Content Marketing Strategy Must Drive Your Industrial Website Redesign

Jeffrey Zweldman on content and web designAn industrial website redesign shouldn’t be a quick decision because your site is the very foundation of your online presence. Why is it such an important decision?

According to the Industrial Buy Cycle survey of engineers and technical professionals conducted by IHS Engineering 360 (formally GlobalSpec), “The top three most frequently used sources for searching for products and services to purchase are search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs.

The survey also found that in the early stages of the Buy Cycle, Needs Awareness and Research phases, industrial professionals use a variety of online sources of information.

By the time buyers reach the final Procurement stage, supplier websites and online catalogs become the most important sources of information. Take a look at this chart from IHS Engineering 360’s Buy Cycle survey.

Read more

Industrial Marketing Plan: A 3-Phase Approach

Industrial marketing plan

As we go deeper into Q4 with the holidays right around the corner, most industrial companies start to think about their industrial marketing plan for the next year. As an industrial marketing consultant, I’m often asked by clients the best way to approach this important planning task.

My preferred way is what I call the 3-phase industrial marketing plan approach. I refer to them as phases instead of steps because each phase consists of several smaller steps.

Read more

Why do so Many Industrial Website Redesigns Fail?

why industrial website redesigns failThis is a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. You are going to be here for a while and thanks for taking the time to read.

We’ve all heard or read about industrial website redesigns that have failed. I’m not talking about the aesthetics of a site which can be subjective; I’m referring to a site redesign that fails to produce results. For manufacturers and industrial companies that usually means that the redesign failed to deliver enough high quality leads that turned into sales opportunities.

I’ve had many conversations with prospective clients that start out something like this, “We’ve spent a bunch of money with an outside company to redesign our website but it hasn’t done much for our sales.” Some have even gone as far as saying “This other web developer did a disservice to us.”

Understandably they are now reluctant to spend more money on another industrial website redesign. What went wrong? It’s not that the other web development company deliberately ripped off these people, though there are some unscrupulous companies out there.

Most web design companies are led by graphic designers and coders; some are also experts at search engine optimization (SEO). Their primary focus is on creating an attractive site that gets found in Google for certain keyword phrases. Well, what’s wrong with that, you ask?

Read more

Industrial Website Redesign: Content Before Design

Industrial website redesignAround this time of the year, I get more calls and emails about redesigning industrial websites. This of course is very good news for my industrial marketing business but there is usually something missing that makes me cautious.

My “Spidey Sense” is heightened whenever I hear the other person say something like “We need to spruce up our website so we can be found in Google.”

It goes without saying that being found in Google is a must but there are two wrong assumptions in that statement.

  • Sprucing up or making the site look pretty is not going to produce better results beyond a spike in traffic right after the launch. You are not going to be any better off than you are now but will have spent thousands of dollars in nothing more than a cosmetic facelift for the current site.
  • A website redesign is not the same thing as search engine optimization (SEO). Don’t expect to suddenly appear on the first page of Google just because you’ve done a site redesign. SEO that produces sustainable results requires implementing proven white hat tactics and consistently applying good content marketing practices.

Design, aesthetics, coding and maintaining branding standards are all important. However, the single biggest factor that determines the success of an industrial website redesign is content. I say that based on my experience in successfully redesigning and launching several websites for manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering companies.

Content is what fuels the digital marketing engine, drives traffic and generates quality leads from industrial websites. That means content is the foundation for SEO, differentiation, thought leadership, engagement, conversions, acquisitions and retention of customers just to name a few of the goals that you want to accomplish with the redesigned site.

You need to ask a few important questions about content before you start a website design or redesign project. It doesn’t matter whether you do this in-house or outsource it; you need good answers, preferably backed by data and research. Here are some of the questions that I ask to help me plan for content before starting an industrial website redesign project:
Read more

Industrial Website Redesign Should Fit Your Sales Process

Industrial website redesign

I have had many conversations with manufacturers and industrial companies where our discussions began with the statement, “We need to  redesign our industrial website.” Great news, right? Not exactly and here’s why.

If you want your industrial website to generate qualified leads and drive sales (Of course you do), make sure you and your web developer take the time to ask and answer the key question, “How will the industrial website redesign align with our sales process?” Many other related questions begin to surface whenever I ask that question.

Read more

Priming Industrial Websites for Content Marketing

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.

Read more

Does Your Website Content Meet the Needs of Industrial Buyers?

When was the last time you actually read the content on your industrial website? Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and see if the current content will persuade you to take an action that will ultimately lead to an RFQ.

The answer I get most often is either a no or a may be. Your site content must match the industrial buyer’s needs if you want your industrial website to be an effective sales tool for generating qualified leads.

The tendency for most companies is to talk about their product features and available options. Those are great and technical specifications are important to engineers and a technical audience. However, one-size-fits-all content is not very effective because of two reasons. They are:

Read more

Responsive Web Design Becoming Important to Industrial Companies

Lately I have been fielding a lot of questions about responsive web design from companies that are planning an industrial website redesign. In case you are wondering what the heck is responsive web design, let me give you Wikipedia’s definition first:

“Responsive web design (often abbreviated to RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).”

I found a better description in an article from Forbes (You know something has gone mainstream in the business world when Forbes publishes a featured article on it). They define it simply as, “Responsive Web design is a new design approach that enables Web designers and developers to build and maintain a single website to serve to all kinds of devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops and more.”

Read more

Is it Time for Your Industrial Website to Sing Auld Lang Syne?

As 2012 ends and we look forward to 2013, it is a good time to review your current industrial website. In keeping with the tradition of celebrating the start of the New Year by singing “Auld Lang Syne,” it may be time for you to say farewell to the old site and greet the New Year with a redesigned website.

There are many reasons for redesigning your industrial website, mainly because it is outdated or it is underperforming or not producing any results at all. However, before you dive into the deep end of a site redesign, you need to first plan your content. By content, I don’t mean just the text on your web pages.

Based on my experience in developing successful sites for manufacturing and industrial companies, I suggest you spend a lot of time on the following tasks before beginning the redesign:

Read more

What You Should Know Before Developing Industrial Blog Sites

At this time of the year, many industrial companies are getting ready for their annual budget planning meetings. If you are one of them, a redesign of your industrial website may also be part of those discussions.

Blog sites have become a very popular choice with many manufacturers and industrial companies since content plays such an important role in today’s digital marketing programs. These dynamic sites combine static webpages with a blog to give you the best of both worlds – fresh content and functionality. See my post, “Build Industrial Websites as Dynamic Blog Sites” for advantages of blog sites.

The thing that worries me though is that in my conversations with some of these industrial companies, I find that they want to discuss their choice of Content Management System (CMS) with me. In my opinion, that is not what you should be focusing on.

As the Owner/President/CEO, your input should be in shaping the content marketing strategy. Focus on the kind of content you need that will attract the most qualified traffic to your site and convert those visitors into customers. Help the site designer build the functionalities that your site visitors want. Leave the choice of the CMS to the web developer, be it in-house or outsourced.

Read more