The manufacturing landscape has evolved drastically in the past few years. To stand out, digital marketing needs to underlie your business objectives.
In 2021, UK manufacturing growth was at a 30-year high, progressing and evolving at a near breakneck pace. Sounds good, right? However, the competition is stiff. And steep increases in production volume often mean that productivity and efficiency are at the forefront, and digital marketing takes a back seat. However, the only way to keep up with the demand of the supply chain is to ride the digital wave.
Gone are the days when manufacturers are able to generate quality leads from trade shows and telemarketing alone. In fact, around 70% of all shipments in the manufacturing sector are performed online. Perhaps this is due to the fact that B2B customers now require more personalisation and flexible supply chains.
With this in mind, it may be time to rethink your approach. Read on to learn more about digital marketing for manufacturing and how your business can stay ahead of the curve.
What is digital marketing?
Let’s start with the basics. Digital marketing, also known as online marketing, was first coined in the 1990s. Simply put, digital marketing refers to any form of marketing that is carried out online. This involves the use of digital channels, such as websites, email, and social media, to market products and services to targeted audiences and convert prospects into leads.
It’s safe to say that marketing as we once knew it is on its last legs. Old school methods, such as print advertisements and broadcasting, are slowly being ditched in favour of digital channels and platforms. In fact, digital marketing jobs were among the fastest-growing in 2020, with brands investing in marketers with strong digital skills to meet evolving consumer needs.
Arguably, the reason for this sharp rise in digital marketing is due to changes in the buyer’s decision journey. A number of years ago, consumers made purchase decisions in person or over the phone. Today, consumers actively use the internet to seek information about the products and services they are interested in. 59% of shoppers do research online before deciding to buy. That way, they know they are making the best possible purchase.
There are various digital marketing tools you can use to improve your digital presence and generate more leads. Chief among these tools are SEO, PPC marketing and content marketing. We will dive into each of these strategies a little deeper below.
Why digital marketing is important in manufacturing?
Let’s face it, the manufacturing industry is not exactly known for being the most exciting industry – or at least that’s not on the surface. In reality, it’s an incredibly exciting industry. Pretty much everything around us started its life in the manufacturing space. As you read this, a manufacturer somewhere is working on the next big spaceship or supercar.
So, it’s important to showcase the innovative and exciting side of manufacturing and get customers excited about your products and services – especially given the fact that tough market conditions have made it nearly impossible to remain competitive.
Competition in the manufacturing industry is at an all-time high. UK market demand swelled significantly between April 2021 and May 2021, with the purchasing managers index (PMI) rising from 60.9% to 65.6%. Nevertheless, whilst some firms have benefited from a record increase in demand, 21% of manufacturers reported a decline in output at the end of 2021. It’s imperative that manufacturers rethink their approach. Here’s how digital marketing for manufacturing can help.
In a perfect world, manufacturers would make it their mission to show off their products and technical capabilities at any given opportunity. However, the reality is that most manufacturers are reluctant to boast about their successes and would rather let the numbers speak for them. Yes, the numbers are important – particularly in such a results-driven industry – but branding is a big part of standing out from the competition.
What makes your business unique? How do you want your customers to perceive you? You need to give potential customers a reason to choose you when your competitors offer the same products and services. Using a highly impersonal tone of voice when sharing information about your brand is unlikely to generate the number of quality leads you’re looking for, or at least not long-lasting relationships.
Branding is a big part of standing out from the competition
In order to build strong connections with prospective customers and also retain existing ones, manufacturers need to humanise themselves. Whether it’s sharing your goals, founder’s story or unique offerings, you need to use your digital channels to connect with customers. Remember, it’s not just about the product and what you can do! It’s all about building a story and creating content that resonates and ultimately converts into leads.
If you’re a B2B company, the buyer’s journey will likely be much different to that of a B2C company. Building trust with retailers is extremely important as research highlights that many retailers actively seek and develop alternative sources of supply and leave manufacturers in the dark.
Don’t forget, building trust is a two-way street. However, given the fact that the balance of power is constantly shifting between retailers and manufacturers, it is often up to the manufacturer to lay the foundation and make the first move.
When manufacturers build high trust with retailers, retailers are 22% less likely to develop alternative sources of supply. Of course, this benefits the manufacturer, but high trust benefits the retailer as well. Retailers who had high trust with manufacturers reported sales of the manufacturer’s product line of up to 78% higher than those with low trust in their manufacturer. So, building trust and creating a strong brand identity pays off for both retailers and manufacturers.
Target your customer
When it comes to market, “there is only one winning strategy. It is to carefully define the target market and direct a superior offering to that target market” – Phillip Kotler.
It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on your marketing campaign or how aesthetically pleasing your website is. At the end of the day, it’s all about making sure that your campaigns reach your target audience.
Creating a personalised and well thought out digital marketing strategy will ensure that you reach the right customers.
Given that manufacturing is almost exclusively B2B, lead generation is an integral part of the buying journey. In fact, 53% of marketers say that at least half of their budget is dedicated to generating leads, with 37% using marketing automation to generate quality leads.
There are so many moving parts involved in lead generation and – let’s face it – marketing in general. So understandably, it’s not always easy to know where to start. But that’s where digital marketing for manufacturing comes in.
Digital marketing strategies for manufacturing
At the top of the agenda for many manufacturers is the drive to boost quality, productivity and innovation – all of which are important. However, there also needs to be an emphasis placed on marketing – or digital marketing – for that matter.
Competition in the manufacturing industry has intensified. There are around 270,000 businesses in the manufacturing sector in the UK, with just over 500 of these being large manufacturers. It’s not just about survival; it’s about adapting to the digital shift.
So, which digital strategies can you use to stay competitive?
SEO is arguably the backbone of any digital marketing strategy. Through citation alignment and personalising your Google My Business profile, you can open up new opportunities for your business to get you in front of prospective customers. Plus, SEO also provides long-lasting results which can make it a mid-long strategy for your business.
One of the easiest wins in SEO is optimising your website for keywords that users are searching for that relate to your product or solution throughout your website and any content that you create – for instance ‘textile manufacturer’. This will help you to increase your organic rankings for relevant terms to help prospective customers find your website.
Usually, manufacturers’ sites are video and image-heavy. In theory, this is a great way to generate new leads. However, the reality is that this may slow down your website and have an adverse effect on rankings. Keeping the speed of the site high is vital these days as users are impatient and will leave the site if page doesn’t load immediately. With each additional second of load time, conversion rates drop by 4.42%.
Increase your organic rankings for relevant terms to help prospective customers find your website
Additionally, videos should be supported with the video schema that helps Google to understand better your video, as it might lead to displaying your video within the search results. If you are not familiar with video schema, it’s essentially a piece of code that is applied to your website that signals to Google that your video is just that – a video. Therefore, Google can serve it to a user that it believes may benefit from viewing it.
In an industry where order values are typically high and customers are looking for an expert company to invest in, it’s important to increase your website’s domain authority. Every website has a domain authority. It’s essentially a number – or score – associated with your website that indicates your relevance in your specific subject or industry.
A key way of increasing your domain authority is through a strong backlink strategy. Every time another website links back to your website, your domain authority should begin to creep up. Reaching out to relevant publications with interesting news about your company, exciting projects or thought-leadership articles is the best way to do this. Remember, quality over quantity!
Don’t just think of your website as a digital brochure. It’s a place to establish yourself as a thought leader, to show users that they will be dealing with people, not robots and, most importantly, a place to convert leads.
94% of first impressions are based on web design. So, it’s worth taking the time to invest in improving your website’s navigation structure – both on desktop and mobile. Your business is probably pretty complex, but keep it as simple as possible. For example, you can break content down into fewer categories such as:
- Products / Solutions
- Support / Knowledge centre
- News & Media
Ideally, no menu should have no more than three tiers and the main navigation should have between 4-5 navigation items. Also, try to avoid positioning words that are similar to one another, such as ‘Service’ and ‘Support’, as this can be tricky for users to read. And another thing! Be careful to not use terms that are vague on their own like ‘Applications’ and ‘Solutions’ because it can be difficult for users to figure out what the difference is. Any other potentially helpful resources can be placed in the footer of your website.
No menu should have no more than three tiers and the main navigation should have between 4-5 navigation items
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you’re contacting a manufacturing website, you want to know that you’ll be filtered through to the correct person and not lost in the general enquiry pile. Make sure you have a clearly labelled contact form specific to the page the user is enquiring from.
If you offer support or warranty, it should be a prominent feature as it suggests longevity and helps to build trust with customers. Any partner logos should also be prominent, as this helps to establish legitimacy. And if you have case studies, showcase them on relevant pages. That way, you can demonstrate how the product works and how it helped to meet the customer’s needs or, in some cases, exceeded them. This is a critical part of the buying process and could be the difference between a retailer choosing you over your competitors.
Of course, manufacturing is an incredibly exciting industry, however, the machinery and day-to-day runnings of your shop floor may not be the most engaging thing to existing and prospective customers. A good content marketing strategy brings your business to life and showcases what you do in an exciting way.
Manufacturing can be quite complex. But thankfully, content marketing offers a way for you to make things understandable for your existing customers and prospective customers. By producing regular, high-quality content across your channels, you will establish your presence as an informative industry resource and, in turn, build trust. Remember, manufacturing customers don’t need the hard-sell – they want to know that they are investing in a company that is a total expert in their field.
By producing regular, high-quality content across your channels, you will establish your presence as an informative industry resource
When done well, content marketing will give you a clear tone of voice (TOV) and strengthen your brand. This is important when attracting and appealing to your ideal customer and helping them form the right view of you. Being strong and consistent in your TOV will further build trust and familiarity with your current customers.
Blogging is still alive and kicking. In fact, B2B companies with blogs produce an average of 67% more leads monthly than companies that don’t blog. And if you want to further your position as a thought leader, use whitepapers! Plus, they can be used as gated content where users need to input an email address to receive the content and therefore leaves you with an email database to nurture and harness.
In order to attract leads, it’s well worth investing in pay per click (PPC) advertising. When done right, PPC can yield a significant return on investment.
PPC advertising is all about getting your ads to show at the top of SERPs and catching the attention of potential clients. Using different channels, you can target users based on a variety of past searches and behaviours. This then allows you to guide users from higher up the conversion funnel to lower down the funnel and ultimately generate new leads.
PPC advertising can encompass every stage of the conversion funnel. For instance, you can bid on broader keywords to raise customer awareness of your business. Once customers are aware of your offering, your next step should be to entice rather than educate. At this point in the buyer’s journey, users will know what they are looking for, but won’t necessarily know which manufacturer they want to go with. So, it’s important to make sure that you appear at the top of SERPs in order to pick up traffic from the increased brand interest.
It’s equally important to target users across the display network with visual ads based on their recent searches, websites they visited, and other interests they have shown on Google. This helps to target users. 68% of marketers say that display advertising is important to their overall marketing strategy.
Appear at the top of SERPs in order to pick up traffic from the increased brand interest
Engaged users who don’t convert fully into a customer or lead may need a final gentle nudge in the right direction. Try targeting them with follow up display ads to entice them back to the site. Plus, you can use this type of campaign to advertise new offerings to previous leads and to remind users that have shown an interest in your business who you are and why they should get in contact.
Email marketing is another string to add to the content marketing bow. Think of email as somewhere else to create and distribute your content and enforce your TOV.
Email marketing also allows you to easily personalise customer experiences – an invaluable tool in strengthening your relationship with customers – be it onboarding new customers, sending out emails for customers with a certain type of product, or targeting inactive leads.
The other good thing about email marketing is that it’s easily measurable. Most email marketing platforms offer a wealth of data such as open rates, unsubscriber rates and more so that you can track the success of your efforts and learn more about the behaviours of your email list.
If you’re worried that email marketing may not be the right solution for a manufacturing company, think again. Click through rates are 47% higher for B2B email campaigns than B2C. Investing in email marketing is something that every manufacturer should consider.
Social media marketing
In today’s digital landscape, if you want to reach more customers and generate more buzz around your products and services, it’s well worth taking the time to invest in social media marketing.
An empty and inactive social media channel for a business can be damaging to your reputation. It’s all about communication. Use the space to monitor and respond to any questions and mentions about your company and treat it as an extension of your customer service.
For the manufacturing industry especially, LinkedIn provides the perfect place to distribute your thought-leader content and enforce your TOV and brand image. It’s the key channel for manufacturing as this is where other businesses live. It is essentially a network for professionals. Make yourself heard by regularly sharing useful industry content on LinkedIn for current and potential customers to be impressed by.
LinkedIn provides the perfect place to distribute your thought-leader content and enforce your TOV and brand image
Don’t shy away from other social media platforms either! Even if you don’t feel your company is ‘exciting’ or consumer-focused enough, you can use social media to show your human side – not just tech and robots. Facebook, for example, is good for showcasing your company culture – whether its what’s going on in your offices or the factory floor, job vacancies, or charity work.
Yes, the written content is important. However, not everyone will want to read in detail about how your latest robot works. They may, however, love seeing it in action via video.
Today’s consumers are accustomed to snappy, quick content. That’s why TikTok and Instagram reels are dominating the social landscape. With this in mind, video content is crucial. It helps bring your company and service offering to life and offers large amounts of information and insight to customers in a short space of time. In fact, 86% of marketers say that video marketing is an effective way to generate leads, with a further 94% agreeing that video content has helped increase consumer understanding of their products and services.
In such a complex industry, showcasing exciting projects, product demos, customer/team member interviews and behind the scenes footage will, without a doubt, further elevate digital marketing for manufacturing companies. Plus, video is great for use across your website and social media channels.
Digital marketing mistakes in manufacturing
There isn’t a single recipe for success when it comes to digital marketing. That said, it’s important to know the digital marketing mistakes that can result in failure for manufacturers. That way, you can set yourself up for success and make sure that your business is on track to meet its marketing goals.
1. Unrealistic expectations
It can take months to start seeing the fruits of your digital marketing efforts – or at least meaningful results, that is. In fact, Forbes claims that having unrealistic expectations is one of the main reasons that digital marketing campaigns don’t always hit the ground running. So, it’s important to be mindful that digital marketing is not always instantaneous.
Don’t forget, digital marketing is not a one-time job. It’s an ongoing process that needs to be regularly reviewed and monitored in order to see what works and what doesn’t – or even just to get ahead of the curve. So, even if you find a strategy that works, try not to be complacent as the manufacturing industry is ever-changing.
3. Striving for perfection
As a manufacturer, nothing is more important than quality control and there is little to no room for errors. However, digital marketing is not so straightforward. A/B testing can help you discover the content that is most valuable to visitors and is the second most used conversion optimisation strategy by marketers.
4. Unclear objectives
Your business is more likely to achieve its digital marketing goals if you build a campaign using SMART objectives. When you set SMART goals, you are 33% more likely to succeed.
They help to support long-term goals and ensure that your strategy is focused. More importantly, SMART goals will ensure that you are striving for something doable. Plus, you can then measure your performance and see whether you are meeting your goals.
It’s equally important to not have too many objectives for a single campaign. Sometimes it’s best to have a single, measurable objective rather than a handful. That way, it will be easier to measure the campaign’s success.
5. Using the wrong metrics
Don’t forget to use the right metrics to measure your primary goal. For example, if you’re looking to generate 10 quality leads a month, looking at website traffic is not a good benchmark for success. Instead, it would be better to look at the number of leads submitted and then get feedback from your sales team to determine the quality of the leads.
6. Only responding to a sales need
The manufacturing industry tends to be quite transactional. However, customers are looking for more than just a supplier who can fulfil their sales needs. Think about whether your digital marketing strategy is responding to a sales or customer need.
Yes, sales-driven content is important. But, generally, this is only useful for leads who are already at the end of the buyer’s journey. If those customers aren’t sure what they want to buy yet, then promotional content is not likely to be effective.
Prospective customers who are at the awareness or consideration phase need just as much attention as those ready to make a purchase. 63% of B2B consumers need to hear a company’s claims at least three or five times before they actually believe them. So, make sure that content answers potential customers’ questions and is not just pushing a product. In that sense, your digital marketing strategy needs to be all-encompassing and address customer needs throughout the buyer’s journey.
Should you use a digital marketing agency?
We know that’s a lot to unpack, but the good news is that there are plenty of ways you can get started.
Having an internal marketing team who knows your company like the back of their hand sounds like the dream. After all, you will be able to retain full control over your digital marketing strategy and be able to access assents when and as you need to. On top of that, manufacturing can be quite complex and it can take time for an agency to come to grips with what you do.
However, if you hire an agency that specialises in digital marketing for manufacturing that understands your business, then this will be one less thing to worry about. Not to mention, an agency can look at your business with an objective, critical eye. This will allow them to build creative campaigns that serve both sales and customer needs.
Plus, by working closely with an agency, your business will benefit from quick results and a diverse skillset. Choosing a manufacturing agency that specialises in SEO, for example, can really drive your digital marketing goals. That’s got to be worth a second thought!
If you’re looking for an agency to take on your digital marketing campaign – big or small – Auburn Creative is here to help. We work with brands throughout the manufacturing industry and help them build digital marketing strategies that get results.
Contact us today and see why we are specialists when it comes to digital marketing for manufacturing.