7 Digital Marketing Improvements for Manufacturers This Year (2018)

By Mike McKearin

Your competition is gunning for continuous improvement beyond operations. They’re using it for their marketing, too. If you utilize industrial marketing services to apply continuous improvement to your marketing efforts, you’re sure to yield market share growth with minimal investment. At the end of the day, you should be fueling continuous improvement in the digital marketing efforts of your manufacturing business. So here are 7 digital marketing improvements for manufacturers to follow in 2018.

1. Plan out goals & objectives

Each marketing effort should be tied directly to business goals and objectives. Outlining a strategic plan that speaks to where you’re heading will point to necessary marketing initiatives you’ll want to pursue this year. The shotgun approach to marketing has all but fallen by the wayside in favor of something far more accurate. This is mainly due to the ability of powerful digital tools and social platforms to find and target specific buyers.

If you need help with strategic planning for your digital marketing, take a look at QUAD Model. We can walk you through all of the high-level thinking, down to very specific tactics to employ over the next quarter.


2. Build your buyer’s persona(s)

A buyer persona is a snapshot of who your ideal customer is. Most of the time, this will represent a fictional buyer and not a real person. The buyer persona is made up of things like demographic information, behavior patterns, buying motivators, and goals. The more detailed the information is surrounding this persona, the more accurately your marketing efforts can be.

More than 70% of B2B companies who exceed their revenue goals have well-documented buyers personas, versus 37% who simply meet goals and 26% who miss them. (source) So what buyer persona information should inform your digital marketing content? Here are few items to get your gears moving. You’ll need to come up with a list of items that are more specific to your business.

A great place to start for gathering quantitative (demographic) information is your web analytics tool. With Google Analytics, you can quickly find geographic information related to your current web traffic. It’s useful to then organize and itemize all of the information in a spreadsheet. Be sure to include things like age, income, job title, and location. These can be further organized into ranges and regions. Qualitative (psychographic) information, like hobbies & priorities, fears & challenges, and organizational goals, is equally important. Knowing who your customers are and where they come from will tell you a lot about how to best communicate with them.


3. Improve your digital footprint

You may not be able to completely overhaul your website this month, or even this year, but you can develop a continuous improvement plan. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Look at each of your site pages and ask yourself this question: what is this page supposed to accomplish? This exercise will make it very clear whether you should delete a page, change the content, or leave it alone. About three-quarters of B2B marketers focus heavily on creating engaging content. It’s cited as the top priority for their internal content creators over the next year. (source) So if you do decide to change the content–hopefully, for easy editing purposes, you have a WordPress site–determine if the page should do one of the following things: sell something, educate a customer, capture visitor data, or entertain.

The content on your website needs to be clear, compelling, concise, and consistent with your brand message. It also needs to align with your buyer persona. Focus on how you can bring real value to your visitors. If they’re not getting something valuable out of the visit, they’ll leave. So take two or three hours per week or month to improve your website and digital marketing efforts. With just a few hours of work, you can reap the rewards of being found for relevant information. And your visitors will thank you.


4. Audit your existing traffic

Over the last six years, B2B marketers have consistently cited website traffic as their most used metric. This year, we asked them to also rate metrics by importance. As it turns out, the most important metrics are sales lead quality (87%), sales (84%), and higher conversion rates (82%). (source)

Your improvement goals are likely to be driven by the need to expand into new markets, pulling in new customers, or improving the overall awareness of your brand awareness. For good insight into all of those elements, you need to start tracking your site traffic. This can be done with a simple KPI put in place using Google Analytics (a free tool you’d be crazy not to use).

Adding Google Analytics to your website is as easy as embedding a YouTube video. Simply cut and paste the small chunk of provided code and insert it into the <head> of your website; your digital marketing agency can help with this. Lastly, be sure to filter out your office traffic and any other regular traffic (say, from your home computer) that might skew the analysis.


5. Get a grip on search marketing (SEO)

Being at the top of a Google SERP (search engine results page) should be a marketing priority. On average, B2B customers and decision makers perform 12 searches before visiting a specific brand website. Additionally, more than 70% of B2B searches begin with a generic product or service search with no specific brand mentioned. That’s a staggering statistic. What it means is that your customers have turned away from trade magazines and old listings. They’re using Google to search for what you’re selling. So if you’re a manufacturer and you don’t take search marketing seriously, you need to think again.

Getting to the top of a Google SERP requires strategy and search engine optimization (SEO). It depends entirely on the keywords and phrases you use, how fierce the competition for those keywords is, and what type of relevant content you have to offer. Optimization efforts begin with keyword research. What are your customers typing into a search bar in order to find you? Brainstorm as many keywords as possible using various phrasing. Some examples are gear manufacturers in USA, commercial and industrial gears, supplying custom cut gears for OEMs, and so on.

Once you’ve built a solid list of keywords, go and type each one into Google and scroll to the list of related terms at the bottom of each results page. Grab any relevant terms and add them to your list. Then head over to Google Keyword Planner, where you can get an idea of search volume per keyword. Keyword Planner is an incredibly useful tool; you don’t have to chase search terms that are too broad or have no value. In the end, avoid making the typical DIY optimization mistake of setting yourself up to rank #1 on a bunch of search terms that have zero traffic and zero value.


6. Plot out your marketing map (free download)

You have your digital marketing buyer persona. Your website is also up to snuff. Now let’s build a roadmap for how and where you’ll roll out new content. USe this downloadable spreadsheet template to guide your marketing efforts. In this spreadsheet, you’ll find a topic outline for twelve months with additional sheets for each month.

The idea here is to have an ongoing flow of topics that all relate to your business. For example, if we want to talk about strategic planning for the first month, we might break the weeks down like so:

1: What is strategic planning
2: Basic strategic planning for manufacturers
3: Using QUAD Model for your manufacturing business
4: Strategic planning case study

In the following month, maybe we want to turn our attention to digital marketing. So the weeks in month two might shake out a little like this:

1: 7 Trends for digital marketing for 2018
2: Setting the digital marketing foundations for your manufacturing business
3: Using SEO to gain traction in the search engines
4: getting the most out of social media for B2B marketing

Once you’ve brainstormed topics for 12 months, you can begin to unpack each topic in the corresponding sheet within the template. This allows you to compound information by using it in multiple ways. For instance, you might write a blog post, pull a quote or two out of it to share on social media, and use the post’s featured image as a link in a related email campaign. Ultimately, you want to get the most bang for your buck with every piece of content you create.


7. Email marketing

Email is the third most influential source of marketing information for B2B audiences, just behind colleague recommendations and industry-specific content from thought leaders. Now, just to be clear, we’re not talking about those terrible spam emails that everyone gets and loves to hate. We’re not talking about worn-out company newsletters that bore the heck out of everyone, either, if there are even any still out there.

The emails we’re talking about are valuable to your customers. What would it take to create an email that your customer base is excited about getting? We encourage providing “snackable” information bites that are loaded with value. In terms of design, don’t overthink it. Using a standard, mobile-friendly template from a service like Mailchimp will ensure your emails are delivered and look great. And a simple banner graphic design goes a long way for email marketing.

The key to great email marketing is consistency. By establishing a cadence with your delivery schedule, you’ll get out and in front of your audience on a regular basis. That way, when the time comes for your customer to need a product or service that you provide, you’re first in their mind and at the top of their list.


Mike McKearin

About Mike McKearin

Owner of WE•DO Worldwide, a b2b marketing agency building brands that can be a catalyst for positive change through collaboration and action.

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