates are down. Spam reports are up. The inboxes of busy professionals are overflowing. Other forms of communication—social media, texting, etc.—are growing. Perhaps your own email marketing programs to your house lists aren’t performing the way they once did.

With all these factors, you might believe that email is dead. But you’d be wrong. Sure, email is not the latest thing; it doesn’t have that sexy, edgy aura any longer. Instead, it’s mature, and with maturity often comes sophistication. Properly executed—targeted lists, laser campaigns, relentless tracking, careful refining—email remains a viable and powerful marketing tactic within an integrated, multichannel marketing strategy.

As Gartner reported, “No, email isn’t dead. It’s still valuable since more email marketing is being consumed on the go through multiple devices, and is still extremely measurable.”

Statistics bear out the continued popularity and effectiveness of email. Eighty-one percent of B2B marketers use e-newsletters as a content marketing tactic, according to joint research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. The Winterberry Group has reported that estimated email data spend is increasing 9.1% in 2016, a faster than expected rate increase, a statistic that encompasses email lists, database management and hygiene, analytics, and integration.

Consider this additional research from Salesforce: 73% of marketers believe email marketing is core to their business and 58% of B2B email marketers are increasing their email marketing spend.

E-newsletters Predominate
Within the universe of email marketing, e-newsletters are the most often used email campaign among B2B marketers, and 64% of B2B marketers rate e-newsletters as very effective/effective (Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs). Your target audience of engineers subscribes to an average of 4.4 digital publications, in contrast to 1.4 printed trade magazines, according to the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions.

However, your company’s e-newsletter is not the only way to engage customers and prospects through email marketing. You can also share your news, content and product information—and build your brand and generate new engagement opportunities—by advertising in targeted industry e-newsletters.

Advertising in a reputable, recognized e-newsletter offers a number advantages for the industrial marketer seeking to get more out of email marketing:

• You can reach a much broader yet still targeted audience. Contacts that you don’t have in your own database and are otherwise hard to reach. Industrial professionals in new markets or regions you want to pursue. Motivated, engaged engineers who have opted-in to receive the publication.
• Someone else does the heavy lifting for you. The e-newsletter publisher handles database and list management, newsletter design and production, and sending and tracking. This can free you up to focus time and resources on other pressing marketing efforts.
• Customized reporting for measuring success and ROI. You can access timely reports that detail the results of your advertisement. With opt-in newsletters, you’ll know who clicked on your ad and expressed interest in your content.
• You can benefit from integration with other digital marketing efforts. The right media partner will offer e-newsletter sponsorship by itself or as part of an integrated marketing program that may include tactics such as display advertising, content marketing, searchable catalogs, webinars, and more. This helps you create a stronger, more holistic marketing program highly targeted at the audience you need to reach.

E-newsletter Advertising Opportunities
IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions publishes 69+ highly targeted, opt-in e-newsletters in the industrial sector. Your target audience relies on these publications as a key resource during all stages of their buying cycle.

Each newsletter features rich editorial content, including industry trends and events, the latest research, innovative technology, product news, and career information. Delivery rates exceed 98%, and subscribers are interested and motivated: 60% read the e-newsletters upon receipt.

No, email isn’t dead; not even close. It’s simply become more targeted when used appropriately and remains an essential tool for industrial professionals during their research and buying process. Click here for a list of all IEEE Engineering360 e-newsletters and to discover how they drive action in your target audience.

E-Mail Marketing Marketing Trends Marketing, General

Why Webinars Have an Important Role in Your Marketing Mix

 Webinars provide strong demand generation opportunities, and the ability to build brand awareness, engage with your target audience, and establish thought leadership.

One of the key reasons why webinars are an effective marketing tactic is that your attending audience is motivated and interested. They are committing an hour or so of their busy day to listen to your message and interact with your presenters. That takes a lot more effort on their part than, for instance, scanning an email or reading a web page. Additionally, webinars require less time, effort, and especially cost to attend than an in-person event, which helps increase their popularity.

As in-person tradeshows continue to experience decline in this digital era, webinars have filled the void for interaction between technical professionals and vendors.

Seventy percent of technical professionals attended at least one webinar or online event in the past year, and 32% attended four or more (IHS Enginering360 “Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey).

Industrial marketers realize that webinars have an important role in their marketing mix. Thirty-six percent now use webinars as a marketing tactic, and 40% are increasing spending on webinars (IHS Engineering360 “Industrial Marketing Trends” survey).

A variety of webinar options
Webinars can require a lot of work to be successful – from choosing a topic; to creating the presentation and script; to promoting your event; to registering and reminding your audience; to having a platform to host the webinar; to following up with opportunities post-event; to archiving the event on your website for future on-demand viewing and lead generation.

Doing all of this on your own requires resources, technology, and expertise. You also must attract a targeted audience on your own. If you’ve successfully been producing and hosting webinars, and generating engagement opportunities, you deserve credit for a job well done. If you’re just getting started, don’t be intimidated by the work involved. There are other options available.

Whether or not you have experience with webinars, working with a media partner for webinar marketing offers a number of advantages:

• A broad, yet still targeted audience. The right media partner will have access to a motivated and targeted audience you may not be able to reach on your own, and will develop and manage a multi-channel marketing plan to target the specific audience you want to attract and to promote your webinar.

• Comprehensive project management. Partners offer easy registration capabilities, email reminders, post-webinar follow-ups, and other features to help increase registration, attendance, and audience satisfaction. They can also handle all the technical aspects of webinar production and delivery. These services free you up to focus on webinar content and integrating the event into your overall marketing mix.

• Additional webinar options. Media partners that have webinar expertise can offer you a broad array of options. For example, you may want to create and deliver the webinar presentation, and have your partner handle the audience and production aspects. This is the more traditional route. But forward-thinking media companies offer other options for industrial marketers. For instance, your company could sponsor and brand a pre-determined webinar comprised of a panel discussion with industry experts. This option is a great way to build credibility and thought leadership around key topics that are important to your company. Another option is a more hybrid approach, with your media partner providing experts to collaborate with you and co-present on a mutually agreed upon topic.

Webinars are expected to show increased growth in the industrial sector. The main reason: they are effective. And more and more industrial marketers are working with media partners to strengthen their webinars and increase the return on their investment. For more information on custom webinar services from IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions, click here.

Demand Generation Marketing Trends Marketing, General Webinars

Five Best Practices for Infographics

 Infographics are a popular and effective way for industrial marketers to communicate information. Why does everyone love infographics? Because the best ones provide fast, easy access to important information. Our brains require less effort to digest visual content than text, and visual content drives more traffic and engagement than plain text does.

Here’s an example of three infographics from IHS Engineering360: an Infographic 3 Pack. Each one summarizes a set of research data that was also used to produce a white paper and other content. See how much you can learn from a quick scan of the infographic?

But as with any other type of content, some infographics are better at getting the job done than others. Make sure you adhere to these best practices when using infographics as part of your content marketing efforts.

1. Tell a visual story
You can’t simply assemble a collection of data and statistics and call it an infographic. Your infographics should tell a visual story that has a main theme or objective. It should adhere to both a logical and a visual flow. To determine the story you want to tell, ask yourself the following questions:
• What am I trying to communicate?
• What are the main points of the story?
• What should my audience learn?
• What do I want my audience to feel, think or do? (include a call to action)

2. Choose a compelling topic
Like a white paper, webinar or other marketing content, infographics must be interesting and relevant to your audience. Timeliness is also a factor with infographics. What’s happening right now in your industry? What research, data and statistics support your story and are compelling to your audience?

Dig deep into your research to uncover data behind key trends you want to tell a story about. Be sure that you cite the data sources that you use. You can either integrate the citations where the data appears or use some kind of footnoting and put citations at the end.

3. Adhere to design principles
Because infographics are so visual in nature, it’s essential that you create a harmonious and pleasing design that is attractive to your audience. Follow these principles:
• Keep visual elements such as icons as simple as possible. Complex designs are distracting and hard to understand. They also might not render well in small sizes. The same goes for fonts. Use simple, clean typography. Try to stick to one or two fonts and a limited number of font sizes.
• Choose a complementary color palette and group related information by color. But don’t use too many colors. You don’t want the infographic to look like a circus.
• Use white space. If you clutter up the entire canvas with information, your audience will be overwhelmed and won’t know where to look next. White space helps segment information and create a visual flow that moves your story in the right direction.
• Use a vertical, not a horizontal, layout. Your audience can scroll down as needed to see information below the limits of the screen, but horizontal scrolling is difficult. A good rule of thumb is to make your infographic no wider than 600 pixels.
• Use brief blocks of text to support or explain visuals. The main story should be told through the graphic elements; consider text as secondary and keep it to a minimum.

4. Create your infographics
Not everyone is an artist. If you’re not a designer, you can take advantage of online tools that let you create visually powerful infographics from templates. Or reach out to your media partners that offer content marketing services – infographic development may also be on their list of product offerings. One benefit of relying on a media partner for assistance versus using online tools is that they can help you with both the design, as well as identifying and organizing the right data and content.

5. Market your infographics
Infographics are for sharing. Be sure to add social sharing buttons to your infographics, along with your logo and a call to action. In addition, promote your infographics as you would any other content as part of your integrated marketing program. Post them to your website, link to them from emails, use them to pitch articles to editors, and highlight them on your social media accounts.

Also think about ways you can use the content of infographics in other ways. The infographics examples mentioned above from IHS Engineering360 were created from research reports. Repurposing content can flow in the other direction as well. Can elements of your infographics be used as slides in a presentation? Or as the basis of an executive brief or article? Smart marketers are always finding ways to effectively repurpose content.

Content Marketing Marketing Trends

In Marketing, You Need to Push and Pull

 There has been agreement in recent years about the need for industrial marketers to combine both push marketing and pull marketing strategies. In theory, the line between push marketing and pull marketing is clear, but in practice it is blurred, because successful marketers seamlessly weave the two strategies together.

Push marketing, also called outbound marketing, is casting a net to reach your audience. Examples of push marketing tactics include e-newsletters, direct mail, and print or online advertising. The marketer maintains control in terms of targeting the audience, owning the message and selecting the channel. A question related to push marketing is: “How many can I reach?”

Pull marketing, also called inbound marketing, is a way to draw in potential customers, making it easy for them to find and engage with you when they recognize and begin searching for a product or service similar to what your company offers. Search engine marketing, your company website, online catalogs, and social media accounts are examples of inbound marketing. With pull marketing, the customer is in complete control in terms of choosing to engage with you, and your task is to provide useful, relevant content. A question related to pull marketing is: “Who can I help?”

A majority of industrial companies (53%) use a combination of both push and pull marketing strategies, according to the recent IHS Engineering360 research report, “Trends in Industrial Marketing.” However, only a quarter of these marketers are satisfied with their push and pull mix. What’s the source of their dissatisfaction?

The path to a better push and pull mix
A number of factors could contribute to industrial marketers recognizing a need for better diversification between push and pull marketing. These include:

Too slow to shift to pull strategies. Traditional marketing methods are heavily weighted toward push strategies: cold calling, direct mail, and print ads, for example. On the other hand, pull marketing came of age with the digital era. Now the vast majority of engineers, technical, and industrial professionals turn first to digital channels to search for information, news, products, services, and suppliers. If you haven’t caught up to your customers’ behavior, you may not be getting the results you want.

It may be time to take a closer look not only at your push and pull diversification, but also your online and traditional marketing mix. Whether your tactics are push or pull, you should probably be devoting the majority of your marketing budget to digital channels.

Viewing a channel as valuable exclusively for push or pull. One mistake marketers might make is deciding that a channel is exclusively push or pull, and then using it only in that manner. The reality is that many channels can accommodate both push and pull tactics, and in fact the line between push and pull is often vague.

For example, writing a guest article for publication on an industry website is a pull tactic that can draw your audience in, but paying for an advertorial on a website is more of a push tactic. Posting to your social media accounts and earning shares and mentions are pull tactics, while paying for social media advertising is a push tactic.

Marketers should first choose which channels are best for helping connect with their target audience and to achieve their marketing objectives, then deploy both push and pull strategies on those channels for greater impact.

Not integrating push and pull efforts. You may use both push and pull marketing tactics, but are you weaving together your efforts into an integrated marketing strategy? No single tactic should stand in isolation. For example, you might advertise in an e-newsletter to drive prospects to a page on your website where they can register for a webinar or download a white paper. You may also have optimized this page to rank high for specific keyword search results. Or if you publish a searchable online product catalog on an industry website, you can display ads based on the user’s search and results. Take these concepts to a higher level and discover ways to integrate all of your push and pull strategies.

Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Multichannel Marketing

Industrial Marketing Trends: What’s Up, What’s Down

 If you’re not up to date on what your marketing peers are doing and the latest trends in industrial marketing, keep reading this post. For the complete story, download your complimentary copy of the white paper, “Trends in Industrial Marketing: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today.”

A recent IHS survey revealed a number of interesting insights about what’s trending up for industrial marketers—and what’s trending down.

Increased Competition is the New Number-One Challenge
Forty percent of survey respondents chose this statement as representative of one of their top three challenges: “Increased competition is making my marketing job harder than ever.”

There could be a number of reasons for intensifying competition. First, with the rise of digital media channels, engineers and other technical professionals have more discovery resources at their disposal than ever before. They are exposed to more suppliers and a more level playing field in their search for products, services and information.

Second, with more players in the game, the noise is increasing. It’s becoming more challenging for industrial marketers to differentiate their companies from others.

Content Marketing is Important, but Needs to Mature
The majority of industrial marketers are increasing their spending on content marketing, and 46% are using content marketing. However, 39% are just getting started and only 12% can show how content marketing contributes to sales.

To gain more maturity in content marketing, marketers should develop a strategy based on achieving specific, measurable objectives. A key component of the strategy is producing content for all stages of the industrial buy cycle, distributing content across multiple channels and tracking where and how customers access the content.

Marketers are Spending a Greater Percentage of Budget Online
Forty-two percent of industrial marketers stated that online marketing will receive a greater share of investment than in the past. On average, industrial marketers spend 41% of their budget online, and digital represents four of the top five marketing channels in 2015.

Why are industrial marketers spending a greater percentage of their overall budgets online? They understand that online and digital resources are where their customers turn first to find information to support their buy cycle. And industrial marketers who are focused on performance and ROI know that online marketing is easier to measure than traditional marketing channels.

Social Media is No Longer a Worry
Social media has become business as usual in the industrial sector, and marketers are becoming more comfortable using it. Only 13% of industrial marketers stated that incorporating social media into their marketing mix was one of their top three marketing challenges.

Exactly half of industrial marketers are using social media as a channel in 2015. Facebook and Twitter usage is slightly down, while LinkedIn remains the leading social media platform in the industrial sector. At this point, most industrial marketers have found out what works best in social media to support their overall marketing strategy, and are focusing their efforts on those channels and tactics.

Previously Popular Channels are Trending Down
Some mainstay marketing channels have experienced a slight decrease over the past year. Email marketing using in-house lists has declined in usage to 60% from 73%. Marketers may be devoting more resources to advertising in industry e-newsletters and other third party email providers to reach a broader, yet still targeted, audience.

Tradeshows have also declined in use, from 69% to 59%. They tend to be costly, and engineers and technical professionals are more reluctant to spend the money and take time away from the office to attend tradeshows. Search engine optimization and generating paid traffic from search engines have also declined this past year.

These are just a few of the latest marketing rends. To keep up with all the trends, and to find out what they mean and their impact on your marketing efforts, read the white paper, “Trends in Industrial Marketing.” A special section of the paper offers recommendations for industrial marketers.

Marketing Trends

Top Priorities and Challenges for Industrial Marketers

 In the recent IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions research report, Trends in Industrial Marketing, we revealed the top priorities and challenges that industrial marketers are facing today. The priorities that matter to industrial marketers include customer acquisition and retention, brand awareness, and content production and distribution. The list of challenges includes increased competition, generating leads, and measuring success.

That’s a lot to manage for any marketing team. The Maven is here to help. We’ll look at each of these priorities and challenges and put them into context for you. Why are they important? And what can you do to best manage your priorities and conquer your challenges?

Priority: Customer Focus
Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Industrial marketers know this. Customer acquisition is the primary marketing goal for 43% of survey respondents, earning it the top spot six years running. In addition, focus on customer retention has grown every year for the past several years, with 15% stating it is their primary marketing goal in 2015. Moreover, 54% state that customer acquisition is used to measure marketing success.

To stay focused on customers, industrial marketers are investing in digital programs such as email marketing, e-newsletters, webinars, and catalog programs to get closer to customers and potential customers. They also are focusing on working with media partners who best understand the customer and can offer programs that produce significant levels of awareness and engagement.

Priority: Brand Awareness
Over the next five years, industrial marketers indicated their marketing teams will be placing more emphasis on brand awareness. Having a brand that is positively recognized in your market puts your company in a position to shorten the sales cycle and win more business.

Marketing programs that deliver a consistent and persistent presence – such as your website, online catalogs, and banner ads – can increase the visibility of your brand. Webinars and content marketing initiatives can help personalize and strengthen your brand.

Priority: Creating and Distributing Content
Another area of focus for marketing departments will be creating and distributing content. Engineers and other industrial professionals are constantly looking for relevant, educational content to help them do their jobs better, such as webinars, articles, how-tos, white papers, spec sheets, and more.

Fifty-one percent of industrial marketers increased spending on content creation in 2015. However, 39% are just getting started with content marketing, and only 12% can show how content marketing contributes to sales. Marketing teams should develop a content marketing plan and schedule, which will help them produce needed content and get it into the hands of customers and prospects using the digital channels they prefer.

Challenge: Increased Competition
For the first time, industrial marketers report that increased competition is their number-one challenge. The digital era and its multitude of channels has largely leveled the playing field for competitors. Engineers and technical professionals now have more resources than ever at their disposal to discover information and research purchases, making it harder for marketers to be highly visible and to differentiate their company, products, and services.

The solution is to diversity your marketing presence across the channels your customers prefer to use. Putting too much emphasis on one area, such as the company website, can leave you vulnerable to competitors who are increasing visibility and generating engagement opportunities across a variety of digital channels. Past research demonstrates the performance benefits of diversifying your marketing spend across multiple digital media channels versus relying on a single platform.

Challenge: Generating Qualified Leads for Sales
Thirty-five percent of industrial marketers report that generating enough qualified leads for sales is one of their top three marketing challenges. What’s more, demand generation is the second most important marketing goal for industrial marketers and a precursor to the top priority — customer acquisition.

The key to overcoming this challenge is to invest in marketing that generates valuable engagement opportunities for you. You can often measure the worth of a contact or inquiry in its timeliness. Engagement opportunities coming to you in real time, as they are generated, are more likely to convert to a sale than those weeks or even just days old.

In addition, marketers should have lead nurturing processes in place to help transition early-stage leads into qualified prospects ready for your sales team. For additional advice and best practices in this area, download the complimentary white paper, “Best Practices for Managing and Increasing Engagement Opportunities.”

Challenge: Measuring Return on Investment (ROI)
The top measurements for marketing successes are sales attributed to marketing campaigns and customer acquisition. Because the industrial buy cycle can be long, complex, and involve multiple decision makers, you will likely engage with customers along a number of marketing touchpoints before they make a buying decision.

For example, a customer may first see your banner ad, later visit your website, download a white paper, and eventually attend a webinar. It’s important to track all of these interactions along the buying journey in order to measure the effectiveness of individual marketing tactics and your program as a whole. This will also prevent the mistake of attributing a sale to the last touchpoint with a customer, because rarely is any one interaction, or even the most recent one, the sole contributor to marketing success.

Download the white paper “2015 Trends in Industrial Marketing” for an in-depth look at the goals, challenges, budgets, and plans of industrial marketers, along with recommendations on how you can strengthen your marketing efforts in the coming year.

Content Marketing Customer Relationships Demand Generation Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing ROI Marketing Trends Multichannel Marketing

How to Overcome the Top Three Industrial Marketing Challenges

 The 2015 Industrial Marketing Trends results are in and here are the top three challenges that marketers face: increased competition, limited marketing resources, and generating enough high-quality leads for sales. This is a formidable trio of marketing challenges, but we know industrial marketers are pretty formidable themselves. You can overcome these challenges. Here’s how.

Increased Competition
For the first time, increased competition rose to the top of the list of what’s making life difficult for industrial marketers. It’s easy to understand why. The digital era and its multitude of channels has largely leveled the playing field for competitors. Engineers and technical professionals now have at their disposal more resources than ever to discover information and research purchases, making it harder for marketers to be highly visible and to differentiate their company, products and services.

Solution
Carefully evaluate your online marketing mix. Are you spending on the right channels—the ones that your target audience uses most often for work-related purposes? Putting significant focus on one area (your website, for example) will limit your exposure and visibility. The key is to diversify your spending.

The top digital resources for engineers and technical professionals are search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites, according to the 2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector survey. E-newsletters and webinars are also popular sources of information. Online communities have seen a significant growth among younger engineers, with 39 percent now using them.

You should also evaluate how you position and talk about your company in your marketing. Are you saying the same things that others are saying? Or have you found a niche that plays to your strengths and differentiates your company from competitors? You have unique attributes—your task is to identify and promote them.

Limited Marketing Resources
Let’s face it: scarcity is the nature of marketing. There is never enough budget, and never enough people, to do everything you want to do. Which means you have hard decisions to make about where to allocate your marketing efforts.

Solution
See above about spending on those channels your customers and prospects use most often. But also, look for ways in which the total impact of your marketing can be greater than the sum of its parts. The key here is to have an integrated marketing plan. Don’t just purchase a banner ad on a website; invest in a campaign that increases your visibility across a network of targeted industrial sites. Don’t simply get listed on an online directory; take the next step and drive traffic to your listing through other marketing efforts, or put your entire catalog online.

With 2016 quickly approaching, now is a good time to speak to your media partners about how you can get better results given your budget and marketing objectives. They can help you put together an integrated plan that makes optimal use of the resources you have.

Another way to make the most of your resources is to make your content work harder for you. Most industrial marketers are engaged in content marketing, and by carefully planning your content efforts in advance, you can save time and money. For example, a white paper can be re-purposed into a webinar, article or series of blog posts. A customer testimonial can become a video, a press release and a downloadable case study. Re-purpose your content and plan campaigns around promoting the content.

Generating Enough High-Quality Leads
“Marketing, please stop! We have all the qualified leads we can handle!” How many industrial marketers have heard that complaint from their sales team? None. Ever. Although sales people might tell you to stop handing over lousy leads. Year over year, generating enough high quality leads for sales appears near the top of industrial marketers’ list of challenges. You can change that.

Solution
Invest in marketing channels your target audience uses frequently, but that also generate valuable engagement opportunities for you. You should focus your efforts on the quality of leads rather than quantity, because that’s what sales people will appreciate.

Another important variable in measuring the worth of a contact or inquiry is its timeliness. Engagement opportunities coming to you in real time, as they are generated, are more likely to convert to a sale than those weeks or even just days old.

In addition, you should have lead nurturing program in place to cultivate those leads that are not yet ready for your sales team. Working this group with a drip campaign of regular touches through email communications and tracking their behavior can help you move them toward qualified and being sales-ready.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends

Five Questions to Help Guide Your Content Marketing Plan

This month the Maven will be publishing posts related to content marketing, one of the most important and essential marketing strategies in the industrial sector today. First, we’ll define content marketing and relate its key benefits, then offer guidance on an effective content marketing plan.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

The main benefit is clear in the definition: profitable customer action. When content marketing is done right, you can establish your company as a thought leader, build brand awareness, and generate engagement opportunities for your sales team. You can become a “go-to” resource for technical professionals, improve your results in search, and help to foster a trusted relationship with customers and prospects.

Your audience of industrial professionals is hungry for relevant content that can help them do their jobs and make better buying decisions. According to the IHS Engineering360 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, 83 percent of buyers review up to three pieces of content before making a decision on purchases under $1,000, while 70 percent of buyers review four or more pieces of content on purchases greater than $10,000. This desire for information on the part of technical professionals means that manufacturers need to step up their content marketing strategy. It all starts with a solid content marketing plan.

Your answers to these five questions will help you build a solid plan:
1. What are your content marketing objectives?
2. What resources will you devote to content marketing?
3. What content will you produce?
4. How will you get content to your audience?
5. How will you measure your results?

1. What are your content marketing objectives?
Your objectives could be short term and specific, such as educating prospects about a new technique or process that your company pioneered, or long term and broader, such as positioning your company as a thought leader and respected information resource in your industry. For either of these objectives, or others—driving web traffic, building a community, generating leads—your overall goal is to be relevant and valuable to your audience. If you aren’t, they won’t pay attention or give you the respect you are trying to earn.

Another important and universal objective is to integrate content marketing efforts with your overall marketing plan. Content marketing intersects and overlaps almost all of your other initiatives: website, social media, newsletters, directory listings, and more. Once you understand your objectives and how your various marketing tactics work together, the next four questions will be much easier to answer.

2. What resources will you devote?
You may not need extensive additional resources to execute an effective content marketing plan. You already are engaged in content marketing, even if you’re not calling it that. Publishing an e-newsletter, promoting a white paper, producing a video, hosting a webinar, writing a blog post or article—these are all content marketing. Now you need to make the next step and integrate the tactics under a set of defined objectives and target them to a specific audience. Depending on your in-house capabilities, you may need to hire professional writers, designers, or other experts to support you or your team.

3. What content will you produce?
If you understand your objectives and audience, the content you need to produce should become readily apparent. Articles, blog posts, and industry research are examples of content that help build thought leadership. Diagrams, product demos, and case studies help potential customers through the early stages of their buy cycle.

You may already have some of the content on hand, so the first step is to audit your current content library, identify gaps, and then fill in missing pieces. You’ll likely be able to re-purpose existing content into other formats, such as writing an article based on webinar content, or creating a written customer testimonial from a video interview.

It’s also important to consider format. All content should be easily downloadable and viewable not only on a desktop or laptop computer, but also on a mobile device. Avoid large files. Use PDF format rather than Word for documents.

4. How will you get content to your audience?
You can push your content out to your audience through tactics such as email, press releases, or e-newsletter advertisements, and you can make your content discoverable by promoting it through banner ads or posting it on your website, online directories, or through digital media platforms such as Engineering360.com. The key is to place your content on the same online resources that technical professionals use to search for and discover information.

5. How will you measure results?
Some basic metrics include traffic to the content on your website or blog and how visitors arrived at your content (social media, e-newsletter advertisement, banner ad, search engines, etc.). You can measure downloads of white papers or registrations for events.

You should also examine how long a visitor spends on a page, watches a video, or participates in a webinar. Length of view helps measure how relevant and engaging your content is. You can track shares, likes, and comments on social media platforms.

Additional Resources
IHS Engineering360 Digital Media Solutions offers integrated content marketing services that can save you time and increase the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts by reaching your specific target audience. From helping to produce content, to getting your content noticed and into the hands of technical professionals, to providing metrics to analyze your results, you can implement a comprehensive content marketing program that aligns with your objectives.

Another valuable resource is the white paper, “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers” from IHS Engineering360. Download your complimentary copy today.

Content Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends