Industrial websites and manufacturers’ expectations are not always in sync. I say that from my regular conversations with manufacturers from various industries and from around the world. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one thing in common–generate more leads by targeting industrial buyers in North America.
Industrial website goals and usage are misaligned
Using an industrial website for lead generation has always been a priority for manufacturers. Lately, I have seen an encouraging shift towards “better quality leads.” However, the people I talk to are not happy with the results. That’s why they contact me in the first place.
Let me walk you through a typical conversation.
Manufacturer: We redesigned our industrial website two years ago, but it hasn’t generated too many good leads.
Me: What marketing have you done to promote the site?
Manufacturer: We pay an SEO company to improve our rankings and spend money on Google Ads.
Me: What were the results?
Manufacturer: We really don’t know other than not getting enough leads, and PPC ads have been a waste of money.
Me: Okay, how do you use your website in your sales process?
Manufacturer: (After a noticeable pause) We tell people to visit our website for more information after a salesperson has talked to them.
The above conversation is not an isolated example but a regular one. I’ve simplified it and made it into a composite conversation.
What is the problem with industrial websites?
In my analysis, there are several underlying problems. In general, manufacturers feel the symptoms (low traffic, lack of leads, poor conversions, etc.), but the cause is that expectations do not match site design.
- An industrial website redesign is not the same as ongoing efforts for organic SEO. Don’t expect to show up on page 1 of Google search results after a redesign
- Little to no time spent by the developer and the manufacturer in planning, identifying buyer personas, and creating a website strategy to address buyers’ concerns
- Adding bells and whistles on top of old, sometimes outdated, and incorrect product-centric content
- Using the new website the same old way—as brochureware. Think of the old days when salespeople used marketing collateral as leave-behinds after a sales call
I could go on listing other problems that I have seen. Instead, you may want to read my post, “5 Critical Components of a Successful Website Design for Manufacturers.”
Where manufacturers tend to go wrong
There is a deep-rooted problem in the mindset of most manufacturing organizations. But, of course, there are exceptions in companies that have embraced digital marketing. That’s not just me pointing the finger—“overcoming the traditional marketing and sales mindset (51%)” was one of the top 3 challenges faced by manufacturing marketers. (Source).
I’ve found that many manufacturers think of Marketing as merely sales support. It is difficult for them to accept that now you must use a blended approach. Sales and Marketing have to work together for industrial lead generation. Neither can do it alone because industrial buyers are in self-select and self-serve mode for a better part of their buying journey. Therefore, they are unwilling to engage with Sales until they are ready.
It is not difficult to understand then why industrial websites are an afterthought. Manufacturers are not convinced websites can help their sales because they have been burned before by developers and agencies that lack the experience and understanding of how engineers and technical professionals make buying decisions.
Don’t shortchange your industrial website
It is definitely worth taking the time to plan carefully and invest the marketing dollars in developing a robust industrial website that fits your sales process and addresses the needs of your target audience.
I understand if you are skeptical about that statement since my company offers industrial website redesigns. Let me present independent survey findings as evidence to support what I said.
Exhibit A: When researching a product or service for a business purchase, 69 percent of engineers go right to the source: supplier/vendor websites. (Source).
Exhibit B: The top four owned-media platforms that manufacturing marketers used in the last 12 months were their organization’s website, email newsletters, email, and blogs. (Source).
Exhibit C: 73% of Engineers and Architects said a “simple and easy to use website” was at the top of their wishlist. (Source).
The industrial website should be the hub of your digital marketing plan and not an afterthought. This post should help you if you are planning an industrial website redesign soon.