At this time of the year, many industrial companies are getting ready for their annual budget planning meetings. If you are one of them, a redesign of your industrial website may also be part of those discussions.
Blog sites have become a very popular choice with many manufacturers and industrial companies since content plays such an important role in today’s digital marketing programs. These dynamic sites combine static webpages with a blog to give you the best of both worlds – fresh content and functionality. See my post, “Build Industrial Websites as Dynamic Blog Sites” for advantages of blog sites.
The thing that worries me though is that in my conversations with some of these industrial companies, I find that they want to discuss their choice of Content Management System (CMS) with me. In my opinion, that is not what you should be focusing on.
As the Owner/President/CEO, your input should be in shaping the content marketing strategy. Focus on the kind of content you need that will attract the most qualified traffic to your site and convert those visitors into customers. Help the site designer build the functionalities that your site visitors want. Leave the choice of the CMS to the web developer, be it in-house or outsourced.
I have developed enough of these industrial blog sites to tell you that no one CMS is right for every situation. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses, be it an open source CMS such as Drupal, Joomla, Magento, or WordPress or a paid CMS such as HubSpot. You will find plenty of online discussions that are passionate about one CMS or the other.
Here are some of the things that I have found that are unique to industrial blog sites. They can pose a problem integrating with popular CMSs.
- Interactive design tools: These online applications are extremely useful and effective if a large part of your target audience is design engineers. They help in getting your parts/components “designed in” or added to the BOM. These applications require custom development that may prove to be difficult to do within most popular CMSs
- Real-time project tracking: If you are a contract manufacturer or a large portion of your sales is build-to-order, then an online project tracking application is very valuable to your visitors and customers. There are modules and dedicated software available that address this need but you are not likely to find one that plugs right into your CMS
- eCommerce: Adding an online store is relatively easy with any of the CMSs. However, you are likely to run into plenty of hurdles if you want it to integrate with your offline order entry and inventory management systems. You may be able to pull pricing, stock availability and shipping information but full and seamless integration may not be possible, at least not without the expense of hiring a developer who can integrate your online store with your backend ERP and accounting systems
- Parametric search applications: This is another popular online application with manufacturers and distributors. You may have to deal with two separate databases, one for your CMS and another for your parts and components. This can be lead to duplications, errors and a whole lot of headaches to maintain
None of the issues that I have listed here are deal breakers as far as your decision to build an industrial blog site but they do pose some additional challenges if you want any of these functionalities right out of the box using a CMS.
You may want to consider adding only a blog to your industrial website instead of a full blog site. This is a relatively simple workaround to implement.
Is your industrial website a blog site? What CMS are you using?