2015 Marketing Planning Part 1: Generating Results in Today’s Digital Environment

Now is the time to begin formulating your marketing strategy and developing plans for 2015. In Part 1 of this two-part series, we’ll look at how you must account for the dramatically changing marketing landscape due to the rise of digital media.

In the early days of digital, industrial companies could get by simply with a company website. This is no longer the case. Today there is an influx of new and relevant digital channels. Technical professionals now have more digital tools and sources of information to do their jobs better and more efficiently. Consider this new reality brought about by the “digital disruption:”

  • Technical professionals are exposed to more companies than ever before—which means more competition for you—because suppliers of every size are building a strong digital presence, giving potential customers more choices in terms of who they do business with.
  • Technical professionals have more personalized preferences and more control in how they choose to interact with suppliers, and often don’t engage with a supplier until later in their buy cycle because they can do so much of their research and evaluation online.
business solution puzzle 2

The takeaway for marketers is that it’s no longer enough to use a limited suite of digital channels to connect with customers and prospects. To be successful today, you need a broad and deep online presence. Expanding your media program to multiple channels will get your name and brand front and center across all stages of the buy cycle, which you need to build awareness and stay competitive. This phenomenon—that you can achieve higher ROI allocating your resources across multiple channels than you can by relying on a single method—is called the Cross Media Multiplier. In essence, it means the whole is great than the sum of its parts.

Of course, you likely don’t have a bottomless budget that will allow you to take advantage of all the digital channels available to you—from online events, webinars and catalogs to newsletters, custom emails, social media, your own website and more. The question is how to allocate your marketing resources in 2015 to optimize results and achieve your marketing goals. Here are three tips to help in your planning:

1. Use the channels your customers use.
Search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites are the three big channels that technical professionals use when researching a work-related purchase. They belong in your mix. But technical professionals also use a variety of other digital channels to keep up with the latest technologies, product news and companies—and these channels and the information technical professionals get from them all influence their buying decisions. E-newsletters, industry websites, online events and webinars are all important channels for your customers and should be considered as part of your marketing suite. Be sure to allocate some of your budget to these channels.

2. Include both creative and directional advertising in your marketing portfolio.
Creative advertising builds awareness for your brand in the marketplace. Creative advertising occurs near the top of the sales funnel and helps your target audience discover who you are, what you have to offer, and how you can provide value. Examples might be an e-newsletter sponsorship, banner ad, online event or social media. Directional advertising is more mid- to end-funnel focused and can lure in technical professionals when they are looking for a specific product or component and need to find the right supplier. Examples are supplier directories, online catalogs and optimizing your website content for search. You need both types of advertising to be 1) recognized by your potential customers, and 2) chosen when the time comes to buy.

3. Work with experts.
Your media partners, including IHS Engineering360, have a wealth of knowledge about the digital media landscape and how it functions. They can offer you guidance in matching your marketing goals and budget with the right mix of digital channels to achieve the results you need. Reach out early to your media partners and get your plans in place for 2015 so you can begin the next year with momentum.

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How do you generate results in the age of digital? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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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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The Digital Disruption: Three Digital Usage Trends in the Industrial Sector

Engineers and other industrial professionals are spending more time online and using a variety of digital resources to perform work-related tasks, which has transformed their buy cycle and challenged traditional marketing and sales processes for suppliers and manufacturers. This phenomenon is called the Digital Disruption.

IHS GlobalSpec recently conducted a survey of industrial professionals that helped uncover the key trends leading to the Digital Disruption. You can download the complimentary research report, Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector, to access the results, analysis and recommendations.

Here are three of the key trends:

1. Industrial Professionals Rely More than Ever on the Internet
It’s no surprise that engineers and industrial professionals are going online for work-related information. Forty-six percent visit 10 or more work-related websites in a week, while 23 percent visit 20 or more sites. Fifty-three percent of engineers spend at least 6 hours a week on the Internet for work. In the 18-34 age group, 39 percent spend more than 8 hours a week on the Internet for work.
One of the reasons the Internet is so valuable to engineers is that they can and do perform a variety of work-related tasks online. Eighty-four percent use the Internet to find components, equipment, services and suppliers. This “searching and finding” is the most commonly performed task. Other top uses include comparing products across suppliers, obtaining product specifications, and finding pricing information.

The variety of uses reinforces the need for suppliers to shift away from traditional media to be found by their target audience online and to provide timely, accurate and relevant content that meets the needs of customers and prospects.

2. Customers Wait Longer and Longer in the Buy Cycle to Contact Suppliers
The industrial buy cycle consists of distinct stages: Needs Awareness and Research, Comparison and Evaluation, and Purchase. At one time, suppliers were engaged with buyers throughout the stages of the buy cycle. Today, the Digital Disruption has changed that. Fifty-six percent of buyers don’t contact a vendor until they reach at least the Comparison and Evaluation stage of the buy cycle. Nineteen percent don’t contact the vendor until they are ready to make a purchase. Buyers are relying on digital resources to discover and research information about products, services and suppliers, and to narrow down their options before even getting a vendor involved.

The key takeaway for suppliers: You must be found in the early stages of the buy cycle to be on a buyer’s short list. During the Needs Awareness and Research phase, the most frequently used resources are general search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs, and GlobalSpec.com.

You also must be able to connect with a variety of buyers, recommenders, influencers and decision makers during the buy cycle. For purchases under $1,000, there is only one decision maker 54 percent of the time. But for purchases of more than $10,000, there are three or more decision makers involved 65 percent of the time.

3. The Number of Digital Resources Available for Industrial Professionals Continues to Grow
The Internet isn’t just a single destination for industrial professionals, but rather a collection of innovative, relevant and useful digital resources for helping engineers be more productive and efficient in their work processes.
The top four resources engineers use to find what they are looking for are digital resources: general search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites, and GlobalSpec.com.

While attendance by industrial professionals at traditional tradeshows has declined, the majority of engineers (51 percent) did not attend an in-person tradeshow in 2012, this audience’s participation in webinars and other online events is robust. Nearly two-thirds of industrial professionals said they attended at least one webinar or online event last year. Twenty-six percent said they went to four or more.

Another trend contributing to the Digital Disruption is that digital publications have taken over from print publications. Engineers subscribe to three times as many digital publications, such as e-newsletters, as they do printed trade magazines. Social media is also being used for work purposes. LinkedIn is the most popular channel, with 58 percent of engineers having an account.
Because your target audience relies on multiple digital channels, you must have a highly visible presence on those channels to connect with customers and prospects. Only through a multichannel approach can you achieve effective marketing results.

For a more in-depth analysis of the digital usage in the industrial sector and the Digital Disruption it is causing, read the complimentary report Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector. It will help you make more informed decisions about your marketing strategy and tactics.

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How have you responded to the Digital Disruption? What tips and ideas would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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