Multichannel Marketing for Engineers and Technical Professionals

A conversation with Patrick D. Mahoney of IEEE GlobalSpec about how to reach industrial buyers.

Industrial Marketer recently sat down with Patrick D. Mahoney, CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec — an industrial-focused media company with millions of subscribers interested in technical content — to discuss the importance of various tactics and channels to any B2B multichannel marketing program focused on engineers and technical buyers, beginning with content marketing.


Industrial Marketer: IEEE GlobalSpec has traditionally served as an industrial directory. In what ways is it evolving — particularly when it comes to its incorporation of content marketing?

Patrick D. Mahoney: IEEE GlobalSpec is a publisher in the B2B industrial space.

With the introduction of in 2012 and in 2014, we began to fulfill our editorial mission to provide coverage that spans the engineering landscape — helping to spark creative thinking among readers, deepening their knowledge of the profession, and providing a range of technical resources essential to the art and practice of engineering.

The 2016 acquisition of GlobalSpec by IEEE firmly inserted us in the publishing world of global technologists and innovators who lead cutting-edge developments in engineering design and strategy. Our editorial teams are committed to delivering compelling news, in-depth feature articles, videos, webinars, and reference materials in all areas of the engineering space.

Founded by GE engineers in 1996, GlobalSpec began as a specification-based component discovery tool. However, the company expanded well beyond spec search into its current form: publishing a complete suite of digital media solutions for manufacturers, distributors, and service providers while serving a user base of 8+ million subscribers drawn to our powerful editorial combination of B2B digital marketing solutions, specification search, and knowledge empowerment.

Our history, deliberate evolution, and extensive user base provide a unique advantage in content marketing that enables us to offer multiple targeted channels for our clients to reach our massive audience via our sites, newsletters, social media channels, and more.


How important is content to a multichannel marketing mix that targets industrial buyers?

Engineers and technical professionals have access to more information sources than ever before. Their content requirements have increased in parallel as an essential part of the buyer’s journey. They seek content to help educate their customer base, helping them make informed, intelligent decisions.

Storytelling, a way of explaining a challenge from the user’s perspective with high-quality content, is one example among many in how an audience can be enabled to see their work landscape through a different lens. Content marketing enables manufacturers to become a trusted resource for potential customers and be in a better position to win their business. This is particularly the case with the millennial segment.


How does one do content marketing well for industrial buyers?

Produce compelling content that resonates with your desired audience and devote resources to ensure your content reaches the correct audience.

Content marketing is attractive to many industrial marketers because, in theory, no significant investment is required to implement a program.

However, content creation is resource intensive and often strains an organization’s limited marketing resources to produce engaging content in a consistent manner. So many companies find that a key to content marketing success is engaging with a media partner like IEEE GlobalSpec, who can provide a professional portfolio of end-to-end services that help to overcome such challenges.


What content marketing tactics fail with industrial buyers?

Content that is overly promotional does not resonate with engineers and technical professionals. While there is a place for promotional content in your marketing mix, compelling content must be educational, useful, and relevant to your audience.

The same rule applies to stale content. Marketing content has a short shelf life. The perceptive industrial marketer stays abreast of industry trends and pivots quickly as circumstances dictate.

Irrelevant channels undermine even the most innovative content. Content creation in and of itself is not enough. Incorporating marketing channels relevant to your audience into your multichannel marketing mix is equally important.


What role does the industrial directory play in today’s industrial marketing landscape?

Among senior marketers, multichannel marketing is a key focus of their current marketing strategy. With so many information resources available — both online and traditional channels — there is increasing competition for share of voice, making it challenging for marketers to differentiate themselves.

Discovery via a specification-based product and component discovery tool, at both the early stages and later stages of the purchase cycle, increases the likelihood of achieving the design win you seek. With a multichannel marketing strategy, you are not putting all of your eggs in one basket, but relying on a suite of marketing channels to ensure that your company — and your message — are visible at all stages of the buyer’s journey.


GlobalSpec regularly issues a report on social media adoption rates among industrial buyers. How important is social to a multichannel marketing mix focused on industrial buyers?

We annually survey our audience of engineers and technical professionals to gauge their frequency of social media use, which platforms they prefer, and what work-related activities they perform on social media.

Our published research shows that social media has evolved into an established media channel for the industrial audience. Savvy industrial marketers understand how social media can work for them and how to integrate it into their work activities. They have chosen their preferred platforms accordingly.

However, while social media has found its place among engineers and technical professionals, it is not the engineer’s primary digital resource for work. Other resources — such as general search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites — are seen as more efficient for conducting work-related research. For millennial engineers and technologists, the proliferation of “how to do . . . ?” videos is a case in point of how this marketing channel has found a home with a particular audience seeking work-related knowledge.


What are the most effective forms of advertising for reaching engineers — banner ads, search ads, native ads (or all or none of the above)?

All three of those marketing tactics can support a marketing strategy to reach engineers and technical professionals by providing branding, awareness, and engagement opportunities.

As mentioned earlier, however, no single channel can be considered the most efficient form of advertising. Industrial marketers must implement multichannel marketing strategies, using a wide variety of tactics, to reach engineers where they are looking for information at all stages of the purchase cycle.


Email marketing never seems to die. How does one do it well when it comes to industrial audiences?

It is true — despite some reports to the contrary, email marketing is far from dead, especially in the B2B space. There are two primary reasons for this: mobility and measurement. Multiple devices, often by the same user, consume email and it is very measurable — a critical feature for industrial marketers given today’s appropriate focus on ROI.

There are a few best practices for email marketing success in the engineering/industrial space. First, you want to make sure that you are delivering relevant content that is not just providing product news, but also information that can be used to be more successful in a work environment.

You also want to be delivering fresh content on a regular basis — testing frequency and content to determine what resonates best with your audience.

Finally, industrial marketers should look at e-newsletters and other third-party email solutions to extend their message to an audience beyond their in-house lists.


Overall, what do you consider the most effective marketing channels for reaching industrial buyers these days?

In today’s digital media landscape, there is no single magic bullet for reaching the industrial customer. You want to incorporate several channels and tactics into your marketing mix. Multichannel marketing that includes a strategically diverse combination of push and pull media will help to ensure you are consistently reaching your audience where they are looking for content at each stage of the buying cycle.


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