14 min read

Media Miniseries | Connecting Via Online Communities with Erik Jansen

In the Content Marketing, Engineered Media Miniseries, we’re learning from media experts about how working with external news outlets and trade publications fits into your content marketing strategy. Today, we're exploring opportunities to connect with prospects via online communities

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From our research, we know that engineers look to content written by other engineers. For this reason, engineers look to content that has technical depth and a tone that's relatable. When writing content for your website or writing gated content like white papers and ebooks, writers leverage SME knowledge, customer interviews, research, and additional knowledge to create content. If engineers are looking for content off your site, forums or communities are a great resource.

In today's episode, Erik Jansen from Elektor Media shares how to connect with engineers using online communities as a media channel. Elektor is a magazine that also has a strong community forum called Elektor Labs where users can test hardware, tinker with new technologies and share what they've created. If you have customers experimenting with your products or platforms you think Elektor would be interested in sharing your hardware with their community, this is a great example of an additional media channel you can use to connect with prospects.

 

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Transcript

The following transcript was created by an AI Bot which has yet to learn slang words and some technical terms. While it is no substitute for watching/listening to the episode, transcripts are handy for a quick scan. Enjoy!

Hello. Thanks for joining me today. Our episode today is with Erik Jansen from Elektor Media. Elektor is based out of Europe, and they are an organization that has online communities and forums, as well as a publication with which they talk through and do a lot of hands on engineering exploration. So Elektor is a little bit different from other publications that we talked about and talked to in that they're really doing a lot of community work. Erik, in this episode is going to talk about how they get hardware in the hands of engineers and how they sort of teach and help people get familiar with new products and new hardware.

And so at the end, we'll talk about how to contact lecture if this is something that you're interested in doing. But I thought it was just a really great example of another channel that we can use to kind of evangelize our products and get our messages in our company out there. And so enjoy this episode. I hope it's beneficial to you. And also I wanted to let everybody know we are hosting a new writing course called Content Writing Engineered. If you're listening to these sessions and you're going, oh, my gosh, we need content, but we need to be able to produce it quicker.

Maybe we have the resources in house. We have somebody that's doing marketing for us, but we need a kind of repeatable process to produce this highly technical, really trustable content. We've got a writing course that's going to start February 7. It is six weeks long. Every week. There are video lessons, there's coursework to do, and then there is a coaching session every week where you meet with me or one of my colleagues. We actually go through the entire writing process with you. We edit your work, we brainstorm ideas, we talk about directions.

You can go and you finish the course with the final piece of completed content. Is that something that's interesting to you that you'd like to learn more about? You can go to TREWmarketing. Comridinghorse to learn more about that. There's early bird pricing through December, and then the price is going to go up after the first of the year. Thanks so much. Welcome to Content Marketing Engineered, your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Hi and welcome to Content Marketing Engineered. As you may have noticed, I'm not Wendy Kobe.

I'm Morgan Norris, a senior brand and content strategist, and I'm hosting this media miniseries for Wendy to take a deep dive into technical B to B media from editorial to advertising to trade publications. We're going to figure out when and how to pursue media opportunities to build your brand, gain that leadership, engage with the technical community and promote your products and services. I hope you leave each episode of this mini series ready to take action before we begin. I'd like to give a brief shout out to our agency, TREW Marketing.

TREW is a full service agency located in Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information about TREW, you can visit TREWmarketing. Com. Hi, everybody, and welcome to another episode of content Marketing Engineered. I'm joined by Erik Jansen today from Electoral Media, a media organization that's based in Europe. Electoral began in the 60s as a magazine for electrical engineers, and they have expanded massively now to a developer of books and kits and boards. They've got all different media channels that they are engaged with and are just consistently providing information to the engineering community.

And so I'm so glad to have Erik here. And I wanted to start by just Erik, having you tell us a little bit about yourself, tell us about your career, what brought you here and then what you do at a lecture today.

All right. Thanks for having me. My career started in 1999 when I finished my study marketing with a specialism in specialization in the music industry. Actually. And I joined an ISP to do my thesis on how online would affect the music industry. And I ended up working for them for about five years or something like that. This was really around the dot com bubble, period. This was my first experience with online publishing as well. So they had a bunch of localized websites, and I was responsible for those.

I was in a couple of acquisitions at the time because everything back then was for sale. Everybody tried to pull out a little bit, and we actually do fried in. So that was a very interesting time. And I followed up with an opportunity that I had to follow my passion a little bit by going to the largest retail organization for entertainment equipment, mainly CDs, DVDs, those kind of things, which is an opportunity for me in the time. This is what I have studied for. Stay with them for about eight years, becoming responsible for all their ecommerce activities.

But yeah, obviously there was an end to the time of e commerce in entertainment industry. So yeah, I followed after those eight years to join a friend of mine who had a small but interesting niche publishing organization focusing on publishing reviews for HiFi and high end audio equipment, which at the time was the largest in Europe. And I stayed there to grow this company in a more entrepreneurial way until it got acquired by Elektor.

Okay.

Ten years ago and I stayed there ever since.

Wonderful. So now you're an Elektor. Tell me the kind of scope of what Elektor is involved in today.

Yeah. So Lecter is an international community for passionate electronic engineers and pro makers. We offer a platform to share technical knowledge, publish innovations from the community itself, user generated in part. And we enable the community to advance their skills. And the platform stretches. We follow the community a lot. So it stretches multiple media. We have a large online platform that is owned by us, but also our heritage comes from print media. So magazines, books, special magazines as well. We are at the moment, deeper into online webinars, educational videos.

And a lot of this is originated from user generated content that we use as the base for our publications.

Okay. And then as far as kind of vendor companies and things like that, do you guys engage with technology manufacturers, instrumentation companies, things like that to either provide content within the electric platform or advertise things like that? Yeah.

So of course, there's for us two audiences. And on the one hand, we have the community itself, which largely consists of engineers in their private space. Most of the times, although 44% of them is actually active in the industry, a lot of them actually also have purchased mandates, a lot of sea level people involved still, but with a passion for electronics, right? Yes. This is our core audience. And of course, we are interesting for industry partners and clients, as we call them, which follow the community that we offer access to in a relevant way to both them as well as our community, offering unique way to interact with industry influencers.

Yeah. How has that community and forums and things like that? I think you probably have a unique perspective into that user generated content. And how has that evolved over time? Do you see engineers continuing to engage with user generated content? Has it grown or shrunk over kind of the changes of the digital landscape of the last ten years?

I'm not sure if it grew it's, of course, become completely different. Right. So it's now available to a large extent to anyone. In the early years of electoral, we still received a lot of input also from the community itself, but we saw an influx through the mail through post hardware being sent to us. Of course, these days we offer now an online platform online lab where people create together, but also together with our engineers and our lab staff to.

Work together and learn are those typically kind of hobbyist types of projects. People are kind of getting ideas and trying to work things out, and they can do that in the context of community.

A lot of them start out as hobbyist material, of course. Right. So I think we offer our community access to hardware sometimes generated by our clients. Right. So we sometimes do campaigns where we see hardware asking them to get experience with it, offering the ability to learn from webinars or white papers that we see to the community and then create projects, how to practically apply these chips or boards. And so with that generating more attention for the product as well as selling the product, we offer custom books to our clients and offering access to those books through our third party sales platforms as well as our own store.

Yeah. That seems remarkable. I think engineers as a unique audience are willing to and want to kind of tinker with things on this side outside of their job opportunities. But I could see how if you guys are getting hardware in the hands of people when they're kind of interested in seeing what they could do with it, how ideally, kind of eventually that translates into their work life potentially, too, right.

Yeah. That's exactly what is happening. So I think with accessing the community through our audience, there is a lot of influence on purchase decisions on an industry level as well. And so there's people that actually have worked with the products and take that experience to their office environment, where, of course, these people are not just passionate engineers on a hobby level, but since they are also working in the industry, this actually has a far further stretching impact.

Yeah. Okay. That's an incredible concept, I think, because so many times you've got a company, this is kind of what we're doing in this media mini series is we're talking about how to broaden your understanding of the channels that are available to use and engage with for marketing. Right. Because if we write content and put it on our own website, we can attract people to that. And we can Garner that kind of inbound traffic. But then there comes a point when we want to broaden that audience.

And so organizations and platforms like you guys have really provided the opportunity to do that. So I think that's really incredible. Okay. So how do you keep your audience engaged kind of attracted? What types of content are you seeing is really impactful to people in your platform.

In the base is, of course, new developments, right. So people want to this audience definitely wants to stay up to date, and, of course, being electoral, we definitely have to look at the practical applications of those developments. So this is something that our own lab stuff does. But also, for instance, the campaigns that I was just talking about, but also the projects being posted to our lab, we get to practical applications, which are more interesting, hands on type of situation that people actually like. It's not always that they want to redevelop it themselves or develop it themselves as well.

But just to see how someone got to a certain type of solution for a problem using this new equipment.

How do you handle that kind of hands on aspect, especially during COVID, and people are isolated and things like that. What does that look like for your community of users and your engineers?

Well, we actually did quite well during Covet, I think, mainly because a lot of industry partners realize that if you're behind the private door of someone, you actually still reach them. Right. What happened during COVID is that a lot of close circulation kind of publications ended up. They still have a fairly large audience, but they ended up in empty offices at the moment where the publication was chucked out with the mail that just kept falling into the offices. Right. So that's something that we actually make a big difference in which actually is especially in these times, more visible than ever.

So, yeah, this made a big difference also, because these people actually pay to receive this content, and this is the address level of or the address quality of closed circulation is, of course, very related to the lists that they have of the industry addresses.

Yeah. That's a great point. I think that's huge. I can see why you could maintain kind of being successful through that. So tell me, from your perspective with the engineering community, what topics are you excited about? What topics do you see that are gaining traction or what types of technologies are coming up that are just kind of staying on your radar as things that will continue to be talked about in 2022 and beyond.

Yeah. Any type of new development risk five is one of them. Anything with open character is interesting. I think Raspberry Pi is doing enormous, very great job with their new chipset RP 2040, which actually also has a lot of industry application. I think we'll see a lot more of that in 2022. I think our audience is mainly interested in the applications for those type of developers that are fairly accessible to them.

So tell me, as far as channels. So you've got online presence, you've got social channels, you've got the magazine itself. You guys have stores, you've got all of this coming across in multiple languages, and that really enables have creative campaigns and information to be disseminated. Any kind of lessons learned from you on what types of content or what types of topics are best on these different channels? I'm sure you've had experiences where you've kind of tried something on social, but found it was a better fit for the magazine itself or something like that.

Any thoughts on kind of what types of content and messages fit best in those different channels?

Yeah. I think what works best is the combination of all these channels. Right. So of course, but I don't think that this is new to anyone. Of course, social requires shorter messages, very condensed. The attention span of people is very short. So looking at a good campaign, I think you use all these channels, but mainly you start with in depth content on your own platform. You promote that through social. What we've also seen and learned of the last year is that we have a reasonable following on social, but it's fairly easy to grow that audience with the lookalike audience just by telling the AI of, for instance, Facebook, this is the type of audience that we have now give me everyone that kind of fits that profile, and we've seen enormous traction with that.

That's an interesting development that we've seen.

And then you go after that from an advertising perspective to kind of engage that audience that looks the same.

So we're looking into options to also share this with our clientele.

Okay.

But at first we work with it ourselves. Of course, this is a different type of audience since they're anonymous to you, right?

Yeah.

But it's still very interesting. I think we're around about nearly 2 million look like audience that actually fit the profile of an Elektor reader. So this is interesting. And we also see that conversion, lead generation or conversion to a product or something like that is actually fairly high from this audience. So it makes for much more relevant advertising also on social.

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. What about kind of success metrics with all of these different channels and engineers engaging in different ways? What does success look like for Elektor and for your clients as well, who are working with you?

Well, success is mostly seen for our clients, of course, as lead generation. So sometimes we do campaigning, even performance based. If we definitely believe in the campaign format that we have, it's not uncommon to even do that. But having the right metrics in such a broad perspective of channels is, of course, a challenge. So we tend to define, in the end, the leads or the conversion format and just take it from there. And we use the total scope of media to benefit.

That awesome. In Europe, what's your kind of general audience breakdown as far as continents, regions, basically, are most of your readers and engineers in Europe, or does it really span across the globe?

It is very international, of course, originating from Europe in the 60s, there is a very large European basis. We are originally a Dutch company, but our largest audience is actually in Germany. We publish in four languages, Dutch, German, French and English, English being the rest of the world for us, of course, which is growing. We also see actually a lot of attraction in Asia. So in India, especially on YouTube, we see that there's a lot of viewers from India as well. So yeah, it is actually quite broad, but yes, of course, especially registered users mainly are European.

And I think UK these days is also not European anymore. So UK would probably be second to that, and then the United States.

Okay. And then one more question. I'm going to ask you how people can kind of get connected with you. But last question about the business in general, I imagine you guys had a decent kind of trade show presence. Some of those big shows in Europe that you would go and attend with the shift over the last 18 months. Have you done anything to kind of pivot from that or capture the type of audience that you would have been able to engage with at a trade show online, anything like that?

Well, we participate in a few online trade shows which probably everybody knows, really weren't the same deal. So what we have done is through a program called Electorhelps. We've offered a lot of those people that actually were lacking the audience for trade shows. We offered them a platform in the form of digital specials, where we offer them access to our reach, giving them the ability to publish their propositions throughout the whole pandemic, with free access to our audience and articles published towards them.

Interesting, I think that you guys kind of were already positioned with the audience and the kind of online community that I could imagine people wanting to leverage. That when trade shows didn't happen in person. So that is excellent. So tell me, kind of lastly, somebody's listening to this and they go, Man, my products are a good fit for your audience, whether it's getting them in the hands of your audience, or I'd like to kind of advertise with you guys. What does that look like? How do they start?

What do they do?

Well, mostly they come in through our website. We use HubSpot as you guys do, as well as our lead generation. So there's multiple touch points where people can get where we notice they are indeed in need of some help assistance from us. So, yeah, that would be the starting point. Of course, our client team would reach out to them and find out what their challenges are and help them with overcoming those. That could be a whole different range of types of products. Mostly, I see these days is that they are kind of custom made, right.

So we still have a media kit, but we don't really sell off the list anymore. So most of the times it starts with a good conversation on what the challenges are and to see how we can overcome those together.

I love that you guys have so many different kinds of avenues with which to partner with companies, and so kind of having people come in and letting them talk about what it is that they're trying to achieve. And then you guys can kind of match up. What makes sense? I think that's excellent. Thank you so much for being on today. This is great. It's a great perspective, and I really appreciate it.

All right, Morgan, thank you very much.

Thank you for joining me today on Content Marketing, engineered for show notes, including links to any resources we talked about. Visit TREWmarketing. Compodcast. While you're there, you can subscribe to our blog and newsletter. And we've also got a book that Wendy authored called Content Marketing Engineered. It's about building and executing an end to end content marketing plan. I would also love your reviews on this podcast. So when you get a chance, subscribe rate and review Content Marketing engineered on your favorite podcast subscription platform. Thanks again. Have a great day.