Industrial Marketing in the Age of the Customer

Let me give credit where credit is due, I first heard the phrase “The Age of the Customer” from Forrester Research. It has a nice ring to it and IMO, it is a true reflection of buyer behavior today.

I have also heard/read the same phenomenon referred to as the Digital Disruption. Whatever you want to call it is fine with me, but the fact is that there has been a permanent shift in how customers interact with sellers now.

This means that sellers must change and adapt to new ways of acquiring new customers and keeping the current ones. If not, a more nimble and more relevant competitor who isn’t carrying the baggage of “old ways” of marketing will win over your customers and eat into your market share quickly. That’s the fact, Jack!

It is very interesting to see how this change has happened across the board and in every industry. This quote from a study by Forester Research sums it up nicely, “Empowered customers are disrupting every industry; competitive barriers like manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery no longer create competitive advantage. In this age of the customer, the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers.”

Compare that with this quote from IHS GlobalSpec’s 2013 Digital Media Use In The Industrial Sector report, “The Digital Disruption is a fundamental challenge caused by the Internet and digital channels to traditional ways of doing business. The Internet has become the leading source for information throughout society and the industrial sector is no different. Engineers and other industrial professionals are spending more time online and using a variety of digital resources to perform work-related tasks, which has transformed their buy cycle and disrupted the marketing and sales process for suppliers and manufacturers.”

How are engineers and industrial professionals using digital resources throughout the Industrial Buy Cycle (Needs Awareness, Research, Consideration & Comparison and Procurement)? This chart from GlobalSpec’s report shows the various sources used by this audience during the different stages of the buy cycle.

How engineers and industrial professionals use digital sources

Manufacturers and industrial companies that have embraced content or digital marketing are seeing an increase in site traffic but there is a big gap when it comes to engagement and conversions.

One quick measure of that lack of effectiveness is the high bounce rate (It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and leave after visiting only one page instead of going deeper into the site). You can see this data by viewing your Google Analytics. There many reasons for a high bounce rate but it is a good indication of the effectiveness or performance of an entry page at generating interest for visitors.

Instead of giving you more theories, let me list some real world digital marketing ideas based on my personal experience with industrial clients that have proven to deliver results for them. Over and above the white papers, case studies etc., I suggest implementing one or more of these digital marketing tactics to improve customer engagement and increase conversions.

  • Parametric Search or Part Number Builders
  • Downloadable CAD files
  • Online Product Configurators
  • Dynamic Content (Personalization and Relevance)
  • Product Comparison Matrix/Guide
  • Engineering Kits
  • Ask an Expert
  • Mobile Apps
  • Sizing Programs and Calculators
  • Video Marketing

Download my white paper, 7 Content Marketing Tactics to Sell Industrial Products where I have provided brief descriptions on some of these tactics.

Have you used other digital marketing strategies to engage with industrial buyers and improve conversions?

2 replies
  1. Tom Repp
    Tom Repp says:

    That’s the fact Jack! So true Achinta.

    I can tell by your emphasis there is some frustration. Why aren’t more industrial marketers embracing the web as a rich platform for customer engagement and lead generation?

    As more evidence mounts that a comprehensive web-marketing strategy provides measurable ROI for industrial marketers…there is still a significant lag in adaption rates.

    I can see some shift in my customer’s attitude. Even the industrial owners that don’t pay attention to the web can sense the market is making a dramatic shift towards the customer. The industrial companies that adapt quickly and produce high quality, helpful content will be companies with the most authority in their industry niches.

    I agree there is still a significant gap between increase traffic using improved content and engagement and conversion. However, as industrial companies improve their content, engagement and conversion will improve. Then the winners and losers, in the Age of the Customer, will start to sort themselves out.

    “By Tom Repp”

    Reply

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