Most Industrial and Manufacturing Websites are Still Stuck in Web 1.0

Lead generation from their Websites is the number one objective of most manufacturers and industrial companies that I talk to. Yet, their existing Websites have little to no lead generating capabilities.

That statement may come as a shock to many site owners because they are convinced that sales leads will just roll in because their site includes a toll free number in a big bold font, there are links to the “Contact Us” page everywhere and/or there’s a RFQ form on the site.

Here’s what’s wrong with that picture: Read more

ʼTis the Season for Website Redesigns: 7 Lessons Learned from Redesigning Industrial Websites

A New Year and a new website mean new leads and sales opportunities. That’s what most businesses wish for during the Holiday Season. A website redesign is a common marketing kick off in Q1 for many manufacturers, industrial and engineering companies.

With 2011 right around the corner, this is a good time to finalize your website redesign plans in order to find the right prospects and begin filling your sales pipeline.

This post is a summary of lessons learned from my 10+ years of experience in redesigning many industrial websites. I’ve also provided links to my other articles from this blog that talk about the key elements of a successful website redesign.

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3 DiY SEO Mistakes to Avoid When Optimizing Industrial Websites

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend (here in the U.S.) with your family. Now, back to work.

Attempting do-it-yourself (DiY) search engine optimization (SEO) is common among industrial companies since they tend to have dedicated IT departments. Can DiY SEO be just as effective as hiring an outside expert? Should IT be handling this task? Those are two very debatable questions but that is a topic for another post.

Here I want to focus on the three most common SEO mistakes that I see when industrial clients contact me for Website optimization. May be I just answered my own questions, if you catch my drift. 😉

Mistake #1: Lack of strategy and incomplete keyword research

Most people know about the free Google’s Keyword Tool and use it to do their keyword research. So far so good.

Where DiYers tend to go wrong in using this invaluable tool are:

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Have Digital Marketing and Social Media Killed the Industrial Sales Job?

Remember the very first music video ever played on MTV? It was called “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the British band The Buggles and was aired at 0001 hours on August 1, 1981, the day the cable station was launched in the U.S. Every disruptive technology is known to cause major upheavals in any industry. And digital marketing and social media are as disruptive as they come.

Even though the widespread adoption of social media in industrial marketing has been slower than general B2B and B2C marketing, it has had a serious impact on industrial sales, especially on the traditional role of the outside sales rep.

Digital marketing has also changed how industrial and technical buyers behave, search and consume information that they need at different stages of the buy cycle. They are time-challenged and want to interact with salespeople based only on their needs and schedules.

The impact of digital marketing on complex sales

I am deliberately making a distinction here between simple transactional sales and complex industrial or technical sales. The first type uses a self-serve model and is typically completed in the very first sales interaction, be it in person or online.

Complex industrial sales require many face-to-face meetings with several stakeholders within the customer’s organization. Often closing the deal requires participation by many members of your sales team. Read more

Variety of Content is the Key in the Early Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle

In the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, you as the marketer have very little information about the visitor to help you tailor your marketing content to their needs.

In Needs Awareness and Research phases, the first two stages of the industrial buy cycle (see my earlier post Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle) your prospects and customers use a variety of online content to find solutions to their current problems and needs.

The chart below shows the variety of content used at different stages of the industrial buy cycle (Source: Understanding the Industrial Buy Cycle: How to Align Your Marketing with Your Customers’ Buying Process from GlobalSpec).

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Is Your Industrial Website Still Just a Business Card?

Unless you’ve been on a very long sabbatical from industrial and manufacturing marketing, you very well know that your website should be the hub of your online marketing.

Why should you care about your company’s website? Probably the best reason I’ve read is by Linda Rigano, Executive Director of Strategic Services at ThomasNet. She said,

“Treat your website as if you were hiring a six-figure salesperson. If you were going to put them on the street, what would you do? You’d arm them with information about the marketplace. You’d arm them with information about your products and how people use them. Then you’d put that person in front of the audience and check with them.”

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5 Things Industrial Marketers Must Do to Attract Engineers and Turn Them into Loyal Customers

Contrary to popular beliefs that engineers are consumers too and therefore one must market to them as people first, I believe marketing to engineers is different. Sure, they are human beings like the rest of us but they have very different emotional triggers and needs when it comes to making work-related decisions.

I should know — I am an engineer too. So I’m not only familiar with an industrial marketer’s target audience, I am the audience or at least a member of it.

Having worked closely with many manufacturers and companies from the industrial sector, I have learned several valuable lessons about what works when it comes to marketing to engineers and technical buyers. Here are my top five industrial marketing lessons:

Lesson #1: Save them time
Most engineers, especially design engineers are already overloaded with work. Anything you can do to help them find the right information quicker will score big with engineers. Having a search function on your website is no longer an option, it is a requirement. You need to move beyond the free Google Custom Search tool for websites.

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5 Rules of Website Redesign for Engaging Engineers and Industrial Buyers

If you are a manufacturer or a provider of technical services, your website needs to be aligned with the buying process of your prospects and customers. Today, technical buyers and engineers expect suppliers to have a substantial online presence with a website packed with relevant content in a variety of formats and easily searchable. Is your site ready for this shift in expectations or do you need a website redesign?

I’m sure you’ve read many times that engineers hate marketing/marketers and they want only the facts. Those punch lines and stereotypes may be amusing but they won’t really help you come up with an effective site redesign. How do you engage engineers and technical buyers on your website and build deeper relationships and achieve higher conversion rates?

Rule #1: Natural or organic search engine optimization (SEO)

In the research phase of the industrial buying cycle, engineers and industrial buyers tend to use broad keywords and phrases that describe their current problem. Unless your website shows up in the initial phases, you are probably not going to be considered in the next step, which is the comparison stage.

It shouldn’t be an afterthought because retrofitting SEO after the redesign is typically not very effective and usually costs more. Read more

Successful Industrial Websites Require Part DiY and Part Professional Help

One trend that I have noticed lately with my industrial and engineering clients is that they want to take more of the work in-house. I am referring to updating, maintaining and sometimes marketing their industrial websites. Is that a good thing?

My opinion is somewhat biased because I am an industrial and B2B marketing consultant. I make my living providing marketing services including designing and marketing industrial websites. However, I think it is a new and permanent reality of the current economy and have learned to adjust my business model accordingly.

Adding value to industrial website development and marketing

I am going to illustrate my point about part DiY and part professional help by using three real-life examples from my own industrial marketing business.

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B2B Websites: To Publish Prices, Or Not To Publish…That Is The Question

Do you show prices on your B2B website? Have you struggled to answer that question? You are not alone, most business purchases, especially industrial products don’t lend themselves to a simple Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). It becomes even more complicated if you sell through channel partners and there are different pricing structures in place.

This is not a new problem; business marketers have been debating the pros and cons of publishing prices on their websites for several years now. I found a series of blog posts on pricing on your website at Dave Jung’s B2B Blog, some of those articles date back to 2006.

Why do we need prices on B2B websites?

There have been many studies done over the years that indicate that price information is the very reason why most B2B buyers visit a vendor’s website. Read more