An industrial website redesign for manufacturers, system integrators and distributors that market to engineers, requires a different approach because marketing to engineers is different. This becomes a challenge if the outside web development company or your in-house marketing department doesn’t have a clear understanding of marketing to engineers and industrial professionals.
A website redesign that doesn’t match your sales process is doomed to fail. Marketing shouldn’t attempt doing a site redevelopment all on their own. You must get Sales and other key stakeholders involved from the very beginning of the redesign. Get their input while planning the site map, the architecture, the content, calls to action and the overall strategy. In other words, thoroughly vet the What, Who and the Why before you start designing the site.
If you don’t spend that time initially, expect to get a lot of pushbacks and “constructive criticism” if you show them a draft site and expect them to approve it. It is human nature for people to make suggestions and add their comments when asked, otherwise they feel they haven’t done their job. (See Why do so Many Industrial Website Redesigns Fail?)
Marketing to engineers is a challenge
Search this blog and you’ll find many of my earlier posts addressing these challenges. I’ll summarize the issues based on my 30+ years of experience as an industrial marketing consultant working with companies that target a technical audience.
Here’s how I see it:
- Despite what you may think, there are emotions involved in making an industrial buy decision. The primary emotion driving engineers is risk aversion which is then justified with logical thinking. Gaining their trust is very important if you want to engage with engineers.
- Large CAPEX industrial purchases are rarely ever made by an individual engineer. Usually a committee of stakeholders with sometimes competing needs makes the final decision. Some of these stakeholders may never visit your website or meet your salespeople. The challenge then is to reach some of these invisible internal decision makers who can decide against your proposal at the last minute.
- Targeting Design Engineers has its own challenges. These people don’t fit into the traditional BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) lead scoring model. They are the specifiers who must “design in” your industrial parts/products before a functional buyer (Purchasing Department) can email you an RFQ/RFP.
- It’s a myth that engineers hate marketing. Heck, I’m a Mechanical engineer who is in marketing! However, they can easily recognize marketing fluff and question the marketer’s credibility. Your website content needs to be technically accurate, current and provide validation or proof of concept but it doesn’t need to be product-centric; make sure it is customer-centric.
- The line between work and our personal lives has become more blurred these days, so make the user experience as seamless as possible and similar to non-industrial websites they use for making personal purchases. (Engineers are people too, you know).
Is it worth the time and money to create a strategic plan for your industrial website redesign?
An industrial website redesign may seem like a daunting task and you may find yourself asking, “Is it really worth it?” The short answer is YES! But don’t take my word for it…
“Half of technical professionals spend six or more hours per week on the internet for work-related purposes, and 31 percent spend nine-plus hours (a full day) online. The average time spent per week is six hours, with engineers outside North America spending a slightly-higher seven hours on average.”
“Engineers are using the Internet more often to find components, equipment, services and suppliers (68 percent); obtain product specifications (62 percent); find standards (61 percent); and find instruction manuals (60 percent). Fifty-one percent purchase products and parts on the internet.”
(Source: IEEE GlobalSpec – 2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector).
“2018 has the highest levels of growth in marketing budget (45%) and the lowest reported levels of shrinking budgets (4%), of any of the last five years.”
(Source: ENGINEERING.COM – 2018 Budget Trends in Industrial & Technology Marketing).
Industrial content marketing and website redesign are connected
“Fifty-five percent of engineers say the pace of engineering is increasing; 53 percent are required to do more with less; 40 percent say that pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk. Seventy-three percent said the average size of the teams they work on has decreased or stayed the same. The majority also say that designs are becoming more sophisticated/complex and that design cycles are shrinking, while time-to-market pressures are increasing. To help alleviate these pressures, 44 percent of companies have increased design involvement from external partners and vendors.”
This is why I see a big opportunity for industrial content marketing to effectively engage with busy engineers by recognizing that the pace of engineering is constantly increasing and your target audience is dealing with their own time crunch. Win their trust, save them time and position yourself as experts in areas and applications that engineers deal with on a daily basis. (See How Industrial Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships Based on Trust).
It’s a fact that more manufacturers and engineering companies are looking to industrial content marketing as an effective strategy for acquiring new customers and growing their sales. They are spending their marketing dollars accordingly.
Since engineers and industrial professionals are in self-serve and self-select mode, your website needs to guide them in a logical and structured way to find the right information that will help them make an informed buy decision. Give them the right information at the right time in the right format. Don’t rely 100% on your website to distribute the content. I call that the “post and pray” strategy which rarely works in my experience.
Don’t undervalue your industrial website by generating only Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) from free content downloads. Incorporate effective sales enablers into your website redesign in order to generate more Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
While it is true that most engineers access online content using their computers, mobile access is becoming increasingly popular, especially with younger engineers. Make sure your site redesign follows the best practices of responsive web design (RWD).
Don’t sabotage your industrial website redesign by making content an afterthought. (See Content Marketing Strategy Must Drive Your Industrial Website Redesign).
Download our Step-by-Step Guide to Industrial Website Redesign.