Equipment manufacturing companies have lagged in the use of digital marketing to generate sales leads, instead leaning heavily on trade shows and sales teams to build relationships with potential buyers. These are effective but without an effort to capture online leads, equipment manufacturers are losing countless revenue-generating opportunities. After many years as a senior strategy director of digital marketing for manufacturers, I wanted to share the most effective tactics we have found to enable manufacturers to leverage their websites to generate more business.
Manufacturer Marketing Strategy
Before we begin on this lead-generating journey, let me give one big piece of advice. If your website looks like it's from the 90s, then please budget for a new mobile-responsive website ASAP! At minimum, it should include:
- Products and services (one page for each category and separate pages for each product), including pictures and videos
- Your history, mission, vision, and differentiators (unique skills, technology, etc.)
- Team - highlight key management and employees
- Contact form (can be a long-form or a short form)
- Easy to find phone numbers
- News blog to enable writing stories of how you have and can help customers
- Title tags and meta descriptions that align with user search phrases
Digital Marketing for Manufacturers
Once your website is in order, the next step is to drive online leads and sales opportunities to your site using a few proven digital marketing tactics. In order to be successful, be sure to measure the return-on-investment (ROI) for each tactic.
Here are a few of the strategies we recommend for B2B marketing:
- Google Ads
- Remarketing Ads
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Client Personas
- Lead Tracking
1. Google and Microsoft Ads for Manufacturers
You are likely familiar with the text ads that appear at the top of Bing and Google's search results. This golden territory continues to be some of the best real estate on the internet. If you identify the keywords your prospective buyers likely use to look for the equipment or products you manufacture and have a compelling ad for them to click on, you have a conversion!
An essential part of running a results-oriented Microsoft or Google Ad campaign is to sync the keywords, the ad, and the website landing page to each other and the searcher's intent.
To enhance results, have separate ad groups for each product or equipment line you want to advertise. Start with one or two groups, see how they do, modify as needed, then add additional products. The types of keywords a prospective customer would use to find each type of equipment should be as unique as possible.
For example, you could have a metal bending machine ad group, and within that group have keywords specific to types of metal, amount and kind of bending, length, width, and thickness of the metal. You get the idea.
Pro-tip: Since most US manufacturers sell their equipment and products across the country, you may want to pick specific states or regions to start testing your campaigns and refine them before running the ads in more states.
Also, take a look at our list of ways to prevent wasting money on search ads.
2. Remarketing Ads
Remarketing ads (text or display) are shown to people after they've visited your website and remind them why they came to your website in the first place!
In most cases, you can segment your remarketing ads to show certain ads to specific audiences that meet the criteria of your prospective customers.
If you want to promote a specific new line of equipment, this type of ad can generate new traffic to your website and bring back visitors who may have recently viewed the particular product page.
3. Bring on the Content!
Want to get found in Google or Bing organic search results? Develop a solid content plan and write fresh, compelling customer-focused content on a consistent basis.
When I say consistent, I mean at least one to two blog posts per month. The Content Marketing Institute's Report - "Manufacturing Content Marketing 2022: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America" highlights statistics on how manufacturers use content to generate more traffic to their websites and ultimately more leads. 81% of manufacturer marketers say their content marketing is at least moderately successful, including 25% saying it's very or extremely successful.
With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT, developing content has become easier, but we caution B2B marketers from using it to write blog or website copy - rather use ChatGPT as a tool to develop and hone ideas that are written by your subject matter experts. In order to benefit from content on your website, it needs to be unique. The CMI report states "Eighty percent of those who always/frequently differentiate their content said they do so by producing better quality content than their competitors." To stay ahead of competitors use AI in for research and refinement, not to churn out website copy.
Proven content marketing material to include on website pages and/or blog posts:
- Case Studies
- E-Books & White Papers
- Equipment demo videos
- Professionally shot product & equipment images
- Detailed product specifications
Example of how content can help you rank in Google Search Results:
A Google search for the keyword "tunnel pasteurizers" returns these page-one organic results for one of our manufacturing clients. We've written several specific pages of content on this topic, and now we're in the #1 & #2 position for that term:
Sharing manufacturing-related content on Social Media
Consider sharing your content on your social media pages. However, if you want to get more of your target market to see the social posts, set aside about $100/month for boosting posts on LinkedIn or Facebook, for example. Organic views have dropped drastically on social media platforms, but you don't necessarily need to spend a great deal to see good results when you pay to increase post visibility.
4. Email Marketing & Marketing Automation for Manufacturers
What? A manufacturing company sending emails to customers and prospects? That's right; email is still one of the most effective ways to reach your target market and keep your customers informed of your new or updated products and where you are going as a company.
You can also solicit feedback from them by including a short survey in an email. Since many manufacturing companies attend trade shows, it's also a great way to leverage the contacts you meet and gives you a tool to follow-up with them on an ongoing basis.
HubSpot is a leading CRM for manufacturers because it integrates nicely with leading e-commerce tools like WooCommerce, Shopify, and BigCommerce, just to name a few. HubSpot also integrates with Salesforce and delivers a much more robust marketing automation capability that B2B companies can use to nurture leads and stay top-of-mind with customers.
5. Manufacturing SEO to Increase Reach
Implementing SEO practices helps your manufacturing company’s website get more views organically. This is without having to pay to boost a post or run an ad. The higher your website ranks on Google or Bing, the more likely it is for your potential customers to find your business. If you can make it to the first page of the search engines for your desired keyword, like many of our clients have, you’ve hit gold!
A study published on LinkedIn found 813% ROI on manufacturing SEO campaigns and an average of 9 months to break even.
6. Persona Development
You should know your ideal customer inside and out. Developing a client persona allows you to uncover and outline their common characteristics, values, goals, and ideals so you can create content that resonates with them.
Some ideas to include in your persona development process include:
- How your customers find information about your products
- What motivates your customers to purchase your products
- How your customers evaluate competing companies and what criteria they apply
- What are your customers' main "value drivers" – the things most important to them
- How your website stacks up vs. their "value drivers"
When your content connects with your customers, you experience better results from your marketing efforts in return. That’s why developing a client persona is an integral part of our marketing approach when working with manufacturing companies.
7. Lead Tracking
When a new lead finds your content, do you have a way of tracking how they continue to interact with your business? If so, you have lead tracking set up, which is a must-have when marketing for manufacturing companies.
A great way to set up lead tracking is to develop a flowchart that outlines all of the ways your potential customer can interact with your business.
Lead tracking isn’t just another must-have to check off your to-do list, it is a resource you can use to determine
- When your conversion rate declines
- Where your leads are coming from
- What content your leads are connecting with most
- How to interact with your leads to increase your odds of turning them into a customer
- And more!
HubSpot is a CRM the manufacturing industry can leverage for lead generation and precise tracking to ensure prospective revenue doesn't get lost or overlooked.
Best Manufacturer Marketing Tools
The ideas above represent some of the most effective manufacturer marketing strategies we’ve used to attract new prospects and retain and sell more to existing customers online.
You don't have to do all of these right out of the gate. Start with one or two and layer in the others when you are comfortable and have the resources and marketing budget to do them consistently and with high quality. Whichever digital tactics you utilize, the goal should be to provide solutions to the problems or situations your prospects are trying to solve.
Search ads can reach users at their specific time of need. Plant Managers, engineers, and others turn to search engines to answer questions and find solutions. Your ads can reach these folks when they are searching and ready for an answer.
Remarketing & display ads can deliver a quick set of lower-cost ads more frequently to your selected audience.
Fresh content can ensure your manufacturing company is prominent in organic search results when prospects are researching products and equipment that meets their requirements.
Email marketing can keep your company's products or equipment top of mind with buyers and give you a platform to connect with all the trade show folks who show interest in your company.
Search engine optimization can increase your organic search traffic so you can spend less money on paid advertising options
Buyer persona development can help you create content that connects with your ideal customers which improves your ROI
Lead tracking can help you identify where your funnel is strong and where it needs improvement. You can use lead tracking to determine how to connect with your leads to move them toward making a purchase.
Originally published in 2018; updated April 2020, September 2022, and April 2023
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