Achieving Success with Long-Form Marketing Content

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Back in 2015, Microsoft issued a famous report stating that a consumer’s attention span is less than that of the average goldfish. Judging by the content we often see circulating – quick-hitting listicles, 240-character social media posts, Snapchats and Instagram stories that vanish – the report seems to ring true.

But while attention spans may be shrinking, longer form content is making a necessary comeback for B2B marketers. You should embrace this trend for three key reasons:

  1. Google loves long form. Ultimately, Google wants to connect searchers with the most relevant and authoritative information that answers a user’s query. It’s no longer about keywords – it’s all about authority. And most of the time, you can’t make an authoritative case in a short piece. Keyword-rich authoritative content can help marketers achieve higher search engine page rankings.
  2. Serious prospects want to dig deeper than a social media post or a list of bullet points. They want to know that you understand and can solve their problem. They want to make sure your company is legit and that you know your industry. So while a small percentage of people will take the time to do a deep read into a topic, those that do are more likely to be very qualified. Serve them well with powerful, deep-dive content.
  3. With long-form content, you can dominate a subject matter in a way that provides value to your audience. You become the expert, the thought leader, and the authority that readers depend on for important information on a key topic.

What Qualifies as Long-Form Content?

There’s no standard definition of what constitutes long form, but a reasonable guideline is that anything over 1,000 words requires engaged effort on the part of the user and would likely provide depth of information. With 85% of web content weighing in at less than 1,000 words, you may think it’s insane to write long form, but don’t try to fit in, stand out. Your audience wants both long form and short form.

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as too long; there’s only too dull. Make your content of interest and value to your reader, and they will stay until they reach the end.

These types of content lend themselves to long form:

  • How-to articles. Go into detail about how to perform a task or solve a problem.
  • Research reports. Compile primary and/or secondary research into a report on market trends, user behavior or other.
  • White papers. Provide your audience with comprehensive education on a topic relevant to them.
  • Solution guides. Compare or classify different approaches to solving a problem.
  • Technical documents. Explain the way a product or process works.
  • Case studies. Some case studies lend themselves to long form.
  • .Longer videos with valuable content can also be valuable for engaged users.

Tips for Effective Long Form Content

  • Always think in terms of telling a story with a beginning, middle and end. Introduce your topic, dive into the details, then come to clear conclusion.
  • Write an executive summary. A one-paragraph summary of the piece can help readers quickly glean the main points and decide if investing additional time is appropriate for them.
  • Use design to guide your reader. Use short paragraphs, subheadings, white space, bullet points and imagery to make your long content easy to read and to encourage readers to keep going.
  • Carefully evaluate topics to identify those that work in long form. Don’t try to stretch out a limited subject and don’t try to condense a book-length issue to a few thousand words.
  • Hire freelance writers, editors and proofreaders if you don’t have the time or resources to create long-form content on your own. Most professional writers should be able to grasp and communicate any topic, no matter how dense or technical.
  • Create a cornerstone long-form piece and then segment the information into smaller, standalone chunks to use in your content marketing efforts and to get more value from your investment in the long-form version.

 

 

 

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Ten Tips for Online Customer Surveys

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You can learn a lot surveying your customers and prospects: how satisfied they are, how well your products and services meet their needs, how to best connect with them, which competitors are formidable and much more.

It’s easy to conduct an online survey in the digital age, with many free survey tools available to you. But it’s not foolproof. A poorly designed and executed survey can frustrate your customers, give you skewed or invalid results, and lead to decisions based on bad data. Follow these ten tips to avoid survey pitfalls and help ensure your efforts yield positive results.

1. Determine Your Purpose and Goals

Why are you conducting this survey? Here are some common scenarios in the industrial sector:

  • Purpose: Discover what customers think is missing from your products. Goal: Guide or prioritize development decisions.
  • Purpose: Find out what channels your customers use to research potential purchases. Goal: Better allocate marketing investments.
  • Purpose: Measure the level of customer satisfaction. Goal: Revise policies to better serve customers.
  • Purpose: Uncover the most important issues and challenges your customers face. Goal: Create targeted marketing content that addresses their needs.

2. Decide Who to Survey

Your purpose and goals will help you select the appropriate audience to survey. It might be every customer on your list, or customer and prospects, or anyone that visits your website.

You also might consider surveying an audience that you currently don’t have access to. If you’re trying to discover market trends or gauge the viability of new products, you might ask a media partner if you can survey their customers as well as your own customers and prospects.

3. Choose a Survey Tool

There are many free or low-cost online survey tools to choose from. Some of the popular ones include SurveyMonkey, Google Forms, SoGoSurvey, and Typeform.

In addition, some email marketing services offer survey tools within their platforms. You might already have access to one.

Look for a tool that offers a variety of question types, tips on how to create effective surveys, flexible ways to distribute your survey, and tools to easily analyze survey results.

4. Design Valid and Useful Questions

Writing a good survey question is both an art and a science. Here are two common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Leading questions. Don’t word questions that can sway the user to one side of the argument. Non-neutral wording often signals a leading question. For example: “How fast does the product work?” makes the user think in terms of speed. A better question: “How would you describe the product’s performance?”
  • Double questions. “How satisfied are you with the pumping capacity and ease-of-use of our product?” You’re asking two questions in one. Not only will the user not be sure how to answer, but you also won’t be able to interpret the answer. This example should be split into two questions.

For every question: Don’t ask any question that doesn’t have a clear reason for being in the survey. A good guideline is to determine ahead of time how each question contributes to your overall goal and how you will use the data collected. If you’re not sure, strike the question from your survey.

5. Collect Both Quantitative and Qualitative Data

  • Quantitative data is numerical information that can be measured and analyzed. For example, how many respondents chose to answer “A” to question number six. You can reach conclusions such as “64 percent of our customers are likely to purchase product Y in the next year” or “58 percent of survey respondents say that our chemical test kits are easy to use.”
  • Qualitative data is less structured and more open to interpretation. Survey questions that ask respondents to fill in a blank using their own words give you qualitative data. It can be useful for uncovering insights you can’t get from quantitative research.

6. Keep the Survey Short

Keep your surveys to 10-15 questions or 10 minutes of time. Let your audience know up front how long the survey should take to complete. The longer the survey, the more drop off you will get along the way.

Even with a short survey, you may need to offer an incentive to complete the survey, such as entering names into a drawing for a prize.

7. Promote the Survey

Depending on who your audience is, you may use a variety of ways to reach them. Some include:

  • Emails announcing the survey
  • Links on your website to the survey
  • Display ads or e-newsletter ads that promote the survey
  • Posts on social media

8. Compile and Analyze Results

Most survey tools will provide analytical reports on quantitative survey results. You can typically view compiled results at any time while the survey is still running. You can create charts and graphs that are easy to understand and share.

Qualitative data you will need to read and interpret. If you uncover interesting information, you may want to follow up with a respondent (if they give permission) to dig deeper or perhaps to request a case study.

9. Take Action

The purpose of conducting the survey is to gain new intelligence and actionable information. Compile your results into a white paper or webinar, share with product development to help shape product direction, consider changes in marketing investments or use the results in other meaningful ways.

One thing to keep in mind: before making any major decisions based on survey results, make sure you have a statistically valid dataset. The number of respondents you need is based on a number of variables. Calculators can help determine a statistically valid sample size. Your survey tool may offer one, or they may be found on the internet.

 

Market Research Marketing, General

Why You Need a Documented Content Marketing Strategy – and How to Get it Done

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Let’s start with some good news. The majority (52 percent) of manufacturing marketers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”.

Most marketers understand that their customers seek relevant, educational information from suppliers. This information helps them do their jobs better and make more confident purchasing decisions. Providing this content to their audience is an essential part of winning business.

However, only 21 percent of manufacturing marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. That percentage needs to trend up, because a written content marketing strategy is often a key indicator of content marketing success.

Those B2B marketers that do have a written content marketing strategy say the top benefits of having a strategy are that it “aligns the team around common mission/goals” and “makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop.”

Those with a documented strategy are also more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing and able to justify a higher percentage of marketing budget to be spent on content marketing.

Documenting Your Content Marketing Strategy

If you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, it’s time to get started on writing one. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are unique. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in, and you should include the following key components:

Mission Statement

What pain points and/or challenges are you trying to address through content marketing and what do you hope to accomplish? You might be focused on creating brand awareness, building thought leadership, nurturing leads, lead conversion or some combination of these goals. Write down a mission statement to serve as your content marketing guidepost.

Alternatives

If you don’t engage in content marketing, what will happen? What will you lose out on? On the other hand, if you do devote time, effort and resources to content marketing, what are the opportunity costs? What must sacrifice to be successful at content marketing?

You can’t do everything, so your documented strategy should address why content marketing is the best path to follow over other potential plans of marketing action.

Obstacles

What obstacles need to be overcome to achieve success in content marketing? You might want to segment obstacles into two buckets. Separate factors you can control, such as getting executive buy-in, developing content and choosing channels for content distribution from factors that are beyond your control, such as shifting market dynamics and competition.

Resources

Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Identify who is on the content marketing team and what secondary people are needed to support a successful content marketing strategy (such as IT or website personnel or your media partners).

Audiences

Who are you trying to reach through your content marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. This includes detailed descriptions of the different customers you have or want to reach that are much more effective that vague definitions that only include title, industry and demographics. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.

Message Map

A message map is a grid of what you will say, who you will say it to, and when you will say it. This will be the most detailed component of your document.

On one axis of your grid are the stages of your customers’ buying process: needs awareness, research, consideration and comparison, and purchase. The other axis contains your different buyer personas. The fields within the grid include the content delivered to that person at that stage in the buying process.

For example, a design engineer in her research phase might be targeted with a particular white paper in her research stage and a case study and data sheet in her consideration and comparison stage.

A message map offers a quick reference for the types of content you need to produce and how each piece of content will be used in your marketing efforts. The message map will help you design effective campaigns.

Measurement

Your document should include a section on how you will measure the results of your strategy and if you are achieving your goals. Choose metrics that are meaningful to your efforts and strategy. There are many metrics available to you, depending on the content you are using: downloads, views, clicks, comments, shares, conversions, and more.

There are also more sophisticated measurements such as how content marketing contributes to revenue or customer growth. This article, “Five Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI,” can be helpful in creating your documented content marketing strategy.

 

 

 

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Steps to Setting Up a Lead Nurturing Campaign

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Research has shown that 70 percent of new business comes from prospects that encounter your company in the early stages of their buying cycles, but they may not be ready to engage with sales or make a purchase decision.

What these prospects are ready for is nurturing campaigns that provide education, support and encouragement. These campaigns help prospects move through their buying cycle and reach a purchasing decision—hopefully with your company earning new business.

Without lead nurturing campaigns in place, most of your leads will grow stale and your prospects will buy from competitors who have cultivated stronger relationships with them.

Lead nurturing doesn’t need to be complicated, but you must carefully plan campaigns and execute with discipline. Technology such as marketing automation can make lead nurturing a lot easier, but if you only have an email list and a spreadsheet you can get the job done, albeit with a lot more sweat equity.

Follow these steps to set up a successful lead nurturing campaign:

1. Establish campaign goals and framework

The overriding goal of most lead nurturing campaigns is to convert more long-term prospects into sales-ready leads. If this is your first time conducting lead nurturing, you probably don’t have a baseline upon which to improve, so your first campaign may be a test to gather performance data.

The firm Invesp, which helps its clients increase conversion rates, reports that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost. These might be ambitious milestones to reach, but they do offer you a guideline.

You’ll also need to create a framework for your lead nurturing campaign. Will it last three months, six months or a year? That answer may depend on a typical sales cycle for your company. Will you reach out to your audience once a week, once a month or at some other interval—perhaps with declining frequency over time?

In this initial stage, make sure you work with your sales team. Get their input on key aspects of the campaign as well as the goals and vision. Collaborate on the definition of a sales-ready lead so you’ll know when to hand off a prospect from the nurturing campaign to the sales team.

2. Segment Your Database

Segmenting your database allows you to craft targeted lead nurturing campaigns for specific audiences. How you segment your audience depends on the data you have available and your customer types.

If your company has only one product and one type of customer, you might segment your database according to how long ago you generated the leads. Other common ways to segment include buyer persona and stage of buy cycle. You can also use lead scoring to weigh various factors such as source of lead, action taken by lead, buying time frame, product interest or other criteria to come up with a score for segmentation purposes.

The objective is to get similar prospects grouped together so that you can provide content and messaging that resonates with them and is directly targeted to their interests and needs.

3. Create a Variety of Content

For each lead nurturing segment, you must create content to use in your campaign. Prospects in the early stages of their buy cycle may not know much about your company and products yet, or even how to solve their problem. This group requires educational content such as white papers, articles, checklists, assessments and problem-solving approaches.

Buyers at the consideration and comparison stages need to know how your products can address their specific needs. Helpful content includes data sheets, case studies, webinars and videos. Prospects at the decision-making stage will find demos, free trials, ROI calculators, and support and warranty policies helpful.

4. Schedule and Send

Email is the most popular and effective way to communicate with engineers in a lead-nurturing campaign. You want to show up in their inbox with something relevant to offer and a call to action for your prospect to act on.

There’s no rule about how often you should reach out to prospects in a lead nurturing campaign. Many companies send more frequently in the first few weeks while the need that drove a prospect to your company is still fresh. Over time, frequency may diminish, depending on response.

If you make use of marketing automation, you can easily trigger automatic emails to prospects based on their behaviors during the campaign. For example, any prospect who downloads a certain white paper also gets sent a “Top Ten Tips” as a follow-up.

5. Hand Off Qualified Leads to Sales

You’ve already agreed with your sales team on what constitutes a sales-ready lead. When a prospect in your campaign checks off the appropriate boxes through their actions, get that prospect to a salesperson as quickly as possible.

When a prospect is sales-ready is up to you and your sales team. If they signal buying intent during the campaign, that’s a good sign. Another trigger might be if they interact with a certain percentage of your content, or achieve a certain score if you’re scoring based on behavior. The important thing is to make the hand-off as soon as the lead is ready.

6. Measure and Refine

Throughout the campaign you should track important metrics, such as open rates on emails, accepted offers and unsubscribes. This will give you a good idea of how well your content is performing, or whether you are contacting prospects too often or too infrequently.

Other important metrics include number of sales-ready leads to emerge from the campaign, cost per sales-ready lead and revenue associated with leads from nurturing campaigns. Lead nurturing is an ongoing process, with new leads being added on a regular basis to your campaign and others dropping out or—better—making a purchase. At any time during a campaign, you can implement new strategies based on your analysis of key metrics.

 

 

 

 

Lead Management Marketing, General

Buyer Personas: Much More than Imaginary Friends

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Buyer personas are like imaginary friends. They’re not real, but they serve a real purpose. Just as imaginary friends can offer companionship and stimulate creative thinking, buyer personas can help you significantly improve the results of your marketing efforts.

Buyer personas are profiles of the different types of customers you have. This may sound basic, but you will need time and resources to develop thorough buyer personas. Don’t worry, the payback is worth the effort. With buyer personas as your guide you can:

Create targeted content for different customer types. The more closely content is targeted to the needs of your buyer, the more effective it will be. Potential buyers will pay attention because the information is relevant to them and they are more likely to believe you understand them. That, of course, translates into being more likely to make a purchase.

Creating different content for different personas doesn’t mean you’ll have a logistical nightmare on your hands. You can often use foundational content and make small tweaks in messaging and points of emphasis to customize the information for each buyer persona. File naming conventions, color-coding, and inventory management can help you efficiently organize and distinguish your expanded library of content.

Make smarter advertising decisions. Whether you are purchasing display ads, e-newsletter ads, directory listings or other advertising, by aligning your buyer personas with the profile of an advertising channel’s audience you can make more targeted and effective media buys. You won’t waste budget or resources on the wrong audience. Be sure to work with media partners who have in-depth profiles of their audiences and the ability to target them precisely.

Segment your internal email lists. A primary source of data for building buyer personas comes from customer information in your own database. Once the personas are complete, you can use them to segment your own email lists for more targeted and relevant marketing campaigns.

Fill in marketing gaps. Many companies discover that when they create buyer personas they might come up with three or four different profiles only to discover they’ve been producing marketing campaigns and content that are only relevant to one or two of those personas. You can easily identify the gap and devote resources to better reach an under-served potential customer.

What Does a Buyer Persona Include?

Buyer personas need to strike a balance between painting a clear picture of a customer type and providing more information than is useful. A B2B buyer persona likely includes a subset of the following information, depending on what’s important to you and what information you can acquire:

  • Professional title and area of responsibility
  • Industry and type of company
  • Day-to-day responsibilities
  • Pain points and challenges
  • Goals and motivations
  • What the customer needs to do their job better
  • How your company can help (messaging)
  • Potential objections to your solutions

B2B buyer personas typically don’t include extensive demographics and lifestyle information. This type of data is more useful to the B2C markets. For example, age, gender, and personal interests are not as important to B2B marketers. You might not want to invest in that type of third-party data.

How to Create a Buyer Persona

  • Start in your own database. Run reports to discover your best customers in each market segment you serve, then analyze the attributes of those customers to glean information you can use in building a buyer persona.
  • Speak to sales people. Your sales team can offer a lot of anecdotal information about pain points, challenges, needs, objections and successful messaging. They’re the ones closest to customers. Rely on their expertise.
  • Interview customers. Pick out a few customers in each market or product segment you sell into and request a short interview. Tell them exactly what you are working on with the goal of serving them better. There’s nothing like first-hand information from a customer to help you build accurate profiles.
  • Give each buyer persona a name. This might seem silly, but it’s actually quite helpful. Attaching a name to a buyer persona helps everyone understand who these buyers are and makes them more memorable. Who won’t remember Accounting Anna, Engineer Ed or Technical Support Specialist Sam?

Final tips: create a one-page buyer persona template that makes the information easy to scan, comprehend and use. You could even make posters of your buyer personas and hang them on the walls of sales and marketing departments to remind everyone who you are targeting. Don’t forget to revisit your buyer personas once a year to make sure they are still up to date and accurate.

 

 

 

Market Research Marketing, General

How to Maximize the Performance of Your E-Newsletter Campaigns

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As most industrial marketers know, newsletters are one of the most valuable advertising mediums. As a newsletter advertiser, you benefit from access to a highly engaged audience of decision makers who rely on these publications as a source of valuable news and content.

When establishing a newsletter program as part of your overall marketing mix, you want to ask yourself the following tried-and-true questions:

• WHO am I looking to reach?
• WHAT do I want to communicate to this audience?
• WHERE can I reach them; what publications are they reading?
• WHEN should I schedule my advertisements?
• WHY am I running this campaign; what results do I expect?

Once you’ve built the framework for your campaign, then you need to ask yourself, How do I most effectively deliver my message to my audience?

You should be aware that newsletter advertisements do not perform like traditional forms of display advertising. Engineers and technical professionals look to these newsletters mainly for new, timely and relevant content. And research shows that advertisers who consistently use fresh ad copy see better results. On average, advertisers see a 20 percent decline in performance when reusing advertising content just one time. And this performance decline increases steadily after each reuse.

To make the most of your newsletter investment, submit original content for each ad placement. Even if you are focusing your campaigns around a single or limited number of products, technologies, or offerings, you will see better results with a frequent rotation of new ad copy.

Not sure how to get started? Consider these best practices when creating your next newsletter advertisement:

1. Create a clear, concise and compelling headline. Your subject line is your first
impression. Pull the reader in with your message.
2. Feature an image that complements your ad. A picture needs to work hand-in-hand
with your headline and copy. Our research shows that photos perform better than logos. An image with a white background is optimal.
3. Emphasize the benefits – and not necessarily the features – of your product or offer.
What will the audience gain by engaging with your ad? Think about content that either
shares knowledge (such as datasheets, product specs, design kits, technical documentation, and videos), or shows how your solutions rise above the competition
(shortening design cycles, speeding product to market, or delaying technological
obsolescence, for example).
4. Use links effectively. Depending on the goals of your campaign, direct readers to an action that creates opportunities for further engagement, or to additional content for
building thought leadership and awareness.

E-Mail Marketing Marketing, General

What’s Working Now in Email Marketing

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Email is one of the industrial marketer’s top marketing tactics. Most companies have a reliable house list and many publish a regular e-newsletter. But there’s also email fatigue setting in among your audience. Everyone’s inbox is overflowing. Inboxes are overflowing with emails that are irrelevant to their recipients, and unrelated to their interests and needs. Often, recipients delete emails without opening them.

Despite these challenges, email marketing can be cost effective and produce positive results in terms of reach, opens, clicks and conversions. In fact, according to  “2019 Smart Marketing for Engineers”, a report published by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, 89 percent of engineers said the email/e-newsletters they subscribe to are valuable sources of information on the latest engineering technologies, industry trends, products or services. Forty-three percent of engineers subscribe to 2-3 e-newsletters, while another 43 percent subscribe to four or more.

However, engineers are a busy and discerning audience. They won’t tolerate poor email practices on your part. When faced with their email inbox, 50 percent of engineers scan for subject lines that intrigue them and delete the rest. Without a subject line that gets their interest, your email might never get opened. Thirty-seven percent open most or all emails to scan for content or to read every one.

Every marketer that publishes their own emails understands it takes effort and resources to manage their subscriber list, including adhering to strict General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) for any subscribers who reside in the European Union. You also need production resources, which may involve content developers, graphic designers, and others. Faced with these challenges, its easy to see why not all emails are successful.

An Effective Alternative to the House List

One way many industrial marketers are easing the burdens of email marketing while still reaping its benefits is by advertising in third-party e-newsletters published by media partners. Depending on which media partner you work with and their expertise and ability to target your audience, the advantages of e-newsletter advertising are many:

  • The publisher handles all list management. This includes cleansing addresses, managing unsubscribes, adding new subscribers to the list, and adhering with all antispam laws and GDPR regulations.
  • The audience consists of only opt-in subscribers who have requested to receive the e-newsletter and are likely to expect, recognize and open the e-newsletter when it arrives in their inbox.
  • As a marketer, you can connect with hard-to-reach members of your target audience who are not on your own house list, yet would still be interested in your content, products and services.
  • Your required production resources are much less. Often, you need only provide an image and a few lines of copy and the publisher will design your ad for you.
  • The publisher provides comprehensive and timely reports demonstrating the performance of your e-newsletter ad, such as number delivered, opens, clicks and forwards.
  • The right media partner will be able to help you integrate your e-newsletter ads with other marketing programs, resulting in an approach that makes best use of your marketing resources.

With the right partner on your side, e-newsletter advertising works. Is it time to add this program to your marketing mix? IEEE GlobalSpec offers 70+ newsletter titles that focus on specific industry segments and products. These e-newsletters target the very professionals you want to reach via their inboxes, giving you access to a highly engaged audience of decision makers who use e-newsletters as a key resource during all stages of their buying process.

Find out more about e-newsletter advertising here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-Mail Marketing Marketing, General

The Power of a Strong Brand

 

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Industrial marketers sometimes overlook branding efforts in favor of programs that deliver easily measurable results such as clicks, conversions and engagement opportunities. But the fact is that branding is a powerful and necessary marketing strategy. Without a strong brand to influence your audience, those other more measurable programs may not work.

Research has shown that engineers and other B2B buyers are not simply rationally-minded decision makers. Emotions also play a role in B2B purchasing decisions. Customers feel better buying from a company that they recognize and respect; in other words, from a brand that makes them comfortable and confident in their decision.

A strong brand reduces risk for buyers

You’ve heard the expression, “No one has ever gotten fired for buying IBM.” That might be the most effective brand statement in history. What it means is that buying from IBM is the right choice because its brand is reputable and safe. Many companies who might have offered better products and feature sets lost business to IBM simply because of IBM’s brand strength. A strong brand mitigates the perception of risk and alleviates some of the fear that buyers inevitably experience when facing a purchase decision.

A strong brand provides clarity

Effective branding puts a stake in the ground that says to potential customers: “This is who we are, this is what we do, and this is why we do it.” Your customers will buy more confidently because they know what your brand stands for.

A strong brand creates trust

Business is all about relationships, even when the products offered for sale might be perceived as commodity components. And relationships are based on trust. Without trust, there is no transaction. If a potential customer trusts your brand, he or she is more likely to buy from you.

A strong brand fosters customer loyalty

Many industrial companies have customers they have supplied for years. These are your loyal customers. Very few industrial buyers will change their supplier if an unknown company comes calling with an offer of similar products for 10 percent less. If you show that your brand is worth trusting, customers won’t be tempted to make a change to a competitor.

A strong brand gets you in the game

For the majority of engineers, nearly 60 percent of the buying process happens online before they speak to a vendor, according the survey “2019 Smart Marketing for Engineers,” published by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing. If you don’t have a strong brand presence, you might never be found by potential customers in the early stages of their buying process, and you won’t be in the game when it’s time for engineers to make a purchase decision.

A strong brand can shorten the sales cycle

If your brand is known and recognized in your market, your sales people can save a lot of time by not having to explain what your company is about and why a prospect should buy from you. With an unknown brand, sales people are starting at the bottom rung with every sales opportunity. They have to work to convince prospects that your company and products are worthy.

Effective ways to strengthen your brand

Branding should be an integral part of your marketing strategy, if it isn’t already. Fortunately, branding tactics don’t have to work in isolation; they can also help to generate engagement opportunities with your target audience.

Here are ways to build and strengthen your brand:

Have a stellar company website. Not just a website—an exemplary one. Easy to navigate, fresh content designed for your target audience, and landing pages and conversion forms to capture leads. For most engineers (89 percent), a company’s website has an impact on their perceptions of them as a credible, technically competent vendor (Smart Marketing for Engineers).

Produce content. Ninety percent of engineers are more likely to do business with companies that produce new and current content. Your ability to continually educate and meet the informational needs of your audience during their buying process is one of the most effective ways to bolster your brand’s reputation.

Use display advertising. Display ads on industrial websites offer broad brand exposure to your target audience, helping to increase visibility and awareness. Ads can serve two purposes—branding and engagement—by driving users to landing pages containing offers and conversion forms.

Show up in an engineer’s inbox. Placing advertisements in targeted, industrial e-newsletters can get your brand into the inbox of motivated engineers and industrial professionals.

Keep up a social media presence. Don’t ignore social media just because it’s not a big lead generator. Social media is an effective way to keep your brand visible to your customers and the market. Use social media to distribute content, participate in conversations, and reinforce your position as a market player.

Exhibit at tradeshows. While tradeshow attendance has been declining in recent years, exhibiting at select events is still a good way to increase visibility to a targeted audience and to show your audience the people behind your brand. Choose your tradeshows carefully, as they require investment and planning.

 

Marketing, General

Has Your Marketing Reached its Expiration Date?

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Like fresh produce, meat or seafood, marketing programs have an expiration date after which they become stale or spoiled. For instance, ad fatigue can set in among an audience that has seen the same creative over and over.

No marketing campaign is designed to run indefinitely. While the marketing channels you use will likely remain relevant, the creative itself—content, imagery, messaging, calls-to-action—has a much shorter shelf life.

Here are some signs that it’s time to freshen up your marketing:

  • Declining metrics. Results are the most important signal that you need to make a change. If metrics such as click-throughs, page views, conversions, shares, engagement opportunities or other key performance indicators are showing sagging performance, your creative has likely run its course.
  • New offerings. When your company comes out with a new product or service, it’s definitely time to update your creative to promote the latest offerings.
  • New strategy. Companies shift gears all the time. What was important last quarter might be on the back burner this one, with new priorities coming to the forefront. You need to adjust campaigns and creative to reflect these changes.
  • New customer needs. If your product marketing teams identify new customer needs that can be met by your products or services, you’ll want to update your advertising to take advantage of the situation.
  • Timing-sensitive offers. If you’re advertising an event or tradeshow, make sure to swap out creative as soon as the event ends. Similarly, offers with deadlines should be removed as soon as the deadline passes. Poorly timed advertising is not making the best use of your media buys.

How to Freshen Up Your Marketing

Any one of the above signs could indicate the need for you to perform a complete overhaul of your creative and messaging. However, making smaller tweaks to creative or campaigns can often extend the life of your marketing programs and keep them performing well.

  • Update the headline in an advertisement to focus on a different benefit. This is a relatively minor but often highly successful tweak that can add freshness when products offer more than one significant customer benefit. You’ve already reached everyone you can touting the first benefit. Now extend your reach by extolling another benefit.
  • Replace imagery. You don’t want to start messing with your logo or company brand, but if you’re using stock photography or illustration, swap in something new. If you’re using product photos, show the product from a different angle, in a different setting, or in a different image style. Changing typeface and colors is also an easy way to give creative a fresh look and feel.
  • Change the offer. Maybe you’ve had a white paper offer whose performance has trailed off in terms of conversions. That means it’s time for a new content offer, but you may not have to start from scratch. If the white paper is still relevant in its content and messaging, try re-purposing it into a webinar and change your creative to promote it.
  • Advertise in a different e-newsletter. Media partners such as IEEE GlobalSpec offer dozens of targeted e-newsletters. If you’ve been focusing your media buy on only one e-newsletter, experiment with another, closely-related publication that also reaches your target audience. In this case, you might not be changing your creative, but slightly adjusting your media buy.
  • Exhibit at a different event. If you’ve been attending the same tradeshows year after year, look for a new event where your message can resonate and you can connect with your target audience. There might be boutique events that are targeted but very worthwhile. If your tradeshows are your tradeshows no matter what, come up with a new theme to promote when you exhibit.

To get the most out of your media buys, you not only have to choose the right channels to reach your audience, you also have to adjust your creative strategies to keep your message fresh and relevant and to capture your audience’s interest.

Marketing ROI Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

How Industrial Marketers Track ROI

roi-tracking-measuring

More and more, marketers are being tasked with proving the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing initiatives. This can pose a challenge, because there are many ways to determine the results and value of each campaign. For our most recent Marketing Maven survey, we wanted to know more about how industrial marketers handle proving ROI and what challenges they encounter.

For our most recent Marketing Maven survey, we wanted to know more about how industrial marketers handle proving ROI and what challenges they encounter.

First, we asked them for which marketing channels they measure ROI. Traffic to the company website was the most popular answer, with 62 percent of respondents measuring ROI. Other popular answers are email marketing and tradeshows. 12 percent of respondents don’t measure ROI at all. Only 22 percent track ROI on webinars, 19 percent track e-newsletter advertising, and 17 percent track display advertising.

Industrial marketers that measure metrics focus on clicks first and foremost, with 60% reporting that they look at that metric when comparing the performance of their media spend and making purchasing decisions. Engagement rate (CTR) was the next most popular metric, followed by cost per click and cost per lead. Acquisition channels and cost per sale were the least commonly tracked metrics.

The majority of industrial marketers (53 percent) run campaign performance reports monthly. 19 percent choose to run them quarterly, and 10 percent check every week. Two thirds of respondents don’t have an outside partner that handles any part of their reporting and tracking.

When it comes to challenges in reporting, industrial marketers report a variety of issues. 24 percent of industrial marketers say their greatest struggle is that their data is too siloed. 21 percent have trouble showing ROI for their investments/marketing programs. 12 percent aren’t sure which factors to pay attention to.

Overall, these results show us that many industrial marketers aren’t digging extraordinarily deep into their metrics. Only three marketing channels are tracked by over half of respondents. In the same vein, clicks are the only metric that
over half of marketers track. Additionally, ROI might not be top of mind for all marketers, who tend to run reports monthly. We understand that marketers today wear many hats, and tracking analytics can be overwhelming and easy to put on the back burner. However, tracking the ROI of your marketing programs will only lead to more successful and efficient portfolio of campaigns. Consider transitioning some of your programs to a media partner that can help you track and interpret their results.

Marketing Measurement Marketing ROI