3 Rules for Developing a Digital Media Strategy

It’s the digital age. Engineers and other industrial professionals are spending more time online than ever before. They use a variety of digital resources to perform work-related tasks, transforming their buy cycle and, in turn, challenging traditional marketing and sales processes for suppliers and manufacturers. This phenomenon, often called the Digital Disruption, has ushered in a new digital era and a mandate for suppliers to develop an effective digital media strategy.

The Digital Disruption is fully explored in the new IHS GlobalSpec white paper: “A Strategic Approach to Digital Media: How to Develop a Budget, Create a Strategy and Measure ROI.”

The majority of industrial marketers already use digital channels to connect with customers and prospects. However, their efforts do not always generate desired results. Only 35 percent of industrial marketers are satisfied or very satisfied with their online marketing efforts, according to the research report “2013 Trends in Industrial Marketing.”

1. Take a multichannel approach
The main reason there is so much room for improvement is that many marketers think of digital as a single tactic. They are not taking a holistic or strategic approach to digital marketing. Just as “traditional” (print advertising, trade shows, direct mail, etc.) was never a single marketing channel, “digital” is also a broad term encompassing many online marketing strategies and tactics.

Because industrial professionals have many digital tools and sources of information at their disposal—from general search engines to specialized search, from industry websites to supplier websites, from online events to e-newsletters, digital catalogs, social media and more—suppliers must deploy a multichannel digital marketing program to be successful.

Of course, you can’t be everywhere, but you can make strategic decisions about where to allocate your resources. You should focus on the channels that:

1. Your target audience prefers
2. Align with your goals and objectives
3. Match your customers’ buy cycle behavior

One point to consider: Many industrial buyers do not initiate contact with a vendor until they have completed the early stages of their buy cycle and are close to a purchase decision. Therefore, it’s important to build and maintain brand visibility and awareness as part of your multichannel approach, so you can be discovered by customers at all times during their research.

2. Create a digital media budget
The first step in creating a budget for digital media is to consider reallocating resources from marketing programs that have performed poorly or are difficult to measure into digital channels that your target audience is using.

Industrial marketers are making the shift to digital, some faster than others. Fifty-four percent of manufacturers report they are spending more for online marketing in 2013 than in 2012. However, half of companies are devoting at least 36 percent of their overall marketing budget to online media and only 30 percent are devoting the majority of their marketing budget to digital efforts. With a target audience that has already made the shift to online resources, industrial marketers have to ask themselves if they are committing enough budget and resources to reach and engage their customers and prospects through digital channels.

3. Meeting the Challenge of Measuring Marketing ROI
Many marketers swallow hard when the discussion turns to measuring marketing ROI, and there’s no question that this measurement is a challenge. At the same time, there’s no doubt that marketers need to be more accountable.

Here are several ways to get started measuring ROI:

1. Commit only to measurable programs. Fortunately, the best-performing programs today are digital media. And digital media by its nature is measurable. You can track impressions, clicks, inquiries, conversions, time on page, length of view, and more.

2. Focus on those measurements that provide valuable insight leading to decisions that will improve your marketing program. These include the volume of engagement opportunities, the value of a lead in terms of revenue it helps to generate, the speed with which a lead converts, cost per inquiry, and brand awareness (such as reach and exposure numbers).

3. The industrial buy cycle can involve multiple decision makers and include many marketing touch points. It’s not easy to determine which touch point(s) contributed to a sale, even for companies using sophisticated marketing automation software and having the benefit of tight integration and communication among sales and marketing to share data and insights. Most likely, all touch points contribute to a sale. You may need to assign a weighting to different tactics to help measure ROI.

The white paper, “A Strategic Approach to Digital Media,” includes four additional tips for measuring ROI. Plus recommendations on developing a multichannel marketing approach and reallocating your budget to the digital side. It’s a valuable resource for every marketer. Download your complimentary copy.

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Do you have a digital media strategy in place? What ideas on crafting a digital media strategy would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Your 2013 Marketing Budget: Five Ideas for Making the Tough Decisions

You’re probably putting together your 2013 marketing budget about now — at least we hope so. If not, get going. Given the unsettled economic climate in the industrial sector, there’s probably not enough in that budget pie to feed all your hungry marketing ideas. Which means you may need to make some tough decisions about your budget. Here are five ways to make those decisions a little easier.

First: Know your marketing goals. This is almost a no-brainer, but it never hurts to be reminded that you should have a firm grasp on your marketing goals for 2013. Whether your company is launching new products, entering new markets, developing a thought leadership position, raising the visibility of your brand, or focusing on engagement opportunities for your sales team, make sure everyone, from leadership to the marketing associate, knows your marketing goals. Everything that follows depends on it.

Second: Prioritize. How would you answer the question about which of your marketing goals are most important? Please don’t answer that they’re all equally important, because they simply can’t be. This is reality. It’s the law of sacrifice: to successfully meet your most important goals, you may need to abandon — or at least set aside — some of the lesser goals. And prioritizing goals is the only way to know where to fund and where to cut when dollars get tight. Fund your marketing budget from the top down — in other words, from the “must achieve” marketing goals to the ones that would be “nice to achieve.”

Third: Learn from history. What were your most effective marketing programs this past year? For online marketing programs, you should be able to easily determine the answers, because impressions, clicks, and conversions are all measurable with online programs. It also helps that almost all of your target customers use online resources to find manufacturers, components, products, and services. If you have some of the same goals year over year, and your marketing programs aligned to those goals are working, then keeping those programs alive is an easy decision to make and to defend.

Fourth: Get more bang for your buck. Let’s say your top two goals for 2013 are increasing the visibility of your brand in a new market and generating interest from prospects. Look for programs that can help you achieve both of those goals. For example, advertisements in industry-specific e-newsletters can get your brand noticed, and you can use those ads to make an offer (such as white paper or Webinar) that will generate interest from prospects. The best advice here: share your marketing goals with media partners and listen to their recommendations on the most efficient way to combine programs to meet those goals.

Fifth: Plan for sunny days and dark skies. No one can predict the year. And all marketers know that the marketing budget “set in stone” at the beginning of the year can suddenly become very elastic as the months roll by. Your budget plan is likely tied to key corporate goals, especially supporting sales and growth. So rather than start the year with a single budget and marketing plan, create two budgets, or better yet three. Plan for the most likely scenario for 2013 as best as you can predict. But be prepared in case you need to re-allocate funds during the year. However, you may receive more money for your initiatives as the year goes on if your company is hitting its goals. It’s best to be prepared for all of these situations so you can act quickly.

For more advice on planning your strategies and initiatives for the year ahead, download our complimentary 2013 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit.

Have you started your budget planning? What tactics do you use to determine where and how to allocate time, resources, and money? Let us know in the comments section below.

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