Innovation Blog

Why Fleet Equipment went all in on digital

Fleet equipment going digital HERO
Art by Tammy House

The reason is simple: It’s what the industry needed. I don’t have to rehash the pandemic impact, but it put a spotlight on the importance of Fleet Equipment‘s digital brand. What became crystal clear was that if our audience was waiting for a once-a-month print publication for their source of equipment operational insight, they were waiting too long.

We saw this in our data.

As fleets settled into the new normal, FleetEquipmentMag.com site analytics jumped considerably. Compare the traffic from June through August 2020 to that same time period from 2019 and the numbers speak for themselves:

• Users: +47%
• New Users: +49%
• Pageviews: +41%

That traffic has continued to grow. So the real question to ask is: How did Fleet Equipment successfully make the transition to a digital-only brand?

That is a much more interesting answer.

It was an evolution, not a revolution

The short of it was that we were ready to make a shift to a purely digital product; the pandemic just accelerated our timeline.

When you chart the digital evolution of Fleet Equipment, you can see the steps we took dating back to 2015 on the content side with the inception of FE’s On The Road video series, laying the groundwork to the expanded video production capabilities you see in today’s iteration of On the Road, last year’s launch of FE Unscripted video interviews, and this year’s brand new FE Data Center video platform.

To better reach our audience through email newsletters and digital marketing solutions, we invested in our digital audience platform in mid-2018, and we pulled the curtain off of a brand new website redesign in January 2020 that helped boost audience engagement. While all of that was happening, we continued to develop our digital targeting offerings, leveraging our first-party fleet data, to include everything from facility targeting to connected TV ads. (That’s right, you can put a video ad on Hulu and have it seen by heavy-duty fleet managers. That’s cool.)

These are fun marketing bullet points, but why should you, marketing professional, care?

That’s the most important question of all. So here are your top three takeaways from what we learned going all digital.

1. Know your audience

Whether you’re creating digital content or making digital marketing plans, this is where you start. Your website analytics can go a long way in understanding your audience’s interest, but you should take it a step further: Actually talk with your audience.

To understand the importance of that conversation, I talked with Bruce Kratofil, our audience insights manager. Here’s what Bruce had to say:

“Knowing what our audience is viewing online is a first step. We can see the content that our known readers are consuming, but we don’t always know the answer to crucial questions:

• Are they reading that article about telematics because they are looking for a new solution?
• Are they reading the article on electrification because they have yet to take their first step towards conversion?
• They read an article on axles, but what is their preferred aftermarket brand?

These are some of the questions that first-party survey research can answer.”

2. Have a plan

You know your audience. Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to reach them and what you’re going to say to them. At Fleet Equipment, we have our website, email newsletters and social media channels that we update daily. You can leverage our audience engagement to help elevate your marketing message. Maybe you couple our editorial content with your Sponsored Content placement. Or maybe you generate leads by sponsoring an editorial webinar, talking with the industry’s top minds about today’s biggest topics.

The sky’s the limit with digital marketing, and that’s actually part of the problem.

As Fleet Equipment transitioned to an all-digital product offering, our focus was on taking the burden off of our clients’ shoulders. Here’s Dean Martin, publisher of Fleet Equipment, on how we did that:

“Buying a digital marketing program is completely different than buying a print ad page. The scheduling, the materials, the reporting–it’s a lot. We take all of that complexity away from our clients so that they only have to tell us: 1. Who they want to reach, and 2. What they want out of it. Is it branding? Is it leads? Is it a mix of both? We put together the plan, adjust it to meet their marketing needs, and then we execute it.”

3. Be ready to adapt

There’s a difference between being ready to go all digital and actually going all digital. It’s a lot like being ready to have a baby and actually having a baby. (And I say that from the dad POV.)

Before you have the baby, they tell you to put together a birthing plan. It’s an important step. It gets you thinking about how you’re going to approach different labor situations, handle things like pain management and bring a new life into the world.

Then the water breaks, labor starts and you immediately throw that plan out of the window because THINGS ARE HAPPENING! You do what needs done when it needs done because the one thing the plan did give you was a goal. It informs the decisions you have to make in situations you never anticipated being in.

At Fleet Equipment, the goal was to be an all-digital brand. The pandemic made sure that our plan didn’t play out exactly as we envisioned it, but we wouldn’t change a thing. We were ready to have this baby. And we’re excited to help our clients bring their own digital marketing creations into the world. (But not in that judgy, passive aggressive new-parents-talking-to-friends-without-kids kind of way.)

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