Posts

Industrial Content Marketing with Purpose

In my last post, I talked about using content to convert website traffic into leads and customers. In this post, I want to continue with a similar theme and talk about why your content marketing must have a purpose.

With the abundance of content available on the Internet these days, it is difficult to rise above the noise and get noticed. Manufacturers and industrial companies cannot be content with just publishing content, their content marketing needs to drive the sales process.

Telling owners and C-level executives at these companies that inbound marketing with content takes time to produce results will only hold them off for so long. They expect, and rightfully so, that their marketing investments produce ROI sooner rather than later, now would be even better. (See Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher, Act Like an Investor).

However, creating content that will convert traffic into leads in one fell swoop is a challenge since industrial sales typically have long sales cycles and a multitude of stakeholders are involved in the purchase decision.

Consider these suggestions then to overcome the hurdle – change the purpose of your content marketing from conversion to action. What am I talking about?
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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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Manufacturing Infographics for Content Marketing

Infographics, short for information graphics are hot right now. It seems everyone is creating one these days. Infographics have been around for a while and are used to communicate complex concepts visually and easily. If done right, they can be very effective in content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies.

In the early stages of lead generation, you are primarily dealing with “suspects” – people who you have not yet qualified as prospects or leads. For top of the funnel content, infographics are very effective because of their focus on educating the reader rather than being product-centric.

Even though suspects may not fit your ideal customer profile, they may be people who will share your content if they find it worthwhile and interesting. Infographics fit the bill the perfectly for this purpose. Shareable content increases awareness about your company and drives more traffic back to your site or blog. Filling the top of the funnel with interested readers is one of the key objectives of content marketing.

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Manufacturers Need Lead Management to Close the RFQ Gap

Talking to manufacturers and industrial companies on a daily basis has convinced me that when they say they need help with their lead generation, they really want more RFQ (Request For Quote) opportunities.

Generating new leads, qualifying and nurturing them until they turn into a RFQ is too much work for them. For a real-life example of this lead generation disconnect, read my post, Manufacturers: Don’t Start a Lead Generation Campaign without Sales.

During my internal discovery process, in nine out of ten cases, I’ll hear the President/CEO/Owner of manufacturing or industrial companies tell me one of their goals is to double the volume of RFQs they generate. To most of these decision makers winning new business is strictly a numbers game. They are convinced that the more they quote, better are their chances of scoring more deals.

I have to politely disagree with them because “activity is not the same as productivity.” It is not an easy sell for me to change this mindset. I have to make a strong business case before I can even get their attention.

Here are the steps I go through to change their minds and have worked well for me:

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Manufacturers: Don’t Start a Lead Generation Campaign without Sales

Every manufacturing or industrial company that I talk to wants more leads. However, there is a serious disconnect between sales and marketing when it comes to defining a qualified lead.

This is not a new problem. Google sales and marketing disconnect and you will find thousands of articles written on this topic. I am here to tell you that it is very real and thriving within manufacturing companies.

Recently, a manufacturing client retained me to help them improve their industrial lead generation campaign. This company had spent thousands of dollars in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and banner ads in niche industry eNewsletters. They had received a fair amount of traffic from those efforts but had little to no conversions. In short, very poor ROI from their lead generation efforts.

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Industrial Marketing Content that Helps Buyers

It is very common to find marketing content from manufacturers and industrial companies that is all about how great their products are or that their technology is innovative. Sellers may be too close to the forest to see the trees and firmly believe their marketing content is helpful to their buyers.

Buyers can easily find information about your products and that of your competition from their online research. So ask yourself this question, “Is my industrial marketing content really helping my buyers make a more informed decision and is it moving them closer to an RFQ?”

I suspect most of you already know the answer otherwise I wouldn’t be hearing and reading the same objections to content marketing from so many manufacturers and industrial companies. They know the “why” but are having a difficult time figuring out “how” publishing content will help them sell more of their industrial products.

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Create a Content Series for Industrial Marketing

Happy New Year!

This is my first post in 2012 and I want to start the New Year by answering a perennial question about content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies. The question – what do we write about?

The answer – create a content series.

Just like popular TV serials, you want to create a series of short blog posts that revolve around a common theme. There are many advantages to this content marketing strategy. The most important ones are:

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Content Marketing Delivers Lead Insight to Sales

It is true that industrial buyers are more in charge of the buying process today than ever before. Even though the process of buying industrial products and services has not changed much over the years, how industrial buyers prefer to go through their buying cycle has changed dramatically. Content marketing has become indispensable for addressing this changed buyer behavior.

Several studies have found that most engineering and industrial professionals today prefer to use the Internet during the early stages of the buy cycle – Needs Awareness, Research and Consideration & Comparison. It is only at the last stage, Procurement when buyers have already prepared a shortlist of vendors do they contact a manufacturer’s sales rep.

That does not mean that content marketing has reduced the role of industrial salespeople to mere order takers. On the contrary, it makes them more productive by providing valuable insight into the lead. See my earlier post, “Inbound Marketing Must Set the Table for Industrial Sales.”

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Use Content Marketing to Manage Industrial Sales Funnels

B2B and industrial marketers are usually tasked with two main responsibilities:

  1. Fill the top of the sales funnel (ToFU) with high quality leads
  2. Maximize the middle of the funnel (MoFU) for converting more leads into sales opportunities

Achieving those two objectives are difficult enough, now add to that the constant pressure of having to lower the cost per lead at the same time. That’s why more B2B and industrial marketers are turning to content marketing to lift their lead generation ROI.

Several studies have shown that these lead generation challenges hold true across the board in B2B marketing. According to the recent MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey (June 2011) of more than 1,700 B2B marketers:

52% of the companies reported, “Converting qualified leads into paying customers” (MoFU) as their biggest challenge. This was followed by Lead Generation (ToFU) at 48% and Lead Nurturing (MoFU) at 40% (See chart).

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Making Your Industrial Website Be All It Can Be

Remember the old US Army commercial – “Be All You Can Be?” It was one of the most popular and successful recruiting slogans and the army used it for over twenty years. It was created in 1981 by E. N. J. Carter (he was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Award for his efforts) when he was with N. W. Ayer & Son, the first advertising agency in the United States. (Source: Wikipedia)

What does any of this have to do with industrial websites? Plenty as it turns out.

I can’t think of a single conversation about website redesign that I’ve had with industrial companies that didn’t start with or include the following, “We want our website to be on the first page of Google for … (fill in your own keywords and phrases).”

Right from the get go, the entire focus of the site redesign is on search engine optimization (SEO). After all, why would you create a site that no one can find? One of the big draws of inbound marketing with content is that it helps a website get found early and often by its target audience. So what’s wrong with that singular focus on SEO?

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