Does Digital Marketing Really Work for Manufacturers?
In the last few years, we have partnered with a wide variety of manufacturing companies in the USA to help them generate online leads and sales. The fact that we've been able to drive results through online channels may come as a surprise to many in the manufacturing industry.
For the most part, the majority of manufacturing sales have been almost entirely relationship-driven. For that reason, there is often skepticism that a marketing agency could produce quality lead generation results using online marketing techniques.
The truth is that we've been able to deliver amazing digital marketing results with a B2B manufacturing marketing strategy leading to millions of dollars worth of closed business for our clients. This article provides a little insight into how we do it.
Digital Marketing Strategies for Manufacturing Companies
The first step is to come up with a plan. Your digital marketing plan should center around specific business objectives and defined goals and metrics (we call them Key Performance Indicators or KPIs). Depending on the nature of your business, you could see immediate results, right out of the gate. Or, it could take as long as 12 to 15 months before you're able to generate qualified leads online.
Here are some examples of potential goals that will impact marketing strategy and activities:
- Increase revenue by 10%
- Generate 15% more business from existing customers
- Diversify customer base into two new industries
- Sell 25% more of your newest product
Once you have these major goals identified, then you can build out a marketing strategy on how to achieve the goals. In this article about why digital marketing efforts fail, you will learn that spending more time on strategy vs. tactics gives you a much higher probability of success.
Bring on the Manufacturing Personas!
OK, you've got your business goals, and the team is excited to get started taking action to achieve them. Whoa hold on there - it's persona time! What exactly is a persona?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Developing buyer personas will help you understand your customers (and prospects) better. Personas make it easier for your marketing team to tailor your content, messaging, product development, and services to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.
Consumers are trending towards expecting personalization in their dealings with companies. An Accenture study revealed that 41% of US consumers said they ditched a company because of “poor personalization and lack of trust.” Personas get you closer to personalizing marketing messages for your target audiences.
Here are some examples of manufacturing B2B buyer personas:
- Purchasing managers or agents
- Plant managers
- Business owners, CEO's, Presidents
- Product engineers
- Facilities managers
- Operations directors or managers
- Distributor company owner or sales manager
Of course, if your company sells directly to consumers (B2C), those personas will be different, depending on demographics (age, gender, income, location, etc.).
Documenting Your Buyer Personas
Once the persona types are established, documenting the following about each persona will go a long way towards achieving the best results from your digital marketing activities:
- Demographics: Age, gender, income, married/single, hobbies, homeowner/renter, experience, job skills, family.
- Personality Identifiers: Calm, assertive, decision maker, analyzer, subordinate or manager, thoughtful, researches online, loyal.
- Purchasing Habits: Numbers oriented, needs a custom quote, lots of questions, enjoys shopping around, long-term planner, may need a quick turnaround
- Motivators: Increase production capacity, replace broken units, save money, make more money, make their team look good, improve quality.
OK, Now Do We Get To Do Digital Marketing?
Yes, but we must answer this question first - How much should a manufacturer budget for digital marketing? Per a February 2020 report by the CMO Survey, manufacturers spend 5.06% of their revenue on marketing, a significant increase over previous years. Here are some other manufacturing-specific findings:
- 9.13% - Percent of sales from the internet.
- 2.63% - Planned increase in marketing budgets in the next 12 months.
- 3.5% - Growth in marketing jobs within manufacturing companies.
- 6.45% - Current marketing analytics spend. Increases to 12% in the next 3 years.
According to these statistics, many manufacturers now realize they can get business from the internet and leverage data and analytics to drive growth. However, most are also aware that they don't have the marketing skills they need in-house to accomplish their digital marketing goals.
High level manufacturing digital marketing activities
There are numerous digital marketing activities in the toolkit. However, in our experience, a few high impact activities will generate the highest return on investment for your manufacturing company.
- Website: You absolutely must have a mobile responsive website. We've come across many manufacturing companies that have not upgraded their websites in many years, and Google does not like that! Nor do your potential customers who are making the purchase decision.
- Content Marketing: Create a content marketing plan to consistently add fresh content, blog posts, case studies, videos and product images to your website. Doing so provides value to your audience, gives them a reason to return to your site, builds trust, showcases your industry authority and helps to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) so you can rank on Google.
- Advertising: Test some Google advertising. If you are not currently ranked on Google's 1st page, creating paid advertising (PPC) is the fastest way to get there. Since 75% of people never scroll past the first page of Google, you want your business to maintain its presence there, even if you have to use advertising until your SEO allows you to rank organically.
- Email Marketing: If you have customer email addresses, set up an email campaign to let customers know you still exist, introduce new products, upgrade or provide complimentary products. Email marketing allows you to nurture new members of your audience, build rapport, and stay top of mind, so when they're ready to purchase, there's a stable foundation of trust. If you don't have emails, get them to put your email marketing plan in place!
- Analytics: Ensure the measurement tools are in place. You can use Google Analytics, Tag Manager, and a unique phone number on your website for call tracking.
- CRM: Have your sales team use a CRM - Customer Relationship Management system to track and nurture their sales leads. HubSpot offers a free CRM that is a great starting point.
- Automation: Consider Marketing Automation - many systems include the CRM, and you can automate more email communications with your customers and prospects.
- Social Media: Social media can serve as another opportunity to establish your company’s online presence and connect with potential customers. You can share a variety of content and pay to boost your posts to reach more people since the organic reach is low.
- Not enough? Learn more manufacturing digital marketing activities here.
So, Why Should I Start Digital Marketing for my Manufacturing company?
Simple - the rest of the business world has figured it out already! People search for products and services on the internet first before they contact companies. Yes, manufacturers may still rely on long-term selling relationships, but that is changing. Younger engineers and plant managers are taking over, and they grew up with the web.
Now is the time for you to transition your manufacturing business to the digital economy. A strong online presence will help you reach this new audience of decision-makers and take full advantage of a 24/7 internet sales machine.
While marketing tactics are working best for manufacturing companies? Learn more so you can prepare your business for marketing success.
Contact us today if you’d like help getting started on your digital marketing journey.
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