There is a great deal of advice and guidance available online on improving your presence, serving the most relevant content to the audience and ensuring your content is ready for mobile consumption. The latest trends are popping up every day and are changing the paths of achieving what you set out to achieve. Navigating thesea of trends can make your head spin – get a chatbot, make more video, be more original, don’t forget your augmented reality, take a stand on the important issues, cater to the younger generation and so forth. Hence the word “trend.” Is Facebook giving way to something better? Do your Twitter followers still follow what you are saying? What remains constant are your main goals: increase brand awareness, generate qualified leads and increase revenue.
Do You Know Your Audience?
Whether you follow the latest trends or not, your 2018 marketing outlook should be about catering to the audience by adding value. Of course, to do that well you need to know your audience.
For example, you’ve got a good handle on producing eBooks but the latest trend suggests that eBooks are not that hot on mobile. Although the trend is to create more mobile friendly content such as quizzes, surveys and interactive elements, an audience comprised of technical experts in the field of engineering or plant managers of manufacturing facilities, for example, are more interested in the valuable technical information that will help them solve their problems or help them find the expert that will do it for them. Light reading and interactive landing pages might be viewed as the unnecessary noise.
Fresh Take On Things
The leading inbound experts at HubSpot are on the front lines of helping companies move forward with the inbound efforts in a meaningful way. The tried and… tried again direct email is getting a fresh take with the use of persona based target accounts. This, of course, requires a deeper knowledge of the audience. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, are getting lower in organic search results. Using the boosted posts however, again, with the use of persona development and knowing your audience will increase the reach and ensure the right people are seeing your messages. Inbound is the engine and content is the fuel, however, the internet is overly abundant with the content. This means every single piece of content has to be valuable.
Remember the TOFU, MOFU and BOFU of inbound? The top of the funnel content (TOFU) such as blogs, for example, is still there, but the demand for quality of that content went up tremendously. Bottom line – trends are important to be aware of but knowing your audience might be more helpful than jumping on the latest trend train.
What's The Plan?
For a technically oriented company, like the MEP engineers, control system specialists, commissioning engineers and arc flash and electrical safety experts, the outlook for our inbound marketing efforts is stemming from the overall marketing goals, assessment of the company’s service lines and the clients’ demand. Put simply the plan is comprised of:
- A steady yearly increase in organic traffic by 20% through content development, promotion and organization.
- Campaigning around our core strength, both technical and cultural.
- Presenting our existing and new content in various ways to increase distribution and consumption.
The Pillar Pages
Back to the marketing funnel and knowing the audience, a great deal of research shows that engineers need to know, and in detail, what it is you do and how you are going to solve their problem. One of the interesting concepts we will be launching in 2018 are the pillar pages. HubSpot has ample information on pillar pages, but essentially, it is an environment that allows you to thoroughly cover a topic, such as a service expertise or industry involvement – a topic cluster.
This is a sample topic cluster for an Arc Flash Safety pillar page. With the help of HubSpot, we are able to “pull in” the relevant assets that reside on our site and logically organize them into one collection. Based on this architecture a pillar page template will be created that will allow us to duplicate the efforts on all of our core service offerings.
So why pillar pages? Why move away from multiple pages on service offerings, a page for an industry you offer that service in, a separate blog post that relates to either one or both and a page with client names? The answer is in how the audience is changing the way they search for information and how search engines cater to the search intent instead of simply matching the keywords. Pillar pages are the all-inclusive source of information on a given topic, both for the audience and for the search engines. Pillar pages allow us to increase organic traffic and increase brand awareness by catering more and more meaningful content.
When Things Get Personal
Another concept that will be on the forefront in 2018 is getting up close and personal with the audience. The two-prong approach will be to launch a series of technical webinars and several campaigns introducing our company culture. Webinars are not new but they are a good way to not only share the technical information but also to get the leading technical personnel in front of people, be that clients, prospects, potential new employees, college students, etc. A year-long campaign, for starters, that will be centered on the company culture is aimed to bridge the gap between the audience and the engineers behind the designs and technical solutions. Showing, and telling, why we do what we do, will help our audience get to know us better and create connections on what feels like a more personal level. After all, all business decisions are done between people.
Social Media - Paid Promotion
Lastly, following the trends for increasing the audience reach, we will take a close look at promoted content. In other words, we are going to utilize the powerful paid advertising engines of social media - LinkedIn and Facebook platforms. And although Snapchat might be the trendiest of them all, with generation Z being hooked on the instantaneous access to the now-information sharing, in a highly technical B2B world of engineering, we’ll keep an eye on that platform for now. The idea of the posts disappearing within 24 hours and the associated urgency doesn’t quite match the thorough methodology traditionally applied in the world of engineering just yet. We see the potential of Snapchat as a cultural channel more so than technical. To no surprise, leading brands, such as HubSpot, IBM, Cisco, to name a few are on Snapchat. IBM offers a glimpse at their facilities and various events. HubSpot uses the platform to showcase their culture, employees and philosophy for recruiting purposes as well as a marketing tool.
As we developed our year-long marketing plan and pondered on what we can do that is new or what we can do better, we came to a conclusion which closely relates to the core of what the company does – innovation. Innovation in a sense that it’s not about inventing new things, but in adding value. The inbound marketing outlook for 2018 is about adding value to the company, to the clients, to the employees and to communities in which we work and live.
About the Author
Natasha has been with Hallam-ICS since 1995. She holds an M.S. Degree in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University. From wordsmithing and color splashing to goofing off on social media she strives to add a human element to the highly technical world of engineering and controls.
Read My Hallam Story
Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.