Ideas, musings and inspirations.

It used to be that a face-to-face meeting and a classic hand shake was all it took to seal the deal. Nowadays, manufacturing marketers realize that it takes a bit more to land a lucrative contract and is why digital is playing such a large part in manufacturing marketing strategy.

According to The Content Marketing Institute (CMI), digital content marketing which includes social media, video and email newsletters has become the fastest growing segment of results driven manufacturing marketing and sales.

In 2015, CMI told us that manufacturing content marketers relied heavily on the following three digital marketing channels:

MMSM1 320
YouTube was the top social media tool for manufacturing content marketers in 2015.

SM1 320
Manufacturing content marketers named the following social media platforms the most effective for their 2015 campaigns:

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So this year, hop on the manufacturing marketer trend wagon by elevating your social media, video production and e-newsletter output. Learn more about manufacturing marketing strategy and how to improve lead generation and sales conversions at Elliance.com.

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Recently I was reading an interesting SME article about 3D printing technology and its emergence in the medical industry. Stryker Orthopaedics, a leading medical technology company, is partnering with hospitals to manufacture a 3D printer that will allow for the creation of customizable implants for patients.

The long-term vision is to have 3D printers in hospitals, where 3D “print engineers” will have the ability to receive patient data, design a unique implant, print it in six hours, sterilize it, and send it off to a surgeon for implementation.

3D printer for healthcare manufacturing

How cool is that. A customized, patient-specific implant designed to comfortably fit a person’s body. I imagine this adaptive solution will lead to a more effective product and a more satisfied recipient.

This got me to thinking about Elliance and how, similar to custom implants, our most successful manufacturing marketing campaigns are those that are user-specific. We know that marketing is more effective when it “fits” a person’s digital activity and lifestyle.

Consider this scenario: a user visits your manufacturing site looking to potentially engage with your company. After a few minutes of browsing, they download a gated product information brochure and leave the site.

The download signifies a deeper interest. You can either hope they reach back out, or start an intentional user-customized marketing campaign.

  • Send drip emails triggered by their behaviors, like email opens.
  • Embed a link to relevant site content in these emails so more information is easily accessible.
  • Place dynamic retargeting ads of the product pages they visited to remind them of their options.

All of these actions show you’ve identified the user and their specific needs, and you’re ready with a custom solution for them.

manufacturing marketing touchpointsRead about how Elliance helps manufacturers deliver their brand messages through solutions like inbound marketing, social advertising, creative design, and web applications.

Have a manufacturing marketing success story? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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emojis-emojis-everywhere

I’ve noticed more and more, emojis are showing up in my inbox. My favorite restaurants and retailers are tacking little images of suns, fireworks and ocean waves to their email subject lines. I found myself clicking on them more often, and got curious if others did too. Do emojis really trigger spam filters? As a major emoji enthusiast, a connoisseur if you will, of the best way to emojify my conversations, I had to know.

If there were badges for Google search proficiency, I’d consider myself highly proficient. My fourth grade librarian, Mrs. Williamson, would be elated to know that I’m still actively using quotation marks and plus and minus signs in my search fields.

So imagine my surprise when I searched Emojis + Spam Filters and couldn’t find a single reputable article from the last year with data to support that adding an emoticon to the subject line of an email would trigger the spam filter.

Mail Chimp makes no mention of emojis in their Knowledge Base article about avoiding spam filters. And emojis don’t appear on Remarkety’s list of 25 Ways to Avoid Sending Spam either.

In fact, in all my Googling, I found that emojis can actually increase open rates, when used strategically. According to Experian, 56 percent of brands that use symbols in their subject lines have a higher open rate. 😯  And according to Experian, emails with emojis in their subject lines get opened 45 percent more often.

Ad Age estimates that the average American consumer receives somewhere between 500 and 1500 brand messages every day. Forty percent of those same consumers are receiving more than 30 emails per day. Adding an emoji to the subject line of your email can help you stand out in a sea of Arial.

Of course, while emojis are the largest growing language in the world, you should still exercise caution when considering adding them to your e-marketing communications.

Here are a few tips to follow:

Know your target audience.
Grasshopper cautions that “businesses that sell B2B should probably avoid using emojis. But generally, if you have a fun, casual brand… emojis can help your email stand out against the black and white of a crowded inbox.”

Choose emoticons that compliment the subject line.
There are hundreds of emojis available, choose emojis that add emotion, humor or even a hint of sarcasm to your subject line.

 Here are a few examples of real email subject lines featuring emojis from my inbox:
email-subjects
Don’t replace words with emojis.
Treat emojis as garnish and add them only when it makes sense and they support the messaging.

Don’t overdo it.
The goal is to be noticed, not annoying. Use emojis only when it makes sense. Test them out in campaigns with a higher priority or during peak seasons when you need to stand out. Limit yourself to one, maybe two, emojis per subject line. While you may not trigger the filter, too many emojis will have you looking like a bedazzled jean jacket.

Know where to start.
Unicode provides a list of Unicode emoji characters with images from different vendors and versions to show how a particular emoji will render for different users. This is also a great place to see what’s available when you think an email might benefit from the addition of an emoji.

As a Front End developer, my job crosses over many disciplines, but this post is not about what a Front End developer/designer does (you can read a great article by Brad Frost on the topic to understand more about this balancing act). During the development of a web site, the front end plays key roles throughout the process. Traditionally the front end was reserved for the post-design states of a project, but more and more, we are seeing the front end discussed and thought about earlier. Depending on the organization or team, the front end can be introduced as early as the beginnings of content strategy, site map development, or wireframing.

These early front ends are usually grayscale websites with placeholder images and Lorem Ipsum text. The ‘polishing’ of a site with elements like color, drops shadows, gradients, and animations are usually reserved for later. But recently I have found myself adding more and more motion throughout all stages of the project especially the early wireframes. For the same reason we make responsive wireframes to review with a working site instead of printouts or PDFs, getting a feel for the site and how it moves and flows is important.

Now, beside the simple CSS transitions and keyframe animations I am still a novice, but thankfully there is a wealth of resources available for us to learn from:

Want to learn about animation? Learn from the master, Walt Disney.

Google’s newest design philosophy, Material Design, has a wealth of information on using animation to assist users throughout their software.

Similar to Google, Apple has their own philosophy on animations within their software.

Lastly, Val Head is a developer/writer/speaker that focuses on animation and has plenty of great resources out there, here are just a few

Introducing basic animations into a project’s early phase has a minimal cost but can increase the comprehension of a user in these somewhat abstract deliverables, like a grayscale wireframe. In the end, these animations should always promote and enhance the user experience not distract or deter … save the Emoji Fireworks for a special occasion.

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I joined Elliance 6 months ago, and am learning something new every day.

The one big thing I’ve learned, which sets us apart from anywhere I’ve worked in the past, is that marketing is no longer just about persuading human beings. It’s also about persuading Google Bots.

The differences in what appeals to humans and robots are obvious, but what I find fascinating are the similarities.

Here are 3 important ones for marketers:

A Shared Vocabulary

People often group together around mutual interests and beliefs. At the core of their interests and beliefs is a common language. So it’s only natural that Google Bots are built to recognize keywords and key phrases. Once you really know your audience, you can develop a SEO-informed lexicon and bake it into all your digital marketing, so the robots bring the people you want to your door.

Credibility

People rarely respond to a persuasive story they only hear once. It’s only after we see it shared, retold and referenced by many others, that we really begin to believe it. So Google Bots are wired with a Citation Index that prioritizes the stories that are found in lots of places, are referenced by quality organizations and are drawing positive attention. The quantity, quality and positivity of these citations can help you build “Digital Mountains.” These are mountains that take you higher and higher in Google search rankings.

Simplicity & Clarity

People love simple, clear communication. They avoid complicated, tangled messes because it makes their brains hurt. Robots avoid them too. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of marketers using clunky code, building unresponsive sites and creating convoluted user experiences. Google Bots don’t put this kind of work anywhere near page 1, because it isn’t helpful to people.

So play nice with the robots. When you treat them the way they like to be treated, they reward you with more trust, referrals and business.

Just like people do.

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1. Digital Content Marketing Strategy – We know that Google and other search engines want to deliver the best quality content to their users. Top manufacturers recognize the need to produce the content “goods.” But creating top notch content doesn’t just happen; it requires a strategy, and it takes time. Blogs, white papers, and infographics are great ways for manufacturing brands to provide informative content. But it also helps to expand your portfolio of digital assets when considering a content strategy. Think about the results pages you see when performing a search. Often they include images, instant answers, news and local information. Ensuring your company’s visual assets and business information are optimized for search engines helps your content reach users.

Now, think about the reason you perform searches. Usually there is intent involved: the need to answer a question. For example, the first time I had to board my dog while I was traveling, I couldn’t figure out how to disassemble his crate. Instead of struggling, I turned to Google and searched “disassembling my dog crate.” There was a helpful video in position one in the search results. From a man, documenting the process for his father.

The video answered my question, but I was surprised that the top result wasn’t from a crate manufacturer. What a wasted opportunity! I’m sure I’m not the only person who has struggled with breaking down a crate, and it seemed like an oversight. Imagine the boost in traffic and engagement the manufacturer could have received if they had spent three minutes filming the disassembly process like this man and his children did for their “pap-aw.” As of today, there are 98,000+ views on this video. A little bit of content strategy can go a long way.

2. Informative Online Webinars A live digital webinar is a great manufacturing marketing tool for two reasons. First, you have the opportunity to share your organization’s expertise and products with a targeted audience. In certain webinar platforms you will be able to engage with attendees through chat features. The ability to instantly address questions or concerns could mean the difference in a signed contract or sold product. Second, you can collect the attendees’ email addresses at registration to help bolster personalized email campaigns in the future (bonus!).

3. Paid search ecommerce campaigns If you’re looking for a quick way to boost sales of products or replacement parts, consider Google shopping ads. These paid listings can launch your manufacturing site to the top of the results page, where click through rates are the highest. When users enter a search term, Google will review the (hopefully) optimized product feed in your merchant center and display your related products.

Sample shopping ads for the queries “lawn mower replacement blades” and “Green Works 29172”

manufacturing parts replacement

 

 

 

replacements parts for manufacturing companies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about manufacturing marketing services at Elliance.

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When manufacturing companies make decisions on which marketing tactics to use, one thing to consider is the changing habits of their target audience. Where is the audience currently spending their time? Which channels are they using?

An IHS Engineering360 survey report on digital media use by manufacturing professionals shows that internet use for work related activities has gone up. The survey finds  71 percent of professionals surveyed use 6 or more work-related websites each week.

manufacturing marketing audience number of visited websitesMore than half of the professionals surveyed spend six or more hours per week on the internet for work-related purposes.

manufacturing audience time spent onlineProfessionals used search engines more than any other information source. Almost 90 percent of professionals use Google and other search engines to get information. For manufacturers who are still thinking about whether to invest in search engine marketing, paid advertising, websites and online campaigns, this data shows they need to be present where the audience is looking for information.

manufacturing marketing audience online sources

But what are some of these online work-related activities of these professionals? The survey shows that professionals use the internet to find components, equipment, services and suppliers. And the one thing that really stood out is that they are using the internet to purchase parts and products. The survey shows 62 percent of professionals use the internet to purchase parts/products!

manufacturing marketing audience activities online

This is a significant percentage of manufacturing professionals who are utilizing and online channels to purchase products.

Can manufacturers afford not to be present online when their target audience is there?

For companies looking to get into the digital marketing space, check out Elliance’s manufacturing marketing services.

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In a recent article, the National Association of Manufacturers reported on manufacturing statistics. Emphasized were the merits of pursuing a career in the industry.

Some highlights of the post included:

  • There are currently 12.3 million manufacturing workers in the United States.
  • The average annual salary for manufacturers comes in at $79,553 — above the national average for all industries at $64,204.
  • 92 percent of manufacturers are eligible for employer-provided health care benefits.

These impressive statistics were in stark contrast to a recent survey by SME, a nonprofit organization promoting manufacturing technology. The survey painted a bleak picture of the opinions parents have of the manufacturing industry when considering it as a career path for their children.

Revealed were the following sentiments:

  • Upwards of 20 percent of surveyed parents perceived manufacturing as an outdated and/or dirty work environment.
  • Half of all survey takers did not view manufacturing as an exciting, challenging, or engaging profession.
  • Nearly 25 percent of parents surveyed did not believe that manufacturing is a well-paying profession.

Comparing the two sets of statistics, it is clear that parents have skewed outlooks of the manufacturing industry. Considering that the industry expects to face a two million skilled worker shortage over the next decade, promoting knowledge and gaining industry buy-in from parents could well be an important first step in developing a new generation of manufacturing workers.

Jeffrey Klause, CEO of SME, explains, “Manufacturing today is an advanced, high-value industry that represents innovation and technology. The [SME] survey results demonstrate that we need to show that manufacturing careers can be exciting, stimulating, and very rewarding.”

To combat the outdated perceptions described above, savvy manufacturing companies have developed strategic branding campaigns to appeal to both parents and younger generations.

Take General Electric (GE) for example. Its recent commercials feature insightful conversations about career paths available to graduating students. They tackle old stereotypes head-on: a college graduate explains to his confused parents, “Yes, GE makes powerful machines, but I’ll be writing the code that will allow those machines to share information with each other.” Important message.

In addition to its inspired commercials, GE’s emojiscience.com site targets engagement from a younger demographic. It’s obvious the organization has heard the need for marketing and branding evolution, and is investing in its future generation of employees.

Elliance is passionate about the manufacturing industry, and has partnered with manufacturers Aerotech, Miller Welding, Sophisticated Alloys, and more. Contact us for more information regarding manufacturing marketing.

Manufacturing Industry Statistics

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Sports and politics are ultimate flashpoint topics that will ignite any conversation hotter than combustible rocket fuel.  So how does this apply to the higher education conversation? Check out the latest buzz on how college sports and national politics are helping to ignite enrollment numbers at New Jersey’s Monmouth University.

Basketball Cinderella Story Captures National Attention
Monmouth University basketball put on a classic David vs. Goliath act that garnered national attention from Long Branch, New Jersey to Los Angeles, California this past fall. On Thanksgiving in front of a national ESPN audience the Monmouth University Hawks defeated then No. 17 ranked Notre Dame. A week earlier, Monmouth stunned UCLA on national television and in the 2015 AdvoCare Invitational Monmouth University defeated basketball giant USC.

“The Monmouth Hawks are the most beloved underdog in all of college basketball right now for two amazing reasons: They keep beating big-conference programs and, in doing so, the squad’s bench players keep getting funnier and funnier with their celebrations.”CBSSPORTS.COM

Monmouth’s upset of PAC-12 powerhouse UCLA spawned the rise of Monmouth U’s Bench Mob whose season-long animated game antics went viral.

A Pollster With Jersey Attitude Goes Presidential
The Monmouth University Polling Institute recently made its mark as one of the top national polling sources for the 2016 presidential primary elections.  The Monmouth University poll was used by Fox News to determine which Republican presidential candidates would participate in the first GOP debate.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie celebrates at a political rally

The poll entered the national spotlight when current New Jersey Governor and former GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie said, “The Monmouth University poll was created just to aggravate me.” Patrick Murray, director of the polling institute said, “I started getting calls from people who wanted to know who the pollster was who could make a presidential candidate go off on a rant,” and “It gave us instant credibility with the media.”

Sports and Politics – Enrollment Ignited!
Monmouth University has embraced it’s recent sports and political national exposure and is reaping the benefits as new student applications have increased over 5 percent from the previous year, which is a high-water mark for the school. Robert McCaig, vice president for enrollment management at Monmouth University said, “We broke outside the region in terms of visibility this year, I think we went national this year.

Monmouth University beautiful campus

McCaig continued, “I think 17- and 18-year-olds out there and their families are searching, they are searching for a place that looks like it is up and coming, that is exciting, that has school spirit, and when you keep hearing about a school, it becomes part of your consideration.”

To extend Monmouth University’s national spotlight run, Buzzfeed recently placed the New Jersey school on their  25 Of the Most Beautiful College Campuses in The World list at number 7!

Go Hawks!

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Mark Twain is rumored to have said: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”1 We believe the same holds for the U.S. manufacturing sector. Pundits would have us believe that manufacturing is dead in America, but we beg to differ.

Working in a former “Rust Belt” city like Pittsburgh gives us a unique perspective on this. Clichés aside, manufacturing in Pittsburgh (and indeed in the rest of the country) took a big hit in the 1980’s and struggled for a while. But, we are all tired of hearing that American manufacturing is dead. It would seem that manufacturing has found a way to adapt and overcome.

Quality at Scale

Ford Motor Company, arguably one of the America’s largest manufacturers, realized that the old way of painting cars (by hand) was not working at scale. Rather than limit production in order to preserve the old way of doing things, they created robots to paint the cars, with human overseers ensuring that quality standards were preserved.2

Size Matters

The 20th century saw small numbers of very large manufacturers; this model no longer holds. Today, there are many, smaller manufacturers, the majority of which employ fewer than 20 employees.3

2020 Vision

According to Deloitte, the United States will be the most competitive manufacturing economy in the world by 2020. It would seem that cheap labor is not the key ingredient to success. More important are intellectual property protections, availability of quality materials, and advanced technology — all abundant in the U.S.4

All Ashore Who’s Going Ashore

MarketWatch reports that manufacturers are “reshoring” their manufacturing operations in order to make their supply chains more responsive to trends. By locating operations closer to to consumers, they can be more nimble and ship product faster.5

You Say You Want a Revolution

The United States is uniquely situated at the nexus of applied information technology, venture capital, analytics, energy, and robotics.6 Here in Pittsburgh, we’ve got clients who not only manufacture advanced technology products and processes, but also provide the same to other manufacturers, elevating their abilities.

As the lyric goes, the future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades.

Sources:
1 http://www.thisdayinquotes.com/2010/06/reports-of-my-death-are-greatly.html
2 http://digiday.com/brands/myth-busting-people-get-wrong-often-programmatic/
3 http://www.nam.org/Newsroom/Top-20-Facts-About-Manufacturing/
4 http://fortune.com/2016/03/31/united-states-manufacturing-china/
5 http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-flips-the-script-on-jobs-reshoring-finally-outpaced-offshoring-in-2014-2015-05-01
6 http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/04/americas-coming-manufacturing-revolution/360931/