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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Website Evaluation Comes Before Site Redesign

Many manufacturers and industrial companies consider a website redesign during Q1. The two main reasons are 1) Not showing up in Google search results (SEO – Organic Search Engine Optimization) and/or 2) Not getting enough qualified leads from the website (Traffic and Conversion).

You know your industrial site needs a major makeover but diving right into a site redesign without first doing a website evaluation or a site audit can be a costly mistake.

Poor SEO and conversions are the symptoms that are obvious to you. Only an in-depth website evaluation can diagnose the underlying causes. Without that, a website redesign will only be a cosmetic facelift and cannot address all the issues that are stopping your industrial website from producing results.

Keep in mind that SEO is not the same as a website redesign. They do go together because retrofitting SEO is more difficult and not as effective. Don’t expect to show up on the first page of Google just because your website has just undergone a redesign.

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Retrofitting Blogs and Converting Industrial Websites into Blog Sites

I am seeing more manufacturers and industrial companies willing to try inbound marketing with content. A sure sign of that is the number of conversations that I have had recently with my current clients and new leads. They all want to either add a blog to their static industrial websites or convert them into dynamic blog sites.

Retrofitting a blog into an existing site is quicker and less expensive than recreating the site on a blogging platform. However, a blog site with a fully integrated blog has many advantages over the retrofit option. For a full list of benefits, refer to my earlier post, “Build Industrial Websites as Dynamic Blog Sites.”

Some companies need help setting up their business blogs but for most, the biggest obstacle is creating content. One way to get over this hurdle is to repurpose some of your existing content into blog posts.

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Making Your Industrial Website Be All It Can Be

Remember the old US Army commercial – “Be All You Can Be?” It was one of the most popular and successful recruiting slogans and the army used it for over twenty years. It was created in 1981 by E. N. J. Carter (he was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Award for his efforts) when he was with N. W. Ayer & Son, the first advertising agency in the United States. (Source: Wikipedia)

What does any of this have to do with industrial websites? Plenty as it turns out.

I can’t think of a single conversation about website redesign that I’ve had with industrial companies that didn’t start with or include the following, “We want our website to be on the first page of Google for … (fill in your own keywords and phrases).”

Right from the get go, the entire focus of the site redesign is on search engine optimization (SEO). After all, why would you create a site that no one can find? One of the big draws of inbound marketing with content is that it helps a website get found early and often by its target audience. So what’s wrong with that singular focus on SEO?

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Website Content Must Address What’s Keeping Engineers up at Night

Speak to engineers across the board about what keeps them awake at night and you are likely to hear these three words repeatedly:

  • Risk
  • Security
  • Compliance

Does your website content address those issues? The content on your industrial site may be missing the mark completely if it doesn’t speak directly to engineers’ pain points.

If you are in the process of redesigning your industrial website, pause for a moment and think about the site content first. Just like the proverbial chicken or the egg conundrum, the recurring question in redesigning websites is – what comes first, site content or site design?

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Industrial Blog Sites Revisited

The idea of combining a website with the benefits of a blog is very appealing to many industrial marketers. In my conversations over the past few months, I have noticed a growing acceptance of blog sites among manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering services companies.

Blog sites as inbound marketing hubs

Industrial companies have realized the importance of inbound marketing and its impact on lead generation. They are beginning to look beyond a static informational website and are now seriously focusing on developing a more robust online presence for attracting qualified traffic, generating higher quality leads and positioning themselves as thought leaders in their respective niches.

If you are still not convinced about the power of industrial blogs and inbound marketing, let me highlight some of the facts and findings that I have written about in the past.

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Manufacturer Successfully Uses a B2C Online Marketing Tactic

I’m sure by now you’ve read or heard enough about how the lines are merging between Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing. Some have even called B2B marketing obsolete in this day and age.

Whether you agree or not is a topic for another day. IMO, the decision making process is more complex and there are many more stakeholders involved in industrial and B2B purchases but it still boils down to people doing business with people.

That’s why I say more power to the manufacturer if it can successfully use a B2C marketing tactic to help its customers select the right industrial product(s) quickly and easily.

And that’s the focus of this blog post.

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Where Industrial Websites are Falling Short

First the good news – 76 percent of small and medium sized manufacturers and industrial companies reported that their websites made a contribution to their growth during the second half of 2010.

Nearly 9 out of 10 “Outperformers” credited their websites for helping them increase revenues, open new sources of business, compete more aggressively in core markets and serve customers better or more efficiently.

Even among the “Optimists,” 54% reported that their website opened up new sources of business, 44% stated it helped them serve customers better and 33% reported it contributed to new revenue growth.

Outperformers are defined as manufacturers, custom manufacturers and wholesalers/distributors that experienced growth in the last half of 2010 and expect further growth by June 2011.

Optimists are companies from the industrial sector that expect growth to happen by June 2011 even if their sales were flat or declined in the last half of 2010.

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Build Industrial Websites as Dynamic Blog Sites

For most industrial companies and manufacturers, a Website is the centerpiece of their online presence. By now, most industrial marketers are aware of the power of inbound marketing for lead generation. A blog is considered the cornerstone of an effective inbound marketing strategy.

What if you could combine the best of both these marketing tactics? I’m talking about creating a blog site with dynamic content instead of a static digital marketing asset.

Building or redesigning a company Website as a blog site is increasingly becoming the preferred method for many industrial and manufacturing marketers.

Here, I’m referring to an integrated blog site where yourcompanyname.com is the home page of the blog or is in a subdirectory within your main domain such as yourcompanyname.com/blog and not an external blog like someotherblogname.com.    Read more

Digital Marketing for Control Engineers, Machine Builders and Designers

As an industrial marketing consultant, I interact on a daily basis with engineers and technical professionals from the Automation and Process Control industry. I receive valuable firsthand feedback on what this audience wants and needs from their digital marketing initiatives.

It was reassuring then when the findings from Machine Builder Research and Buying Study 2011 done by Control Design mirrored what I’ve been hearing from my industrial clients.

I’ll summarize the major findings from the study in this post but the headline of the cover story from the March 2011 issue says it all, “Sign of the Times: Wider Adoption of Web-Based, Digital Tools Usage Is Cruising Ahead.”
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