Digital industrial marketing drives customers to your business’ products and services through coordinated design, content, social media, and SEO tactics. Many manufacturing and industrial companies may think that digital marketing would be more suited toward consumer goods and B2C than the industrial space, but that's not the case. With the rise of digital transformation of sales and marketing, successful B2B companies see marketing as a direct influence on revenue generation and more manufacturers are aligning their efforts with today's digital world.
In fact, most industrial manufacturers are practically already set up for a marketing campaign — they just don’t know it yet. Here's how to get started.
Think about all the spec sheets, research, data, and product catalogs you have just lying around on a desk or in a drawer. These materials can be converted into valuable marketing content to help drive your business forward — these materials just need to be set up the right way.
We’re here to lay out some steps to turn the resources you already have into components for an industrial marketing strategy.
What Is Industrial Marketing?
Let's start with the basics, what exactly is industrial marketing and who can benefit from it?
In its simplest form, industrial marketing or business-to-business marketing promotes goods and services from one business to another. Think advertising between buyers, suppliers, or OEMs. B2B marketing differs in many ways from business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, which focuses largely on selling goods directly to consumers.
A key difference that makes industrial marketing unique is the average length of sales cycles. Typically, industrial marketing and sales involve large orders, and the relationships between buyers and suppliers are more long-term so that the sales process can take many months or even years. However, having a digital presence can surely boost your marketing efforts and help you end up on your prospects' shortlists more quickly.
Whether you hire marketing services or decide to reach out to buyers on your own, now is the time to get started with industrial marketing.
Steps To Build An Industrial Marketing Strategy
Step 1: Analyze Your Current Growth Strategy
This means taking a complete audit of all your existing marketing collateral — from old-school paper pamphlets and drawings to the pages of an existing website. You've had to answer customers' questions for years, which has manifested in all the material you've created — charts, graphs, and calculators.
Take a look at what you've done, and see what questions it answers. Ideally, you're looking for inspiration to create content (or expand on what you currently have) that will help attract buyers and convert them into customers. This research phase will help you set the foundation for a successful marketing campaign.
We also recommend looking into what your competitors are doing to learn how to do it better.
➡️ Want to see how your digital presence weighs in against your competitors? Get a free digital health check.
“Thomas saw our blindspots that we didn’t know existed and filled them with data and technology to help us to fuel our sales and marketing efforts,” said Brad Godwin, CEO of E2Global. “The leads generated are qualified and real.”
Step 2: Decide Who You Are Marketing To
Target audiences or personas are fictional but well-researched representations of your ideal customer. Personas can vary by industry, job function, and personality. Planned content with specific personas in mind will yield higher conversion rates and more valuable leads. Your content must target specific audiences, as different content types can appeal to different people.
➡️ Discover which buyers you could be doing business with — request your free in-market buyer activity report here.
“The leads that we get from Thomas are qualified. They're purchasing agents that are serious about our products and we grew our business by 24%,” said Christian Ueland, President of TrankPak, a manufacturer & distributor of standard & custom plastic pallets, bins, liquid containers & cases.
To learn more about your ideal prospects, think about your current top customer. What are the job functions of the decision-makers in the company? What are their stereotypical personalities? The most basic information about your personas should be their business objectives, obstacles, weaknesses, and strengths. If you can tap into these other aspects of their personality and reach them on a more personal, engaging level with your marketing content, you’re already a step ahead of the game.
For example, 89% of consumers purchase a product after watching a video. If you're an OEM, you're definitely looking to get in front of a design engineer or a procurement manager to get on the approved vendor list. You'll need videos that break down your complex parts' functions and designs and explain how they help an engineer's end need.
💡 Thomas Fact: Manufacturers who use videos in their Thomasnet.com Company Profile receive more RFQs than those that don't. In fact, suppliers advertising with video content on the Thomasnet.com platform increased engagement & requests for quote for their business by 32% — with some seeing increases as high as 70%. Contact us to learn how we can produce a video for you for free with an advertising program.
Step 3: Collaborate Your Industrial Marketing With Sales
As much work as you’ve put in to get there, your job isn’t done once you’ve gotten leads; your sales team still needs to close them. You need feedback on the leads, and you'd probably like to quell your curiosity on how they're moving through the sales funnel.
💡 See which stage of marketing you're in with our post, "The Three Stages Of Industrial Digital Marketing."
At a minimum, make sure your teams communicate regularly and clearly to each other about your new online strategies. Alternatively, if you're working with a marketing agency, make sure they don't leave you in the dark about your goals what improvements are being made. And make sure you communicate their efforts with your sales teams. A study from Forrester found that 43% of CEOs believed that misalignment between teams had cost them sales.
Stay organized and be collaborative. Spreadsheets are a natural first step in getting organized, and they may even be all you need for smaller-scale, basic project management.
Step 4. Invest In Industrial Marketing Technology
The most successful B2B companies, manufacturers, and industrial companies use various digital marketing tools and technology to give them a complete view of their efforts. At a minimum, you should invest in an updated, modern website. All of your industrial marketing efforts may not yield as high-quality results without the foundation of a lead-generating website. Why is it so important? More than 70% of today's B2B buyers are millennials and they're using your website to determine whether or not to submit RFIs.
"Diversified content on our site has really helped us stand out as a leader in the industry," said Eoin Lynch, Executive Director of Sales and Marketing at Tex Tech Industries. "Some aerospace technology can be complex, but our graphics, data sheets, and videos from Thomas Marketing Services break it down for buyers to understand what they need and how we help them."
Related Info You Should Bookmark:
- Creating Content For The Top 3 Individuals That Influence The Buying Process
- Online Lead Generation Services For Manufacturers
Step 5: Set Up Reporting & Establish Metrics & Goals
Data is everything when it comes to marketing and improving your business overall. Why continue your marketing efforts if you can't track and prove your ROI? Documenting your efforts and setting up reporting early in the game is the best practice to have a lifetime view of your campaign metrics. You'll thank yourself later when you're trying to pull year-over-year metrics.
Setting goals is the other half of reporting that should be clear and specific. We call these goals, SMART goals because they are "specific, measurable, relevant, and time-bound." Instead of having a goal be "increase leads," establish your goal more clearly: "To increase leads 20% by the end of Q2."
Track These Industrial Marketing Metrics
- Website Traffic: It's good to track the traffic coming to your website by source. Where is your most qualified audience coming from? Is it organic search? Paid campaigns? Referral traffic from your Thomasnet.com profile?
- Landing Conversion Rates: Landing pages typically have a form to capture user information so you can further nurture those leads. It's good to know how many visitors a landing page is receiving and better yet, how many people are converting by filling out a form.
- Cost Per Lead: This is especially important when running paid marketing campaigns. Whether you're running ads on Google, Bing, or across social media, you ideally want to generate high-quality leads at a low cost.
There are a lot of components involved in industrial marketing if you want to generate qualified leads and RFIs. Microsoft Office is great for content planning and organization. If you don't have Microsoft Office, Google WorkSpace is another option that offers a lot of editing tools and technology features to get your industrial marketing planning organized at no cost.
As you grow, managing your leads becomes infinitely easier when using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to keep your growing contact list organized. With a CRM, your team can evaluate new prospects through a scoring system, send tracked emails, and call the most qualified leads.
💡 Success Story: Custom plastic injection molder, The Rodon Group, uses HubSpot as their all-in-one marketing tool. "I was impressed with HubSpot’s platform and the company’s methodology on inbound marketing. There really isn’t anything else that can compare to HubSpot, especially manufacturers and medium-sized B2B businesses like Rodon,” said Jill Worth, Digital Marketing Lead at The Rodon Group. Investing in an all-encompassing inbound marketing methodology to grow traffic, convert website visitors, and run campaigns at a scale have helped Rodon drive sales from multiple new high-volume customers.
Manufacturers who want to track the activity on their website should spend some time in Google Analytics and Thomas WebTrax. The two platforms complement each other. Thomas WebTrax identifies buyers who engage with your company online — both on your Thomasnet.com Company Profile and your website — so that you can track them throughout the buying journey. Think of it as an ongoing live feed of the buyers engaging specifically with you. You can see what website pages visitors spend the most time on, which channels need more work, which landing pages get the most leads, etc.
- The Difference Between Google Analytics vs Thomas WebTrax
- Using Google Docs & Sheets For Industrial Marketing
Google Analytics is great for monitoring the health of your website by keeping track of visitor metrics, bounce rates, and page performance. Use both to optimize your website continually and continually replenish your sales pipeline with leads.
"WebTrax lets us see what our target customers and target industries are looking at on our website so we can be prepared to answer their questions on those issues and even order advanced inventory," said Julia Mace, Marketing Leader at SUS America, Inc.
Qualified manufacturers and industrial companies can create a free Thomas WebTrax account to effectively manage their industrial marketing lead generation efforts. Learn more here.
Step 6: Align Your Marketing Strategy To The Growth Needs Of Your Company
Most industrial marketers make the mistake of updating their website and leaving it as is, thinking that's the extent of a marketing strategy. But with the proper optimization, your website can serve as an important component for almost all your business operations.
A quality website can ultimately improve many actions normally performed by various departments, not just marketing & sales. A website can improve customer service, engineering, and even accounting.
Ideally, you already have a website that's ready to house all of your content, but you may need some updating. Updating your website helps keep your pages at the top of Google's search results. If you're starting from scratch with redesigning your website, we recommend looking at some website examples to give you inspiration on how to best position your website as a selling machine. See our best industrial website designs for OEMs, custom manufacturers, industrial services, and distributors.
Your pages should be presented simply and cleanly, have CTAs that drive to your offers (eBooks, charts, white papers, etc.), and lead your prospects to fill out forms.
For OEMs and distributors, consider building a robust e-commerce presence that delivers an optimal product experience. Chances are, you already have a process in place — but how up-to-date is your data — and are your transactions recorded manually? Thomas Connect helps OEMs and distributors solve product data challenges and sell millions of products and components online with consistent, up-to-date data.
A quality website with eCommerce functionality can easily be setup to track and automatically send purchase orders to office accounting systems. There is less human error involved and all transactions are accounted for. Learn how Colonial TelTek optimized its e-commerce platform to keep its sales channels and customers happy.
Step 7: Get More Traffic To Your Website
Now that you've got everything set, let's get more eyeballs on your content — and get more prospects for your sales team to call. Digital marketing is a web of tactics that includes PPC, SEO, content, blogging, social media, and email — each strategy supporting the others and working together to gather valuable leads.
While each of these channels requires careful individual consideration and content development, there are a few best practices you can leverage to get your campaign off the ground and start capturing visitor info.
Online Company Profile Pages
Online users love leaving reviews on Google when they experience great customer service. A Business Profile will help increase your chances of getting found online by local buyers— plus, a high customer rating will increase your chances of actually getting contacted! Make sure your Google My Business profile is up to date and has all your relevant company information for new buyers to contact you and leave reviews.
Similarly, your Thomasnet.com Company Profile with a link to your website will increase your RFQs from qualified engineers, procurement professionals, and MRO managers. Every second, a buyer searches for industrial supplies and services so make sure your company profile has all the necessary info they're looking for, like a full product catalog, your certifications, and supplier diversity programs.
"Advertising with Thomas has been a worthwhile venture for our company by substantially increasing our brand recognition and allowing those that need the products and services we offer to connect with us in a real way," said an executive at Blisterpak, Inc. "We are now well known in the region as well as a national marketplace and have been able to secure business that we would never have been considered for in the past."
Utilize Paid Advertising Like PPC
Do you have the budget to put some paid behind your marketing efforts? Pay-Per-Click may be a great option for you. Paid advertising allows you to target specific audiences based on interests and intent. If implemented correctly, paid advertising can potentially give you the most qualified traffic and leads to your site.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is an important component to get your industrial business found online. With a consistent, and keyword-focused SEO strategy, Renown Electric elevated its product page for "Vertima Balance" to the first position of Google — even outranking Vertima's own website homepage.
"As a marketing department of one, it has been really helpful to have Thomas around to help with our marketing strategy as opposed to making it up as we go. Our growth can be largely attributed to our online industrial marketing plan," said Jeff Collins, Partner at Renown Electric. "Through eBooks, blogs, a revamped website — they actually drive our own knowledge out and customers appreciate the insight."
Social Media Marketing
Believe it or not, many of your potential customers are already on Twitter and LinkedIn, ready to engage with you. Use tweets, hashtags, and discussion forums to create human connections with your prospects and familiarize yourself with the dialogue around your industry. Social media is a great tool for community building — see examples for inspiration here.
Companies that blog multiple times per month with prominent CTAs and hyperlinks to landing pages can see a significant increase in lead volume. Plus, the content is already right at your fingertips — your existing brochures, portfolios, and other materials are excellent sources for new blog topics.
Read Next: 13 Ways To Improve Your Manufacturing Blog
By consistently updating older blog material and creating new long-form content on your blog, you can help maximize your company's SEO efforts. By showcasing your expertise and writing content that search engines like Google deem valuable, you increase your chances of ranking in a top position in SERPs, search engine results pages. That's exactly what Air Innovations did with their Knowledge Base.
💡Success Story: Air innovations created a Knowledge Base, (similar to a blog) to present the company as a thought leader in the industries they serve, while at the same time providing high-quality content to potential leads. With the help of some backlink juice from Thomasnet.com their post, "Negative and Positive Pressure Rooms 101," was able to earn a spot as a "Featured Snippet," for the long-tail keyword, "positive vs. negative pressure," and improve the visibility of the Air Innovations website. Read the full success story here.
But what if you're out of content ideas? Here are 11 Top Content Marketing Examples to add to your industrial marketing plan.
Sending prospects valuable offers such as discounts and educational content, and giving them the option to share them with a colleague, is a great way to reach new leads.
But what do you do if your contact list isn't full of the buyers you need to reach? A great option to boost traffic to your website is to utilize industrial newsletter advertising options. Like the example below, newsletter advertising allows you to promote your great content in someone else's daily, weekly, or monthly newsletter, and filter based on the audience you'd like to reach.
Get Started With Social Media & Online Content:
Supplement Your Traditional Methods Of Growth With Industrial Marketing
Don't get stuck with your old process. Staying ahead of your competition doesn't mean just optimizing efficiencies on the plant floor. There are opportunities for growth within your marketing and sales departments too. And having a strong digital industrial marketing plan in place future proofs your business in terms of appealing to investors and recruiting new talent too. Contact us to learn how we can help — we've been fueling the industry for more than 122 years.
Do you need more insight into how you can supplement your traditional sales tactics with the above steps? Request our free digital health check where we'll give you details on exactly how you can promote your industrial business, products, and services online to more buyers.
"The average value of quotes has grown. The sales team can’t believe how many good opportunities they have now," Ken Carlton, VP Corrugated Metals. "Partnering with Thomas has changed the way I market my business."
Thomas has tons of free resources for manufacturers available, designed specifically for industrial companies like you. Check out some of the links below:
- Existing Online: The Manufacturing Leader’s Step by Step Guide to Building a Strong Digital Presence
- Get Visible: The Manufacturing Leader’s Guide To Driving Qualified Users To Your Website
- Start The Conversation: Converting Anonymous Traffic Into Warm Leads & Reaching Out To Your Contacts
- Get More From Your Investment: Testing your Website for Increased Conversion & Implementing Marketing Automation
Industry-Specific Pages For Marketing Tips:
- 3 Industrial Digital Marketing Must-Haves
- How To Increase Sales For Your CNC Machining Business
- How Can Private Label Manufacturers Increase Sales
- How To Grow Your Steel And Metals Company
- How To Grow Your Textiles Manufacturing Company
- Digital Marketing Ideas For Distributors
- How Top Injection Molding Companies Drive More Opportunity With Digital Marketing
- How To Grow Your Packaging Company Online
- How To Advertise Your Industrial Cleaning Company
Digital Marketing Services From Thomas To Build Your Manufacturing Marketing Strategy:
- Lead Generation Services
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Website Design
- SEO Services
- eCommerce and Online Product Catalog
- Pay-Per-Click and Search Engine Marketing
- Social Media
- CAD Solutions
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