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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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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Does Your Website Content Meet the Needs of Industrial Buyers?

When was the last time you actually read the content on your industrial website? Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and see if the current content will persuade you to take an action that will ultimately lead to an RFQ.

The answer I get most often is either a no or a may be. Your site content must match the industrial buyer’s needs if you want your industrial website to be an effective sales tool for generating qualified leads.

The tendency for most companies is to talk about their product features and available options. Those are great and technical specifications are important to engineers and a technical audience. However, one-size-fits-all content is not very effective because of two reasons. They are:

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Responsive Web Design Becoming Important to Industrial Companies

Lately I have been fielding a lot of questions about responsive web design from companies that are planning an industrial website redesign. In case you are wondering what the heck is responsive web design, let me give you Wikipedia’s definition first:

“Responsive web design (often abbreviated to RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).”

I found a better description in an article from Forbes (You know something has gone mainstream in the business world when Forbes publishes a featured article on it). They define it simply as, “Responsive Web design is a new design approach that enables Web designers and developers to build and maintain a single website to serve to all kinds of devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops and more.”

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Is it Time for Your Industrial Website to Sing Auld Lang Syne?

As 2012 ends and we look forward to 2013, it is a good time to review your current industrial website. In keeping with the tradition of celebrating the start of the New Year by singing “Auld Lang Syne,” it may be time for you to say farewell to the old site and greet the New Year with a redesigned website.

There are many reasons for redesigning your industrial website, mainly because it is outdated or it is underperforming or not producing any results at all. However, before you dive into the deep end of a site redesign, you need to first plan your content. By content, I don’t mean just the text on your web pages.

Based on my experience in developing successful sites for manufacturing and industrial companies, I suggest you spend a lot of time on the following tasks before beginning the redesign:

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Add a Blog to Jump Start Industrial Websites

It is not uncommon to find industrial websites that have not been updated for a long time or with outdated content. Providing a cosmetic facelift is not going to improve the site’s performance either. What can you do if a complete website redesign is not feasible?

Adding a blog to your current site is a quick and easy way to breathe new life into an old or underperforming industrial website. Now, every time I mention the word blog to manufacturers and industrial companies, they put on their mental brakes. This is because they think they won’t have anything to write about, at least not as far as publishing new blog posts on a weekly or even a monthly basis.

Here are two practical tips to help you overcome this hurdle of content creation for industrial marketing:

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What You Should Know Before Developing Industrial Blog Sites

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.

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Is Blogging Right for Every Industrial Company?

The fact that you found this industrial marketing blog and are reading my post, tells me that you have asked yourself that very question and are curious about the answer. There are literally millions of articles written on why you should be blogging and they are easy to find in Google. I see no point in rehashing the same ideas here.

Instead, let me share my experiences in helping manufacturers, engineering and industrial companies launch successful blogs, produce results from them and in some instances, flat out advised them not to start one.

In this post, I’ll talk about some of the more difficult questions you should be asking yourself before jumping on the blogging bandwagon. Otherwise, you may be joining the ranks of countless other industrial blogs that were launched with a great deal of enthusiasm and expectations but were abandoned after only a few months.

Let’s dig a little deeper to understand what it really takes to achieve the four major benefits of blogging.

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Why a Content BOM is Crucial to a Successful Industrial Web Design

Content BOM is not a typo in my headline. Read on…

I am amazed how often I find that creating content is an afterthought for people who are considering an industrial web design (more commonly a site redesign). Somehow, they assume the web designer will take care of content creation and the cost is included in their proposal for designing the site.

It is not surprising then that many of these industrial web redesigns are nothing more than a cosmetic facelift with copy-pasted content from their old site and/or outdated marketing collateral. Beyond the initial “looks nice” reaction, the new site doesn’t produce the results that were promised and expected.

What went wrong? The short answer – no content BOM (Bill Of Materials). Let me explain by using my personal experience.

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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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