B2B Industrial Marketing Trends: Recap of the GlobalSpec 2012 Report

As Q3 draws to a close, B2B marketers are already thinking ahead to 2013, strategizing about what’s worked thus far in 2012—and what hasn’t.  To address the marketing trends, challenges, and expenditures specific to the engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial communities, marketers now have access to the “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2012” report from GlobalSpec.

The research report provides results and analysis from a Q1 2012 survey of 317 respondents, 86 percent of whom hold management and/or C-Suite positions in marketing or sales, and offers recommendations on how this research may impact plans for your manufacturing clients’ marketing efforts.

KoMarketing Associates was appreciative when GlobalSpec sent us a complimentary copy of the report for review. To help you determine whether your clients are striking the right balance between digital and traditional media programs, in addition to reaching their overall marketing goals, we have put together a comprehensive guide to the report findings.  We hope you will use these highlights to help shape your marketing strategies for the year to come.

2012 Industrial Marketing Goals & Challenges

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

While digital platforms have fundamentally shifted the marketing landscape, year over year report findings indicate industrial companies’ primary marketing goals have remained the same: customer acquisition and lead generation.

In 2012, 67 percent of survey respondents cited customer acquisition/lead gen, with 20 percent indicating they are more focused on brand awareness than they had been previously.

Striking a Balance

While industrial marketers surveyed have fully embraced digital marketing, report findings indicate they are looking to strike the appropriate balance between traditional and digital channels.

When questioned about the marketing channels they intended to use in 2012, responses were mixed: i.e., tradeshows (67 percent), email marketing (65 percent), SEO (59 percent), social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) (57 percent), trade magazine advertising (47 percent), and PR (38 percent).

(Online) Marketing Spending on the Rise

With the manufacturing sector steadily regaining its footing in the wake of the recession, marketing spending continues to increase, respondents indicate.  Thirty-How Does Your 2012 Online Budget Compare to 2011?five percent of industrial companies are spending more on marketing in 2012 than they did in 2011, but the real shift comes in online marketing budget allocations.

Forty-two percent of companies are spending more on online marketing this year than they did in 2011; 47 percent of companies are spending more than a third of marketing budgets online.

Social Media Has Emerged in a Big Way; Results Are Mixed

According to survey results, more than half (57 percent) of industrial companies are engaged in social media marketing efforts.  Thirty-seven percent are spending more on social media this year than they did in 2011, with LinkedIn (73 percent), Facebook (55 percent), and Twitter (40 percent) leading the way.

However, only 17 percent of companies are satisfied or very satisfied with social media marketing efforts; just 7 percent have a full-time employee dedicated to social media.

Of the companies using social media in their marketing efforts, 59 percent cite branding, followed by content delivery (51 percent) and lead generation (43 percent), as the primary purposes for implementing social media applications.

B2B Industrial Marketing Social Media Efforts

Challenges as Far as the Eye Can See

When asked to identify the biggest challenges in their profession, industrial marketers cite the need to generate leads for sales as the most pressing (30 percent).  Other pressing concerns included measuring ROI of marketing efforts (25 percent), understanding how to incorporate social media initiatives into the marketing mix (13 percent), and getting budgets approved by the CEO/CFO (9 percent).


To address these challenges, GlobalSpec offers the following recommendations:

  • Shift additional marketing resources to targeted online programs: In today’s digital era, the industrial marketing audience is increasingly going to be found online.  According to the GlobalSpec Economic Outlook Survey, nearly half (48 percent) of industrial professionals are spending six or more hours a week online to complete tasks at work.  Thus, as GlobalSpec’s findings indicate, shifting marketing dollars to digital media solutions may be catering to industrial professionals’ exact purchasing needs.
  • Promote brand awareness and engagement via online programs: According to GlobalSpec, industrial professionals target online channels—supplier websites, online catalogs and directories, social media posts, etc.—to search for and discover information relevant to their needs.  By devoting marketing dollars to the channels where they have the biggest opportunity to connect with their target audience, industrial marketers can, at the same time, increase brand awareness.
  • Focus on marketing programs that deliver measureable results: As previously stated, one-quarter of industrial marketers indicate measuring the ROI of their marketing efforts is the biggest challenge they face in their profession.  To combat the challenge, marketers must measure the reach, impact, and results of their efforts via online channels that can provide statistics (impressions, clicks, and conversions); such online channels include company websites, email marketing, custom Webinars, etc. According to the report findings, 68 percent of marketers surveyed are already using some sort of analytics program.
  • Tie use of social media to specific marketing objectives: The majority of marketers may be unsatisfied with their current social media objectives, but there is a solution.  By understanding objectives at the outset—i.e., fostering brand awareness, demonstrating thought leadership, generating engagement opportunities—industrial marketers can then measure their social media efforts against those objectives.  Facebook, for example, offers users a robust set of statistics that can help calculate reach and interactively with fans; on Twitter, users can measure their followers, mentions, and re-tweets.

As the second half of 2012 gains momentum, marketers will have a wealth of information at their disposal about how to focus marketing efforts for the year to come.  For marketers targeting the manufacturing sector specifically, GlobalSpec’s “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2012” survey may prove to be an invaluable resource. More information about the report can be found here.

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