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.

Sources of information for industrial buy cyclce

The single biggest reason why an industrial website redesign fails

Let’s set aside the aesthetics of a site redesign for the moment, not because it is unimportant but because it can be very subjective. Here I’m referring to a site redesign that fails to produce results. For manufacturers and industrial companies that usually means that the website redesign failed to deliver enough high quality leads that turned into sales opportunities.

The biggest reason for a site redesign’s failure to produce results is it fails to fit the sales process.

I make that assertion based on repeatedly hearing the same statement from manufacturers and other industrial companies, “We use our website for information only and not a sales tool.” Yet their stated goal for doing a redesign is to generate more high quality leads by engaging with engineers and industrial buyers.

There is a strong disconnect between the purpose of the site redesign and the internal sales process. You or the site developer must invest the time to clearly understand how the redesigned website will not only fit the sales process but become an effective sales enabler. Marketing to engineers is different and it is difficult. (See Marketing to Engineers is a Big Challenge)

How are industrial content marketing and website redesigns connected?

Given the fact that engineers and industrial buyers are in self-serve and self-select mode these days, you need relevant content in various formats for every stage of the buy cycle.

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 an industrial website redesign and content marketing.

Don’t sabotage your industrial content marketing strategy by focusing only on SEO or top of the funnel traffic. (See How Industrial Companies are Stuck on SEO for Content Marketing Strategy)

Why is content for industrial websites an afterthought?

It is not that owners and decision makers at industrial companies don’t care about their website content. There are many reasons for website content becoming an afterthought. Here are a few that I hear most often:

  • Our budget is already very tight and we don’t have any money to hire an outside content marketer.
  • We know our business better than any outsider ever will (True but are you an expert at marketing?)
  • It can’t be that hard to write some copy. We can do it ourselves. (There is a difference between content creation and content marketing)
  • Content is useless because nobody reads anything anymore. We just need site visitors to fill out our RFQ form.
  • We want site visitors to call us. Our sales people will tell them everything they need to know when they talk to them on the phone or set up a face-to-face meeting.
  • Engineers don’t like marketing; they just want the facts. We have plenty of product datasheets and catalogs to provide them the right information.
  • Our engineers and subject matter experts (SMEs) are too busy to create marketing content. We need outside help but most copywriters don’t understand out technical business.

Effective vs. cosmetic industrial website redesign

There is a big difference between a redesign that is a cosmetic facelift and one that is efficient and effective at raising awareness, attracting the right traffic and generating qualified leads that your sales team will appreciate because they have a better than average chance of converting into wins.

A web designer or the outsourced web development company cannot create an efficient delivery system unless s/he has the experience and the expertise in understanding complex industrial sales with long sales cycles involving many stakeholders. Industrial websites designed for optimal lead generation require expert planning, paying attention to many details and first-hand knowledge of what engineers and technical buyers want to see on your site. That’s why you’ll see a wide variance in site redesign costs, ranging from under $5,000 to $50,000 or more with a typical budget of around $15K.

With all that is at stake, it is crucial to first develop an effective content marketing strategy that aligns well with your sales process before diving into an industrial website redesign.

1 reply
  1. Jack
    Jack says:

    I would suggest creating a short video to showcasing your product. This is also a great way to generate some content for your blog. A simple how to/DIY video can do wonders for sales.

    Reply

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