The Stages Of Industrial Digital Marketing: Converting Traffic To Customers

Digital marketing continues to grow at an astounding rate. eMarketer estimated that digital ad buyers in the U.S. will spend $191.09 billion in 2021, a 25.5% increase over last year. Manufacturers and industrial markets have begun to aggressively embrace the approach, and we can clearly see three distinct stages in their digital marketing evolution. 

Understanding which stage you’re in can ensure that you are advancing toward what should be the ultimate goal of your digital marketing — generating customers and driving revenue.

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The Three Stages Of Industrial Digital Marketing

Stage 1: From Traffic to Audience

When you start out in digital marketing, you may be typically focused on simply driving “traffic” to your website. Using tools such as Google Analytics, you track traffic numbers and feel like you’re showing results from your digital marketing spend. 

Unfortunately, those numbers hide a harsh truth if you're not meticulous about your reporting. Estimates vary, but most researchers believe that bots account for upwards of 60 percent of current web traffic. And consider this — advertising on Google does not assure your advertising “ROI” isn’t counting worthless bots. The key in shifting your digital marketing focus from raw traffic to a targeted audience is to establish a clear and realistic understanding of your market and prospective customers.

For example, let's say manufacturers are your typical customers. There are hundreds of thousands of manufacturers in the U.S. Ask yourself how many legitimately need what you offer, and don't already have another supplier providing it. For most suppliers, asking this question narrows their potential customer pool down to a few thousand, a few hundred or even less.

Your goal with your digital marketing is to reach and engage a legitimate, high quality audience of key prospects – not to generate worthless “traffic” made up of bots and people with no interest or ability to buy your product. 

Take E2Global's industrial marketing strategy for example — E2Global, a provider of turnkey consumable manufacturing services, sought to expand its growth strategy beyond traditional in-person selling. 

The team understood that the key to success in today's world is to embrace digital efforts across their sales & marketing strategies. When presented with a cost-effective advertising & marketing solution from Thomas that worked for them 24/7, they decided to invest in expanding their reach.

“Our way of selling and our prospects’ style of buying was no longer aligning,” said Brad Godwin, CEO of E2Global. “Buyers want to be educated at their own pace and they don’t want to be immediately sold to, so we had to move from that. There’s a difference between a company that would buy our products and a company that’s actively in the market to buy our products. So we wanted to find a way to eliminate those who were not looking and focus on those who were in the market for what we offer now.” 

In a short time, buyers became highly engaged with E2Global’s new online presence and received early results with RFQs from big brands like Medline and Colgate/Palmolive.

➡️ Read The Full Case Study: How One Custom Manufacturer Increased Revenue By 4x With Advertising & Digital Marketing

Thomas has behavioral recognition and IP blocking tools to identify bot traffic and exclude it from our advertisers’ ROI reporting. Our approach with is to deliver detailed ROI reports that focus on the “who” instead of the “how many.”

The B2B buyers, engineers, and MROs sourcing on are verified — more than 1.3 million of them use Thomas to find their next supplier. And 93% of them are from Fortune 1000. List your business for free on Thomas to start engaging with them.

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"We are currently working with two major aerospace companies on over 3.6 million dollars in manufacturing which is a direct result of our program," said an executive at CHE International. "Currently we have attributed the 200% increase in CHE sales thanks to the relationships we've developed from the buyers on"

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Stage 2: From Audience to Prospect

Once you’ve established achievable expectations and ensured that your digital marketing can yield an appropriate audience, it’s time to focus on converting that audience into prospects (or more specifically, leads) for your business.

Here too you need to set your expectations by asking yourself a few questions: What’s the sales cycle for your business? How often do your customers typically change suppliers? What market dynamics create the opportunity for you to pitch a prospect who is evaluating new suppliers?

Discover more insight about your target audiences by developing your buyer personas and looking into your current customers. Analyze any patterns in their behavior, then supplement that information with stats from online research and sourcing data. Here are some places to start:

Today the typical industrial/B2B buyer is over 70 percent of the way through their purchase process before engaging with a sales rep. They’re using professional platforms to evaluate potential suppliers and create their shortlists, then calling or emailing those suppliers on the list. 

It's critical to do what you can to stay “top of mind” with those buyers throughout their evaluation and shortlisting process. The content you provide on your site, and the type of related digital marketing tactics you employ is the key here, like blogs, videos and SEO to get your business in front of buyers ready to purchase. Retargeting and advertising on websites and platforms where your buyers are will increase your reach.

Stage 3: From Prospect to Customer

Now that you’re generating an audience of relevant prospects, it’s time to focus on converting them into customers. One great thing about digital marketing is that your prospects leave digital “footprints” that express their purchase intentions. In other words, you can see who is most likely to be interested in your products, which gives your sales reps valuable insight on whom to reach out to, and when.

Learn More: How Manufacturers Can Identify & Use Buyer Intent Signals To Drive Sales

Having the right analytics tools helps you achieve this by showing you the audience you’re generating, where they are coming from, and what they are looking at. The good news is that implementing sophisticated tracking for your website and incoming sales phone calls is actually quite easy —  WebTrax and our call tracking solutions are great examples. See the full list of 26 marketing tool must-haves here.

Partner With Industrial Digital Marketing Experts To Grow Your Business

Industrial digital marketing has many components and a ton of steps in between to produce real, successful results than what we've covered in this post.

Interested in seeing which industrial digital marketing steps you should take to grow your business? Request a free digital health check for a custom assessment on what you're doing great on and where you can improve to help convert more of your website visitors into qualified leads. Your free review will assess how your website can improve and how it compares to competitors.

"We tried other people with our website, SEO, marketing but found their focus wasn't on manufacturing, and Thomas is. We get a lot of activity now and steady results weekly — a lot of inquiries thanks to Thomas and our online marketing efforts," Ron Delfini, President at Engineering Specialties, Inc.

Thomas has been the leading resource for industrial/B2B buyers for more than 122 years, and has implemented more successful marketing programs for industrial suppliers than anyone on the planet.Get My Free Review

For example, Tailor Label Products invested in top positioning on Thomas in key categories such as “pressure sensitive labels” and “UL/CSA labels,” and ran targeted display advertising on Thomas. The company saw a $300,000 uptick in revenue within one year, turning 5 out of every 6 Thomas lead into a sale.

“Thomas is the primary leader in the market where engineers go to find a solution. We're getting found and specified by design engineers, electrical engineers, and mechanical engineers.”

— Tracy Tenpenny Tailor Label Products, VP of Sales and Marketing

“With Thomas, we close 86% of the business. Our traditional method of word-of-mouth is at 43%. The total number of customers we receive on a yearly basis is far greater than we’ve ever realized because those referrals also came from companies who found us on Thomas and referred us to someone in their network.”

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This wealth of first-party data, information, and industrial/B2B experience gives us a unique understanding of how buyers use online resources to make decisions – which makes us an ideal industrial marketing partner to help you grow your business. Our marketing experts are also supported by degreed engineers who understand the complexities of your industrial business.

Before partnering with Thomas, TranPak’s website drove too many irrelevant visitors – and a minuscule number of qualified buyers. TranPak president Christian Ueland wanted to become more visible to the right people: relevant purchasing agents and other industrial buyers ready to place an order.

Thomas' digital initiatives boosted TranPak's sales 24% in the first year, and their increased visibility in new markets and industries enabled TranPak to expand from a local supplier to a national pallet supplier.

“The leads that we get from are qualified. They’re purchasing agents that are serious about our products. We grew our business by 24% thanks to our presence on Thomas,” said Christian Ueland, President, TrankPak, Inc.

“Thomas puts us on a targeted platform in front of our biggest audience of qualified buyers ever. We’re getting leads from places across the country where we’ve never done business.”

Industrial digital marketing can improve your bottom line — contact our experts to learn more or visit the below free resources, created specifically for manufacturers and industrial companies like yours:

Industry-Specific Pages For Marketing Tips:

Industrial Marketing Services From Thomas To Build Your Manufacturing Marketing Strategy:


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