Should Marketing Take a Summer Vacation?

If your business is barbecues, sunglasses and beer, then summer is a hot time for your marketing efforts. But what if you’re in the industrial sector and your prospects are engineers and technical professionals, many of whom have visions of summer vacation in their heads? If they are in the office, will they pay the slightest attention to your carefully crafted email offer, take the time and read your whitepaper, or register for your webinar? And if they’re out on vacation, then what?

Beach
Photo by Luke Ma / CC BY

Some industrial marketers believe that dollars budgeted for marketing programs during summer months are dollars better saved for the cooler days of other seasons. They reason that their customers and prospects are either 1) out on vacation; 2) cramming at work getting ready to go on vacation; or 3) buried because they’ve just come back from vacation. Email goes unopened. Newsletters aren’t read. Online events are an afterthought.

In reality, summer is not the time to take a break from marketing. Here are five reasons why marketing is for all seasons:

1. The numbers game.
Let’s say every engineer takes a vacation in summer. There are nine weeks in the summer season of July and August. That averages out to 11% of technical professionals being on vacation in any given week (if everyone takes a summer vacation, and not everyone does). So you might ask: Can you afford to spend on marketing programs when 11% of your prospects might not get your message during the week it arrives? A better question is this: Can you afford not to market when in fact 89% of your target audience will receive your message? By the way, if you don’t market, it’s guaranteed that 100% of your prospects will not receive your message.

2. Summer is catch-up time.
Summer may be a slower time for some engineers and technical professionals, which gives them more time to take in a webinar or pay attention to your e-newsletter. Data from IHS GlobalSpec shows that attendance at webinars for engineers and technical professionals held during the summer is consistent with other times of the year and clicks on e-newsletter ads are the same if not better during the summer. It’s a good time for you to catch technical professionals who are catching up or simply have more time on their hands.

3. Frequency, consistency.
Everyone knows one of the keys to successful marketing is maintaining frequency and consistency. Because you’ve been regularly marketing to technical professionals all winter and spring—building brand awareness, cultivating relationships, generating engagement opportunities, filling the pipeline—if you stop or slow down in the summer months, you’ll feel the negative impact later in your customers’ buy cycle. Plus, you may not be the first thing on your prospects’ minds. They can and will forget about your company, products and services if you stop keeping in touch. And maybe they’ll remember your competitor instead, who decides that marketing in summer is a worthy endeavor.

4. It’s budget time.
For many companies, summer is the season when they start planning the following fiscal year’s budgets. If you’re in front of customers and prospects now, they’re more likely to remember that you can solve a problem they’re struggling with, increasing the likelihood they’ll include an investment in your solution as part of their next budget. In fact, summer is a good time to remind them to do just that.

5. Always connected.
Sure, we all take vacations, but we also all have our jobs to do. For better or worse, more and more technical professionals are staying connected to work when they’re not on the job, and many of them might take along a work version of summer reading to stay up-to-date on recent news, industry trends, hot new technologies and other information they seek. This is a good time to send out a key white paper or an important article, maybe even labeled “Summer Reading.”

Hope everyone enjoys the summer. Keep your marketing going!

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How do you market during the summer months? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General

The Eight Components of the Perfect E-Newsletter Ad

E-newsletter advertising is a popular and effective tactic for connecting with your target audience. Forty-four percent of technical professionals use e-newsletters as an information source for work-related purposes, and they subscribe to an average of 5.8 digital publications (compared to an average of only 1.8 printed publications).

But as with any other marketing tactic, you can do it right or you can do it wrong. You can pay attention to the details or you can be lazy and slap something together. As a marketer, you know which path you need to follow, because a strong ad will grab your audience’s attention and motivate them to take action.

Here are the eight components of the perfect e-newsletter ad:

1. Headline
It all starts here. The headline draws your audience in by promising something special: a benefit, an innovation, a solution to a problem. Example: “New Solar Cells Overcome Efficiency Barrier.” Or your headline could offer valuable information: “White Paper Explains New Thermal Control Process.” The headline is often the most challenging component of the ad to write because you only have a few words to work with and so every word is important. Remember, however, that the main purpose of the headline is to interest your audience to read more. You may have to write many versions before you get the headline right.

2. Link
The old link standards Click here or Learn more are so overused as to be practically invisible to readers. There’s nothing interesting about them, nothing that reinforces the key concepts of your ad. Instead, to get your message to resonate and catch the eye of your audience, try linking relevant words in your ad copy: acoustic simulation software or new loudspeaker technologies, for example. Also, if you’re using an image in your ad (which you should), add a link to the image as well.

3. Image
Speaking of images…Clichés become clichés because they represent universal truths: a picture is worth a thousand words. Use an image in your ad and use it wisely. Along with your headline, an image can draw your audience into your ad. If you’re promoting a product, show the product. If you’re offering a white paper, show an image of its cover (if visually appealing) or an image related to the topic. Cute or funny images may work to attract a reader’s attention but make sure it’s working in concert with your headline and copy and doesn’t cheapen your brand. The image should appear crisp and clear at the size it will be used in the ad. A pixelated image or one that’s too small to identify what it is makes your ad look unprofessional and will lessen its effectiveness. Unless you are promoting a major, well-known brand in your industry, don’t use your logo as an image. Readers will skip past unfamiliar logos.

4. Landing page
Where do the links in the ad take the prospects? They should go to a landing page that’s designed specifically to play off the ad. The simpler and more direct you make the landing page, and the more it’s focused on what you want your prospect to do (download a paper, register for webinar, watch the video, etc.), the higher your chances of conversion. It’s important to create cohesion between the ad and the landing page so that prospects know they’ve come to the right place. You can do this by sharing imagery, colors, or copy elements between the ad and the landing page.

5. Copy
Keep it short. Keep it focused. Keep it relevant. These three commands apply to both the ad copy and your landing page copy. Remember that the purpose of the headline copy is to get prospects to pause and read your ad. The purpose of the ad copy is to get them to click on your link. The purpose of the landing page copy is to get them to convert. Write copy that serves these purposes—nothing more, nothing less. Also, make the copy easy to scan, especially on your landing page where you have more room. Use short sentences and paragraphs, bullet points or numbered lists, and subheads to divide blocks of copy.

6. Type of newsletter
Choose the right type of newsletter to achieve your goals. The more targeted the newsletter is to your audience, the better. For example, if you’re trying to break into a new market, go for an industry-specific newsletter. If you’re announcing a new product, look for a newsletter that focuses on that type of product line. If you’re building brand awareness, advertise in a more general or editorial-focused newsletter that will reach the technical professional you are targeting. Newsletters that concentrate on editorial coverage such as articles and industry news are a good place to advertise educational content like white papers or webinars. Your audience craves this type of information.

7. Audience need
Your newsletter ad will be more effective if it’s focused on an audience need. This means you must first identify that need and then create an ad that plays to it. The need could be products, services, or information. A solution to a problem. A trend that’s important to them. Always review the demographic and readership data of a newsletter to make sure you will be reaching the audience you want to target and that your message will connect to a need or challenge they face.

8. Metrics
One of the benefits of e-newsletter advertising is that it offers metrics to help you measure performance. The newsletter publisher should be able to give you access to key metrics including newsletter delivery rate, how many people viewed your ad, and how many clicked on the links. If the ad links to a landing page on your own website, you’ll be responsible for tracking conversions.

Make sure you’re tagging your links with the appropriate campaign info. This can include the name of the newsletter, campaign and month the ad ran. Google Analytics, for example, will attribute website traffic to the last referrer. For e-newsletters, unless the referring link in the e-mail is tagged, the recipient’s email service provider will show up as the referrer and not the e-newsletter publisher. As a result, without link tracking, the advertiser could have a difficult time determining the traffic linking from the ad.

There you have it. Eight components to the perfect e-newsletter ad. For more insights, download Best Practices for More Effective E-Newsletter Advertising.
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E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales

Search and Discovery: Why Both Should be Part of an Industrial Marketing Plan

Industrial marketers know the importance of being found online on GlobalSpec.com, Datasheets360.com, search engine results pages, and other resources when potential customers search for relevant products and services.
These searches tend to be based on customer needs. They are related to early and middle stages of the buy cycle: needs awareness, research and comparison and evaluation. Customers are motivated because they have a problem to solve and are searching for suppliers, products, and services that can help solve the problem.

That’s why marketers invest in online catalogs, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click marketing programs—to rise to the top for relevant searches and increase opportunities to engage with customers and prospects.

But search isn’t the only aspect of digital media that’s important to marketers, because search isn’t the only work-related activity industrial professionals do online. They also spend significant amounts of time reading news, keeping up with industry trends, learning about the latest technologies, seeking out educational opportunities and more. It’s during these work-related activities that their customers are performing when suppliers and manufacturers need to be “discovered.” Even though your audience many not have an immediate and pressing need, you still want to be in front of them because they could be a potential customer.

Allocating some of your budget to the discovery aspect of marketing will help raise the visibility and awareness of your products and services among potential customers. Your brand will become recognized by and familiar to potential customers, so that when they do perform a targeted search and your company, products and services appear, they will be more likely to choose you because industrial professionals—like anyone else—want to do business with a company they know and has a positive reputation in the industry. In this way, search and discovery work hand-in-hand.

Here are ideas for pumping up the discovery side of your marketing program. And all of them are easy to implement with the right media partner and to track in terms of impressions, clicks, and conversions:

  • E-newsletter advertisements: Engineers and related professionals subscribe to an average of 5.8 digital publications making newsletters a primary information source for work purposes. Look for opt-in e-newsletters focused on your industry or product area. Be sure to study audience demographics and profiles to make sure you are reaching the right people.
  • Online events and webinars: Nearly two-thirds of industrial professionals said they attended at least one webinar or online event last year. Twenty-six percent went to four or more. Exhibiting at an online event is a great way to build thought leadership and distribute content such as white papers, articles, videos and case studies.
  • Industry websites: Maintaining a presence on targeted industry websites (such as Electronics360.com) keeps you in front of potential customers while they are performing work-related tasks. Engineers spend time on sites reading recent news and learning about the latest technologies, as well as searching for products and services that meet their needs.
  • Banner ads: Banner ads that appear across a network of targeted industrial sites offer you broad and deep exposure to potential customers who might otherwise not know about your company or are hard to reach. Your banner ads can link back to your website, online catalog, or any other online destination that is useful to your target audience and meets your marketing goals and objectives.

Search AND Discovery—both are important to your marketing success. When planning for 2014, be sure to allocate marketing budget to both types of programs.

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How do incorporate both search and discovery into your marketing plan? What tips and ideas would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Content Marketing Demand Generation Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy

A Game-Changing Way to Engage Electronics Professionals

It can be a challenge to connect with electronics professionals. Their information needs change quickly as they move through the product design lifecycle.

When electronics professionals start this process with their initial research, they are gathering information on potential solutions that fit their needs. To begin, they may only have one part specification to go on but there are a number of resources that electronics professionals can turn to for information on possible products.

As they move into the consideration and comparison phase, they have shortened their list of potential solutions, put together a full list of specifications and turn to datasheets and other resources to help them further refine their search.

When a product has been identified and it’s time to buy, they’ll look for procurement information, distributor pricing and product availability and then Bill of Materials (BOM) tools and product lifecycle data during the parts inventory management phase.

And across all stages of the product design lifecycle, electronics professionals seek community and education through editorial, news, research and analysis.

As a result, each phase of the electronics product design lifecycle is a silo and suppliers and manufacturers have had to divide their advertising and marketing budgets across many media channels in hopes of reaching this splintered audience. You end up spread too thin, which is an inefficient and frustrating use of marketing dollars and resources. But now the game has changed.

The recent acquisition of GlobalSpec by IHS brought together the strengths of both organizations and has transformed the way engineers and industrial professional make critical decisions.

Leading companies rely on the expertise of IHS in the end-to-end electronics value chain to shape their businesses. IHS is also the pre-eminent global leader in critical information and insight for electronics professionals. IHS GlobalSpec provides the largest platform to reach this audience. It’s the single source for the critical information electronic professionals are seeking—at every point in the product design lifecycle.

Recently launched information resources—combined with IHS GlobalSpec’s e-newsletters, online events, ad network, and webinars—give electronics professionals access to all the information they need, and at the same time give suppliers a comprehensive platform to connect with decision makers.

Electronics360: Your opportunity to build brand
One example is Electronics360, considered the premier source for the latest trends, information, insights and analysis for the entire electronics value chain—end to end. Electronics360 is supported by the world’s largest electronics and media research team at IHS that delivers featured articles, research, daily blog entries, webcasts, surveys and polls, white papers and more. Featuring industry thought leaders delivering wholly unique, widely respected editorial and content and IHS industry analysts and experts discussing key topics in the electronics field, Electronics360 is a trusted destination for electronics professionals, decision makers and influencers alike.

Datasheets360: Be there for decision time
Another compelling new resource for electronics professionals is Datasheets360, a comprehensive source for electronic component datasheets and distributor pricing and availability information. It’s searchable by partial and exact product numbers. This is where your audience goes for product information in order to make procurement decisions.

Be there for every stage
These new resources compliment IHS GlobalSpec’s well-established platform of digital media solutions to reach and engage electronics professionals. A suite of more than 70 industry- and product-specific e-newsletters features 22 titles specific to the electronics industry and an audience of 2.6 million opt-in subscribers for these electronics-related newsletters. Titles include Electronic Components, Sensors & Switches, Wireless Technology, and many more. Readers use these newsletters as a primary way to keep abreast of new suppliers, products, technology and solutions—valuable information for early and middle stages of the product design cycle.

IHS GlobalSpec also hosts online events throughout the year on topics such as Aerospace Technology, Alternative & Renewable Energy, Electronic Components & Product Design, and more. Attendees take advantage of high-quality learning, networking and meaningful engagement with exhibitors.

An electronics ad network, datasheet promoter, custom webinars and online catalogs and directories help round out the possibilities for connecting with electronics professionals.

If you’re seeking to connect with electronics professionals at any point in their product design lifecycle, it’s time to check out IHS GlobalSpec. You no longer need to parse out your marketing budget trying to reach a splintered audience. They’re all in one place, and IHS GlobalSpec is built to help you reach your marketing goals: building awareness and delivering demand and engagement opportunities for your sales teams.

For more information on these opportunities, download our media kit for the electronics industry.

Digital Media Electronics Marketing, General