Marketing to Engineers Is So Different You Can Beat Amazon!
Marketing to engineers, especially in a business to business (B2B) setting is really different! Why? Because engineers typically think and behave differently when researching possible purchases. Obviously knowing and meeting your customers needs and expectations is essential for success. But, what may be less obvious, is that doing so may help you compete against even the mega marketplaces (such as Amazon.com and Walmart.com).
- The majority of the engineer’s buyer journey is now online where they use search engines (mainly Google) followed by vendor websites to find content they need. TREW Marketing separately prove that engineers really are different, “While 92 percent of all traffic on Google is driven by page one search results, only 5 percent of engineers say they stop on page one. In fact, more engineers will go 10 pages or deeper than will stop on page one."
- Nearly all engineers prefer to do online research and evaluate vendors before talking to supplier's sales departments. "Most engineers have between three and seven interactions with a company before talking with its representative directly."
Recommendations for Industrial Suppliers
The CMI Blog post makes excellent recommendations about technical content:
- Technically accurate, including detailed diagrams and images
- Great headlines to attract attention within search results
- Customer-centric to resonate with your technical audience - in particular, they recommend "case studies" as the content type technical professionals value most
- Authored by a technical expert at your company because technical experts trust other technical experts.
Here's our take. We agree with their recommendations about technical content but we think they aren't sufficient for success, at least for industrial suppliers, so listed below are 3 additional content marketing recommendations specifically for industrial manufacturers and distributors of industrial components and parts.
1. Offering the right online content is the only way to address engineers' online needs and expectations today! Your content should capture and authoritatively present your engineering knowledge so customers can access and use it. Your website needs to be the primary platform for your content which should include:
- 'Part Detail Pages' as the foundational content element for industrial suppliers - as an example click on the Grainger.com page on the right. The content must make your part detail pages find-able through SEO or local search and provide all the information an engineer requires to select and use your part. Track how much time they spend on these pages - usually the more info, the more time! As a key tip, an automated page generating digital catalog is easily cost effective once you need more than 50 product pages. Below 50 pages it can be cheaper to build and maintain HTML pages manually. But you can get to 50 pages pretty easily with 50 or more different sizes, materials, finishes or other variants of even a single product. Why different pages? Because, for SEO, you want separately generated pages for each variant so it quickly becomes more efficient, and less expensive, to use a digital catalog to automate page creation from a product database. A digital catalog should also add intuitive local search capabilities, including faceted search, so finding what you need is easy. See this GTS case study for the impact searching a digital catalog rather than a PDF catalog had on increased sales.
- View-able and downloadable 3D CAD models and 2D sales drawings of your products on each part detail page - for example see these on the above Grainger page too. With them engineers can easily select the right product then save some time by downloading the 3D models or 2D drawings rather than re-creating them. CAD content has proven the highest quality lead generation with conversion to sales at a higher rate than any other type of content.
- Other content - such as case studies, application notes, ebooks/books, whitepapers and 'how-to' videos in that order of importance as indicated by the CMI post.
2. Inbound or Content Marketing certainly starts with the right 'content' but the 'marketing' part is essential too! It begins with SEO (see B-SMART), at least the free and perhaps also the paid-for variety (CPC), so your content is found via online searches. If you are doing CPC here's a key tip, just as you know it is usually easier, faster and cheaper to sell more to existing customers, so it is easier, faster and cheaper to focus your online marketing on previous visitors to your website via re-marketing. Re-marketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) has existed since 2012 - if you're not using RLSA to adjust your bids, keywords, and text ads you should look at it because it can increase your click thru' rates (CTRs), cut your CPC costs and increase your conversion rates. Content marketing also requires many other activities from content promotion (for example syndicating your CAD models to your partner websites or CAD portals like 3DModelSpace.com) to link building.
3. For efficiency and cost reduction as industrial suppliers adapt their businesses to conform to current and future needs customers you'll likely need other content capabilities too, including:
- Configurators: whether your parts are entirely custom or configurable as different SKUs your engineering knowledge can be captured within them and made available to your customers through them
- eCommerce: to enable online ordering
- Integration: including eCommerce and your ERP system, lead generation and your CRM system
How this Helps Compete with Amazon?
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, meeting the customer needs of engineers can "help you compete against even the mega marketplaces." Engineers want deep product knowledge and expert technical support from suppliers of complex products. Amazon now has ~15 million products listed, so how deep can the technical knowledge and support be? You can compete with you technical content and support. Having said that, you can also leverage Amazon as another sales channel, your company could also be an Amazon Business Reseller and sell, via Amazon, your excess inventory lines or products that don't need much support.
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