Understanding how semiconductor design engineers think

George Szymkiewicz

How can technology marketing professionals maximize ROI for money spent online? How can campaign proficiency be measured to maximize ROI? What are typical goals for marketing today?

A recent GlobalSpec-IHS study, Trends in Industrial Marketing 2012, revealed, “67% of survey respondents stated customer acquisition or lead generation is the primary marketing goal in 2012, the same top two marketing goals for the past six years.”

The GlobalSpec study goes on to identify the top three online marketing channels:
1. Email marketing to in-house lists
2. Search engine optimization (SEO)
3. Online directories / industry websites


The B2B marketing arsenal wouldn’t be complete without adding microsites / landing pages; webinars… More on this in a moment, online videos, white papers or authoritative articles, e-books and some social media like LinkedIn.

To maximize campaign proficiency, marketing must identify and understand the target audience.


Semiconductor industry
Let’s take an example from the semiconductor industry and dissect its target audience, their needs (and those of semiconductor manufacturers) while acknowledging marketers’ need to understand the unique characteristics of their own industrial marketing segment.

The objective for a semiconductor company is to have a design engineer ‘design in’ that semiconductor manufacturer’s components into an electronics product.

In some cases, the semiconductor component for that product is unique to the semiconductor manufacturer, in which case it becomes very difficult to later substitute a different manufacturer’s component later on in the design process.

In many cases a similar, but not exactly the same, component part exists from another manufacturer so the advantage to the semiconductor manufacturer is not so great.

But any advantage over a competitor is helpful.

The goal for a semiconductor company is to touch design engineers at the very moment they are deciding what parts to use so they can design-in a component, or group of components. (See, also: Key questions OEMs should ask their original design manufacturering (ODM) partners and, 6 Mistakes PCB designers can avoid when designing PCBs)

Design engineers need to know they are picking the best components for their design. But, it turns out their biggest fear is not knowing whether the parts they choose will be reliably available for the entire life of the product they are designing.

Armed with the knowledge of what the manufacturer and the target audience needs, semiconductor marketers can intelligently select the best campaign(s) to meet their needs.

The key to online marketing’s ascendency we see today is campaigns are measurable and can be tracked over time.

By achieving alignment with the sales organization early in the process of formulating a campaign, marketers can better understand what the sales organization needs and most importantly, what constitutes a qualified lead.

In the case of the semiconductor company it’s a design engineer with real ‘design authority’ who has a funded / budgeted project within the next 120 days.

As a result of this knowledge marketers can then rank leads coming in from a given campaign along these lines:

  • Hot lead requiring immediate action – a design engineer who has a qualified project and has requested help
  • Warm lead – a design engineer who has a qualified project but is not asking for sales to contact them
  • FYI lead – a design engineer who has asked for information but doesn’t have an immediate need
  • Cold lead – educator, student, competitor


Identifying each incoming lead by campaign and grading the lead in real-time achieves two purposes.

First, this encourages sales to focus on the most immediate, or hot leads. This also provides useful information for future use.

For example, sales people often gain contact information about upcoming projects from ‘FYI leads’. In some cases, they get valuable information about target companies they have not been able to penetrate previously.

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In your search results, you can further target your options by selecting End Market, then selecting Go.

By ensuring alignment with sales on the target audience and, what constitutes a valuable lead, one can achieve 80% update level in the sales organization’s lead management system. One technical feature overlooked by some marketing automation systems is respecting the sales rep’s time by creating a system that requires only a few seconds to update the records.

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Second, by identifying business leads and campaigns in real-time, marketers are able to build a database of knowledge about individuals and companies and to score their interest in a marketing automation platform (lead management system).

This is the key to the marketer’s ultimate success because it enables so many things, such as:

  • Database segmentation by interests
  • Tracking other online activity to better assess a design engineer’s place in the design-in cycle
  • Record the revenues generated by each marketing campaign.
  • Calculating ROI – this is a snap since the system already stores the cost of each campaign.


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But there’s more…

A vibrant and accurate lead management database is a great tool for creating campaigns aimed at semiconductor engineers who are not immediately deemed hot leads.

It should be noted semiconductor industry design cycles can be as long as twenty-one months. Staying top-of-mind with a busy design engineer who typically handles three different projects at a time for that long can be a daunting proposition.

For this reason, a lead nurturing process should also be part of your lead management system. By understanding the individual design engineers’ interests and where they are in the design cycle you can create a library of materials compelling to engineers at each step of the process.

This library of materials includes authoritative articles; social media, white papers, webinars (live and archived), online catalogs, product-specific videos, information about products to be discontinued, new product developments, plus a product finder application for web and mobile use.

We can expand your options

At its heart, the lead nurturing process is an email marketing campaign sending pre-determined emails tailored to the design engineer’s needs at given intervals during the entire design-cycle period.

This way the engineer receives relevant information and the company is staying top-of-mind over an extended period of time.

In addition to making sure the information is relevant to a semiconductor engineer’s development work, the following best practices also apply:

  • Recognize some design engineers appear on multiple lists so make sure material distributed is original and not duplicated across lists
  • Include new product information as well as obsolescence notices as soon as possible so engineers feels they are getting the inside scoop before others
  • Design your emails with quick links to popular materials (for example – competitive cross-references or part finder apps) both in graphical and text form since some people prefer text versions
  • Include links to social media (LinkedIn, VO GlobalNet, YouTube, Twitter, forums and Facebook) in emails so it’s easy for engineers to share information with their colleagues.


It is common with lead management systems to forget about names that are not immediate prospects.

But, by saving these names and cultivating them through long-term, targeted nurturing campaigns it’s possible to turn these ‘discarded’ names into valuable assets in the future. offers a free service to OEMs. Provider Advisors are available to speak with OEMs. (Its free) Our electronics services referral service can help you expand your provider options. Call toll-free (888) 860-1193 and ask to speak with a Provider Advisor.

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