Posts

Priming Industrial Websites for Content Marketing

Many of my industrial clients are starting to plan and budget for 2014. High on their list of priorities is redesigning their industrial websites. A welcome change in these discussions is that redesigns are now driven by the needs of inbound marketing with content rather than just a cosmetic facelift to the site.

Manufacturers and industrial companies are more willing to accept the fact that their customers and prospects are interacting with them differently and this change in buyer behavior is permanent. They’ve seen how expensive traditional outbound marketing tactics are and how difficult it is to track results from those efforts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that one should abandon outbound marketing. However, the balance has definitely shifted more towards online digital marketing for industrial companies.

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Why Many Industrial Websites Underperform

Industrial websitesThere are many reasons for an industrial website’s failure to deliver anticipated results. The list is long – poor search engine optimization, bad user experience, content that doesn’t match visitors’ needs and/or lack of calls to action to name just a few.

However, there is one common trait that I have noticed for many industrial websites to underperform – there is very little thought given to how and where the website fits in the sales process.

The focus of most industrial website redesigns is on everything but its role in the sales process. Search engine optimization (SEO) is obviously critical to the success of your online marketing but you are seriously underutilizing your industrial website if all it is doing is attracting traffic.
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Industrial Content Marketing is NOT New

Everything old is new again in industrial content marketingManufacturers and industrial companies have been using content marketing for a long time whether they know it or not. What do I mean?

Product Releases have been a staple of industrial marketing long before inbound marketing with content became so popular.

Case studies, application notes, calculators, how-to articles, white papers and frequently asked questions (FAQs) have always been a part of industrial marketing.

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Creating Thought Leadership for Manufacturing and Industrial Companies

Thought LeadershipThought leader is a term first coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine, Strategy & Business and used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas, which merited attention. It has since evolved into describing someone who is supposed to have progressive and innovative ideas. (Source: WikiPedia).

If you are doing any form of industrial content marketing, you know that thought leadership is now a catchphrase. Everyone wants it but how do you create it? Just pumping out content that is nothing more than thinly disguised product promotions won’t cut it.

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9 Must-Have Content Assets for Successful Industrial Websites

Compiling any kind of list is always risky because we all have our own preferences and there is no way someone else’s list can satisfy everyone. This is my list of “must-have” content assets that I advise my clients to add to their industrial Websites. It is definitely a two-way street; my industrial clients also often request many of these same content assets.

The usual content marketing assets such as product data sheets, application notes, case studies, whitepapers and blog posts are a given and expected if you want your website to be found in search engines (SEO) and engage your target audience of engineers and industrial buyers. Take a look at my post, “Content Auditing and Mapping it to the Industrial Buy Cycle” for more on how and when to use these content assets.

Must-have content assets that persuade industrial buyers to take action

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Guest Blogging: An Important Strategy of Industrial Marketing

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about all the great benefits of blogging as a cornerstone of your content marketing. However, one aspect of this industrial marketing strategy that doesn’t get much attention is guest blogging. There are unique benefits of guest blog posts that deliver powerful marketing ROI.

In the past, many SEO experts pushed publishing guest articles and blog posts for the sole purpose of generating inbound links with keyword-rich anchor texts. This SEO or content marketing strategy relied heavily on quantity over quality of links. Google’s war on content farms has pretty much rendered this tactic useless. Don’t get me wrong, quality inbound links still matter in SEO.

IMO, there are three bigger benefits of guest blogging. They are:

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Traditional Marketing is Alive and Well for Industrial Companies

Despite all the buzz about digital marketing and proof of results, manufacturers, engineering and industrial companies continue to use traditional marketing tactics such as trade shows, print ads and telemarketing.

According to the 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks–North America: CMI/MarketingProfs report, 67% of the 1,416 B2B Marketers surveyed, continue to rate in-person events as the most effective marketing tactic they use.

It would be easy to dismiss the continued use of traditional marketing by saying decision makers at industrial companies are resistant to change and they just don’t want to hear anything about current best practices in online marketing. While true to some extent, it doesn’t tell the complete story in my experience.

I have found owners and executives at industrial companies to be sharp business people who wouldn’t continue to spend good money on marketing tactics if they weren’t producing the desired results.

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Not All Industrial White Papers Merit Registration

White papers are used most frequently for lead generation and nurturing in industrial marketing. Many of these white papers are very technical and require engineers and other domain experts to spend quite a bit of their time in producing these content marketing assets. A freelance copywriter cannot create them with an hour or two of work.

It is natural for industrial companies to want to maximize their ROI after investing all that time and resources. However, should all industrial white papers be gated – require registration? There are two schools of thought on this.

On one hand, you have those who insist on registration because they believe it is an equitable value exchange. Free knowledge and valuable educational content in exchange for contact information.

Then there are those who advocate setting all your content free. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky concept. There are well-known content marketers in this camp.

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Content Marketing Must Go Beyond Inbound Marketing in Industrial Sales

There is quite a bit of confusion among my industrial clients about the terms Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing. For many, the two are synonymous and it is just a matter of semantics. IMO, Content Marketing goes well beyond Inbound Marketing.

The classic definition of Inbound Marketing focuses on the top of the sales funnel (ToFU) and is built on the principle of being found in search engines and social media, attracting traffic and converting visitors into leads with relevant content. All worthwhile goals and takes a lot of hard work to accomplish them. However, you are likely to be very disappointed if your industrial marketing stayed focused only on ToFU.

I prefer the broader definition of Content Marketing because it addresses every phase of the buyer’s journey, both before and after the sale. I found a very fitting football analogy by Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe) – the Founder of the Content Marketing Institute and the author of the books Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers, in a blog post Joe wrote, “If content marketing were a football field, inbound marketing would get you to the 35-yard line. Definitely critical, but hard to score from that distance.”

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5 Most Popular Industrial Marketing Blog Posts from 2012

Happy New Year!

For my first post in 2013, I thought I would take a quick look back at the past year. Here are the five most popular industrial marketing blog posts from 2012. I picked these based mainly on the number of Pageviews and the Average Time on Page according to my Google Analytics.

Social sharing and comments also played a part but to a lesser extent since my primary audience of engineers and industrial professionals tend to be passive participants in those channels as many studies have shown.

  1. Content Marketing for Engineers
    I’ll go out on a limb and state that content marketing for engineers is different. Yes, I do get it that the lines between work and personal lives have blurred thanks to today’s hyper-connected world where everybody is always “On.” And I agree that at the end of the day, marketing to engineers is still all about communicating with people. Call it P2P (People-to-People) marketing if you will. (Continue reading…)
  2. How Manufacturers Use 3D CAD Models and 2D CAD Drawings as Sales Enablers
    Manufacturers usually want their industrial marketing to generate leads that result in RFQs as quickly as possible. Inbound marketing tactics such as SEO and other content marketing strategies do fill the top of their sales funnel but converting leads to sales opportunities takes too long for their liking. Read more