Manufacturers Use Evaluation Kits for Effective Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing plays an important role in industrial lead generation programs because it is rare that an industrial sale is completed on the first call or the first visit to the manufacturer’s website.

Forrester, CSO Insights and Marketo reported that lead nurturing produced much better results. Here are some of the significant findings from their research studies:

  • Reduced the number of marketing-generated leads ignored by sales to as low as 25%
  • Raised win rates on marketing-generated leads by 7% and reduced “no decisions” by 6%
  • Helped 9% more sales reps make quota and shortened ramp up time of new ones by 10%

Still not convinced? Read my earlier post, “Lead Nurturing Is Not A Marketing Option, It’s A Sales Necessity.”

Lead nurturing is usually done by sending out helpful content to prospects and moves them from the top of the funnel (ToFU) to the bottom of the funnel (BoFU) where they are ready to make a purchase decision. Some refer to this as “drip marketing.”

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Align Industrial Websites with Sales Process

If you want your industrial website to generate qualified leads and drive sales (Who doesn’t?), make sure the site is aligned with your sales process. Without this critical link, your newly redesigned industrial website may be nothing more than eye candy that does very little for your sales.

In my daily conversations with manufacturing and industrial companies, I find the mindset is still very much centered on marketing the old way. They want their site visitors to call and their crack sales team will take care of everything to close the deal.

Even though these people have read all the industry studies, they have a very difficult time accepting the fact that their buyers are no longer willing to engage with their salespeople until they need a quote. Now it boils down to price and delivery time.

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Industrial Marketing Content that Helps Buyers

It is very common to find marketing content from manufacturers and industrial companies that is all about how great their products are or that their technology is innovative. Sellers may be too close to the forest to see the trees and firmly believe their marketing content is helpful to their buyers.

Buyers can easily find information about your products and that of your competition from their online research. So ask yourself this question, “Is my industrial marketing content really helping my buyers make a more informed decision and is it moving them closer to an RFQ?”

I suspect most of you already know the answer otherwise I wouldn’t be hearing and reading the same objections to content marketing from so many manufacturers and industrial companies. They know the “why” but are having a difficult time figuring out “how” publishing content will help them sell more of their industrial products.

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Create a Content Series for Industrial Marketing

Happy New Year!

This is my first post in 2012 and I want to start the New Year by answering a perennial question about content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies. The question – what do we write about?

The answer – create a content series.

Just like popular TV serials, you want to create a series of short blog posts that revolve around a common theme. There are many advantages to this content marketing strategy. The most important ones are:

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Top 10 Industrial Marketing Posts of 2011

As we wind down 2011, this is a good time to review all the industrial marketing posts that I have published here and been viewed by you, my readers, during the year. Not all the posts were written in 2011, one was way back from 2008.

If there is one important takeaway from this exercise, it is that blog posts live forever and continue to attract traffic long after they have been posted. That’s the power of inbound marketing with content.

I looked at my Google Analytics for the entire year and have selected the top ten blog posts using a combination of Pageviews, Engagement and Social Sharing data to determine the ranking.

Unlike David Letterman’s Top Ten list; my industrial marketing blog posts are listed in decreasing order of popularity.

And now for the drum roll please…

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2012 Content Marketing Trends for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies

I just finished reading an excellent research report from the good folks at Content Marketing Institute (CMI). This report is chock full of statistics and graphs about B2B content marketing. In this post, I want to focus on some of their findings that I feel apply to content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies.

Even though the content marketing adoption rate for these companies is at an impressive 83%, I am surprised that it is even that high; the Manufacturing/ Processing industry (as defined in the report) is dead last among the six industries studied.

What is encouraging though is the fact that 68% of companies with 10 – 99 employees maintain a blog as compared to only 55% for larger companies that employ this content marketing tactic. Many of the manufacturers and industrial companies fall in the smaller size category.

That’s not the only good news for blogs. Even though other marketing tactics like in-person events and webinars are still seen as the most effective tactics, this year blogs registered a 45% increase in “perceived effectiveness” as compared to the study done in 2010. (See chart below).

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When the Going Gets Tough, B2B Marketers…

…fall back on tried-and-true marketing tactics that they have relied on for years. In the current tough economy, cutting edge and innovative marketing is taking a back seat to proven strategies for lead generation.

B2B companies are spending more of their marketing budgets on channels such as trade shows, Website design, management and optimization and e-mail marketing. Those three marketing channels received the largest allocation of the budget. The trend holds true across the board even though the mix may be different depending on the size of a B2B company.

Smaller companies, those with less than 100 employees, tend to spend more on digital marketing tactics like Website design, e-mail marketing as well as traditional outbound marketing channels like direct mail. Not surprisingly, they tend to spend less on trade shows.

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Use Content Marketing to Manage Industrial Sales Funnels

B2B and industrial marketers are usually tasked with two main responsibilities:

  1. Fill the top of the sales funnel (ToFU) with high quality leads
  2. Maximize the middle of the funnel (MoFU) for converting more leads into sales opportunities

Achieving those two objectives are difficult enough, now add to that the constant pressure of having to lower the cost per lead at the same time. That’s why more B2B and industrial marketers are turning to content marketing to lift their lead generation ROI.

Several studies have shown that these lead generation challenges hold true across the board in B2B marketing. According to the recent MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey (June 2011) of more than 1,700 B2B marketers:

52% of the companies reported, “Converting qualified leads into paying customers” (MoFU) as their biggest challenge. This was followed by Lead Generation (ToFU) at 48% and Lead Nurturing (MoFU) at 40% (See chart).

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Are Community Forums Good for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies?

Blogging and mainstream social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube get all the attention these days. What about good ol’ community forums?

Community forums have been around a lot longer than the newer social media channels. Some even consider it the original crowdsourcing platform for content. Traditionally used as customer support tools by manufacturers and industrial distributors, the discussion threads were primarily text-based. However, the more modern incarnation of community forums support rich media content, file attachments and social sharing options.

According to a survey done by GlobalSpec (Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector – 2011), 33% of industrial companies provide an online discussion community for customers, and 32% provide one internally for employees. (See chart)

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Using E-mail Marketing for Lead Generation

Most manufacturers and industrial companies use email marketing as a way to keep in touch with new leads and existing customers. This usually means sending out a bi-weekly or a monthly email newsletter.

It has been my experience within the industrial sector that these companies rarely use email marketing proactively for lead generation. Here I am not referring to new subscribers to newsletters and free content. To me, those contacts are prospects and not leads. There is a difference. For more on that, refer to my post, “Subscribers to Free Content are NOT Leads.”

How to generate quality leads using email marketing

Email marketing is an effective tactic for generating high-quality leads from an audience of engineering, industrial and technical professionals. However, it does require you to think about emails somewhat differently.

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