Is Blogging Right for Every Industrial Company?

The fact that you found this industrial marketing blog and are reading my post, tells me that you have asked yourself that very question and are curious about the answer. There are literally millions of articles written on why you should be blogging and they are easy to find in Google. I see no point in rehashing the same ideas here.

Instead, let me share my experiences in helping manufacturers, engineering and industrial companies launch successful blogs, produce results from them and in some instances, flat out advised them not to start one.

In this post, I’ll talk about some of the more difficult questions you should be asking yourself before jumping on the blogging bandwagon. Otherwise, you may be joining the ranks of countless other industrial blogs that were launched with a great deal of enthusiasm and expectations but were abandoned after only a few months.

Let’s dig a little deeper to understand what it really takes to achieve the four major benefits of blogging.

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Is Your Industrial Website Leaking Leads?

One persistent problem for many manufacturers and industrial companies is the small number of leads generated from their Websites. By default, they assume that the issue is the lack of traffic because of poor SEO. It is quite likely, that your industrial Website is attracting enough traffic but suffers from poor conversion. In short, you may have a leaky industrial Website. (See my earlier post, You’ve Got Traffic. Now What?)

Look at your Google Analytics, one quick indicator of a leaky Website is your bounce rate. Google defines bounce rate as “The percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.” Anything over 60% is worrisome and you may have a leaky Website.

One caveat to the above rule of thumb – a page for downloading case studies probably will have a very high bounce rate but that doesn’t mean it is bad. If you are sophisticated enough with analytics, you can set up conversion tracking within Google Analytics to get a better handle on where the leads are leaking from your Website.

Often, I find industrial websites designed with no thought given to traffic conversion. The most common conversion mechanisms I see are a toll free number in a big bold font and a Contact Us or a lengthy RFQ form. While making your contact information very visible on your site is a good idea, it is not very effective in converting site traffic into named contacts or leads.

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You’ve Got Traffic. Now What?

You’ve done all the hard work of optimizing (SEO) your industrial website and now you have a steady stream of traffic to your site. Congratulations!

Sorry to rain on your parade but that is only half the equation. The other half is all about converting that traffic into leads and customers.

I find there is a strong but mistaken belief among industrial companies that somehow their site visitors will interrupt their online activities and pick up the phone to call their sales people. Even though this behavior is contrary to how they themselves interact online, they expect their target audience to behave differently. (See my post, “Do You Believe in Industrial Websites?”).

The reality is that the vast majority of site visitors will do nothing and leave. What they have is a website that is leaking potential leads like a sieve. Whenever I make that statement, there is silence on the other end of the phone or in a face-to-face meeting; I get a look that says, “What the heck are you talking about?”

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Do You Believe in Industrial Websites?

Just like the classic ’60s hit song “Do You Believe in Magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful, I am wondering if manufacturers and industrial companies believe in their industrial websites.

I am not so sure manufacturing companies are fully convinced that their website is a real sales tool. My doubts stem from some of the things that I hear in my regular conversations with these companies. Here are a few actual sound bites:

  • We are still using our first website that was created by our president’s 23-year old son-in-law
  • We didn’t want to spend too much money so we hired an offshore programmer from a freelance site to design our company’s website
  • We spent a lot of money on SEO and PPC programs but our site hasn’t generated good quality leads
  • We are not very happy with the look of our site and we want a good designer to make our site look really “cool”
  • We put up a website because all our competitors have one
  • We don’t really use the website because 80-90% of our new business comes from referrals and repeat business

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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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Internal Links – the Secret Sauce for DiY SEO

It is no secret that link building is critical to SEO success. However, some people often ignore internal links because they are just not aware of their SEO benefits. To most do-it-yourselfers (DiY), link building for SEO means external or inbound or backlinks. These are links that originate from another site and point to a page on your domain.

Don’t underestimate the SEO power of internal linking. They are not only great for increasing the number of pages indexed by Google but also help you target a larger number of keywords, especially long tail keywords. The number of site pages indexed by Google has a direct impact on your online lead generation. For every 50 to 100 pages indexed by Google, expect double-digit growth in the number of leads. (Read my earlier post, B2B Lead Generation Using a Business Blog).

The best news is that building internal links is completely in your control.

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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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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