Bain & Company interviewed 370 marketing and sales professionals working in the industrial and technology sectors (we’ve written about it before) and half of those surveyed said that digital capabilities and marketing for industrial companies have significantly changed their customers’ behavior. In fact, according to the Bain & Company report:
“B2B buyers now perform more than two-thirds of their decision-making research online – without speaking to anyone in the sales department.” tweet
For industrial businesses, this means that prospective buyers have more power. Access to a wealth of knowledge about products and companies allows customers to make decisions before a business even knows they are in the market.
There are a few simple steps manufacturers, service providers, and distributors can take to connect with the growing mass of digitally engaged customers:
Using targeted keywords in regular blog posts helps with SEO and over time can improve search engine rankings. It is proven that businesses appearing closer to the top of search results (top 1-5 results) generate the highest percentage of clicks. Since the clicks come from viewers who have already searched for the products and services a business offers, there is a better chance of them being a qualified lead than outbound prospecting.
A free tool such as Google Keyword Planner can help businesses decide which keywords they should target.
Long tail keywords, phrases with three or four words, are very specific to individual industries, and so are more likely to generate clicks from interested customers than more general keywords. tweet
For example, writing a blog post about “belt conveyor rollers” will generate more interested customers than optimizing for a more broad keyword like “conveyors”. Targeting broad keywords may receive larger search volumes, but the clicks they generate are less likely to make a purchase.
Make sure to include related keyword phrases in your content, to provide search engines with better topical signals. This will help achieve higher search result placement for your article.
This is useful information to employ when marketing for industrial companies, as their products and services are very specific, and only a small population of very interested customers are searching for those specific products, services and terms.
Source: Moz.com: Advanced On-Page Topic Targeting for SEO
Companies often offer white papers, case studies, and other downloadable content on their websites to showcase the value of their products and services. While this is useful for customers, it does little to help sales teams.
Gating content, that is, asking for minimal contact information in exchange for a download, gives sales teams a method of contact, an understanding of what the customer is interested in and knowledge of where they are in the sales funnel.
It is important to note that not all content should be gated. It takes effort to fill in contact information, and customers who are early in the sales funnel are usually less willing to provide it. Therefore, things such as brochures and company information are best left un-gated.
Not only are these customers closer to a sale, but they are usually engaged enough to not mind sharing their contact information, as long as the document exchanged for their information is perceived as valuable.
Bain & Company reports that as a result of the surge in online activity, many industrial companies are already sitting on a wealth of customer data, but doing little to tap into it. Free tools, such as Google Analytics, allow businesses to visualize online data. It is easy to understand which channels are driving the most traffic to a website and which pages on a site are the most engaging. This is powerful information when marketing for industrial companies. Companies can see exactly where their traffic is coming from, see what information they are engaging with, and try and get these people to convert into sales or customers.
LinkedIn is a prime channel to optimize social efforts for in B2B
Similarly, social media channels, like LinkedIn, have built-in analytics tools that can reveal which types of content are most engaging to an audience.
With this information marketing initiatives and budgets can be adjusted and sales teams can prepare accordingly. By performing simple tracking of online initiatives and making changes where required, businesses can substantially improve their online return on investment. tweet
While this list is by no means exhaustive, these are simple techniques every B2B company operating in the industrial sectors can implement. Like all things in business, a strong online presence requires some effort, however, when executed effectively, a well-managed web identity will generate valuable leads.
About Fred Yee
Fred Yee is the founder and CEO of ActiveConversion, a company specializing in industrial online marketing, marketing automation, and demand generation. His work with ActiveConversion has helped hundreds of businesses succeed online and expand internationally. Fred was voted by the SLMA as one of the Top 50 Most Influential in Sales Lead Management for two consecutive years, and continues to gain recognition for his work in online marketing.