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
It may seem like I’m being flippant but there is a serious message here. Today, it is imperative that you consider your industrial website to be as important as your star salesperson. That’s because the way your industrial customers interact with you during their buying cycle has changed significantly over the past few years.
They are online doing a significant amount of their initial purchase-related research long before they will contact or engage with your sales team. If you are not convinced, take a look at these two findings from two different research studies done by GlobalSpec:
- 48% of industrial professionals spend six or more hours per week on the Internet for work-related purposes and 28% say their time on the Web for work is more than nine hours a week. (Source: 2011 GlobalSpec Economic Outlook Survey)
- 78% of industrial suppliers indicate that their company Web site is one of their top three sources for connecting with prospects far outpacing other outlets such as tradeshows, direct mail and print advertising. (Source: 2011 GlobalSpec Marketing Trends Survey)
Here is a quote from MarketingSherpa’s findings from their 2011 survey of 1,500 B2B marketers:
Organizations devote one-quarter of their online marketing budgets to their websites. Even the best marketing efforts are for naught if the website is not optimized (in terms of performance and design) to communicate the “offer” and trigger a “response.”
First impressions do matter; especially since today’s impatient industrial buyers are apt to make snap decisions about their preferred suppliers. You can’t expect your customers to take you seriously and do business with you if you don’t believe it’s worth investing more than a thousand dollars or two on your website, the very face of your company to the world. Your industrial website must be a true reflection of your company, its products and services.
I am not suggesting that you dive right into a site redesign or spend a bunch of money and expect the site to magically produce results. Designing an industrial Website for optimal B2B lead generation doesn’t happen by accident. It requires careful planning, paying attention to many details and first-hand knowledge of what engineers and technical buyers want to see on your site.
I suggest that you take the following steps to ensure that your redesigned industrial website produces leads and drives sales.
- Evaluate your current site to determine its weaknesses and gaps. Read my post, “Website Evaluation Comes Before Site Redesign” for more on this
- If necessary, hire an outside industrial marketing consultant to do a thorough internal discovery, competitive analysis and develop a go-to-market action plan
- Get together with your sales team, channel partners, product engineers and sales support people. Pick their brains for what they know and are hearing from your customers
- Talk to some of your long-time customers and get their feedback on what they want to see on your site to make it easier for them to do more business with you
- Map out your sales process from the first point of contact to the RFQ and close. Determine how the new site will drive that sales process (See Align Industrial Websites with Sales Process)
- Determine your success criteria and who will be responsible for measuring and reporting
- Appoint an internal point person who understands your website needs and will be the project manager. This is who should be talking to web development companies about their capabilities and prices. Don’t task an admin assistant to call around for prices and fill out a spreadsheet
- Have an open and honest discussion with 2 or 3 companies on your short list to get a good feel for how they work, their grasp of your industrial customers and their industry experience. Be prepared with a rough idea of your budget. Being coy and saying, “we don’t know” is an exercise in futility for both parties
- Ask for web design proposals that detail full scope of work, delivery milestones and total cost of the project
After going through these steps, you will be in a much better position to evaluate different web design proposals. You’ll truly be able to do an apples-to-apples comparison instead of looking at the price alone. Download our free Step-by-Step Guide to Web (re)Design guide to get a head start in the process of redesigning industrial websites that generate leads and drive sales.