Many of my industrial clients are starting to plan and budget for 2014. High on their list of priorities is redesigning their industrial websites. A welcome change in these discussions is that redesigns are now driven by the needs of inbound marketing with content rather than just a cosmetic facelift to the site.
Manufacturers and industrial companies are more willing to accept the fact that their customers and prospects are interacting with them differently and this change in buyer behavior is permanent. They’ve seen how expensive traditional outbound marketing tactics are and how difficult it is to track results from those efforts.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that one should abandon outbound marketing. However, the balance has definitely shifted more towards online digital marketing for industrial companies.
I found this chart from ThomasNet.com’s 2013 Industry Market Barometer® (IMB) report and it confirms what I’m hearing from my industrial clients. (IMB is an annual survey of buyers and sellers of products and services in the industrial market. Respondents are engineers and purchasing agents, business owners and managers, and sales and marketing executives from manufacturers, distributors and service companies.)
More manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering companies are becoming serious about content marketing. However, they are just beginning the process and their websites are not ready for inbound marketing with content. Probably the most requested option I get is to add a blog to existing industrial sites. This is a quick and less expensive way to transform any informational industrial site to a more content driven site. This option is not always feasible because of how the current site was originally built (Read as web 1.0). In such cases, you’ll be better off with a complete redesign as an industrial blog site.
Whichever option you choose, the key is to change your mindset from “what we have to sell” to “what do our customers want to get done.” This change has to be a company-wide change with 100% buy-in from the top and not just a marketing exercise.
Customer-centric content makes a huge difference because many manufacturers and industrial companies struggle to talk about real differentiators. Often, they all seem to say the same things or make claims that the competition can easily copy. (Read my post “Content Can Differentiate Industrial Companies When There’s Parity in Value Propositions”)
These are the observations from my regular discussions about redesigning industrial websites. Are you planning a website redesign in 2014? What is driving that decision? Share your thoughts here.