It has been estimated that only about 10% of manufacturing companies have developed a proper “documented, strategy and business objective oriented” marketing plan. It’s surprising to know that a considerable number of chief marketing officers, business owners, CEOs, and directors have acknowledged that their marketing plan is not documented but exists only in their mind, as more of an idea.
Despite being one of the most overlooked business sectors in the USA, manufacturers can still take advantage of various opportunities to expand their market share (both locally, regionally, and internationally) by developing a comprehensive, documented digital marketing strategy.
Recent studies have proven that there are some misconceptions, generally found in ‘in-house’ management roles, about what a manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy is, and what it is not. Let’s take a closer look at this:
What a proper manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy is
A proper manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy is a strategic and diligently crafted and documented systematic plan that utilizes various digital channels and tactics to promote their products, reach their target audience, and achieve their business goals. By increasing the utilization of digital channels to increase business visibility, connectivity with suppliers, partners, and consumers, a manufacturing business can dominate digital market space and become a leader in their industry.
For a manufacturing business to dominate market share in the digital landscape, grow brand awareness and generate more leads:
- A well-defined plan: A proper manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy should be well-defined, meaning that it is clearly outlined and articulated. This includes having a clear understanding of the target audience, their needs, preferences, and behaviors. A well-defined strategy also includes specific goals, objectives, and metrics to measure success.
- Data-driven approach: Data-driven means that the strategy should be informed by data and insights. This includes analyzing customer data, market research, and other relevant information to inform decisions and tactics. A data-driven approach ensures that the strategy is based on facts and not assumptions or opinions.
- Multi-channel approach: It should leverage various digital channels such as SEO, PPC, content marketing, and more to reach and engage with the target audience.
- Customer-focused: Customer-focused means that the strategy should be centered around the needs, preferences, and behaviors of the target audience. This includes developing a deep understanding of their pain points, motivations, and buying behaviors. A customer-focused approach ensures that the strategy is relevant and resonates with the target audience.
- Based on Competitor Research: One critical component of a proper manufacturing marketing strategy is ongoing competitor research. This involves regularly monitoring and analyzing the activities of competing companies in the market to identify opportunities for differentiation and competitive advantages.
Competitor research can help manufacturers understand the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors’ products, pricing, promotions, and distribution strategies. Furthermore, by analyzing this information, manufacturers can identify gaps in the market that their products or services can fill or identify areas for improvement to stay competitive.
- Measurable and adaptive: Measurable means that the strategy should have specific metrics and KPIs to measure success. This includes tracking key performance indicators such as website traffic, engagement, leads, and sales. A measurable approach ensures that the strategy is effective and allows for continuous improvement.
Adaptive means that the strategy should be flexible and adaptable to changing market conditions, customer preferences, and new technology. This includes regularly evaluating and adjusting the strategy based on feedback, data, and insights. An adaptive approach ensures that the strategy remains relevant and effective over time.
What a proper manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy is not:
- A one-size-fits-all approach: When it comes to marketing, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works, especially in the manufacturing industry. This is because manufacturing companies often have a specific niche or target audience with unique needs and preferences. A proper digital marketing strategy for a manufacturer should be tailored to meet the needs of this specific audience.
- A standalone effort: A proper digital marketing strategy for manufacturers should not be viewed as a standalone effort. Instead, it should be integrated with other business functions to provide a seamless customer experience. This integration is critical because customers expect a consistent experience across all touchpoints with a company. Additionally, product development teams can use customer feedback collected through digital marketing pathways and integrations to inform product design and development. This helps manufacturers create products that better meet customer needs, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- A set-it-and-forget-it approach: Digital marketing is a dynamic and constantly evolving field, and a manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy should be adaptable and flexible, continually adjusting to changes in the market and the target audience’s preferences. A common mistake that many manufacturers make is treating digital marketing as a one-time or set-it-and-forget-it approach. However, a proper digital marketing strategy should be continuously monitored and optimized to ensure that it is delivering the desired results and continues to produce in an effective and efficient process. This involves regularly reviewing and analyzing performance metrics such as website traffic, lead generation, conversion rates, customer engagement and also closely monitoring and evaluating competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.
- A quick-fix solution: A proper digital marketing strategy should be viewed as a long-term investment that requires time, effort, and resources to deliver tangible results. We recommend at minimum 12 months to achieve momentum across main objectives and on-going maintenance to sustain the success, remain competitive, and continue business growth.
- A focus solely on sales: It’s important to note that a proper manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy should not be a generic, standalone, quick-fix solution that focuses solely on sales and ignores other important business functions. Instead, it should be an integrated part of the overall business strategy, aligned with other functions such as product development, customer service, and sales. This ensures that the digital marketing strategy supports the overall business goals and objectives.
Furthermore, it is not a list of ‘tactics’ that do not align with strategy and objectives:
- An idea, concept, or tactic in your ‘head’ that you heard of, and ‘think’ that you should try it out.
- A list of campaigns- that have no goals or objectives in place or not integration between them to synergistically produce any type of tangible result.
- Posting on social media- just to post on social media, with no documented content strategy or aim of “true business results” (likes, impressions, and page shares don’t move the needle).
- A spreadsheet with a list of tasks, activities, budgets, etc.
What Channels Manufacturing Companies Should Focus on in Their Digital Marketing Strategies:
Manufacturing companies should focus the most effective forms of digital marketing channels in their specific industry to reach their target audience effectively. Manufacturers should choose the channels that best suit their goals and target audience and integrate them into a cohesive digital marketing strategy.
Here are the top four channels to consider in your digital marketing strategy:
- Responsive Website: Your website is the foundation of your digital marketing strategy. It’s essential that your website is responsive and accessible on all devices, including smartphones and tablets. Your website’s content should also provide your online visitors with the information they need to make informed decisions about your products or services. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for your potential and existing customers to engage with your business online.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) although a core integral component to any sales or marketing results- Having a new responsive website doesn’t guarantee that you will receive website traffic from Google and other search engines. To maximize your website’s potential, it’s important to utilize search engine optimization (SEO). Content Marketing is an effective but often underutilized SEO tool in the manufacturing industry. By creating relevant and informative blog content, you can attract more organic traffic and keywords from search engines. Additionally, having a website that is free of errors and loads quickly is crucial for ranking well in search engine algorithms, particularly for Google’s standards.
- Paid Search/Google Network: One effective way to attract potential customers who are ready to make a purchase is through search engine marketing (SEM), which involves paid search on Google and other search engines. However, there is a cost associated with this type of marketing, and it’s crucial to ensure that your messaging is consistent with your sales funnel. Creating a dedicated landing page that specifically showcases the product or service being advertised is highly recommended to direct your SEM/PPC traffic. It’s important to note that SEM/PPC is a paid service that involves a cost per click, which can vary from a few cents to hundreds of dollars. It’s also worth noting that SEM is different from SEO (search engine optimization), and it’s important to understand the differences between the two approaches.
- Email Marketing: After setting up a new responsive website, optimizing it with SEO, and driving Paid Search traffic to it, it’s important to capture the contact information of your website visitors. This typically includes collecting their name, phone number, email address, purpose of their inquiry, and budget in some cases. To increase the likelihood of obtaining this information, you can offer incentives on purchases and nurture your current customer base. Email marketing involves two components: building your database and marketing to your database. Building your database involves collecting contact information from website visitors, while marketing to your database involves regularly sending emails to your contacts. By sending monthly emails to your database, you can keep your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds and drive more traffic to your website, ultimately resulting in more sales. The more emails you send, the greater the potential for sales growth.
Please be advised, that we recommend utilizing email marketing as a channel for customer nurturing and maintaining relationships with customers, special promotions or events. Essentially, keeping in touch with your “current” customers or potential customers that have interacted with your website and voluntarily provided their contact information in exchange for some form of value you have provided on your website.
Although more budget friendly than the other channels listed above, email marketing should not be the focal channel to scale on generating sales, or “top of funnel” awareness (unless a promoted product) in the B2B manufacturing space. We have observed this many times in consultation with manufacturers that have focused their marketing resources in this area with a negative return on investment.
Plan & Execute Your Manufacturing Marketing Strategy with an Experienced Team in Your Sector
When it comes to planning and executing a manufacturing marketing strategy, it is important to have an experienced team in your sector. This is because the marketing strategy and measurement of success for a manufacturing company will be different from that of other industries or a B2C objective.
Hiring a marketing team or agency that specializes in working with manufacturers is crucial to ensure that the strategy developed is tailored to the unique needs and preferences of the target audience. These experts will have a deep understanding of the manufacturing industry, its trends, and its competitive landscape, which will enable them to create an effective and efficient marketing strategy.
On the other hand, a firm that works with many different types of industries may propose a solution that is tactical, generic, or “one size fits all.” Such a strategy may not deliver the desired results and can be a waste of resources.
Benefits of Working with an Experienced Manufacturing Marketing Team:
An experienced manufacturing marketing team will have a deep understanding of the various channels that can be used to reach the target audience effectively. They will also be well-versed in the variables that need to be considered when building a marketing strategy, such as budget, target audience, and competition.
Furthermore, an experienced team will be able to provide ongoing support and guidance throughout the execution of the marketing strategy. They will monitor performance metrics, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary adjustments to ensure that the strategy remains effective and efficient.
To summarize, a proper manufacturer’s digital marketing strategy should be a well-defined, data-driven, multi-channel, customer-focused, measurable, and adaptive approach that is tailored to the needs and preferences of the target audience. It should not be a generic, standalone, quick-fix solution that focuses solely on sales and ignores other important business functions.