Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

Seven Ways Content Can Make You More Competitive

The rise of the digital era has in many ways increased competition in the industrial sector and leveled the playing field between small and large companies. Smaller companies with a robust online presence have more opportunities than ever to attract an engineering audience, while larger companies can defend their brand and market positions.

But one way for a company of any size to rise above its competitors is to use content to its advantage. Here are seven ways content can give your marketing efforts a lift.

1. Educate, Don’t Sell

When it comes to producing content, consider the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. In other words, you don’t want the hard sell, and neither do engineers. What they want is educational information: facts, statistics, information, objectivity. They want to learn how to do their jobs better, not get pressured into buying something they may or may not need to complete a project.

The more you make your content educational, the more helpful you are to your audience, and the more likely they will turn your way.

2. Right Content, Right Channels

Engineers use a variety of content types and access that content through several different preferred channels. According to the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers research report, datasheets, case studies, white papers, and product demo videos top the list as the most valuable content types engineers use.

To maintain and advance their professional skills, engineers gravitate toward content such as online training courses, webinars, and white papers, as reported in the 2021 Pulse of Engineering.

With many tradeshows and in-person events canceled over the past year due to the pandemic, the most popular channels for accessing information are supplier/vendor websites, online trade publications, publication email/e-newsletters, and vendor email/e-newsletters.

Make these content types and channels part of your marketing mix and you might be able to separate your company from the pack.

3. Fill the Knowledge Gap with Content

The Pulse of Engineering report also found that a major concern for industrial companies is the knowledge and expertise that is lost when employees leave the company. Many do not have formal processes for preserving and passing on domain knowledge. Savvy suppliers and vendors can help fill the knowledge gap and become important allies to their customers by providing valuable content through online training courses, webinars, and white papers.

4. Use Gated Content to Build Your Database

Sometimes the best defense against the competition is a comprehensive database of customers and prospects. While some companies are hesitant to gate content behind forms in fear of turning away potential prospects, engineers are willing to fill out forms for highly technical content. White papers and CAD drawings are the most popular premium pieces of content. Video tutorials, webinars, and product configurators are also desired by technical buyers. Our research shows that engineers are most likely to fill out contact information forms for these valuable resources.

5. Produce Content for the Entire Buying Cycle

Research consistently shows engineers rely upon online content heavily during the buying process. Online content supports over 50 percent of the buyer’s journey, as reported in the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers. Sixty-two percent of respondents complete more than half of the buying process online, and when looking at engineers age 45 and under, the online journey lengthens to over seventy percent.

Make sure you have plenty of content such as educational articles, white papers, videos, webinars, and technical documentation for the early phases of the engineer’s buy cycle when they are analyzing their needs and searching for potential suppliers and products. Content such as ROI calculators, case studies, and warranty policies can help close the deal later in the buying cycle.

6. Keep Producing Content

Content isn’t something you pay attention to only at the beginning of the year or to support specific events such as product launches. Content marketing is an ongoing process of producing, repurposing, posting, and tracking content. Your audience as well as search engines are both hungry for fresh, relevant technical content. You have to keep feeding the beast to rise above.

7. Stay on Message and Brand

Is your content consistent in its messaging as well as its look and feel? Even when you have a variety of content types, your company’s brand essence and key messaging points should come through on each piece. Consistency and continuity of content help engineers identify and remember you. Find the common threads that are important and stitch them into all of your content.

Content Marketing Marketing, General Multichannel Marketing
Lead Nurturing Tips for 2021

Lead Nurturing Tips for 2021

Few of the leads you generate are sales-ready at the first contact with your company. Prospects might be anywhere in their buying cycle when contact is made and they typically have questions and concerns they need to be answered before they are ready to place an order.

They might want to know more about your products, your brand, your support policies, your customers, and more. This educational journey takes time. It’s your job to keep your prospects interested, encourage them along their buying journey, and build meaningful relationships so they are more likely to choose your company when it comes time to do business. That’s lead nurturing in a nutshell.

The lead nurturing process can be long—research shows it takes anywhere from six to 13 touches to deliver a qualified lead to sales. Lead nurturing can also be fruitful—studies show that 70 percent of business comes from long-term leads, those that aren’t ready to buy when you first connect with them.

In addition, the disruption of the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic has placed increasing emphasis on the importance of lead nurturing. Leads you might have thought were close to buying have now gone cold. Budgets have been slashed. Projects were delayed or canceled.

But things are picking up again, and engineers are on the prowl for components, products, and services to help them complete their projects. It’s time to hone your lead nurturing efforts. Focus on these core functions:

  • Using a lead nurturing system
  • Segmenting your database
  • Planning email “drip” campaigns
  • Handing off to the sales team
  • Tracking and learning

Using a Lead Nurturing System

Many industrial companies are adopting marketing automation to help manage lead nurturing and other marketing efforts. Marketing automation allows you to capture prospect engagement across all digital channels and can help you score leads, create landing pages, track prospect actions, trigger automatic emails, report on the effectiveness of various content, produce analytics, and much more.

Some companies are embracing specific email-based lead nurturing platforms such as GlobalSpec Catalyst. Whatever system you choose, the three core capabilities you must-have for lead nurturing are the ability to segment your audience, create and send campaigns, and report results.

Segmenting Your Database

If all of your prospects are similar and interested in the same products, you don’t need to segment your database. However, many companies will have a variety of prospect types interested in different products and services. In this case, you will need to segment your database to craft different lead nurturing campaigns to meet the needs of different audiences.

Common segments include area of interest, phase of buy cycle, market, geography/territory, among others. Another important segment leads that have had no contact with your company for an extended period. You might create a segment of these cold leads to re-engage with them.

Planning Email “Drip” Campaigns

There are tons of ways to connect with your audience, but email is the most effective channel for nurturing the engineering audience. Nourishing takes place through what is called email “drip” campaigns—meaning at regular intervals, you show up in their inbox. For example, your campaign could touch prospects once a week for three months followed by once a month for six months. You decide based on your segments and your prospects’ needs.

What do you send to an engineer’s inbox? According to the “2021 Pulse of Engineering” report, engineers seeking technical documentation, product specifications, and data sheets to help complete their projects. You should also sprinkle in the type of high-level messaging that increases their confidence in your company. For example, many engineers are confronting supply chain issues for parts they need. Can you assure them of availability and delivery? Can you highlight the strengths and stability of your company? Can you demonstrate a high level of support?

Other useful content includes white papers, webinars, infographics, case studies, and articles. During the nurturing process, keep the content educational rather than sales-oriented. Engineers hate to be sold to; they want to learn and discover.

Handing Off to the Sales Team

The definition of a sales-ready lead should be determined jointly between marketing and the sales team. Lead nurturing only works if sales and marketing organizations are working from the same playbook.

Often a lead reaches sales-ready status when it achieves a score based on a scale you develop that awards points for specific prospect behaviors. For example, a prospect that clicks on every offer is a five and likely sales-ready, while a prospect that only visited a web page remains a one.

Tracking and Learning

Some of your emails and offers will perform better than others. Keep track of how the prospects in your campaign interact with your offers and content.

Get rid of nurturing emails and content that don’t perform well while building on content that is popular by creating similar offers. Continually refine your campaigns and you should see improved results.

Lead nurturing is an essential marketing tactic to increase sales-ready leads and potential sales. This is true at all times, especially during this period of market disruption due to the pandemic.

Lead Management Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

The Mobile Opportunity for Industrial Marketers

In a recent survey of industrial professionals, GlobalSpec inquired about their use of mobile devices for work-related purposes.

In asking, “Do you use a smartphone and/or tablet computing device for work-related activities?” we found that there was a 50/50 split between those who use one or more mobile device for work-related activities and those who don’t use any mobile device.

30% Yes, I use a smartphone
8%   Yes, I use a tablet
12% Yes, I use both a smartphone and tablet
50% No, I use neither a smartphone nor tablet

Twenty eight percent of those who use mobile devices for work-related activities do so at least “a few times a week.” When asked what types of specific activities are performed on mobile devices, respondents were relatively split among the following:

21% Research and/or source parts
21% Read work-related articles or papers
20% Watch work-related video
20% Receive engineering and technical news feeds
18% Play engineer-related free games

When we isolate the most active mobile users, those who use a device at least a few times a week, we find they most commonly “receive engineering and technical news feeds” (30%), “read work-related articles or papers” (26%) and “research and/or source parts” (24%).

That being said, it is likely that active mobile users would also watch more work-related videos if there were more work-related videos available. The amount of B2B-related video, let alone video related to the industrial manufacturing industry, as compared to B2C-related video is small.

In the future, it’s the use of tablet computing devices that is most important for marketers. It is likely that the percentage of tablet users will outpace smartphone users since tablet devices better accommodate work-related activities. This opens up a variety of opportunities for marketers.

  • Ensuring your brand’s website(s) are mobile-friendly
  • Allowing users to subscribe to your blogs and news feeds
  • Developing content, especially video, that reinforces thought leadership and/or demonstrates product benefits
  • Creating apps that offer tools and resources for your customers and prospects while allowing them to engage with your brand on a more profound level

How have you incorporated mobile into your industrial marketing strategy? What companies or brands have you seen that are strategically targeting tablet or smartphone users? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Mobile Marketing

There’s Still Time to Make Tweaks To Your 2011 Marketing Program

Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to evaluate how well your 2011 programs are performing – because if the results are less than stellar there’s still plenty of time to make tweaks and achieve the ROI you need by the end of the year. To get a sense of marketing program performance you’ll want to evaluate several key items, including:
• How much did you invest in various marketing channels?
• What was the return so far, in terms of quality lead generation?
• Are your marketing programs achieving visibility among your target audience?
 

If your programs have metrics in place to measure results you should be able to get a sense of how well they are performing. And if you find you do need to make adjustments – here are a few points to keep in mind:

1. Maintain a persistent, comprehensive marketing presence.
It is essential that manufacturers and suppliers get found in the early research phases of the notoriously long and complex industrial buy cycle, when potential customers are looking for vendors who can meet their needs. Otherwise, you may be shut out of a number of business opportunities. In order to be found early in the buy cycle, you must maintain a persistent marketing presence where buyers begin their products and services search—online. Research shows that buyers have significantly reduced their reliance on traditional information sources such as printed catalogs, trade shows, and trade magazines, in favor of online resources. The Industrial Buy Cycle Survey reported the top three most frequently used sources for searching for products and services to purchase are search engines, supplier web sites, and online catalogs. From the beginning to the end of the buy cycle, the supplier that is eventually selected is exposed to the buyer many times. The company may have first become visible through an Internet search, or exposure to its online catalog, or a banner ad on an industrial site, or any number of other ways. Therefore, build a comprehensive and persistent online presence to reach buyers and increase opportunities to gain customers.
2. Commit to marketing programs that deliver real leads, real fast.
While branding and visibility do play an important role in marketing, lead generation is still a top priority. Your best bet is to invest in lead generation programs that deliver more than anonymous clicks to your Web site. Your sales people can’t do anything with those—and neither can you for follow-up marketing purposes.
You’ll also want to avoid marketing programs that deliver leads after they’ve already gone cold. Your prospects are on Internet time, and if they express interest in your company and products, they expect a response in 24 hours or less. If they don’t get it, they will move on to other vendors.
Seek out marketing programs that provide you with leads containing full contact information and area of prospect interest. Programs like this will allow you to contact a “real, live leads” and it gives you the ability to reach out to these potential new customers in a timely manner.
3. Discuss your marketing challenges and goals with media partners.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Hopefully you’re working with a marketing partner that is open to regular evaluation and revisions to your marketing mix – if not you may want to consider shopping around for a new partner – and find one you are comfortable with and who offers the best programs to meet your needs.

As a refresher, here is a checklist of questions to ask media partners:
• Do they have the attention of your target audience?
• Can they keep your company visible to prospects and customers at all times? In other words, help you maintain marketing persistence.
• Do they offer a variety of integrated marketing solutions aligned with your goals rather than trying to fit you into cookie cutter programs?
• Do they deliver targeted, quality leads with full contact information in a timely manner?
• Do they provide reporting you can use to measure the performance of your marketing and justify your marketing investments?

And remember – there’s still time left to have a successful year – so get on with evaluating and tweaking your marketing mix!

 

Marketing, General

5 New Year’s Resolutions Worth Sticking To.

As marketing mavens, of course we can think of  more than five resolutions to stick to, but let’s be realistic. Change is tough.

#1 Spend less time planning and more time reviewing. Often, we get so wrapped up in what we need to do that we forget to understand the results of what we’ve already done.

#2 Synergize to optimize. Go out to lunch with your sales team on a regular basis. Stay fresh with what’s really being said out there.

#3 Make some mistakes. Get your hands dirty with testing new ideas. 

#4 Avoid repeating them. This will take some true reflection, but growth is the point.

#5 Wear the right shoes. Make sure that they look an awful lot like the pair your prospects and clients are wearing this year.

Share your resolutions with us. We need to go shoe shopping…..

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General

Becoming a Thought Leader: What’s in it for You?

Positioning your company as a thought leader establishes credibility and positions you as a trusted advisor and partner – benefits beyond what a marketing or advertising program can deliver on its own. And while thought leadership is not a strategic objective on its own, it can certainly support other objectives such as lead generation, growth of market share, increase of share price—or all of these.

But just what does becoming a thought leader mean? It’s more than just a buzzword – thought leadership means having a reputation in the market as a company with unique, innovative, and important ideas about your industry, the forces shaping it, the challenges confronting it, and the future awaiting it.

 To get started, you’ll need to develop a unique point of view for your company – one that will be new, relevant, valid, and practical. A point of view that meets these criteria and that brings something new to the discussion will motivate people to follow you and take actions that you recommend.

If you’d like to learn more about how to develop a successful strategy for becoming a thought leader in your market space, download “How to Become an Industry Leader in the Online Era,” a complimentary white paper from GlobalSpec. This  paper provides insight into establishing a thought leadership position, and answers the following questions:

  • What exactly does it mean to be a thought leader?
  • How does your company gain – and sustain – a thought leadership position?
  • What tactics will help you become a thought leader in the online era?

You’ll also get a checklist of seven questions to help you determine your company’s thought leadership point of view. Download your complimentary copy now.

Have you already taken steps to becoming a thought leader? How did you accomplish this? What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced as a result? Share your story with us!

Marketing, General

Survey Results Show Preparation For Growth

The 2010 GlobalSpec Industrial Indicators Survey provided some hopeful data about the industrial sector. 67 percent of industrial professionals stated that their company revenue is above or on target for 2010. The worst of the economic downturn appears to be over, with many companies now focusing on growth-oriented initiatives they were unable to support last year. For example:

  • 18 percent of industrial companies have increased headcount, compared to only five percent a year ago.
  • Almost twice as many companies have increased spending (13 percent) this year compared to a year ago (7 percent).
  • 15 percent of companies are increasing research & development spending, a 50 percent increase over last year.

What areas of business are beneficiaries of this growth-oriented spending? 47 percent of companies are focused on improving production efficiencies, 42 percent on quality and 39 percent on new product development.

In order to support the development of new products and improvement of production processes and quality control, companies will need to spend on components, parts and services in the second half of 2010. 71 percent of survey respondents stated that the component and services spending they directly purchase or influence will increase or remain the same in the second half of 2010 compared to the first half, indicating stable or increasing budgets.

The takeaway for suppliers and manufacturers is to continue to market or ramp up efforts so that their company, products and services can be found by customers and prospects. Be sure to include online marketing as an integral part of your marketing mix, as research has shown that over 90 percent of engineers use the Internet to locate suppliers, components and products.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Market Research Marketing, General

Five Reasons to Advertise in e-Newsletters

Industrial marketers looking to stretch every dollar in their marketing budget and invest in effective and measurable marketing programs should add e-newsletter sponsorships to their marketing mix. E-newsletter advertisements are a perfect complement to your e-mail marketing efforts.

Here are five reasons why e-newsletters are a smart marketing choice.

E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General