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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Marketing Planning for 2014: 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

You might be so busy keeping your marketing machine rolling you didn’t notice it’s time to plan for 2014. By developing a plan now, you can begin next year in a strong competitive position, with your programs in place and budgets approved, instead of scrambling to make decisions and feeling behind from the beginning.

A good way to start 2014 marketing planning is to ask questions about what you’ve been doing this year and how your strategy might change for next year.

Are you still using the same media channels as two or three years ago?
This is the digital era, and industrial professionals have shifted online to search for and source products, vendors and services. Consider what your audience is doing: Forty-six percent of industrial professionals visit 10 or more work-related websites in a week, while 23 percent visit 20 or more sites. Eighty-four percent use the Internet to find components, equipment, services and suppliers. Other heavy uses include comparing products across suppliers, obtaining product specifications, and finding pricing information.

Best answer: We are putting resources into digital channels to avoid missing opportunity and being left behind.

Do you know how to reach your audience online?
The top four resources that industrial professionals use to find what they are looking for are digital: general search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites, and GlobalSpec.com.

At the same time, tradeshows are no longer a top way to learn about new products, technologies and suppliers. The majority of engineers (51 percent) did not attend an in-person tradeshow in 2012, and only four percent attended four or more tradeshows. In terms of subscriptions, engineers and related professionals subscribe to an average of 5.8 digital publications, such as e-newsletters, versus 1.8 printed trade magazines, a difference of more than three-fold.

Best answer: The best way for us to connect with our target audience and generate engagement opportunities is through the digital channels our customers use to actively search for products, services and suppliers and the online platforms where they go to read news and seek analysis and insight.

Are you using only one or two media channels in your marketing?
Because your customers are online have many digital resources at their disposal, they have more choices of products and vendors and more individualized preferences in terms of which information sources they prefer to use.

Suppliers who have a presence only on one or two channels will likely go unnoticed by potential customers. Instead, diversify your marketing investments across multiple channels to connect with customers and provide the service and consistency they expect. Evidence is mounting that multichannel marketing is producing the desired results for marketers, and that developing a multichannel digital strategy with multiple customer touchpoints is key to success.

Best answer: We will allocate investments across a relevant mix of digital channels to produce the best marketing results.

Are your brand, products and message discoverable by your target audience at all times?
Even when your audience does not have an immediate and pressing need that drives them to begin a work-related search, you still want to be in front of them because they could be a potential customer. This is where branding, visibility, and awareness initiatives come become important.

To meet branding and awareness goals, consider adding these programs in 2014: advertising in industry- and product-focused e-newsletters, hosting a webinar for a highly targeted audience, or using banner ads to maintain a highly visible presence on industry websites.

Best answer: Our company will maintain a digital presence on those channels that allow us to be “discovered” at all times.

Are you allocating enough of your budget to digital media?
Most suppliers will continue to use a mix of traditional and digital media in their marketing efforts with companies shifting more and more of their budget to online channels. Fifty-four percent report they are spending more online in 2013 than they did in 2012. Expect this trend to continue as suppliers realize online channels deliver the best results. However, just half of companies are devoting at least 36 percent of their overall marketing budget online, and only 30 percent are committing the majority of their marketing budget to online efforts. Is this enough? While industrial professionals have shifted work-related tasks to online channels (also known as the “Digital Disruption”), suppliers have only incrementally shifted their marketing

Best answer: We acknowledge that the Digital Disruption has transformed the way our target audience works and how we need to reach and connect with them. We are recalibrating our budget and resources and continuing to shift a greater percentage of our marketing budget to online programs.

Are you able to measure the results of your marketing efforts?
Marketers are under intense pressure to demonstrate ROI on their marketing programs. But you can only begin calculating ROI if you are using measurable marketing programs. Fortunately, the best-performing programs today are digital media. And digital media by its nature is measurable.

You may not always be able to calculate ROI by tying a sale to a specific program, especially in complex sales situations requiring multiple customer touchpoints. But you can track which touch points your customers use and gain a sense of how your overall marketing mix is contributing to revenue growth for your company.

Best answer. We plan to use measurable marketing programs and identify the key metrics that match up to our goals and objectives.
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What Your Digital Media Strategy May Be Missing

Almost every industrial company engages in digital marketing now. But if all you have are a website and newsletter, you’re missing out on something important — visibility and a better opportunity to connect with customers and prospects.

In this era of digital media teeming with innovation, industrial professionals and the companies that market and sell industrial products and services are faced with an influx of digital channels. From the introduction of general search engines, to an increase in specialized search, to the rise of social media, industrial professionals have more digital tools and sources of information than ever to do their jobs better and more efficiently. They also gain exposure to more companies to buy from. The result is that your customers have more choices, more individualized preferences, and more power than ever before.

A recent white paper from IHS GlobalSpec, “Marketers Require Multichannel Solutions to Achieve the Cross-Media Multiplier Effect,” documents the reasons why industrial marketers are rapidly adopting a multichannel digital marketing strategy and provides the benefits of diversifying your marketing spend across multiple digital media channels.

There are two primary reasons why industrial marketers are adopting a multichannel approach:

1. Customers have many digital tools at their disposal, and as a marketer you must engage them in ways that match their varied searching and sourcing preferences.

2. As an increasing number of companies allocate more of their marketing dollars to digital media, you must fend off increased competition online.

The evidence is mounting that multichannel marketing is producing the desired results for marketers in terms of improved campaign performance and a higher return on marketing investment. This phenomenon is known as the “cross-media multiplier effect.” It’s a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

Marketers are getting savvy
Marketers are demonstrating their savvy in regards to multichannel marketing. Many are abandoning single campaigns and instead adopting broader campaign strategies that integrate multiple digital channels and produce the cross-media multiplier effect.

But that doesn’t mean you can simply spread your budget across all the online channels available to you and expect to be successful. Marketers must allocate their budgets wisely. Certainly you need to invest in your company website. Beyond that, you must evaluate digital media to determine those channels that will help you most efficiently and effectively connect with customers and prospects.

The channels that are right for you are the channels that your customers use—and the channels your prospects use in new markets you want to penetrate. For engineers and other industrial professionals, the top channels they use to research a work-related purchase are general search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites. But they also use many other digital channels to keep up with the latest technologies, product news, companies and brands. E-newsletters, social media, industry websites and directories, and online events are all important information sources for your customers, and all exert influence over their buying decisions.

Follow these two recommendations
1. With many channels to choose from, it’s not always easy to know which ones are best given your target audience. Reach out to experts such as your digital media partners for recommendations on multichannel, integrated solutions that can help you achieve your marketing goals.

2. Download your complimentary copy of, “Marketers Require Multichannel Solutions to Achieve the Cross-Media Multiplier Effect” and share it with others on your marketing team. It offers you a better understanding of the multichannel mandate.

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Have you formulated a multichannel digital media strategy to reach industrial professionals? 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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