The Secret to Keeping Tech Content Fresh and Your Audience Engaged

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Patrick Mahoney, President and Chief Executive Officer, IEEE GlobalSpec, shares his insights on the challenges industrial marketers face.

Q: What is the shelf life for technical content and has it gotten longer or shorter over the years? If the shelf life has changed, by how much and why do you think this changed has occurred?

A: With the advent of the Internet, we have seen the shelf life for technical content grow shorter in recent years. Engineers and technical professionals access and consume content quickly and efficiently. They no longer have the time or patience to wade through content that is outdated, unclear, or not aligned with their information needs. The shelf life of content often depends on a particular industry and its pace of innovation. It is critical for industrial marketers to have their finger on the pulse of their industry.

Q: How can industrial marketers keep content from going stale – each week/month/quarter/etc.? How to keep it fresh?

A:
One of the keys to a successful content marketing program is always knowing the content you have available to your audience, what is working well for you, and what needs to be replaced. We recommend that our clients conduct a regular content audit – either monthly or quarterly is a good place to start – to understand what’s in your library, the gaps you have, and what needs to be refreshed or retired. This is critical to maintaining a 360-degree view of your content portfolio.

To keep content fresh, ask yourself questions like: Does it align with the latest topics and issues in my industry? Is it meeting the needs of my audience? Consider reaching out to your customers and prospects to get their opinions and insights on what matters to them. Accomplish this via surveys, individual interviews with major accounts, or feedback from your sales team.

Keep in mind that while keeping your content fresh is important, you also want to make sure that your efforts are in alignment with your organization’s strategy. What are you looking to accomplish with content? Do you want to be perceived as a thought leader? A trusted resource? A visionary? Ensure that your content is working to meet your goals.

Q: If finding relevant marketing channels is so important, how can companies find the “right” channels?

A: Reach your target audience where they are looking for work-related information. Identify the right mix by diversifying your marketing spend. Test and allocate marketing dollars to the outlets that are working best for you.

Knowing your audience is critical. For example, we see engineers and technical professionals spending more time online, and relying more on online resources – industry-specific websites, e-newsletters, and more – to find the content they need. Consider tapping into the expertise of media partners familiar with your space to help you identify the channels that will deliver the strongest return on investment.

Q: How can marketers learn early on if their content is getting stale, old or boring; any clues or signs that marketers should look out for?

A: As Peter Drucker famously observed, “What gets measured gets managed.” One sure sign of stale or otherwise unappealing content is a lack of engagement. How do you measure the effectiveness of your content? Do you monitor likes, shares, downloads, time on site, or another metric or set of metrics that matter to you? Consistently and routinely measuring content performance, and monitoring results to determine engagement levels, will help you identify content that is not meeting your needs. Compare and contrast the performance of new content to your established benchmarks. Always keep an eye out for steep declines in metrics.


About Patrick Mahoney

As President and Chief Executive Officer of IEEE GlobalSpec, Mahoney brings significant experience in marketing, sales, business development, and strategic planning. His career began in technical sales and product management, serving in a series of progressive domestic and international management roles with BICC Cables, Framatome, Pitney Bowes, Standard & Poor’s, and IEEE. He also serves on the Board of Directors for McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union and the St. Edmund’s Retreat Board of Trustees.
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