Posts

SEO Must Complement Conversion Optimization for an Effective Industrial Marketing Strategy

I find too many manufacturers and industrial companies still hung up on individual keyword rankings and getting to the top in Google and other major search engines. I’m not trying to minimize the time, effort and the expertise needed for search engine optimization (SEO) of industrial websites. After all, traffic is the lifeblood of online marketing and you can’t get traffic if your site is invisible in search engines.

The problem is that traffic by itself means nothing if you fail to convert it into qualified leads and sales opportunities. The old assumption that visitors will call after finding you in Google and visiting your site is not working anymore. Industrial buyers do their own research and usually complete 60-70% of their buying journey before contacting your sales team.

I understand most industrial companies tend to define a qualified lead as an RFQ or RFP but it is too late if that is the first contact you have with the buyer. You are either one of three competitive bids or competing on price alone. Your potential customers will turn a deaf ear to your spiel about differentiation and expertise at this stage of their buying decision. All they care about is your price and lead time.

Read more

The Cardinal Rule of Industrial Content Marketing: Know Thy Buyers

cardinal rule of industrial content marketingIt may seem obvious to say that you must build your industrial content marketing strategy around your buyers but it doesn’t happen with regularity with most manufacturers, distributors and engineering companies. At least, that’s been my experience with industrial clients.

I often hear my clients tell me they know their customers very well. They can rattle off the industries they sell to and the job titles of their buyers at the drop of a hat. Some can even tell me the size of the company and other demographic data about their customers.

Unfortunately that is the extent of their knowledge about their buyers, very rarely if ever do they know the roles played by various stakeholders involved in the buying decision. Their assumption is the person who contacts their sales team is the buyer. Their entire content marketing strategy and SEO are built around that assumption.

The thinking goes something like this, “So and so from XYZ company called to inquire about our ABC widget. Therefore others (substitute job title) from similar companies must be searching for our products.”

Then they’ll ask me, “Isn’t that how it works?” My answer: Not exactly!

To illustrate my point, let me describe two scenarios that are very common in industrial buying.

Read more

Industrial Website Redesign: Content Before Design

Industrial website redesignAround this time of the year, I get more calls and emails about redesigning industrial websites. This of course is very good news for my industrial marketing business but there is usually something missing that makes me cautious.

My “Spidey Sense” is heightened whenever I hear the other person say something like “We need to spruce up our website so we can be found in Google.”

It goes without saying that being found in Google is a must but there are two wrong assumptions in that statement.

  • Sprucing up or making the site look pretty is not going to produce better results beyond a spike in traffic right after the launch. You are not going to be any better off than you are now but will have spent thousands of dollars in nothing more than a cosmetic facelift for the current site.
  • A website redesign is not the same thing as search engine optimization (SEO). Don’t expect to suddenly appear on the first page of Google just because you’ve done a site redesign. SEO that produces sustainable results requires implementing proven white hat tactics and consistently applying good content marketing practices.

Design, aesthetics, coding and maintaining branding standards are all important. However, the single biggest factor that determines the success of an industrial website redesign is content. I say that based on my experience in successfully redesigning and launching several websites for manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering companies.

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 the redesigned site.

You need to ask a few important questions about content before you start a website design or redesign project. It doesn’t matter whether you do this in-house or outsource it; you need good answers, preferably backed by data and research. Here are some of the questions that I ask to help me plan for content before starting an industrial website redesign project:
Read more

Industrial Content Marketing – Dazed and Confused

How many of you remember the song “Dazed and Confused” from Led Zeppelin’s debut album based on a folk song by Jake Holmes? I am finding industrial content marketing in a similar state of confusion.

Manufacturers and industrial companies are confused by the dizzying array of things they have been advised to do in the name of content marketing. I found this chart from the Content Marketing Institute that shows the usage of various content marketing tactics by manufacturers in North America.

Manufacturing content marketing Usage by manufacturers in North America: CMI

Read more

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:

Read more

Content Marketing Challenges for Industrial Distributors

Industrial distributors face a unique set of challenges when it comes to content marketing. These companies have traditionally depended on the depth and breadth of their line cards to highlight their strengths and sell industrial products.

In the past, their marketing content came straight from the manufacturers they represented. You will find the exact same product content on sites of various distributors serving a particular industry. They’ve never had to create and publish their own content before.

The problem is republishing the same manufacturer’s content won’t help your SEO or add any value for your customers and neither will it help to differentiate one industrial distributor from another.

Read more

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?”

Read more

Website Evaluation Comes Before Site Redesign

Many manufacturers and industrial companies consider a website redesign during Q1. The two main reasons are 1) Not showing up in Google search results (SEO – Organic Search Engine Optimization) and/or 2) Not getting enough qualified leads from the website (Traffic and Conversion).

You know your industrial site needs a major makeover but diving right into a site redesign without first doing a website evaluation or a site audit can be a costly mistake.

Poor SEO and conversions are the symptoms that are obvious to you. Only an in-depth website evaluation can diagnose the underlying causes. Without that, a website redesign will only be a cosmetic facelift and cannot address all the issues that are stopping your industrial website from producing results.

Keep in mind that SEO is not the same as a website redesign. They do go together because retrofitting SEO is more difficult and not as effective. Don’t expect to show up on the first page of Google just because your website has just undergone a redesign.

Read more

Internal Links – the Secret Sauce for DiY SEO

It is no secret that link building is critical to SEO success. However, some people often ignore internal links because they are just not aware of their SEO benefits. To most do-it-yourselfers (DiY), link building for SEO means external or inbound or backlinks. These are links that originate from another site and point to a page on your domain.

Don’t underestimate the SEO power of internal linking. They are not only great for increasing the number of pages indexed by Google but also help you target a larger number of keywords, especially long tail keywords. The number of site pages indexed by Google has a direct impact on your online lead generation. For every 50 to 100 pages indexed by Google, expect double-digit growth in the number of leads. (Read my earlier post, B2B Lead Generation Using a Business Blog).

The best news is that building internal links is completely in your control.

Read more

2012 Content Marketing Trends for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies

I just finished reading an excellent research report from the good folks at Content Marketing Institute (CMI). This report is chock full of statistics and graphs about B2B content marketing. In this post, I want to focus on some of their findings that I feel apply to content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies.

Even though the content marketing adoption rate for these companies is at an impressive 83%, I am surprised that it is even that high; the Manufacturing/ Processing industry (as defined in the report) is dead last among the six industries studied.

What is encouraging though is the fact that 68% of companies with 10 – 99 employees maintain a blog as compared to only 55% for larger companies that employ this content marketing tactic. Many of the manufacturers and industrial companies fall in the smaller size category.

That’s not the only good news for blogs. Even though other marketing tactics like in-person events and webinars are still seen as the most effective tactics, this year blogs registered a 45% increase in “perceived effectiveness” as compared to the study done in 2010. (See chart below).

Read more