Don’t just follow industrial marketing trends. Make them a part of your business decisions.
It’s no secret that today’s architects and engineers want a remarkable customer experience. They expect to find a downloadable product model online, and they expect it to be easy to find. But you know there’s more to it than just that.
Industrial marketers need to know where engineers go to find product information, what content they prefer and how to outrank other manufacturers in the buying process. We also love data — we especially love it when it tells us what we need to do to drive a business outcome.
I believe our best work comes when we combine data and action to deliver something that makes life better for our customers.
That’s why we’ve listed these six customer-experience-focused initiatives for marketers to take based on engineers’ buying behaviors. We backed these up with statistics from IEEE GlobalSpec’s report, so that you can use this knowledge to reach more engineers and to drive more sales.
Here’s how to drive more business this year by appealing to engineers’ online expectations and behaviors:
Action 1: Create an automated email for downloads that gets your name in the engineer’s inbox, but then pick up the phone.
Contrary to popular belief, engineers want to hear from you. (Caveat: only when they want to.)
from the IEEE GlobalSpec report, two out of every 5 engineers expect to be contacted within 24 hours of completing a form. While that may seem low to some people, consider the other responses engineers had to that questions:
An average 71% of engineers expect to be contacted without 48 hours after completing a form on a vendor website.
In a 24-7-365 digital world, automation offers an easy solution to the on-demand expectations of online consumers. However, nothing builds trust like a one-on-one, human interaction with your customers.
If an engineer downloads a digital CAD model of your product from your website, send them a follow-up email with your name and contact information. The next day, give them a call to ask if the part they downloaded works in their design.
If the part didn’t work, perhaps there’s a different product you manufacturer that would? If it does, offer to help them with the next step by providing information they need about the price and expected delivery time. Even better: offer to send them a physical sample if they need it.
You can connect them with your engineering expert to help answer any questions they have around your products. Now you’ve built rapport with a customer who will go back to you for future product purchases.
Action 2: Focus on providing more value to your customers rather than driving them toward a sale.
So that engineer didn’t respond to your follow-up email or voicemail from that part guide you sent them. That’s okay. Research shows that it takes at least 3-4 interactions with an engineer before they’re ready to talk with you.
While it’s tempting to send another email about the durability and uniqueness of your product, don’t. Engineers can smell a sales pitch through the computer and through the phone.
Leave the sales pitch until the engineer is ready to talk to you.
Instead, turn the focus from your products to your customer. What do they need to get their job done faster? What problems can you help them solve? How can you make it easier for them to get what they need?
This inbound approach to industrial marketing works – just ask John Joyce, Global Marketing Director at Brennan Industries. He gave a 30+ minute lesson on how to provide value as an industrial marketer.
Action 3: Provide PDF product datasheets as on-demand downloads.
Datasheets take the cake as the #1 preferred content type for engineers, and it’s no surprise why. PDF datasheets are easy to download and share and include the technical data engineers need to do their jobs.
We’ve seen this stat repeated in our own downloads. While 3D CAD downloads make up the majority of downloads from all our clients’ online catalogs, more engineers download dynamic PDF datasheets than any specific CAD or BIM format offered on our platform.
Considering our sample size (800+ manufacturer catalogs worldwide and 150+ CAD formats available on every catalog), industrial marketers can’t ignore the value of these documents.
Take it one step further and provide a company-branded PDF datasheets. This associates your name, logo, colors, brand and more with the PDF the engineer receives. It’s a nice way to show your customers that you deliver high-quality content, and they associate your brand with high-quality.
Action 4: Optimize your website for customer experience.
If you’re not already publishing helpful content on your website for engineers, let this be the statistic you screenshot and show to upper management: 65% of engineers research multiple vendor websites and read content before talking to a salesperson.
Once again, industrial marketers face a challenge: Provide the information engineers need without standing in their way or scaring them off with a sales pitch. This stat shows that your website is the #1 online space you need to do this.
Your website is your front door, so do the best you can to optimize it for your customers. You want to give them the 3D part content they need in the digital experience they expect. That means high-quality imagery, simple navigation to products and more.
Learn more about digital customer experience for industrials in this free ebook.
Action 5: Invest in digital tools that make your customer’s online experience easier and happier.
Nearly 60% of the buying process today happens online for engineers – from early research to the final purchase decision. Researchers expect that percentage to climb as high as 80% in 2020.
The IEEE GlobalSpec study reported that the trend toward a more digital buying process was stronger among engineers at smaller companies, businesses with less than 1,000 employees, compared to engineers at larger organizations.
So what? You pay attention to your website, so what’s the big deal?
If you’re not putting time and money toward the things that will make the online buying experience easier for your customers, they will go somewhere else to do business.
One way to do that is by providing 3D CAD & BIM downloads from your website. These “sales-versions” of your products give the engineer the data they need without jeopardizing your intellectual property. There are many ways to do this depending on your budget and goals.
You don’t have to start with a large investment: High-quality imagery is another digital tool that helps your buyers make purchasing decisions. Give engineers a 3D preview of your product before they download a digital copy or submit an RFQ. At the very least, make sure you have a high-resolution picture of the exact product on your website. (HINT: This will wow your customers who don’t have access to CAD.)
Action 6: Make your online content easy for engineers to find.
Engineers love to learn.
They crave deep technical knowledge and expert insight that helps them do their job better – or teaching them something interesting.
Over 90% of engineers prefer to work with companies that regularly product new and current content, and over half are willing to register on a website to access information. This information can be in the form of an on-demand webinar, a PDF product guide, a how-to video, digital product samples and more.
That said, engineers won’t jump through hoops to access your awesome content.
The digital customer experience of your website impacts how many downloads you’ll get on that new piece of content, no matter how great it is. If your website is a maze and the content hidden, engineers won’t waste their time trying to find it.
Here are some tips:
- Use the bare minimum on your registration forms: Name and Email Address. Use smart-forms to ask one new question each time the engineer returns to your site to download something different.
- Don’t put all your content behind a form. Decide whether it’s worth putting your new content piece behind a form. If it’s a how-to video for your products, keep it open-access. If it’s a detailed product specification PDF or digital part, keep it gated.
- Add a resource page to your website. Do you have a “hub” where engineers can go to learn more about your products and how to use them? This can take several forms, like a community forum that someone on your team monitors and replies to questions.
- Link to your content from your homepage. Make the pathway to your content so easy to find that even your grandmother can find it.
Let’s Wrap It Up
Now that you know the digital experience engineers expect and their buying behaviors, it’s time to put you knowledge to action.
Separate yourself from the pack by incorporating these tips into your industrial marketing campaign. As a reward, you’ll provide more value to your customers and see more sales in return.