Manufacturing and industrial businesses are incredibly diverse. They encompass everything from machinery and metalworks companies to pipeline suppliers, and even food and furniture production.
Despite this diversity, there are some consistent characteristics you can adopt as manufacturing marketers—and techniques to implement in line with those characteristics—that will help you build a substantial audience.
1. Be highly visible.
It’s crucial that your products are highly available when—and where—people want to find them. Ubiquity is equally important across on and offline channels.
Improve your online visibility
Online visibility is crucial in manufacturing. Research conducted by NBS in the ‘What specifiers want’ report suggests that 92% of specifiers use the internet as their main way to find, compare, and evaluate products or suppliers in industries spanning architecture, engineering, surveying, design and construction. A further 87% see the website of prospective providers as a critical source of information.
Your visibility in search engines—or, how readily you appear when a specifier searches for a product—is impacted by the structure of your website, the content within it, and wide range of other criteria. The practice of monitoring and improving your performance against these criteria is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
This practice sends signals to Google that confirm your site provides authoritative content and a quality experience that aligns with the search intent of the user.
You can supplement SEO with paid search advertising to ensure that whenever someone searches a term like ‘actuated hydraulic control valve’, a link to your website will appear at the top of the list. The more visible you are, the more likely you’ll get motivated visitors moving through to your website.
It may be tempting to optimise for the broadest possible terms to capture the largest number of searches possible. In reality though, the exact inverse is the far more effective approach.
For manufacturing or industrial businesses, both SEO and paid search are most effective when used to dominate against specific subcategories of certain products. Rather than optimise for generic terms like ‘pipe products’, it’s far more beneficial to focus on glass reinforced polyester pipes (GRP) or ductile iron DN100-DN750.
This approach is effective for a number of reasons:
- Highly specialised manufacturing customers—like specifiers—are unlikely to search for products using unqualified terms. It’s rare that a prospective customer will simply search ‘pipes’ or ‘pipeline products’. If you connect with these customers, they’re likely smaller scale, DIY type prospects, rather than substantial opportunities or people vetting suppliers for potential contracts.
- If you bid on general search terms—‘windows’, rather than ‘aluminium sashless windows’—you inevitably end up competing on the highest volume keywords. These are more expensive, which means it can ultimately cost more to establish traction with less qualified leads.
Google Business Profiles provide another way to increase your visibility, especially if you deal with a high volume of local customers. A Google Business Profile is free and relatively simple to set up, and offers a number of beneficial features that can be helpful in generating leads through search:
- You can respond directly to customer enquiries made through your listing.
- You can highlight customer reviews and ratings, adding to your credibility and authority.
- You can list services or products to help customers qualify you in as a potential provider.
Metfab’s Google Business Listing conveys a sense of credibility for potential customers before they even visit the site.
A well-configured Google Business Profile means time-poor prospective customers can access more information about your business faster than competitors who do not have one in place.
Improve your offline visibility
While digital activity is crucial in connecting with potential customers, manufacturing and industrial businesses—like many industries—are equally predicated on strong personal connections.
Presence at industry events is important in generating awareness and ensuring your product is top-of-mind. Trade publications can have a similar impact: 35% of construction specifiers use trade-specific journals and magazines as a way to find, assess, and compare potential products.
Depending on your objectives—and whether business-to-consumer is a relevant channel—it’s also crucial to consider whether you’ll benefit from having branded presence in a distributor’s brick and mortar stores, like Bunnings or Reece. Of course, these types of arrangements should be subject to contracts that address issues like marketing obligations and remit, exclusivity, clauses to prevent the sale of direct competitors, and other key considerations.
2. Be generous and detailed.
There are many ways you can achieve this through your website and marketing activity.
Make it quick and easy to find key information
Specifiers and procurement teams are often time poor and frequently comparing multiple vendors. They also face vast swathes of information relating to product, system, and legislative updates.
As a result, they need to find information quickly, easily, and in the right format.
According to research conducted by Causeway, a major European construction software company, the most common frustrations for specifiers using websites to assess the suitability of products are as follows:
- Having to register to download files or access product information.
- Complicated on-site navigation.
- Pages with limited or generalized information.
- Only having a phone number as contact information.
- Having information like BIM or CAD files only available on a third-party site that requires additional registration to access the material.
You can make it easy for specifiers and other prospective customers to qualify you in by:
- Including relevant accreditations or product approvals. Bermad Water Technologies includes a functionality on its website where visitors can filter all approvals by the issuing body or the specific market an approval relates to (mining versus irrigation or fire protection).
- Prominently highlighting contact information throughout your website, and even on external platforms. Again, configuring your Google Business Profile can help in this regard, highlighting your contact information at the point of search rather than forcing people to click through to your website.
- Including detailed product information so that people can make an informed decision in relation to your products. This could include sizings, pressure classes, specifications, technical documentation, product renders, environmental product declarations (EPDs), and more. Ideally, list this information in a consistent format and layout, so people can make quick comparisons from product to product.
- Providing multiple pathways to the same piece of content. For example, the same product may be relevant in the context of both ‘irrigation’ and ‘water meters’. Allowing customers to find the same product through either pathway increases the chase they will locate the information they need. You can read more about the benefits of this type of approach in this article.
Note the ‘Technical Information’ tabs in the screenshot on the right, offering easy access to each products’ usage and features, accreditations, properties, design and install information, and more.
Over a five-year period, Clover has exponentially increased the amount of detailed information it offers in relation to key products. In the same time period, they’ve seen website visitation for their products increase from 17,290 per year to 97,199, representing a jump of 462.17%. When a single enquiry from the right specifier can generate millions of dollars in revenue, this value of this shift is significant.
Configure your website content so certain snippets feature prominently in Google searches
In addition to supporting people to find what they need once they’re on your website, the way you configure and write content can improve the discoverability of your business via search engines like Google.
One technique to employ here is optimising content to win ‘featured snippets’.
This involves concisely answering common questions in plain language or self-contained formats that can be easily pulled into the top of a Google search.
This works uniquely well in manufacturing because people are likely to search for instructional support relating to specific products. In the below example, the search ‘how to configure a pressure reduction valve’ returns a featured answer from American Home Water & Air, with immediate links to their website. The more featured snippets you can win, the more people you’ll have coming to your website when they’ve encountered a problem and need support.
Featured snippets help you turn people experiencing common problems into potential customers.
3. Be authoritative and supportive.
Depending on your business, your customers inherit different levels of risk when they purchase or use your products. These risks can be serious, including:
- Loss of profit.
- Increased costs.
- Physical injury.
- Reputational damage and potential litigation.
The stakes are high. And when the stakes are high, naturally you want an experienced, authoritative, trustworthy and available partner you can rely on.
These are the natural criteria you look for when assessing a vendor. They’re also the exact criteria Google uses to rank the credibility of website content when determining its priority or hierarchy in response to search queries.
From Google’s own announcement: ‘does the content demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product? There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has first-hand, life experience of the topic.’
This is especially true for certain manufacturing products, like deluge control valves used for fire protection in road tunnels. There are huge consequences if the product is configured incorrectly or sub-optimally.
This page on the Bermad Australia website is an excellent example of content that is both authoritative and supportive.
Bermad’s page on UL listed deluge control valves is a prime example of the EEAT framework in application.
It achieves this by:
- Offering proven expertise from someone who is deeply familiar with the product in question. Bermad’s Air Valve Product Manager and Manager of Technical Sales, Colin Kirkland, speaks in depth to a range of topics relating to the product during an hour-logng video. The content on the page also includes his biography, highlighting 30 years’ experience working in water supply and irrigation to reiterate the value of his expertise.
- Providing multiple formats for the same content. You can either read the transcript—which provides helpful signals for search engines to increase visibility—or watch the video for detailed demonstrations of the valve’s functionality.
- Helping people navigate to the content they need. Segmented chapters make it easy and immediate to learn more about the challenges of tunnel design, the role of deluge valves, the engineering challenges of the valve itself, and more.
- Including a way for people to submit a message if they need additional support from Bermad’s team of specialised product experts.
Striving to uphold these characteristics is an excellent way for marketing teams in manufacturing businesses to build a significant audience. To recap, they are:
- Being highly visible.
- Being generous and detailed.
- Being authoritative and supportive.
But it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve amassed a significant following, it’s crucial that you implement a range of techniques to drive sales opportunities from within that audience.
For more insight into some of those techniques, read this article.
Or, alternatively, drop us a line to discuss your challenges and opportunities in greater detail. Let’s manufacture a new level of success for your organisation.