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Manufacturers have distinct challenges when it comes to marketing, whether it’s driving leads, traffic, or brand visibility. Price points are higher, the buying cycle is longer, and the purchase process involves more decision-makers.
But there’s hope! Effective marketing for manufacturers and OEMs is possible. In this post, we’ll review:
- Marketing challenge manufacturers face
- How and why a B2B marketing strategy is needed
- 8 tips and best practices
Let’s get started.
Why Marketing is Different for Manufacturers
Manufacturers have unique challenges when it comes to generating interest and demand for their products.
- Expensive products: Large-scale manufacturing products are not one-click purchases. They are high-price investments that require more time (and more words) to convey unique value to the buyer.
- Longer buying process: Because of the higher price, buyer education is critical. As a result, the buying process usually involves more information seeking on the part of potential buyers.
- Complex approvals: Other than extending the sales cycle, expensive products also make purchase approval convoluted. It’s not uncommon for a handful of influencers and decision-makers to be needed for sign-off.
All of this has a profound influence on the way marketing strategies are constructed. But how buyers consume information and move through the sales funnel continues to evolve. Manufacturers who don’t acknowledge the changes will be left behind.
How an Integrated B2B Marketing Strategy Can Help
Traditionally, manufacturers created goods and services, trained inside and outside sales staff, and sent those professionals out to connect directly with potential customers at trade shows, in offices, and via tightly controlled advertising campaigns in industry publications.
Lead generation was mostly the task of the sales department.
Even a decade ago, this type of sales-only relationship with business partners worked. But in today’s competitive landscape, manufacturers are no longer off the hook for marketing. Manufacturers, both buying and selling, tend to stay within small circles of existing relationships.
Historically, it was about who you knew and who would refer you to someone else. This is still true today to some extent. But content marketing, social media, search engine optimization, and a variety of other inbound – and integrated – marketing efforts change that story, making it possible to rise above the referral and grow your business in new ways.
According to HubSpot, more than 70 percent of companies globally are investing in content marketing, while a vast majority of companies have plans to upgrade their website. And business websites are the most used distribution channel for marketers.
So if your current marketing strategy isn’t helping you reach your business goals, rest assured you’re not alone. Here’s what to do about it.
Our Top 8 Manufacturer Marketing Tips
- Know your customer
- Know your competition
- Turn knowledge into expert content
- Build a high-converting manufacturing website
- Optimize your content for search
- Use social media the correct way
- Optimize for conversions
- Build targeted PPC campaigns
Know your customer
How do you know what to communicate, or how to communicate, if you don’t know who you’re talking to?
Start with the foundation of any effective marketing strategy: research. This includes information like what kind of content or information your audience wants – and where they go to find it. Demographics and psychographics can be used to construct personas.
The more detail, the better. But don’t overthink it – this shouldn’t be a months-long exercise. Spending a few weeks to get key data will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, tailor your messages, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business
Know your competition
Understanding your competition is crucial to figuring out how to effectively position and market your own brand.
Identify a few of your biggest manufacturing competitors. These can be usual suspects you regularly come up against or upstarts with significant web presence who are not yet on your radar.
How do they position themselves? What are their key messages and takeaways? Which tactics do they employ most frequently? Answering these questions can help point you in a confident direction while minimizing risk around where you spend advertising dollars.
Turn knowledge into expert content
You’re likely already perceived as an authority in your industry or specialty at events and trade shows. But you must also be able to meet the needs of your audience online.
This means taking your expert knowledge and intellectual IP and turning it into content – content that pulls people to your website where they can learn more about what you offer on their own time and at their own pace. In short, content allows you to solve your customers’ problems with information when you can’t do it with phone calls.
Types of content that enable you to deliver this expertise include:
- White papers
- Research reports
- Case studies
- Podcasts (either your own or as a guest on someone else’s)
- Social media presence and posts
- Email newsletter/nurture sequences
Content, however, is just one part of the equation. Context is equally important. You must be able to offer the right content at the right time to the right people when they need it. This is what transforms potential buyers from anonymous visitors into engaged prospects.
Build a high-converting manufacturing website
Most manufacturing brands fail to realize the full potential of their website. Outdated design. Jargon-heavy copy. Far too many words.
You can do better.
Websites are typically the first place potential buyers engage with your brand, so don’t waste the opportunity.
Here’s what to focus on:
- Design & UX: Keep your webpages clean, professional, and easy to navigate.
- SEO: Effective SEO is what keeps your site at the top of Google search results and in front of buyers. The more queries you show up for, the more leads you will convert.
- Speed: Slow sites lose out on traffic and leads. People – and Google – prefer sites with pages that load fast and don’t delay user behavior. So, keep that Google Lighthouse report handy.
- Mobile-First: While most of your buyers will use desktops to access your site, Google sees only the mobile version.
- Accessibility: Site accessibility is a critical but too-often ignored element of website building. Follow the guidelines.
Optimize your content for search
Engaging, useful content is more likely to rank high in searches. Google can read your webpages and content, and rank it on quality, resulting in various SERP outcomes. Helpful, clear, and well-written web content will inevitably rank higher than sloppy, disorganized material that doesn’t serve a purpose other than a promotional one.
Results on search engines now go far beyond links to websites. When someone searches for any given query, they can also receive videos, images, locations, and shopping results. So, your content strategy should also include mixed media, like videos, linked webinars and infographics add weight to your Google ranking.
Focus on creating content that answers the questions your buyers have. If these are popular questions that are commonly searched, the pages are likely to rank well, and potential customers will read them, then browse your website to learn more about what you do.
Use social media the correct way
B2B companies are often slow to integrate social media marketing. But social media can work if you do it right.
- Prioritize social media channels your audience favors. This usually means LinkedIn and Twitter (occasionally Facebook).
- Create individual profiles for employees who have the bandwidth and ability to engage others. You should still maintain a company profile but it’s mostly secondary to what your people can do.
- Content first, social second. If you don’t have anything cool to share, don’t sweat it. Your time is better spent creating valuable content that’s share-worthy in the first place.
- YouTube is social media, too. YouTube can be a great tool for a manufacturing brand – specifically for demonstration, educational or training video content.
- Use UTMs. UTM extensions on your web links will allow you to track the performance of posts containing links.
Optimize for conversions
Attracting users to your website is merely the first step – converting them is the goal.
- Drive users to an action. Use Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) the process of increasing the percentage of users or website visitors to take a desired action. Only a small percentage of marketers use landing page A/B tests to improve conversion rates.
- Keep load times fast. The first five seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on conversion rates. Website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42 percent with each additional second of load time. Your load time is critical.
- Pop-ups work. Website pop-ups are useful conversion tools, especially if they’re targeted and used sparingly.
Build targeted PPC campaigns
PPC advertising is a mix of science and art – in that order. Dialed in, it can produce high ROAS (return on ad spend) for manufacturers.
Here’s what to focus on:
- Keyword research: Identify the key terms and phrases your buyers use when searching for what you offer.
- Targeted ad groups: Narrow down your list of keywords to focus on the ones with the biggest search audience (monthly searches) and therefore most potential.
- Effective copy: Make sure the language in your ads mirrors the words and overall intent your buyers use.
- Landing pages: Create a landing page for each ad group, ensuring the keywords in your ads match the keywords on the landing page.
- Monitor & optimize: Don’t just set and forget. Keep a close on eye on important KPIs like conversions, conversion rate and cost per conversion.
Your best bet is to work with an expert, but if you’re doing all this on your own, don’t skimp. Otherwise, you’ll waste precious time and budget on junk clicks.
Manufacturer Marketing Tips: The Bottom Line
Manufacturers need more than referrals and tradeshow lists. Today’s marketing strategies require a comprehensive, integrated – and very digital – approach. But it’s not about perfection. Figuring out what your buyers respond to best is a process of trial and error. These tips will help you navigate it.