Generating leads is one of the most important aspects of marketing — and frankly, growing your business.
That’s where this blog post comes in — we'll cover the most popular and effective techniques utilized by industrial marketers today to increase leads and generate revenue online.
Table of Contents (click to jump to that section!)
- What Do Manufacturers Need For Lead Generation?
- How To Create Engaging Content Offers
- Using Persuasive Call-To-Action Language
- Landing Page Layout For Lead Generation
- Optimizing Your Forms For Lead Generation
- Multi-Channel Manufacturing Lead Generation
- Additional Lead Generation Resources
What Do Manufacturers Need For Lead Generation?
Before we dive into the tips we've promised you in this article, we should first cover the basics of generating leads.
The best online lead generation campaigns contain most, if not all, of these components to generate quality leads, which is the end goal of your marketing, right?
So, at its core, you should be ready to create and optimize:
An offer is a piece of content that is perceived high in value, like eBooks, white papers, free consultations, coupons and product demonstrations.
A call-to-action (CTA) is either text, an image or a button that links directly to a landing
Unlike normal website pages, a landing page is a specialized page that contains information about one particular offer and a form to download that offer.
You can’t capture leads without forms. Forms will collect contact information from a visitor in exchange for an offer.
This is last on this list, but it's actually the most crucial—because you can't have all of the above components without a website. It's the foundation of all your growth efforts and should be your priority if you're looking to gain quality leads.
More than 70% of today's B2B buyers are millennials — they're tech savvy and researching suppliers online now more than ever, which is why these elements are so crucial. Here are some additional reasons and B2B marketing stats why an updated website matters for lead generation:
- 67% of buyers rely more on website research to make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago
- 74% of buyers choose the supplier that's first to add value and insight
- 73% of B2B buyers surveyed said they pay attention to a supplier’s website when deciding whether to submit RFIs
In a 2021 Industrial Buyer's Search Habits Survey, a purchasing agent said, "Good first impressions will make the sale. Suppliers need to be able to communicate quickly and easily, online and on the phone. Otherwise, I am off to their competitor."
Competing against other manufacturers, industrial companies, and suppliers can be overwhelming — especially when you're new to digital efforts. We've covered the basics of lead generation in our other post (Beginner Lead Generation Tips) but if you're ready for a more comprehensive approach, this blog post will cover 33 important elements to help you generate the most high-quality leads for your business.
Also, be sure to bookmark our Essential Dictionary of Industrial Marketing Terms as a reference for other keywords throughout this post.
How To Create Engaging Content Offers
The goal of your content offerings is to make your website visitors say yes. Offer resources that help your customers get their jobs done. In the industrial space, this is most often a white paper, infographic, or eBook related to the services or products you provide.
1. Use The Element of Scarcity
If you look at the principle of supply and demand, you’ll notice that when supply is limited, demand goes up.
This likely isn't a new idea to you, but the truth is that scarcity has a psychological influence on us, making us want something even more if there isn't enough to go around — and it's a great tactic to use in marketing.
Here are two examples of what you can create:
Limited Time Offers
Limited time offers are among the most popular in the scarcity category. Just think about your average car dealership where practically every commercial is a limited-time deal.
"Get 0% financing before it's gone!"
When something is of limited quantity, it suddenly becomes
Because it’s hard to tell when an offer of limited quantity will suddenly become unavailable, while a time-based offer has a known end time. Limited quantity offers are good for not only getting people to say “yes” to your
2. The Bandwagon Effect
It’s a natural tendency for humans to copy one another, even without realizing it — we like to be a part of groups and social communities.
So when we notice our social circle is doing one thing, we tend to follow suit, which is why one great way to make an offer more valuable is to show that other people are participating in that offer.
Proof In Numbers
When possible, indicate how awesome an offer is by mentioning the number of people who have purchased, downloaded, signed up, or requested — just make sure your claims are not only
Some examples include:
Webinars: On webinar sign-up pages, you can indicate the number of people who have signed up and encourage them to join the conversation on social media.
Social Share Icons: Many industry blogs have "share" buttons at the top or bottom, indicating the people talking about this post on social media. This shows the post is a trustworthy and popular blog to talk about and share.
Product Catalogs: Some online product catalogs show when limited quantities are available to purchase. Is the data for your products accurate? Is the number represented online the same number that's available to be sold?
3. Leverage Newsjacking
When Ford announced the F-150 would have an aluminum body a few years ago, everyone — from big-name news outlets to random Twitter users — down, around, and inside supply chain had an opinion on it.
Some of the automotive giant’s biggest competitors ran negative advertising campaigns. Automotive bloggers took
In situations like this, you can align offers with “what’s hot” — this type of technique works very well for your company’s blog posts, website content and downloadable offers.
Don’t overcomplicate this. It can be as simple as discussing one of your company’s offerings during an industry uptick or when a particular sector is gaining momentum.
Take a look at Engineering Specialties, Inc. as an example. There’s plenty of chatter about “green” practices and recycling every year in April to celebrate Earth Day, and they wanted to capitalize on it. So at the height of the news cycle, ESI pushed out a blog about the company’s solar panels and even put a link to their live solar panel feed — a really unique CTA!
Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers updated their website to communicate how they were responding to the outbreak. Companies like American Alloy Fabrications and TVI Valves ensured their website visitors immediately — and clearly — understood the supply chain impacts and commitment to employee and customer safety. To take that message even further, CTAs could be added to pop-ups to "Contact Us For More Information."
4. Focus On Creating An Amazing Title
Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO and co-founder, once said, "You can have a great offer with a bad title and no one will download it. But if you have an amazing title, suddenly everyone wants it.”
Yes — people do judge a book by its cover. If your offer is a piece of content, such as a whitepaper, eBook, or presentation, put effort into creating an amazing title that grabs the user's attention — just make sure it isn't misleading.
For an experiment, HubSpot changed the title of an eBook and ran an A/B test to see which one would perform better. They took the original title “The Productivity Handbook for Busy Marketers” and changed it to “7 Apps That Will Change the Way You Do Marketing.”
As you can see above, the revised version outperformed the original by 776%. What this means is that it resulted in more leads.
It’d be interesting to see if your “Beginner’s Guide to Sheet Metal” outperformed “7 Tips For Choosing the Right Sheet Metal Supplier,” yes? Try it out — and check out our other A/B test examples while you're at it!
5. Create Offers For Different Buying Stages
The most common offer seen on most websites is a “Contact Us” section or webpage. Sure, you want all your industrial leads to talk to sales, but not everyone is ready. As you know, buyers are more likely to do their own research before even engaging with a sales rep. And, every prospect is at a different stage of exploration. (More on those industrial stages here.) Some may need more education than others. That’s why it’s important to develop different offers at different buying cycles.
Someone at the top of the buying cycle may be more interested in an informational piece like a guide or ebook, whereas someone more committed at the bottom of the cycle might be more interested in new company info. You don’t need to pick and choose — create offers for each phase and include a primary and secondary CTA to these offers on various pages throughout your site.
And consider investing in a marketing automation platform to consolidate all your efforts on one platform and track your conversions.
6. Avoid Corporate Jargon
A professional image is necessary, and it’s enhanced when you can promote your message while avoiding corporate gobbledygook. What is gobbledygook, you ask? Great question.
Gobbledygook comprises jargon terms and phrases that have become platitudes through decades of overuse. These words are meant to emphasize a subject, but have been used so often that they have lost their real meaning.
Avoid these words when describing your offers, and you’ll avoid falling into the traps of gobbledygook:
- Next Generation
- Easy to use
- Cutting edge
- Best of breed
7. Use High-Value Offer Formats
Not all offers are created equal. Some “formats” of offers perform better than others at converting leads, but it depends on your business and what your goals are.
Below are the type of offers that generate the most amount of leads:
- eBooks or Guides
- Templates or Presentations
- Research & Reports
- Kits (multiple offers packaged together)
- Live Webinars
- On-demand videos
- Blog posts (if there is a CTA in the post)
- Middle-of-the-funnel offers: Demo Requests, Contact Sales, RFP, etc.
While content marketing is at the heart of every inbound marketing strategy for effective lead generation, it's important to test different types of offers with your audience to determine what works for you. While eBooks score high on our list, you may find that reports, videos, or other formats do better.
💡 Curious To See How Your Efforts Stack Up Against Competitors? Request a free digital health check and we'll score your website against your competitor.
"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. We're now ranking on page 1 of Google and seeing qualified leads come in," said Jeff Collins, Partner of Renown Electric.
8. Videos On Your Thomasnet.com Company Profile
Today, videos of factory tours have helped close sales when travel restrictions are in place.
And suppliers who list their company on Thomasnet.com and add videos are proven to receive more RFQs. Manufacturers like HPL Stampings who use video advertising in their lead generation efforts are 66% more likely to get qualified annual leads.
"I can't believe how awesome the video turned out. Even all the captions describe us exactly. It's almost as if people from Thomas have worked here before," said HPL Stampings.
Moreover, lead generation on Thomasnet.com where buyers, engineers, and procurement managers source industrial products and services is proven to grow businesses.
Using Persuasive Call-To-Action Language
When you see an ad on the side of your screen while you’re browsing the internet, it usually includes a small button with the words “Learn More” or “Download Now.” These are Calls-to-Actions (CTA). They’re what drive people to your offer.
As such, they need to be captivating and persuasive; otherwise, you lose your audience and the ultimate sale. CTAs can be utilized anywhere on a site where it’s appropriate to market your offer. We'll cover how to create CTAs that increase clicks for maximal impact so that visitors choose you rather than a competitor.
9. Place Your CTA Where the Eye Can See
Calls-to-action work best “above the fold” — the space where your web page is viewable to the user without having to scroll down. According to heat map analysis, anything “below the fold” will only be viewed by 50% of people who visit your page. Doubling impressions on your CTAs can significantly increase your lead count.
Notice the placement of the CTA on Continental Steel's homepage below where the red CTA button is above the fold, near the top of the page.
10. Clarity Trumps Persuasion
Oftentimes, marketers will put more focus on being clever than clear. Be crystal clear about what
If you’re giving away a free guide, say “Download our FREE guide to X” and if it’s a free webinar, say something like “Register for our FREE webinar on X."
X should clearly convey a compelling benefit of receiving the offer. Click here for more examples of effective web design and CTAs that have generated leads for our manufacturing clients.
11. Use Contrasting Colors to Make CTAs Stand Out
A call-to-action is meant to stand out, so if your CTA blends in too much with your site design, no one will notice it. You want as many eyeballs to land on that call-to-action as possible, so use contrasting colors to make the CTA conspicuous, and more importantly, design it in a way that its clickability is clean.
Take a look at how Acoustical Surfaces used a CTA that fits in their brand's color scheme, but stands out against the white background.
12. Link Your CTA To A Dedicated Landing Page
This tip might seem minor, but it’s incredible how often businesses miss this opportunity.
For example, see how CJ Winter offers resources on landing pages below — note the orange-colored contrasting CTA too!
"Our lead-generating website helped increase our sales by 60% in just one year. We were able to maximize our company exposure, drive a record number of qualified leads, and turn these opportunities directly into sales dollars," said Bob Ryan, Group President at CJ Winter, a thread rolling manufacturer.
13. Promote Offers On Product Pages
CTAs shouldn't be one size fits all. If your company offers various products or services, you may want to consider creating a different offer for each. Then, you can place CTAs
The logic here is that if a customer lands on this product page looking for control valves, the interest is there to download content specifically on that topic. This product page pushes the prospect to fill out a form and creates an opportunity for you to capture their contact information.
You Pages Are Great CTA Real Estate
Even if someone completes a form on your website (thus converting as a lead), you should try to increase their engagement with your brand. It is through this that prospects become fans and may refer you to others in their industry.
Once someone reaches a “thank you page,” use that space as an opportunity to promote more offers and content. For example, if a visitor on your website downloads a guide on Metal Stamping Delivery, offer them another similar free resource like a Materials Characteristics Guide. Note that Thomas' thank you page after submitting a form recommends additional resources and an offer to download.
Landing Page Layout For Lead Generation
Landing pages are critical to capturing leads.
After a visitor clicks on a CTA, they’re directed to a landing page. On this page, free from distractions (as the navigational panels on your website are not visible here), visitors are motivated to offer basic information like their name and email so they receive the offer you’ve made so appealing.
15. Elements Of An Effective Landing Page
Landing pages, sometimes called "Lead Capture Pages," convert visitors into leads by completing a transaction or collecting contact information from them. Landing pages consist of:
- A headline and (optional) sub-headline
- A brief description of the offer
- At least one supporting image
- A form capture your industrial lead's information
Corrugated Metals offers a perfect example of including all the elements of landing page for a brochure below.
16. Remove The Main Navigation
Once a visitor arrives on a landing page, it's your job to keep them there. If there are links on the page to move about your website, it will distract the visitor and decrease their chance of converting on the page.
17. Match The Messaging
Keep your messaging consistent on your CTA and the headline of the landing page. If people click on a link for a free offer and then find out there's a catch on the landing page, you’ll instantly lose their trust.
Similarly, if the headline reads differently than the CTA, it might lead to confusion, and the visitor might wonder if the CTA is linked to the wrong page.
18. Less Is More
As you've noticed with these examples, simplicity is key when designing landing pages. A cluttered page will distract your visitor. Be brief and to the point; it's in the offer itself where you give more information.
In addition to your headline, include a brief paragraph explaining the offer, followed by a few bullet points outlining the benefits of the offer.
19. Emphasize The Benefits Of The Offer
Make it clear on your landing page with a brief paragraph and/or bullet points what the benefits of the offer are. It's more than just listing what the offer is comprised of; it takes a bit of spin. Instead of "Includes specifications of product XYZ," say something like “Find out how XYZ can increase productivity by 50%.”
In other words, convey the value of your offer clearly and effectively. Remember — what information would your prospect be most interested in? Knowing who your targets are will help determine the right copy for your webpages.
20. Encourage Social Sharing
Don't forget to include buttons to enable your prospects to share content and offers on your landing page.
Include multiple social media channels as well as email, since people have different sharing preferences. When your offer is shared more, more people land on the page, and more people are likely to fill out your form and become leads.
21. More Landing Pages Equal More Leads
A recent marketing benchmarks report states that companies who increase their number of landing pages from 10 to 15 see a 55% increase in leads. The more
Need more inspiration on what type of content to offer? Check out these 11 manufacturing content marketing ideas.
Optimizing Your Forms For Lead Generation
Forms are integral parts of landing pages, as they are what capture visitors’ information. Keep in mind that people will only provide information equal to their perceived value of the offer, so if this is an educational and high-level resource, keep the form relatively short.
22. The Right Form Length
You might be wondering how much or how little information you should
The fewer fields you have in a form, the more likely you will receive conversions. With each new
Variation A: Right-aligned form
Variation B: Left aligned form
23. Use Different CTAs
You might yield higher lead conversions if you vary the types of CTAs that are on your website. Experiment with text-based ones, animated buttons, and buttons that are big, bold and colorful. Different people respond to different items so make sure you have more than one option for them to engage with. Refer back to tips above for contrasting colors for your CTAs and other CTA best practices.
If you're still not seeing an increase in online conversions at this point, you may need to reevaluate your content and/or SEO strategy to increase the quality of your website traffic.
24. Reduce Anxiety With Proof-Elements
People are more resistant to give up their information these days, especially because of increased spam. There are a few different elements you can add to the form or landing page to help reduce a visitor’s anxiety to complete the form:
If your form requires sensitive information, include security seals, a BBB rating, or certifications so that visitors know their information is safe and secure.
Adding testimonials or customer logos is another great to indicate social proof. Studies show that 85% of today’s consumers read more than 10 reviews before developing confidence in a brand.
25. Make the Form Appear Shorter
Sometimes people won't fill out a form just because it "looks" long and time-consuming. If your form requires many fields, try making the form look shorter by adjusting the styling.
For example, reduce the spacing in between fields or align the titles to the left of each field instead of above it so that the form appears shorter. If the form covers less space on the page, it may seem as if you’re asking for less. You also can create the appearance of less work but implementing a multi-step form — one of our clients increased their leads by 67% using a multi-step form!
Multi-Channel Manufacturing Lead Generation
If you’ve optimized your website to rank well in Google, and designed it so that visitors want to stay once they’ve reached you, you’ve done well. However, your website isn’t the only way to generate leads. You should never forget the potential impact of your company’s social media platforms, email marketing campaigns, and paid campaigns — the common thread is that all these channels should point back to your main website.
Buyers want to be wooed, which means going to lengths to meet them where they’re most comfortable. Figure out who your target audience is (buyers, engineers, procurement managers) and simplify their research, evaluation, and purchasing processes so that it’s most appropriate for them. That will return the largest dividends.
Check out the following channels that help businesses build their brand awareness and get their company in front of more buyers. Remember that this is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start.
26. Free Online Business Directories
To generate the most qualified leads, you must be where all your buyers are — for example, is your business listed on Thomasnet? More than 1.3 million B2B industrial buyers, engineers, and procurement managers are on the Thomas Network sourcing industrial products and services — and it's free to sign up!
"We started our internet marketing with Thomasnet.com at the suggestion of our largest customer, Boeing. They assured me that Thomasnet.com was where their engineers went first to find information on suppliers," said an executive from Tiodize, a manufacturer and seller of specialty coatings and composites. "Our sales have gone up exponentially compared to our increases in our ad budget. We are always looking for ways to be in front of decision-makers when they need our products. Advertising on Thomasnet.com is an efficient and effective way for us to do that."
"We've added customers every year and increased our sale per customer at the same time. Thomasnet.com is perfect for companies that do not have national sales forces."
To increase your reach even further, there are a ton of other free business directories for you to add your company information. Some of the free listings platforms we recommend include:
- Google My Business
- Apple Maps
- LinkedIn Company Directory
If you're looking to increase your reach to local leads, each directory helps boost your website in search results to those searching for you in your area.
27. Blogs And A Resource Center
Companies that blog regularly have a high chance of doubling their lead volume. The good news is that you don’t need to hit a ridiculous amount of posts to be noticed. Google takes note of regular updates on your site — even updates as little as once or twice a month will keep you up in the search ranks. In every blog post, include hyperlinks to landing pages within the copy of the post, as well as a prominent call-to-action.
We understand that blogging can be a lot of work, so don't forget Thomas is here to help you with your content marketing needs. Check out our post "The Basics Of An Effective Manufacturing Blog" for other important elements to include.
Air Innovations teamed with Thomas Marketing Services to create a Knowledge Base of educational content and information that helps customers do their jobs. In return, their website soared search rankings and increased their thought leadership presence in the industry, especially thanks to their Negative and Positive Pressure Rooms 101 post.
Learn more about Air Innovations' content and SEO strategy for lead generation here.
28. Email Marketing
Many businesses may think that email marketing is only best used when communicating with existing prospects and customers. Not so! Email can be a great channel for new lead generation. Here are some ways you can use email to generate more new prospects:
- Focus on an opt-in strategy. If you’re buying email lists and spamming your prospects, no one will want to share your email with others. They will only want to unsubscribe! The first step to email lead generation is to make sure you have happy subscribers that enjoy receiving emails from you.
- Send people valuable offers. If you send really interesting or valued offers — like what you've created above or discounts or other educational content — people will more likely share your emails with their friends or colleagues.
- Give people the tools to share. Don't forget to add a "Forward to a Friend" link or social media sharing buttons within each email to encourage people to pass it on.
29. Social Media
Social media isn’t just for liking funny pictures or posting what you ate for breakfast. Social media and social ads are emerging channels that businesses now utilize as an additional channel to drive traffic to their website and generate leads.
Here are some tips for using social media in your growth strategy:
Build a loyal following. Building a relationship with potential customers is a critical first step. Social media connections are really about people-to-people, not always company-to-individual. Get to know your audience online, communicate and share information. In order to generate leads, you need to have a human interaction with others. Read more about B2B Emotional Marketing.
Remember, social media is a dialogue. Companies that only use social media to blast out messages about themselves or send spam messages aren’t using social channels effectively. The goal is to interact with others and be helpful. When you share content on social media, don’t always post something that relates to your company. Share links to other interesting industry things you’ve found online. People will be very thankful you are noticing their work, too!
Influence connections for content sharing. Publishing and sharing content that directs traffic to targeted landing pages is one of the single biggest levers to increase lead generation through social media. Share your new content offers by posting links to landing pages, and in addition, share blog posts, discounts, and other great resources.
30. Organic Search
While promoting your offers in many channels is crucial for lead generation, it’s also equally important to make it easy for people to find your landing pages through search engines. To do this, you need to apply search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to your landing pages, such as:
Pick a primary keyword for each landing page and focus on optimizing that page for that word. If you oversaturate a page with too many keywords, the page will lose its importance and authority because search engines won’t have a clear idea of what the page is about.
Place your primary keywords in your headline and sub-headline. These areas of content add greater weight to search engines.
Include keywords in the body content, but don’t use them out of context. Make sure they are
relevant withthe rest of your content.
Include keywords in the file name of images (e.g. mykeyword.jpg) or use them in the ALT tag.
Include the keywords in the page URL.
31. Use Links And CTAs Within Offers
Yes, we're calling out CTAs again.
Your offers themselves are great channels for lead generation. CTAs aren't just for your main Contact Us page or your landing pages. Play around with CTAs in your blog, emails, social media posts, and display ads.
Remember to use the opposite end of the color spectrum to create CTAs and create tests for the look-and-feel of them too. For example, if your page is mostly blue and white, test out orange or yellow for your CTA button or link color.
32. A/B Testing
While this isn’t a channel, we've mentioned previously how testing can increase conversion.
A/B testing can be used in calls-to-action, landing pages, email marketing, advertising, and more to learn what performs the best.
According to HubSpot research, A/B testing your landing pages and other assets can help you generate up to 40% more leads for your business. When done correctly, A/B testing can provide a huge competitive advantage for your company because it provides analysis to identify which one delivers the best performance.
33. Newsletter Advertising
Today, more engineers and procurement managers are staying up to date with what's going on in the industry with online resources are daily email newsletters.
And by now you know that being everywhere your buyers are is important for lead generation.
Manufacturers also have the opportunity to promote their content or place the spotlight on their business with online advertising campaigns in Thomas Industry Update, industry's leading daily email newsletter — see the advertising examples here. You will be able to promote your content to 310,000+ subscribers who follow industry news, trends, product announcements, latest innovations.
Still Need Help Generating Leads For Your Manufacturing Company?
When you turn a site visitor into a lead, and that lead becomes a customer, you’ve done your job, but you need to follow up on that accomplishment. As the experts at HubSpot say, “A successful lead generation engine is what keeps the funnel full of sales prospects while you sleep.”
In the meantime, contact us to put any of the above tips in action for you — and ask us about our free digital health check where you can receive an analysis of exactly where you can improve online and how you compare against competitors.
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