Inbound Marketing Strategies for Manufacturers – Top Tips!
So you’ve already started making progress on your Organic Search strategy and you have plans or an implemented approach to bring users to the website through PPC advertising. Is that where the role of marketing within manufacturing ends? Not quite.
Marketing for manufacturing companies is particularly difficult because of the long and complex sales cycles that require a number of key decision-makers to agree on your business as the solution to their problem. Luckily, there is a strategy tailored for this problem, which is common in B2B industries. That strategy is inbound marketing.
Inbound Marketing considers the full user journey and bridges that crucial gap that has been missing for years before the digital revolution; linking back to revenue. Using a model to understand the sales and marketing environment is not new. The earliest record of the funnel metaphor being applied to sales goes far as back as 1924:
“The salesman should visualise his whole problem of developing the sales steps as the forcing by compression of a broad and general concept of facts through a funnel which produces the specific and favourable consideration of one fact”
‘Bond Salesmanship’, William Townsend (1924)
But thinking about Marketing in terms of Attract, Convert, Close and Delight puts a new focus on just how much of your marketing should focus on what you do with people’s attention once you have it.
As an inbound marketer, you will be able to use your data to break down:
- How much traffic do you need to create a Marketing-Qualified Lead?
- How many Marketing-Qualified Leads convert into Sales-Qualified Leads?
- How many Sales-Qualified Leads do you need to get 1 customer?
Having these figures and being able to segment them by source of traffic is a superpower. It allows you to work backwards and estimate how much extra traffic (and marketing budget) you need to hit revenue targets, based on data.
It allows you to identify where there is attrition within your user journey and improve it. It allows you to link marketing to revenue. Start focusing on the pounds your marketing generates instead of just likes.
Let’s break down each stage, see what it includes and offer some tips!
Before you launch into a campaign, channel or a promotion of any kind, you need to understand your target audience. In manufacturing, there are often different levels of experience and education amongst the key decision makers that you’re making content for. We always suggest clients start with a persona workshop.
Now you know who the key decision makers are that your marketing needs to engage, you can start building your campaigns and identifying which channels to prioritise with your media spend. Earlier in this guide to unlocking success, we covered some of the most immediate ways you can attract attention through PPC Advertising and Organic search marketing. Manufacturers can also utilise content marketing, social media marketing, marketing automation and lead generation techniques.
Here’s a very simple checklist of things you need to have ready at the Attract stage:
- A https secure landing page that:
- Loads quickly (page speed affects SEO and PPC costs)
- Communicates a clear call to action for the audience
- Doesn’t link to distracting parts of your or anyone else’s website
- Represents similar messaging and design to the ads that take the user there (for ad quality score)
- Tracking configured to monitor user behaviour (through Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager or HubSpot)
- A form to capture the details of the leads, which automatically sends the details to your team via a CRM or CMS
- A thank you page or ‘Submit’ button (for tracking leads and sending back to algorithms)
- An agreed plan for what happens after someone completes the form
That last point is something we will explore more in the Close stage.
This is where you improve the number and quality of the manufacturing leads that are generated from the traffic visiting the landing page or website. This is an area that whole companies dedicate their service to improving such is the opportunity available. It is also referred to as Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).
Here are some golden rules that manufacturers can use to improve the number and quality of leads
How to increase the number of manufacturing leads
- (Almost always) reduce the copy – Manufacturers have the task of explaining often a highly complex process or service in language that makes sense and is efficient. Getting your senior engineer or sales person to explain the service is the starting point. Your job is to sell that experience as a solution and not a job, in as few words as possible.
- Reduce the form size – the quicker a form is to complete, the higher the conversions. Without fail. There are cases where you need to qualify out bad leads with a question. For the most part though, knowing a lead’s full name, phone number and email address is enough information for your sales team to work with.
- Single (maximum two) Call to Actions – don’t confuse what you want the reader to do or what the next steps are.
- Remove links away from the landing page. The only way off the page should be to become a lead or close the window.
How to increase the quality of manufacturing leads
- Use messaging that identifies the targeted audience and explores the challenge they are facing.
- Explore what will happen when they complete the form. Be upfront about whether they can expect a call or emailed information about the problem.
- Be specific about the product/service and have different landing pages for each one. There’s a reason that generally the worst quality leads come through ‘contact us’ forms.
Review your data and improve the source of traffic
One of the differences between inbound marketing and lead generation is the degree to which the leads remain your responsibility after becoming a lead.
- What is the intent level of the leads generated through each channel?
- Are different channels and campaigns operating at different paces?
- What does the demographic breakdown look like for new leads?
Check the data and understand which sources are creating the most high-quality leads. Give channels enough time for algorithms to learn which leads are high and low quality before shutting them down. It can be difficult to revisit advertising on a channel that produces low-quality leads during an out-of-season time.
The Close stage concerns all activity that supports turning Sales-Qualified Leads (SQL’s) into Customers. This typically is seen as the main role of the sales team but marketers have a huge role to play here. Here are some of the things you can do as a marketer to support the Close stage of Inbound Marketing for manufacturers.
- Produce sales-orientated assets that tackle key deal blockers and questions prospects may have. The sales team may find these useful when nurturing Sales-Qualified Leads that have gone quiet.
- Retargeting campaigns to keep your solution and business front of mind for quiet leads
- Account Based Marketing techniques that target other key decision makers within the Sales-Qualified Leads company
- Share best practices regarding communication styles, templates and frequency of messaging based on successful customers
- If you have a Customer Relationship Management system, you should be able to track the communication that occurs between the sales teams and prospects.
In manufacturing, there will be many key decision-makers and seemingly silent internal influencers involved in the buying decision at your prospect’s company.
This stage of manufacturer inbound marketing is often overlooked, or not given sufficient focus by marketing teams. It comes down to what your current clients are saying about your brand. In an industry that relies so much upon referrals and networking – this is your chance to get ahead of your reputation, increase referred business and feedback to the organisation.
Carrying out a regular client survey has different outcomes and aims depending on your client’s feelings towards you.
Consider the below possible outcomes;
- Highlights possible problems or concerns you are not currently aware of. You can put these right before they concern more clients.
- Reminds clients how much they value you. Clients giving positive responses are reminded of their positive relationship with you.
- Produces PR, blog and social material. “97% of your clients have reported significantly higher ROI” is a very positive headline to splash across the web. Good source of testimonials, reviews and stories.
- Clients giving positive scores can have their comments used or be asked to take part in one of the above through a follow-up email.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Consider asking a NPS question. This is a question on a scale of 1-10, normally phrased as: ‘On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends and family?’
You can use your NPS score as a benchmark in future client surveys. You are aiming for 9 and above (promoters). Anyone below 7 is likely to be a ‘detractor’ and actively damaging your brand image. 7-8 are considered neutral.
How can you leverage the delight stage of inbound marketing within a manufacturer?
The simplest application of asking your customers what they think is that it provides great opportunities to generate testimonials and referrals from your brand ambassadors. Why not go one step further and automate the process with your CRM.
Automated time-triggered NPS surveys to your customers after 1 year can segment your customer list and include follow-up emails for customers who score 9 or 10. These contacts can be put into a list and emailed by your sales team to see if there are any additional services your manufacturing business can help them with PLUS they can be prompted to refer you to somebody in their manufacturing network.
Manufacturing Inbound Marketing Strategies… In Summary
In this article, we have discussed the role of inbound marketing in the manufacturing industry and outlined solutions to the challenges facing marketers, who face long and complex sales cycles.
We emphasise the need to understand the full user journey and focus on the stages of Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight as separate strategies but also in conjunction with each other. Inbound marketing allows you to link your efforts to revenue by analysing data within each stage, monitoring the attrition of leads through the pipeline and working out where the lowest-hanging fruit lies within your customer journey.