We’re an industrial marketing agency who does 90 percent of our work online, and over the years, we’ve observed some marketing trends from industrial companies. Traditional marketing efforts often involve journal print ads. This may have been an effective marketing strategy at one point, but now it’s outdated.

What are the problems with journal print ads?

One of the biggest issues with relying on journal print ads is the inability to measure return. It’s difficult to know how effective the ads are without measuring tools, and the medium is one that can’t be measured in detail. Unless the information is provided by an individual, it’s impossible to know if the ad drove the individual to become a lead. That’s the problem! And guess what ­–  digital marketing provides the solution.

Print ads are relatively expensive for what you get, and much like all forms of paid media, it only lives for a period of time. By the time the next issue comes out, the advertisement is old. This payment for disappearing content ends up becoming an expense instead of an investment. And your ad, well, it lives on a magazine that acts as a placemat in the breakroom.

Depending on your target, print ads are becoming less relevant. The industrial market has shifted to see engineers becoming buyers of products and resources, which is great! Those with the knowledge of what they need are now buying goods and services instead of less knowledgeable intermediaries.

The IEEE Engineering360 just released their 2017 survey of engineers, engineering management, project managers, research and development technical support and quality control professionals. The survey analyzes the industrial buying process and highlights where buyers are getting information. While some may be surprised by the results, we expected them.

When asked which information services do you typically use in the course of your work, 83 percent of those surveyed said general search engines. The other two categories to score more than 50 percent of those surveyed were supplier websites and online catalogs. Of all the listed options, the only two that relied on printed mediums were printed trade publications and printed directories and buyer’s guides which scored 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively. If the goal is to sell more, doesn’t it make sense to reach the buyers in their preferred medium?

Why is web marketing a better alternative?

Have you thought about what you’re getting out of print ads? If you run a print ad for 12 months spending five grand a month, at the end of a year, what did you receive in return? We ask many businesses that question and have yet to get a good answer. This is because print ads don’t offer measurable returns. They are merely branding options that don’t build trust or credibility. It’s like throwing darts into a vast abyss and hoping the phone starts to ring. On the flip side, what we do, you can measure.

Any inbound marketer worth their salt can take that five grand a month budget and use it to grow the company through tools and tangible goals. The tools enable us to track how many clients we need to close, how they close and what avenue they came from. The ability to build a plan around how to get specific traffic can’t be done through a print ad.

So, what does web marketing look like?

Much of web marketing involves building a multifaceted infrastructure. That means there isn’t a single answer. Pouring all resources into pay-per-click ads, SEO efforts or content will not generate the results that casting a wider net will. Think of it as fishing. The more lines in the water, the more fish you can conceivably catch.

The most prominent effort should be to build a plan using multiple tools to get to a target number of qualified leads. Start out with the number, figure out the submetrics needed and then determine the tools to meet those goals. We created this video to fully explain what marketing results you should be measuring.

For these efforts, we created the seven core elements of an industrial marketing strategy.

  1. Brand Positioning
  2. Website Infrastructure
  3. Website Traffic Strategy
  4. Lead Generation Strategy
  5. Sales Enablement Strategy
  6. Lead Nurturing Strategy
  7. ROI Reporting Process

These seven elements, optimized and working in sync, will produce tangible, measurable results from highly-targeted individuals.

From the start of implementing a new industrial marketing plan, we tend to focus on awareness generating elements such as SEO, pay-per-click, retargeting media, educational content and outreach email. These efforts are all about reeling in potential customers.

Once we’ve reeled them in, we shift the focus to conversion rate optimization. How do we convert these visitor into leads? Tools such as gated resources, white papers, buyer’s guides and ROI calculators are valuable pieces. Suddenly, those visitors we just attracted to our site are willing to trade contact information for the valuable resources, thus giving your sales team the contact information for a new lead.

Our last focus is to deploy strategies and tactics to make sure the sales team has processes in place to handle the inbound leads. Ensuring a CRM system is in place along with building an email marketing strategy to nurture leads enables the sales team to focus on highly-qualified leads. It boils down to automating elements of the marketing plan to free up your team to focus on other areas.

By taking a look at your own web marketing efforts, you can start to highlight areas that need improvement. We wrote this blog post to assist industrial companies in auditing their own industrial marketing strategy. You’ll work through each of the seven core elements of an industrial marketing strategy one by one. Doing so will bring into light whether your company is in a problematic state, just meeting the status quo or fully optimized.

If this article describes your marketing efforts, you should check out our guide for auditing your internal marketing strategy.