IEEE GlobalSpec: An exclusive conversation with Pete Hoelscher

Recently, Kantar Marketing Director Mike Morrow spoke with Pete Hoelscher, acting CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec.

IEEE GlobalSpec is a provider of data-driven industrial marketing solutions that helps companies in the industrial space promote their products and grow their businesses. Their success is driven around their audience of engineers and technical professionals that rely on the family IEEE GlobalSpec brands, including, and

Pete HoelscherIEEE GlobalSpec recently released its annual “Trends in Industrial Marketing” research report, which asks marketing and sales professionals in the industrial sector to address marketing trends, challenges, and expenditures within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities, The conversation below references many of the findings of the 2019 survey; you can access the full results here.

Mike Morrow: Thanks for joining me, Pete, in the middle of this busy planning season. It’s definitely “prime time” for many of the media buyers and planners working in the B2B and industrial marketing sectors.

As we’re looking ahead to 2020, I know we want to go deep on some of the trends and topics you see being important for the coming year, but before we do, perhaps we could start with a general overview of IEEE GlobalSpec, and the audiences you serve?

Pete Hoelscher: IEEE GlobalSpec is a trusted resource for our engineers and technical professionals, our audience relies on us for content, for community and for engagement at every stage of their research, design and purchasing processes.  We work with agencies to help them deliver what their clients are looking for when it comes to reaching this audience, especially around deep industry intelligence, customized marketing programs and campaigns that can be measured for performance.

We are pioneers in the digital space. IEEE GlobalSpec was founded on the concept of digitizing product information for engineers and has evolved significantly over the last 20 years with a focus on understanding how we can help engineers and technical professionals so that we can connect engineers to answers.

Our audience is global. Geographically, 60% come from the Americas, almost a fifth come from Asia and 13% from Europe. Our audience is also broad in terms of demographics such as age. Nearly half of our audience is comprised of individuals aged 18-34, with another third coming from visitors in the 35-49 age range. It’s a nice distribution from a demographic perspective of the engineering profession.

Our total audience is more than 1.3 million unique visitors per month across all platforms, and we have 8.9 million registered users overall.  Thirty percent of our visitors are repeat visitors. They come, they find what they're looking for, and they keep coming back. I think that speaks to the level of content that we provide to our audience. They find the information that helps them solve their problem; they find it on one of our sites and they're staying there because they like what they see in terms of the content.

MM: From what it seems, you are in a unique position to understand what's working and what's not for these B2B audiences. Can you tell us more about what you're seeing from the data from your annual industry survey and what emerging trends you're seeing that might shape client marketing programs in the coming year?

PH: Sure. One that I would classify as an evolving trend versus an emerging trend, and one that I anticipate will continue to be critically important to companies in the B2B industrial space in the year ahead, is email.

You can read a lot of articles or hear people talking about how email is dead, that it is no longer an effective marketing tool. And I think the answer is quite simply that's not that's not accurate. Email is still a key part, I believe, of any successful digital marketing and engagement program. Our research shows that 60% of industrial marketers rely on email marketing and 43% expect to invest even more in email marketing in the year ahead. That tells us that in the B2B industrial space, email is still a very important cornerstone piece of any meaningful program. What it comes down to is, how do you employ this tool? You must get smarter and better with it.

Each year, we publish a “Smart Marketing for Engineers” research report in conjunction with TREW Marketing, based on research that illustrates the content consumption habits of engineers. Our most recent research  found that most engineers subscribe to two or three newsletters and nearly 90% of these engineers are engaging with the content on some level. That shows that engineers are really connected to email on a professional level, especially when the content resonates with them.

One real trend we expect to see next year is more personalized targeting and messaging from email marketing campaigns. We're also seeing contextual ads within newsletters driving a measurably higher level of engagement when compared to display ads designed to  drive impressions.

I also anticipate that B2B marketers in the industrial space will have to take better advantage of technology. There are always going to be new ways to produce greater results and our survey shows that just a little over a third (37%) of industrial marketers are using marketing automation software today.

Overall, we do see B2B marketers investing in platforms to help with segmentation and bringing more precision and sophistication to email, as opposed to being a tool you use to blanket inboxes. As a marketer is targeting through the buying cycle, this personalization between campaigns and channels is where we see agencies providing a lot of value for their clients, connecting those dots and having more integrated marketing and messaging. That's really a sweet spot for agencies going into 2020.

MM: With all this increased emphasis on digital marketing and technology, there’s an increased appetite for metrics and analytics that go along with them, right?

PH: Absolutely. In our Industrial Marketing Trends survey, we asked the respondents, "What is your single biggest challenge in your profession?" and measuring ROI in their marketing efforts was by far the most common result. There is pressure unlike ever before on the marketing executives of any organization, including those in the industrial space, to prove that the spend that they have is going to get a result.

With marketers under so much pressure, agencies are under a lot of pressure too because they need to make sure that what they're providing and recommending to their clients is going to work. In my opinion, that puts agencies in a great spot because with digital media channels, you get data and results so quickly that you can make adjustments and tweak your program as you go forward. As digital marketers focus on improving the ROI of their efforts, they're going to have to go beyond lead generation and look at their ability to track engagement through the entire buy cycle.

We see our role as adding our own insight and data and context to an agency's wisdom to help the agency do a better job being successful with their own clients.

MM: That role of helping agencies to understand what the most efficient use of those media dollars are goes back to where we started this conversation, about making sure that you're reaching the most engaged audiences with the most compelling content at the right time -- and the overall mission you described for IEEE GlobalSpec in the industrial marketing space. How do you see the role of content marketing in 2020?

PH: Our audience of engineers and technical professionals have higher expectations than most consumers of content. It’s just who they are as professionals and how they're wired, how they think and how they approach their work. They're finding more and more content that helps them build business cases and justify purchasing decisions online.

As a result, making the investment in quality content production is an absolute imperative for industrial marketers. According to our research, content marketing is one of the top three channels that are currently being utilized by industrial marketers. We have a custom content program we offer to our clients today that is extremely successful from both the client perspective and the audience perspective because that demand  for content is so strong from our audience.

Our survey results also showed that content creation and distribution is going to be a top priority, an emphasis for marketing for the next five years. So that tells us that this is not a flash in the pan. This goes way beyond 2020; it's a long-term need and desire for relevance and quality content.

I definitely see industrial marketers being more content-focused in 2020 and producing content that's going to help drive the specific stages of the purchasing process.

MM: It seems that even as digital continues to grow across the entire marketing space, we know that there are still many different opportunities across B2B that encompass a wide array of online and offline marketing opportunities available. How does a B2B marketer find that ideal media mix looking at their 2020 planning?

IEEEPH: That's an interesting question. When you think back over the past two decades and how many new channels in the B2B or industrial space have been introduced during that time, there's just so much out there…and so much fragmentation. This forces marketers to be even more savvy about what they go after and in what mix. However, I do think there are some traditional channels that are continuing to play a major role. One is trade shows.

Trade shows get a bad rap in some corners, like, “well that's a thing of the past and no one goes to trade shows so they're not as effective for investment of marketing dollars.” However, our research  shows that two-thirds of our respondents continue to invest in trade shows, with the overall spend for shows remaining steady. If you pause for a moment, that makes absolute sense, because at a show you get visibility into your marketplace, you get to meet buyers and keep tabs on competitors. Trade shows are still, I think, part of an effective marketing mix.

Savvy agencies realize that marketing is not a this-or-that proposition. You keep adding tools to your toolbox; things don't go away but the tools must be refined and used appropriately. The most successful marketers are going to be the ones who see the advantage of multiple channels and integrate them effectively based on what their client is trying to achieve.

As we look to 2020, we see traditional marketing tactics are going to be tied very tightly to online initiatives, because ROI metrics are more readily available from a digital perspective. Display, newsletters, email marketing, social; but incorporating them into something like trade show planning so that before, during, and after a show you can gain momentum and increase engagement. A traditional tool like a trade show is still effective but you must look at it differently and incorporate other new tools to get the most out of that investment.

MM: Thank you for sharing these insights with our media buyers here from Kantar and the SRDS media planning community. Is there a single takeaway or key thoughts that you would like the media buying and planning community to have about what's happening in your market or at IEEE GlobalSpec?

PH: One key takeaway is that we can be a phenomenal partner for you as you drive success for your clients. I say that because of our experience and insights from years of research and interacting with this audience. We have insights about their behaviors and what they're looking for in terms of content and how they navigate their buying process. We can share that insight with agencies who can then incorporate that insight into what they present in their overall media plans for their clients. We love to partner with agencies.

Follow IEEE GlobalSpec on LinkedIn, or connect directly with Pete

Editor’s Notes: For more information about partnering with IEEE GlobalSpec, click here

At the time this post was written, IEEE GlobalSpec was a paid advertiser in the multimedia planning platform.



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