A commonly held but mistaken assumption is that digital marketing is great at promoting consumer products and services but less effective when it comes to specialist sectors such as engineering and manufacturing.
In fact, a growing number of industrial companies – having prioritised marketing efforts – enjoying a return on investment. The results of The Marketing in Manufacturing Report reveal that 63% of manufacturers and engineers consider marketing a high priority.
In this blog we’ll highlight what industrial businesses are doing right and how your engineering or manufacturing firm can follow in their successful footsteps. A path now well-trodden, it could very well transform your business…
1. Know Your Audience
All great marketing strategies stem from detailed buyer personas.
What Are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are ‘semi-fictional representations of your ideal buyers based on data, interviews and some educated guesses’ (HubSpot).
They are the perfect starting point; it is easier to reach your target audience if you know them inside out.
Taking the time to develop would-be characters that encompass various traits helps to focus your marketing efforts and make your messaging more poignant.
Constructing detailed biographies for each will make all the difference. These should include top-level information such as job role and age to more particular aspects such as how they digest their news. As a minimum, your industrial marketing buyer personas should outline your target audience's:
- Stresses and challenges
- Common objections
- Buying triggers
- Channel usage.
Your personas will all be given names – Cautious Colin for instance – and be front of mind when tailoring content offerings.
Crucially, each buyer persona should be placed within a different stage of the buyer’s journey. While some will fall into the Awareness phase, others will be further along that road and braced to purchase (Decision). This matters because different stages of the buyer journey require different content.
When it comes to inbound marketing, a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not suffice. Specific and highly targeted content is the secret to converting leads – especially for industrial businesses where needs are often more complex. Buyer personas allow for that.
2. Create Content Pillars
Research shows that 67% of industrial businesses have invested in some kind of content marketing over the last 12 months. Content marketing is on the rise within the engineering and manufacturing industries…and for good reason. 43% of manufacturing and engineering businesses rate regular written content in the top three most successful marketing activities in 2021 (The Marketing In Manufacturing Report).
However, creating great content isn't enough. In order to make a real impact in search engines, you need to structure this content into pillars.
What Is A Content Pillar?
A content pillar is a substantial, informative piece of content on a particular topic (usually on one page) which is also broken out into several sections of more specific content. This content is then all linked together using internal hyperlinks.
Of course, content creation comes in many forms – some of which we’ll touch on later – but your blog page will often be at the heart of it.
Blogs enable a business to meet its target audience halfway. They present an opportunity to establish your brand as a trusted authority, one that can answer pertinent questions with well-researched, well-written articles that visitors devour.
But writing for writing’s sake will have little or no effect. You must conduct keyword research to gauge exactly what end users are looking for. Remember that your buyer personas will offer valuable insight in this regard…
The priority should always be the customer and helping their progression from Awareness to the Consideration and Decision stages respectively. If you can legitimately position one of your own products or services to help with that, so much the better.
Valuable, original content will delight prospects and Google alike. Moreover, high-quality articles will (in time) attract backlinks that result in improved domain authority. It is, in effect, a virtuous circle.
Granted, blogs are a lot of work – hence the reason so many industrial companies’ partner with marketing agencies – but the effort is well worth it.
Just look at the results for one of our own UK manufacturing clients. Its increase in organic traffic correlates directly with its increase in blog traffic. As a result of investing in creating content pillars, the client has enjoyed a 60% increase in organic search traffic.
3. Get Social
Social channels present further avenues in which to showcase your services and attract business.
It’s vitally important to establish a social presence in the modern digital era. Failure to appear on any of the major platforms can imply you’re not as invested in your marketing or, worse still, behind the times.
One of the many benefits of social media is the opportunity it creates for interaction with followers/prospects. Your business can easily engage with people by inviting feedback, replying to comments, creating surveys and more.
It’s also another sphere in which to push content marketing. Posts across the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter will differ from those in your blog. These are visual channels so videos and infographics will prove more impactful.
As always, these can be framed in such a way as to educate and inform.
As with blogging, social management can be a slow burn. Vanity metrics such as post likes are secondary to building a sizable following and raising your profile.
4. Email Marketing
Email marketing is not exactly a new tactic but it is one that quite rightly endures. 60% of engineering and manufacturing businesses use email marketing today (The Marketing In Manufacturing Report).
Circulating a periodic newsletter made up of your aforementioned articles – along with any offers you’re running – is a great way to touch base with an audience you know is somewhat engaged.
This is because you’ll be sending to a segmented database made up of previous customers – ideally those who have subscribed specifically for this offering.
GDPR legislation has moved the goalposts when it comes to who you can and cannot target with email marketing, but a good marketing partner will help you navigate those waters and reap the rewards.
5. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation goes that bit further than email marketing in that it queues up several messages that form part of a wider workflow.
Marketing workflows work on your behalf, automatically sending emails depending on actions taken by the end-user. This helps progress them through the buyer journey without the need for in-person meetings or sales calls.
Depending on the platform you sign up to, you can insert personalisation tokens and smart content which tailors the messaging to the individual.
While a fair amount of content must be created in the first instance, this can yield results months, even years down the line.
Surprisingly, the engineering and manufacturing sectors are relatively slow on the uptake of marketing automation with only 22% currently investing in automation software. Being one of the few that is investing in this initiative could be a huge competitive advantage.
In a similar vein to automation campaigns, chatbots can ease the workload of your engineering team whilst simultaneously delivering value to prospects.
Some 71% of people are willing to engage with a bot when landing on a website. Moreover, clickthrough rates are 14x higher when compared to email (HubSpot).
If resources are stretched, bots can do the work for you.
They can be built to serve up content that answers questions, navigate end users to a particular area of the site or even produce quotes for work/products. You can go as granular as you wish when partnering with the likes of HubSpot.
Chatbots are fast becoming a staple of the modern website, so much so yours can appear dated if it loads without. They have many benefits, lead capture chiefly among them.
7. Regular Website Improvements
Your website is your digital storefront. Anyone looking to purchase from you will take the time to view your Homepage, meaning sites will always act as a credibility check.
It’s vitally important to keep yours updated. This is true not just for the look and feel but also for performance.
Yes, aesthetics are important as you seek to promote services and products in a compelling fashion. A blog page that hasn’t been updated in years hardly reflects well on the business…but is your site up to standard under the hood?
Usability testing can reveal what does and does not work, while site audits provided by the likes of SEMrush and Lighthouse Reports will flag any underlying issues likely to impinge on Google rankings. These could range from image file sizes to CSS in dire need of compression.
The days of launching a new site every three to four years with next to no updates in the interim are long gone. Websites must be optimised continually to serve your target audience and placate Google.
In keeping with website improvements, industrial businesses that embrace search engine optimisation stand to beat much of the competition.
Countless analytical tools quickly help to paint a picture of search performance in relation to your competitors – providing a great steer on where you should focus efforts from an SEO perspective.
This may involve amendments to on-page copy as you seek to shape content around particular keywords with sizable search volume. Similarly, you may revisit alt tags, meta titles and descriptions. You may also identify featured snippet opportunities, which are growing in significance.
The search landscape is fiercely competitive in industrial markets so optimisation has never been more important, both to maintain and improve visibility in search engines.
For more information on how to improve your SEO performance, download our FREE 20-Day SEO Guide!
9. Paid Advertising
Many of the tips highlighted in this blog require patience. Quick wins – or low-hanging fruit – are available but hard to come by. Most marketing efforts can be considered slow burns.
Paid advertising is a means of speeding things up. Targeted ads can help your manufacturing or engineering company to boost traffic from the right audience instantaneously.
Caution is needed as it rarely serves to throw money at a problem, however deep your pockets. Expertise is required to build campaigns, ad groups and ad creative but do it right and you can compete for search terms that are aligned to your business and attract great interest.
Paid advertising comes in various forms and from many sources. Google, Microsoft and Facebook all provide means of generating impressions and click-throughs. Depending on your engineering and manufacturing company however you may be best placed adopting LinkedIn advertising.
Marketing agencies will advise and/or execute campaigns on your behalf but implementing some form of paid advertising is essential in 2021 and beyond.
10. Google Analytics
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, any engineering and manufacturing company looking to make an impact with marketing must tap into Google Analytics.
The latter – and the information contained within it – underpins any good strategy.
It’s here where you’ll gain invaluable insights into traffic, engagement, conversions and just about everything else besides.
Updating a website and blog for the sake of it is ill-advised and unlikely to bring about meaningful change. Data should inform every aspect of your marketing and this can be mined from Analytics.
It’s here where you can identify where the biggest drop-offs occur. This can inspire a re-think of a particular exit page, whether that in the form of design, navigation, call-to-actions or something else entirely.
Analytics remains the best insight into current performance and the best steer on where you should focus efforts from month-to-month.
Understanding this platform and its reporting is essential if you hope to make significant headway.
So there you have it. By no means a definitive list but a handful of tips that any engineering or manufacturing company hoping to kick-start or overhaul their marketing efforts would be well served implementing.
This is an industry undergoing its biggest change in a century. Marketing is at the forefront of the evolution and is the key to keeping pace.