There's a common mindset with many manufacturers that their website can only be an informational, brochure-style site because they sell to other businesses, with a long sales process. They think that because they can't sell direct online, their options for making their website a business-generating tool are limited. They tend to receive contact form submissions from current customers or potential customers that a sales person has already spoken to, but no new leads develop because of their site. Does this sound like your manufacturing business?
The good news is that if you feel that way about your website, you're wrong! Here're some website marketing tips for manufacturers:
1 - Know Your Buyer
It's too easy to brush this step off. Don't fall victim to this mistake. Sure, you may know what your buyers are looking for in your product or service, but how much do you know about them outside of that? If you're like most manufacturers, not much. You might be wondering what else is there to know? The short answer is, the more the better. Why is that? If we really know about our ideal buyers, we can more effectively communicate with them and tailor our message so that they are fully impacted by what we have to say. We can answer questions beyond the specs of our product or service. We can relate to them on a human level. These things all build rapport and help to establish relationships.
This process should be an ongoing one. It doesn't require a major ongoing effort but you should have an occasional review of your buyer personas to adjust to new things you learn and new client bases you pick up. Need to establish your buyer personas? Here's a great post on our blog about creating your buyer personas.
The most important take away here is that you need to know more than the specs your prospects evaluate when looking at your solution. You should know key demographics. You should know about their personal lives. How many kids? City or suburb? What are their life problems?
2 - Help Them Learn What They Don't Know
To generate leads and make your manufacturing website a business development tool, you have to ditch the brochure mentality and adopt content marketing. As I've said before, no one will hang around your site to be sold to. They will however stick around to see what they can learn from you. Every buyer wants to make a smart buying decision. Every seller wants their buyers to see value in the same criteria that they see value in. This is your opportunity as a seller to set the buying criteria in an educational way. Your educational content needs to be 99.9% education and 0.1% sales. This is a must for buyers in the early stages of the buying process. If you push the sales aspect up front, the leads will not move down the Inbound Marketing funnel.
If you align your content with the various stages of your buyer's journey to find a solution to their problems, you will have the opportunity to use more sales pressure as the leads move further down the funnel.
3 - Establish Workflows To Nurture Leads Down The Funnel
A lead not nurtured is a sale that's lost. If a prospect downloads an ebook about "The 5 Ways to Maintain the Component" you manufacturer to make it last longer, you have to have a plan to follow up with that lead. Again, if you don't, you are wasting that lead and likely losing that sale. This new lead should enter a predefined workflow to make sure that they receive follow up emails and education, based on what they downloaded. By continuing to send valuable content to this lead, you are building trust and helping them to make a smarter buying decision.
The workflows defined (yes, multiple) should be outlined clearly and assigned to each piece of gated content you publish for download. That way there is a clear path to follow for each new lead. For example, if they download "Content A", you have to send an immediate follow up to the lead, thanking them for downloading the resource and asking them to reach out with questions. A day later, you could send them a related resource and a more personalized email with details specific to this lead's company. A few days later, you could connect with this lead on LinkedIN, and follow them on Twitter. The idea here is that we want to stay in front of them while they are interested. We want to connect socially to see what they are about. Ultimately, we want to move them down the Inbound Marketing funnel towards a closed sale. Your workflows guide that process.