Manufacturing Marketing in the Age of Industry 4.0
As I was researching the topic of manufacturing marketing for industry 4.0, I found a ton of online articles when I did a Google search for “marketing for Industry 4.0.” My search yielded 192,000,000 results to be precise. In short, there is a lot of information out there to the point of being overwhelming.
What I also found is a noticeable lack of information specifically on manufacturing marketing for Industry 4.0, which is a bit odd, since Industry 4.0 is all about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This post is my summary on how to adapt some of the marketing strategies and tactics to manufacturing marketing, for engaging more effectively with engineers and technical buyers in this new age.
Introduction to Industry 4.0
If you need a primer on what Industry 4.0 is all about, let me direct you to an in-depth article on Industry 4.0 published by CADENAS PARTsolutions.
Here’s their infographic if you are more of a visual person.
(Infographic courtesy of PARTsolutions.com.)
Adapting digital manufacturing marketing for Industry 4.0
You’ve already got a head start if you’ve been doing manufacturing marketing with content, aka, inbound marketing. Digital marketing is a perfect fit for Industry 4.0. How, you ask? Let me explain.
Personalized content: Digital Manufacturing Enterprises (DMEs) are using advanced digital technologies such as AI and IIoT to shift their production processes from mass to more personalized production.
Does that sound familiar to you if you a manufacturing content marketer? You should be creating personalized content based on Buyer Personas, their roles and for different stages of the buyer’s journey.
The buyer is in charge: Today’s industrial buyers are in self-select and self-serve mode. They prefer to complete a large portion of their buying process online while remaining anonymous. You’ll be swimming against the tide if you force your sales team to spend their time in cold calling and prospecting at the top of the funnel.
This requires manufacturers to take a more blended approach where Sales and Marketing work together. Neither can do it alone because the buyer is in control for a larger portion of the sales process.
Customer-centric content: Here’s a quote from the report, Industry 4.0 engages customers published by Deloitte’s Center for Integrated Research, “Manufacturers can use Industry 4.0 technologies across their enterprise to transform customer relationships and create new value for both customers and channel partners.”
Datasheets and product catalogs still play an important role in meeting the content needs of Design Engineers and Specifiers. However, those by themselves cannot create true differentiation when there is parity in Value Propositions.
That’s why you need customer-centric content to address the needs and challenges of various stakeholders in the decision-making committee. This requires manufacturers to make a big change in their mindset from “what we have to sell” to one that is based on “how can we help our customers do what they want done?”
Earn trust: Engineers and industrial professionals want content that is technically accurate, presented logically and claims that are backed by evidence and/or proof of concept. Bring your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to the forefront to earn credibility and trust. One engineer to another is a very powerful strategy for better engagement with your technical audience.
Importance of SEO and CRO: White hat techniques for Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) become more important for attracting the right audience to industrial websites. Don’t stop there though, converting that traffic into leads is a whole different ballgame.
This is referred to as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Even though they are related, they are not the same. See my post, “Industrial Lead Generation for Sales – It’s Complicated!”
Industrial blogging: An industrial blog must be an integral part of your manufacturing content marketing strategy. Yes, it takes a lot of hard work and time to create technical blog posts regularly and promote them actively, but the effort is worth it.
Here are the key benefits of blogging:
- Improve your organic SEO ranking with optimized blog posts
- Posts published by in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) highlight your company’s expertise and experience (Marketing can ghostwrite them but must remain in the background)
- Blog posts are usually more customer-centric than product-centric as is usually the case with product and services pages
- Create thought leadership, build brand awareness, and earn trust by publishing regularly on topics that your readers care about
- 85% of manufacturers use their website/blog to distribute content (Source: The Content Marketing Institute)
- Content distribution using social media channels depends largely on fresh content published on your industrial blog
- Marketers who prioritize blogging efforts are 13x more likely to see positive ROI (Source: HubSpot, 2019)
Prepping manufacturing marketing for Industry 4.0
Of course, just talking about digital marketing is not going to help; you have to make some changes to get ready for it.
Here’s another quote from Deloitte’s Center for Integrated Research, “Creating digital customer connections typically requires strong coordination between the chief marketing and information officers to marry the customer knowledge and sales and marketing processes with the information technology capabilities required to design and build new platforms.”
It all starts with your industrial website—the hub of your digital marketing. Do an extensive audit of the website content, user experience and what you expect visitors to do after they land on your website. A complete industrial website redesign requires much more than just putting a pretty skin on an existing website.
Take stock of your existing content assets to identify gaps that need to be filled. Repurpose some and create new content as needed. Make sure you have or can create content for various stakeholders and for different stages of the buyer’s journey. This is a challenge according to the report published by the Content Marketing Institute—“Fewer than half (40%) of manufacturing marketers craft content based on specific stages of the customer journey.”
To get a better idea of what engineers are looking for from a supplier’s website, take a look at this chart from the 2020 Smart Marketing for Engineers® report published by IEEE GlobalSpec.
Does that mean every webpage must be packed with thousands of words? The short answer is NO!
The same report from IEEE GlobalSpec also found that, “Engineers overwhelmingly prefer reviewing concise product or service information with links to in-depth content, as opposed to multiple paragraphs with detailed information or bulleted lists. Younger engineers (35 and under) are more likely to value imagery/icons related to the content and scannable bulleted lists.”
You’ve heard this before, but worth repeating, digital marketing is more trackable and measurable than traditional forms of marketing. That doesn’t mean it is easy to prove ROI, but it is easier for sure.
This post should help you get your manufacturing marketing ready for Industry 4.0.
Really very interesting. Seems the starting point, and, the crux is in the Industrial Website
Thanks for your kind words and your comments.
I am a civil engineer and I am looking into the construction industry as my specialty using geosynthetic Technology. I believe that it has a more positive impact on the community and high quality innovation. It is so nice to see articles like this to enhance my skills. Here is where I am working right now.
Thanks. Good luck in your work with geosynthetic technology.
This is incredibly valuable information for content marketers, especially the statistics you sourced from IEEE GlobalSpec about content types and formats. Looking forward to reading your Industrial Lead Gen article next!
Thank you very much for your kind words. Glad you found the stats useful.
Very interesting article thanks for posting. I very much enjoyed the infographic. Data is such a huge part of Industry 4.0, companies need to invest technology that utilises and organises their data, which is certain to improve productivity.
Here are some ideas to get you started: View customer service as ongoing and adapt to changing needs. Build and test prototypes of new products for proper user feedback or build a model as per your needs and use the technology to increase the leads to benefit you as a whole.