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ON Semiconductor: Riding the content wave to trust, lead-gen

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ON Semiconductor makes the kinds of components that enable cellphones, cars, juicers, LED lights or washing machines to work more efficiently and last longer. It offers a broad portfolio, from sophisticated custom parts to a number of commodity products. Its primary target market is engineers who design electronic products. To reach the members of this exacting profession—and gain their business and loyalty—ON Semiconductor uses content marketing to provide them with detailed, credible information on how to do their jobs better. “A lot of times engineers are caught up in the challenge of having done things for years, and then—suddenly—there is new technology or features they have to integrate into an end product,” said Gary Malmberg, manager-global advertising and marketing communications at ON Semiconductor. “As much as they may try, they need some education—just a little push and help to become the resident expert. We want to remind these people we're here and have a lot of knowledge to share, whether it's via a video, webcast tutorial, app or white paper.” The company has focused on demand generation and lead nurturing. Working with agency McClenahan Bruer, Portland, Ore., it's developed a rolling campaign using high-impact banner ads and email to drive traffic to microsites. Four main geographies—the U.S., China, Japan and Germany—are targeted with specific sites and content. Electrical engineers hate to be marketed to, said Kerry McClenahan, CEO at McClenahan Bruer. “But they also need technological information to help them get their jobs done,” she said. “They see through veiled attempts to sell to them, so you need to deliver content with as few marketing bells and whistles as you can.” The agency assembles an email list of engineering contacts each month from publishers' demand-generation activities, such as white paper downloads and webinars, as well as from ON Semiconductor's own internal prospect database culled from its microsites. First-touch emails are distributed to these contacts, inviting further visits for more technical content. Banners work not only to drive traffic to the content microsites but also in support of branding awareness, McClenahan said. This is particularly important given ON Semiconductor's aggressive history of acquisition—it's bought eight companies since 2008—helping to bring acquired customers and employees into the ON Semiconductor fold. But the banner ads also make room for fun. “There are things like brain teasers, challenges and puzzles that are interesting to engineers,” McClenahan said. “And they have an affinity for science fiction and fantasy, so we create ads and emails on these topics, too.” Nurturing activities are robust. Monthly emails invite leads back for newly added content. The company tracks click-throughs and activity on the microsites for each prospect in the database. Channel partners are responsible for about 40% of ON Semiconductor's sales, Malmberg said, so distributing marketing information to this key constituency is also important. The performance of ON Semiconductor's marketing efforts has been strong. McClenahan said the banners are performing much higher than industry benchmarks, with a click-through rate of 0.84%. Videos that feature ON Semiconductor engineers speaking in candid, technical terms directly to designers are also performing well, she said. “Marketing is always evolving, and potential customers are looking for new ways to find materials and information,” Malmberg said. “Engineers in China tend to be younger than in the U.S. and Europe in general, and are more hungry for knowledge. In Germany, they're more skeptical than other regions and may be less open to some marketing methods.” As a result, On Semiconductor addresses people in different ways, he said. “Some people may want a 10-page downloadable white paper. Others like a 15-minute webcast, some a 45-minute webcast with open Q&A, and [still] others just want a 5-minute how-to video,” he said. “We'll build all that content on the same topic for these various channels.”
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