Unless you’ve been on a very long sabbatical from industrial and manufacturing marketing, you very well know that your website should be the hub of your online marketing.
Why should you care about your company’s website? Probably the best reason I’ve read is by Linda Rigano, Executive Director of Strategic Services at ThomasNet. She said,
“Treat your website as if you were hiring a six-figure salesperson. If you were going to put them on the street, what would you do? You’d arm them with information about the marketplace. You’d arm them with information about your products and how people use them. Then you’d put that person in front of the audience and check with them.”
The chart below shows how engineers and industrial buyers use the Internet in work-related purchases (Source: 2010 GlobalSpec Industrial Buy Cycle Survey). The use of supplier websites is at number two, second only to search engines.
If you need more empirical proof, then look at the recent study done by GlobalSpec, Trends in Industrial Marketing 2010: How Manufacturers are Marketing Today.
Current state of manufacturing marketing
While there were no major surprises or new revelations in the GlobalSpec study, it is worthwhile repeating that the main focus of manufacturing marketing today is on online initiatives. Manufacturers and industrial companies have now realized that the vast majority of their target audience is online during a major portion of the buying cycle.
Other highlights from the study include:
- 74% consider lead generation and customer acquisition as their top priorities and these have remained the primary marketing objectives for the past three years
- The top 3 lead generation tactics are company website, email marketing and natural search engine optimization (SEO)
- 47% of manufacturers will spend more than a third of their 2010 marketing budget on online initiatives with a majority (51%) of them increasing the online portion of their marketing budget over last year
- Even though quality trumps quantity of leads, 48% of respondents still said they are not generating enough high quality leads for their sales teams and 34% indicated a need to improve their marketing ROI
Despite all this indisputable evidence, a large number of industrial and manufacturing websites are nothing more than online brochures or to be brutally honest, glorified digital business cards. A lot of them are still stuck in the mode of “build it and they’ll come.” Sorry, but that is just not going to cut it anymore with today’s Internet savvy engineers and technical buyers.
Common problems with industrial websites
I see many problems that seem to be common to many industrial websites either created by in-house people and/or professional web designers. The sad truth is that most of these problems can be easily fixed without spending too much money and could produce dramatic results from your website. These include:
- Lack of page titles
- No optimization of headlines and subheads (H1, H2 tags etc.)
- Non-intuitive navigation schemes that force visitors to go through a series of clicks to find relevant information
- Unfamiliar user interface
- Home pages that state generic benefits without answering who, what, why and how
- Lack of direct calls to actions
- Incomplete information on the website
- Marketing content that is product-centric and does not speak to the audience’s problems
- Lack of lead generation mechanism other than a basic Contact Us form
- Hiding valuable content behind cumbersome registration forms
- Content does not encourage influencers to link to your page(s)
- Outdated content listed under News
- Little to no social media integration
- Using a “visitor count” meter instead of basic site analytics
- Overuse of Flash or using an animated intro page
How to improve the performance of your company’s website
- Create a checklist of business goals you want your website to accomplish. Redesign your site around these objectives instead of doing a cosmetic facelift.
- Audit your existing content. If necessary, rewrite or edit the text to address critical pain points of your prospects and customers. Map your content to each stage of the industrial buying cycle.
- Install site analytics, the free Google Analytics is a good start. It is impossible to tweak your site’s performance unless you can track and measure visitor activities.
- Grow your in-house list by implementing a lead generation tactic. White papers continue to be very successful in generating registrations, especially in the early stages of the decision making process.
- Use social media judiciously to increase name recognition, drive traffic and build a community. Engaging your visitors with relevant and fresh content will help to convert them into fans, followers and ultimately to loyal customers.
Read my previous post 5 Things Industrial Marketers Must Do to Attract Engineers and Turn Them into Loyal Customers for more specifics on how to fix some of these common problems with industrial websites.