To say that we are living through a unique time is an understatement. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed how companies need to operate and has left manufacturers wondering how they should market and sell their products.
We have been conducting extensive research so that we could provide you with this informative COVID-19 resource guide to help you adapt your sales, marketing, and advertising strategies to the current environment.
Throughout this guide you will find information on the latest consumer trends and behaviors, how you can leverage digital tools and tactics during this period, and some frequently asked questions that we have received lately.
If you would like to take a more in-depth look into how manufacturing companies can adapt to the changes brought on by COVID-19, watch our latest webinar here.
Online Behavior and Trends
Over the past month, we have kept a close eye on several manufacturing industries so that we could provide you with insight into how consumers are currently behaving on the web.
From an advertising perspective, out of home and television ads are not as effective as they typically were due to people being confined to their homes and a lack of live sports.
Moreover, on the digital side we have not seen any drastic changes in search volume, impressions, or conversions, so potential consumers are still consistently on the web researching your products and looking to eventually make a purchase.
We’ve also noticed a decrease in cost-per-clicks and overall ad inventory because many companies have decreased their ad spend or stopped advertising altogether as a result of COVID-19.
This means that now is a great opportunity to advertise on digital platforms such as search, display, and social media for cheaper than you usually would.
In regards to organic traffic, we have not seen any major differences in search volume or website visitors. However, users seem to be engaging differently.
According to our research using the search interest monitoring tool SEMrush, search behavior is very inconsistent right now.
This volatility in search trends is reflected in the images below as you can see a slight decrease in some search trends while others remain relatively stable.
This suggests that users are still researching products, but may be hesitant to commit to making any large purchases right now. It is important that the content on your website is aligned with your customers current needs to improve your chances of seeing conversions.
Alternatives to Tradeshows
One of the largest disruptions has been the absence of trade shows, which is one of the primary ways that many manufacturing and B2B companies have traditionally marketed their products and built relationships with customers and prospects.
However, this an opportunity to explore digital channels that are ripe for the picking for manufacturers. Either you’ll step in to fill that void online, or your competitors will.
From a sales aspect, we suggest that you leverage a well-established CRM such as HubSpot that allows you to segment your contact lists and keep detailed logs on each prospect.
Any way that you can leverage technology to make your messages and meetings with prospects more personal will benefit you throughout this period.
Consider collaborating with your marketing team and utilizing free tools such as Vidyard to include personalized videos in your emails to prospects before you meet with them.
If you’re looking to increase engagement with your emails, we recommend you follow a well-disciplined and scheduled approach to contacting prospects.
Use multiple different avenues such as phone calls, emails, and direct mail so that your prospects are aware of your brand and the value you deliver.
Consider personalizing your emails with the prospects name and make sure that the subject line really demonstrates how the email is valuable to them.
If this strategy is well-designed and targeted correctly then you will begin to see an increase in engagement when your customers are in the mindset to make a purchase.
Finally, when you are conducting virtual meetings, make sure that your camera is turned on and encourage your prospect to turn theirs on as well. Being face-to-face with your prospects, even if it’s on a screen, will allow you to build better relationships with them just as you would at a trade show.
If you had some of your budget allocated to trade shows and are now looking to invest it into digital advertising, we suggest using LinkedIn’s advertising platform.
If the trade shows that you were planning on attending provide a list of attendees on their website, you can download that list and upload it onto LinkedIn to run customized ad campaigns specific to those contacts. You can also do this with a database of your own customers and prospects, or a list of companies that you would like to work with.
LinkedIn also allows you to segment your advertising campaigns by industry, job title, or job function if you are looking to do more general advertising or want to further refine the contacts who see your ads.
However, be sure that your LinkedIn advertisements are sensitive to the current environment.
We also highly suggest that you continue to run your paid search advertisements as normal. Search remains the highest intent channel among all advertising platforms and produces the most conversions.
Digital Marketing Tactics
From a marketing perspective, there are several different tools and tactics that you can leverage to drive interest in your products throughout this period.
With the world turning to digital communications, there has been an increase in the number of digital trade shows and webinars lately. Be on the lookout for any that may be specific to your industry or consider hosting one yourself to increase the visibility of your company.
Any way that you can showcase and demonstrate your products to consumers virtually right now will improve your chances of making more sales.
Some options that we suggest include sharing an online catalog containing all your products, creating a video that highlights some of your main products, or even having your engineering team develop 3D models that you can display on your website.
Finally, it’s important that you take a step back and audit your website to make sure that it’s working efficiently, lacks technical errors, and is mobile-friendly. More people are online than normal right now, and you can be sure that your prospective customers research your company and products online. Your website should function well and make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for.
Building Your Brand
One of the greatest tactics that you can leverage throughout this pandemic to get your messages in front of the eyes of your target market is creating valuable content.
We suggest that you conduct an audit of all the content that is on your website and compare it to a list of all the products and services that you actually provide.
If there are any gaps in this content, update or build it out so that it includes accurate and useful information.
Some pages to consider building out are product pages, industry pages, and service pages.
Also, if your website includes any Word documents or PDF attachments, convert them into HTML format so that Google is able to recognize them and they assist in making your website more visible through search.
Also think about any questions that your consumers may be asking right now and produce content on your website that solves those issues.
As seen above, consistently answering questions your target audience tends to have surrounding your products will improve your results in search engines and make your website easier to find.
Over time, your website will become a resource center for your industry, leading to consistent website traffic and more conversions.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can leverage content to drive traffic to your website, click the button below to access our blog post on content marketing for manufacturers.
Need help thinking through a unique challenge your company is facing in your marketing or sales efforts right now? We would be happy to chat about how you might solve that. Get in touch here.