Websites of most industrial distributors follow the same basic format – the focus is on their product line card. You will find little evidence of best practices in content marketing – relevant, valuable and compelling content for customers. In other words, the online content is very product-centric.
It is rare to find explicit calls to action (C2A) on these sites. The C2A is typically a toll-free number pasted all over the site in a large font. The implied C2A is “interrupt your online activity and call us for a price quote.”
In my experience that does not happen often enough and the end result is usually the industrial distributor blaming his Website for not producing enough leads and sales.
Of course, there are exceptions to what I’ve just described. I have seen some industrial distributors who have taken steps to make their sites more customer-friendly by adding helpful tools such as grouping their products by applications, part number finders, product selection wizards and Live Help.
W.W. Grainger, Inc. or better known as just Grainger, is one industrial distributor that has embraced content marketing in a very big way. This is an 84 year old distributor of industrial supplies, MRO equipment, tools and materials. They have traditionally relied on their 4,000-page big red catalog with over 900,000 industrial supply products that is published once a year around February.
Visit Grainger’s current site and you can immediately see how they’ve transformed their business by using online content marketing strategies.
Here are some of the things that caught my attention:
- The big red catalog is still there but now online in a searchable PDF format. There are several intuitive ways to search for products that mimic the old print version and there are tips on how to use the catalog for those who may not be very well-versed with PDFs and online catalogs.
- It is not just a digital version of their catalog; after finding the correct industrial product(s), one can use the familiar copy and paste function to add an item and type in the quantity to create a quick online order.
- Need to create a bulk order? There’s an app for that! Again with a choice, type in the details or copy and paste. You can even save your personalized list for future reference.
- Grainger has taken extensive steps to optimize (SEO) their online content so whenever someone searches for one of their 900,000 products (worldwide), they always come up in the search results first, or second or third.
- They’ve used features like finding the nearest Grainger branch by entering a Zip code, searching for products by brands, price range, showing top sellers and the option to do side-by-side product comparisons. These are all B2C online shopping experiences that their visitors are very familiar with in their personal lives.
- Click on their Resources tab and you will find a deep and rich library of very helpful content under headings like Emergency Preparedness, American Recovery and Investment Act, Productivity, Safety and Green.
- Content under the Services tab is packed with customer-centric content all geared to help their customers harness the power of the Internet to make their own businesses more efficient. Here are two examples:
1) Online Purchasing Solutions categorized by buyer personas – the individual MRO professional, larger organizations that need to streamline their spending and ordering processes and enterprises like national retail chains.
2) KeepStock® – Inventory management services to control and organize MRO inventory.
- They have built their own online community called SupplyLink. Here’s the description from their Home Page – “SupplyLink Is All About You – the people who build, fix, maintain, clean, and keep things running every day. Whether you’re a facility maintenance pro, or you’re a plumbing, HVAC or building contractor, you’ll find information you can use on SupplyLink.”
Grainger uses a full range of eMarketing and traditional marketing strategies to grow its business. SEO, banner ads and using Mike Rowe from “Dirty Jobs” as a spokesman has proved to be very successful for them according to Deb Oler, VP Gainger US Brands.
At Tiecas, my industrial marketing company, we use inbound marketing tactics to help our industrial clients generate more leads and drive sales from their Websites. Visit my company’s site if you are an industrial distributor who is not sure how inbound marketing with content generates, nurtures and converts more high-quality sales leads for less than traditional outbound marketing tactics.
You may also want to download my free white papers, Industrial Marketing Playbook and 7 Content Marketing Tactics to Sell Industrial Products. On this blog, you will find many helpful articles from my earlier posts filed under the categories Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing.
How are you using content in your industrial marketing to make it more effective?