Creating a successful website design for manufacturers takes careful planning, a deep understanding of how engineers and industrial buyers make decisions and a lot of hard work. These have nothing do with the aesthetics of the site. Applying a new skin to an existing website to make it look “pretty” won’t help you move the … Read more
Understanding the mindset of industrial buyers is important if you market to engineers and technical professionals. There are plenty of research reports published on buyer personas and the buying habits of consumers, but they focus mainly on B2C marketing. You can find data on general B2B marketing, but it is somewhat limited when it comes to industrial marketing.
There are four annual surveys/reports that are done specifically about industrial buyers and manufacturing or engineering marketing. I read them regularly and I’m honored to be quoted in some of them.
Sources and tools used by industrial buyers
It shouldn’t surprise you that the majority of industrial buyers prefer digital or online sources and tools for gathering information when making their buying decisions. That was clear from the findings from all the reports that I am about to cite here. It is okay if you are somewhat skeptical about the findings considering the sources of the data, but it shouldn’t take anything away from you gaining a better understanding of the behavior and habits of industrial buyers.
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.
What does industrial website redesign have to do with a train derailment? I’m not trying to be funny here by using this image of the Montparnasse derailment that happened on October 22, 1895. The action of a train leaving its tracks accidentally can have catastrophic consequences.
Similarly, obstructions that prevent a redesigned website from meeting its goals and objectives can be devastating for a company. I’m not exaggerating to scare you, but I’ve seen too many industrial website redesign projects get sidetracked and go completely off course.
Are industrial website redesigns worth the time and money?
Let’s face reality here, it takes a lot of time (4 months or more) and money (budgets of 15K or more) to complete a redesign that will turn an informational website into a lead generating system. And that’s just the start, you have to continue to invest in optimization, promotion and content marketing.
It is worth spending that kind of time and money, because your target audience of engineers and technical buyers is online for work related purposes. They are in self-select and self-serve mode for a large portion of their buying journey.
An industrial website redesign shouldn’t be a quick decision because your site is the very foundation of your online presence. Why is it such an important decision?
According to the Industrial Buy Cycle survey of engineers and technical professionals conducted by IHS Engineering 360 (formally GlobalSpec), “The top three most frequently used sources for searching for products and services to purchase are search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs.”
The survey also found that in the early stages of the Buy Cycle, Needs Awareness and Research phases, industrial professionals use a variety of online sources of information.
By the time buyers reach the final Procurement stage, supplier websites and online catalogs become the most important sources of information. Take a look at this chart from IHS Engineering 360’s Buy Cycle survey.
As we go deeper into Q4 with the holidays right around the corner, most industrial companies start to think about their industrial marketing plan for the next year. As an industrial marketing consultant, I’m often asked by clients the best way to approach this important planning task.
My preferred way is what I call the 3-phase industrial marketing plan approach. I refer to them as phases instead of steps because each phase consists of several smaller steps.
I don’t know of any manufacturer or industrial company that doesn’t want their website to generate more leads and grow sales. Do you? Yet, most supplier websites are failing to meet the buyer’s expectations. And that has nothing to do with industrial website design.
According to Acquity Group’s annual State of B2B Procurement study, “Although supplier websites are the most popular channels for conducting research online (according to 83 percent of respondents), buyers are not satisfied with the level of information offered—only 37 percent of B2B buyers who conduct research through a supplier’s website said it was the most helpful channel for this purpose.”
Here are some more key findings from the same study:
Sixty-eight percent of B2B buyers now purchase goods online, up from 57 percent in the 2013
Forty percent of buyers research more than half of goods under $10,000 online
Thirty-one percent of buyers research more than half of goods costing $100,000 or more online
Fifty-seven percent of business buyers have made an online purchase of $5,000 or more in the last year
Less than half (48 percent) of respondents purchase goods online directly from suppliers, opting instead for third-party websites and other purchasing channels
Industrial buyers prefer self-serve and self-select modes for purchasing decisions
This is a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. You are going to be here for a while and thanks for taking the time to read.
We’ve all heard or read about industrial website redesigns that have failed. I’m not talking about the aesthetics of a site which can be subjective; I’m referring to a site redesign that fails to produce results. For manufacturers and industrial companies that usually means that the redesign failed to deliver enough high quality leads that turned into sales opportunities.
I’ve had many conversations with prospective clients that start out something like this, “We’ve spent a bunch of money with an outside company to redesign our website but it hasn’t done much for our sales.” Some have even gone as far as saying “This other web developer did a disservice to us.”
Understandably they are now reluctant to spend more money on another industrial website redesign. What went wrong? It’s not that the other web development company deliberately ripped off these people, though there are some unscrupulous companies out there.
Most web design companies are led by graphic designers and coders; some are also experts at search engine optimization (SEO). Their primary focus is on creating an attractive site that gets found in Google for certain keyword phrases. Well, what’s wrong with that, you ask?
I hope you have already started planning your industrial marketing strategy for 2015. You may be wondering why you need to spend the time and effort in creating an industrial marketing strategy when you already know the problem – not enough quality leads generated from your current website.
It would be easy to dive right into redesigning your current industrial website. That however could be a mistake because the lack of leads is the symptom you are feeling, the underlying cause of the problem may be something completely different. You need to first identify the root cause and then come up a with plan of action to solve the problem. That plan of action is what I’m referring to as your industrial marketing strategy.
Importance of a formal industrial marketing strategy
Let’s take a step back and see why formulating an industrial marketing strategy is so important. I’m sure by now you have read or heard enough about how content marketing is the best strategy for generating more high quality leads at a lower cost per lead. So making content the cornerstone of your industrial marketing strategy is vital.
Around this time of the year, I get more calls and emails about redesigning industrial websites. This of course is very good news for my industrial marketing business but there is usually something missing that makes me cautious.
My “Spidey Sense” is heightened whenever I hear the other person say something like “We need to spruce up our website so we can be found in Google.”
It goes without saying that being found in Google is a must but there are two wrong assumptions in that statement.
Sprucing up or making the site look pretty is not going to produce better results beyond a spike in traffic right after the launch. You are not going to be any better off than you are now but will have spent thousands of dollars in nothing more than a cosmetic facelift for the current site.
A website redesign is not the same thing as search engine optimization (SEO). Don’t expect to suddenly appear on the first page of Google just because you’ve done a site redesign. SEO that produces sustainable results requires implementing proven white hat tactics and consistently applying good content marketing practices.
Content is what fuels the digital marketing engine, drives traffic and generates quality leads from industrial websites. That means content is the foundation for SEO, differentiation, thought leadership, engagement, conversions, acquisitions and retention of customers just to name a few of the goals that you want to accomplish with the redesigned site.
You need to ask a few important questions about content before you start a website design or redesign project. It doesn’t matter whether you do this in-house or outsource it; you need good answers, preferably backed by data and research. Here are some of the questions that I ask to help me plan for content before starting an industrial website redesign project:
Founded in 1987, Tiecas, Inc. is an industrial marketing and consulting company based in Houston, TX. We help manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies grow their sales with effective industrial marketing.