Digital Marketing Tips for Manufacturers
In today’s complex selling environment, manufacturers have to be more strategic and targeted when it comes to attracting, engaging, and converting their customers. While most manufacturers have been keeping pace with the latest supply chain technology and other industry advancements, their marketing departments are lagging behind in terms of innovation. This puts manufacturing marketers at a great disadvantage when it comes to fueling business growth.
At first glance, it might make sense to prioritize product development over marketing. After all, the value is in the product, and you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars to convey that, right? The problem with that approach, however, is that not even the best and highest-quality products on the market will sell unless you can find a way to convey that value to your target customers.
In other words, long gone are the days of customers settling on the first solution that comes their way. Today’s buyers do their research and expect vendors to meet them halfway by providing content and recommendations that will help them find a solution that best fits their needs. Because of this new dynamic, manufacturers not only have to make customers know that they are the best option, they also have to find ways to engage and nurture their customers and stand out from competitors during what is now a much lengthier customer journey.
While the products produced by manufacturers are unique, the challenges faced by their marketing departments are similar across all industries. This means that manufacturing marketers can learn a thing or two by replicating strategies that have proven effective in other industries.
Keep reading to learn more about key marketing challenges plaguing the manufacturing industry, as well as digital marketing essentials that will help you make your business stand out, attract and nurture the most qualified leads, and drive ROI like never before.
The Top 3 Marketing Challenges Impacting the Manufacturing Industry
If you’ve been marketing to a manufacturing audience for some time, you’ve probably noticed that some of the tactics that worked for you in the past are no longer packing the same punch. While each organization will face its own unique set of obstacles, these are some of the most common marketing challenges preventing manufacturers from attracting and converting more leads into customers.
1) Lack of Insight Into Buyer Preferences
Today’s buyers aren’t settling for navigating the customer journey at your pace or by your rules. Buyers have taken much of the sales cycle into their own hands and become accustomed to conducting online research, reading peer reviews, and weighing their purchasing options long before they’re willing to speak to any salespeople.
Marketers in manufacturing (like many other industries) have struggled to shift their sales and marketing efforts to accommodate these buyer preferences and needs. The result? Too often their marketing efforts completely miss the mark as manufacturing marketers aren’t offering customers the content and information they want and need at the right time. This leads to a huge disconnect and usually motivates the customer to veer toward a vendor that is willing to adapt to their preferences.
2) Disconnect Between Buyers & Sellers
Lack of marketing/sales alignment plagues organizations in and outside of the manufacturing industry and can have a detrimental effect on your ability to generate results. When marketing and sales aren’t on the same page, it creates a disconnect between a company and its target audience that results in lower engagement and fewer sales.
To prevent this issue from impacting your bottom line, marketing and sales must work together to define what makes a great opportunity and what constitutes a qualified lead. Furthermore, they must collaborate to determine the best approach to attract their target audience, transfer opportunities to sales, and ensure salespeople have the insights they need to have more impactful conversations when it’s time to talk business.
3) Keeping Up With New Digital Trends
While manufacturers have always been ahead of the game when it comes to the latest trends in supply chain and product innovation, they’ve struggled to keep up with digital trends impacting the buyer cycle. To come out on top and successfully engage their audience, manufacturers today have to adopt a multichannel approach and be ready to deliver customers the right message at the right time wherever they’re at.
In other words, manufacturing marketers have to get to know their audience’s preferences, develop targeted campaigns that encompass their needs and interests, and feed customers relevant content and recommendations via email, their website, and social media. This may seem like a lot of work, but, as I’ll explain in a moment, it’s much more manageable than you think.
Thankfully, while these challenges are specifically prevalent among manufacturing companies, they are not unique. Marketers across a variety of industries have shown us that there are tactics to adapt to the new buying cycle and combat these issues. The next few tips will stress which strategies and tactics you can implement to overcome these challenges and build a good foundation for marketing success moving forward.
Use Segmentation to Speak Directly to Your Buyers
Although batch-and-blast email marketing used to be the way to go, continuing to employ this strategy has likely caused your open and click-through rates to plummet. The good news is that while your numbers may not be where you want them to be, working toward getting the results you want is time well spent.
Changing the way you target and approach your audience can do wonders when it comes to generating pipeline and fueling business growth. Instead of sending the same email to your entire contact list, try segmenting your audience based on characteristics such as product interest, industry, and sales funnel stage. This tactic will allow you to provide each customer or account with information to keep them interested and help them inch one step closer toward a final decision.
A marketing automation platform that automatically segments your audience into lists as you uncover key information about who they are and what they need can streamline this process. With this barrier out of the way, you can channel your energy where it matters most — crafting amazing messages that address your consumers’ interests and pain points.
Strike While the Iron Is Hot
In the manufacturing industry, a good rule of thumb is to keep your products innovative and relevant. You can’t expect to generate return with a dated and inferior offering. What many manufacturers fail to realize, however, is that this same principle applies to their marketing efforts.
If you want to ensure your messages are heard loud and clear and result in the conversion rates you crave, you must deliver relevant, useful content wherever your audience is at in the customer journey. As with segmentation, striking while the iron is hot with your marketing efforts isn’t as difficult if it seems if you have the proper strategies and tools in place.
For example, automated email nurture campaigns can help you easily enter your contacts into relevant campaigns pertaining to their industry, interests, and needs. Use these campaigns to provide your audience with diverse and relevant content that will help them see your value and graduate to the next phase of the customer journey.
In addition, automated trigger emails can help you immediately engage known leads when they complete any important activities — such as filling out an adaptive form, visiting a specific landing page on your site, or scheduling a demo. This tactic allows you to stay top-of-mind after the initial interaction and serve your contacts with additional information that can improve their understanding of what you do.
Align Marketing and Sales to Provide Insights That Seal Deal
It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into your marketing if your salespeople are’t equipped with the information they need to seal the deal when the time comes to speak with a customer. Even worse, you could be setting your sales team up for failure from the beginning by nurturing and sending the wrong opportunities their way.
These fiascos are preventable if you practice collaboration and have the right processes in place. To make sure your organization reaps all the rewards of your marketing efforts, you have to work with your sales team to identify which kind of customers they want to see, strategize the best way to transfer qualified leads, and deliver useful insights that will help them have more targeted and powerful conversations. Taking the time to align on these key steps will make the sales cycle run more smoothly so each team can focus on doing what they do best (attracting leads and closing deals) and spend less time putting out fires.
Of course, even teams that are on the same page can always use a bit of extra help facilitating collaboration. A tool that allows you to easily gather insights, integrates with your CRM, and automatically notifies your salespeople when there is a new marketing qualified lead coming their way will help you on your way toward closing the marketing and sales loop.
Invest in Tools That Make Marketing Powerful and Effective
Every vendor will tell you that their platform is the most powerful option available, but not all marketing tools are created equal. While you can settle for a basic email service provider (ESP) such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, you’ll find that these tools don’t have everything you need to streamline processes. (And isn’t that what the manufacturing industry is known for?)
Similarly, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of buying one of those marketing automation tools that are positioned as being highly sophisticated, only to find out it’t not intuitive and far more trouble than it’s worth. Often times, these tools are crafted for organizations with large marketing teams that can afford dedicated specialists to implement campaigns and managing activities within the platform. If investing more on your marketing efforts is already a tough sell, these vendors probably aren’t the best option.
Then, there’s Act-On, an innovative platform that has everything you need to enhance your marketing efforts without having to spend a fortune or acquire additional resources. Not to toot our own horn, but Act-On delivers powerful marketing automation, ease of use, and excellent support to help you easily achieve your business goals and scale your marketing efforts as your business grows. We also provide the insights, tools, and integrations you need to solve for all the marketing challenges facing the manufacturing industry today.
If you’d like to learn more about marketing automation and how it can help you achieve your business goals, we invite you to schedule a time to talk to one of our experts today!