2020 Digital Marketing Insights for the Manufacturing Industry
Manufacturers have historically been slow to adopt new technologies. It makes a great deal of sense in some respects – you need to maximise the ROI you see from production equipment, for instance. However, there are some areas where you cannot afford to lag behind. One of those is in how you reach and interact with your audience.
The marketing techniques you once relied on are now proving largely ineffective. Your reach has shortened. You’re being drowned out by competitors. Your audience is no longer engaged. These are just a few of the challenges you might be facing thanks to the shift in marketing methods.
Traditional marketing methodologies have given ground to digital marketing, but many manufacturers struggle to understand how to harness these technologies and apply them to the manufacturing industry. There’s also the fact that the digital marketing landscape seems to be in a continual state of flux. Where do you even begin? In this guide, we will explore digital marketing insights for 2020 and beyond and how they apply to the manufacturing industry.
- Build the Right Website: If you do not currently have a website, you’re far behind the curve. However, you need to do more than just design a virtual business card. Your company’s website must provide a window on what you do, why you are better than your competitors, and do so in a way that caters to your specific audience, their needs, and expectations. Ideally, your website should act as a hub for all your other digital marketing efforts, as well, so it must be robust yet easy to use, accessible to all, and designed to accommodate whatever type of device a visitor might be using to access the site (responsive design).
- Focus on Digital Content Creation: Building a website is not enough. You need to populate it with informative content that delivers value to your target audience. Yes, you’ll need website copy that explains your competitive advantage, what you do, why you do it, and the rest, but you need to go deeper than this. You must have inner pages that include content that addresses the questions your audience might have about the products you manufacture, about your manufacturing process, the materials or ingredients used, and more.
- Interactive Content: Your customers are no longer satisfied with passive content. They’re looking for a dynamic experience, and interactive content helps achieve that. What does that mean, though? It requires you to branch out a bit in terms of content creation, but some of the things that fall under this heading include AR and VR, shoppable posts, polls, and the like.
- Video Is Still King Online: When it comes to content creation, you have a lot of options. However, nothing really compares to video in terms of reach or audience appeal. In fact, 72% of your customers would rather learn about your product through video than by reading text.It’s also an ideal medium for creating an incredible range of content types, from behind-the-scenes snippets to use tutorials, and more. Video content can also be used all over the Internet, from your website and blog to your company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
- Video SEO: Depending on where your video content is published, it will rank in the SERPs. For instance, if you market through YouTube, Vimeo, or another popular video platform. However, even if you publish it on your own website or blog, it can still show in the search results, which makes search engine optimisation critical. This term applies to a wide range of different techniques, such as text overlays, closed captioning, title, filename, video description content, and more.
- 360-Degree Video: Video content tends to be two-dimensional, but you can go above and beyond with 360-degree video. It’s a more interactive content type and can be seen in many places, including on Facebook. The user is able to take control of the footage and use their mouse to turn the camera 360-degrees to see the entire field of view. This can be an excellent way to highlight everything from an expansive product line to production equipment to your entire manufacturing facility.
- Shoot for Position Zero: Once upon a time, the goal was to hit position one (#1) in the SERPs. However, that’s no longer good enough. Today, you need to shoot for position zero (#0). You can do this in a number of ways, including the following:
- Track your position zero over time. As consumer questions evolve and content online changes, featured snippets will also change. Track your position over time. Use the right keywords and phrases to rank in featured snippets. This requires you to know what questions your audience is asking so you can create answers to those questions.
- Create on-page content that clearly answers questions, provide positive user engagement signals, and features clean code and tagging that Google bots easily understand.
- Blog About It: Sure, this advice probably sounds so last decade. However, the truth remains that the original form of social media is still a powerful tool for business success. Maintaining a blog allows you to create a constant stream of content tailored to your audience. In addition, it also allows you to give your business a more personal voice, position yourself as a leader within your industry segment, and more. What should you blog about? Anything and everything can be topic-worthy. Are you using sustainable materials sourcing strategies? Have you recently upgraded manufacturing equipment? Are you “going green” across your facility? These are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
- Case Studies and White Papers: Manufacturers, perhaps more than any other industry, can benefit from the creation and publication of case studies. You are in a prime position to create case studies that highlight the needs of a customer or client, why they chose your product, how the product was integrated, and the results they were able to achieve. Case studies provide more than just social proof, as well. They’re important tools for establishing your business as a manufacturing industry leader, and can be published on your website and through other digital channels. Whitepapers are similar to case studies, but are often more detailed. They provide you with additional traction, as well as the ability to create yet more value-rich content for your audience and to help you rank well in Google by presenting the most authoritative face possible
- Invest in Influencer Marketing: Influencers can be found everywhere, from social networks like Instagram and Facebook to the physical world. By working with them to market your products, you can expand your reach exponentially by tapping into the influencer’s audience. While this tactic is most often used by B2C companies, it can also be used by D2C companies and B2B companies. It really just requires that you find the right influencer(s) for your specific audience and the products that you’re manufacturing.
- Personalisation: Your audience has changed over time, irrevocably. Gone are the days when you could send out a single mailer to everyone in your mailing list and expect to see anything approaching a good ROI. Today’s audience, whether we’re talking about consumers, business owners, executives, or some other segment, expects a personalised experience. There are numerous ways that you can do this with your digital marketing efforts, including:
- Using the recipient’s real name in email marketing
- Communicating personally through social media
- Using cookies and other digital techniques to personalise website visits, allowing visitors to pick up where they left off
- Retargeting techniques to market products to website visitors off-site
- Optimise for Voice Search: More and more, your audience is using voice to search the Internet. With the rise of virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, this trend is only becoming stronger. For the consumer segment, it’s even stronger thanks to the rapid adoption of smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Your website and content must be optimised for voice search in order to take advantage of this seismic shift.
- Pay Close Attention to Digital Ads: While shooting for position zero can be a great strategy, you also need to consider paid search. Google ads can help get your message front and centre when someone searches for your products. Google ad results appear near the top of the page (actual positioning depends on factors like whether featured snippets are present or whether local search results are highlighted), putting you in the goldilocks zone. With that being said, you need to carefully choose your keywords and keyword phrases, and it’s imperative that your ad copy be compelling without outright selling. It’s all about inciting curiosity to get the reader to click through.
- Smart Bidding with Google Ads: Bidding with Google ads can be both confusing and costly. Thankfully, smart bidding is expected to become the norm, which will help ensure you are able to reduce costs while maximising conversion. However, until it does become the standard, you’ll need to ensure that you’re following the right strategies when it comes to your Google PPC bids.
- Invest in Retargeting Ads: We touched on this in the tip on personalisation, but it bears expansion. Retargeting ads allow you to display images and text to your audience members after they’ve left your site and help to capitalise on the interest they showed in your products. It’s a good way to get people to return to your site to reconsider a purchase, or to buy products they left in their shopping cart (assuming your site has some e-commerce capabilities). However, retargeting is not just for e-commerce sites – any manufacturer can use this technique to build in existing interest.
- Photography: As a manufacturer, you’re well-positioned to use photography to help improve traction in the digital world. High-quality imagery of your products, the production process, your materials, even your manufacturing equipment can all be used to enrich other content, including your website, social media posts, white papers and case studies, ebooks, blog posts, and more. And, because you’re the manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about the pitfalls involved with using stock photography, such as the same image being used on multiple other websites.
- Email Marketing: Again, we’ve touched on this briefly, but we need to expand the topic a bit. Email marketing is a “must-have” for manufacturers, as it allows you to communicate directly with your audience right where they live – their inbox. Email marketing offers the means to do everything from offering short-term coupons and other incentives to direct customer communication, follow up on product/equipment purchases, and a great deal more. In short, there are few more powerful digital marketing tools at your disposal.
- The Right CRM Is Essential: CRM stands for customer relationship management, and these platforms help ensure that you’re able to do more than just create a one-way flow of information. They allow you to build relationships with each customer, track activity at each touch point along the funnel, and more. The right CRM is an essential tool that supports all of your digital marketing efforts, from content creation to customer service. Of course, there are many such platforms out there and they’re not all the same, which means you need to spend time comparing your options to find the ideal solution for your manufacturing company’s needs.
- Automation Capabilities: How much time does your marketing team waste on mundane but essential tasks? Automation technology can streamline processes, help you save time and money, and simultaneously improve accuracy and eliminate errors, all of which are benefits that manufacturers can appreciate. Automation can also be coupled with other parts of your digital marketing processes, such as email marketing. Use these techniques to solicit feedback, to survey your audience, provide follow-up or customer service scoring, and a great deal more.
- Chatbots: AI is becoming more and more heavily used in every industry, and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Chatbots are an excellent example of how AI can be integrated into your digital marketing efforts to drive more value for your clients or customers. These bots can answer surprisingly complex questions, make recommendations, and more, and can be embedded in your website and in other locations (Messenger for Facebook, for instance). By using chatbots, you can decipher what a customer wants and respond as though the bot is a real person, increasing engagement and bolstering success.
- Social Messaging Apps: You’re probably familiar with Facebook Messenger. You might also know about WhatsApp and WeChat. These three social messaging apps have a combined total of 1.6 billion active users, including members of your own audience. It’s important that you put these tools to work on your behalf and harness them to market your products, whether you’re a B2B firm or a consumer-facing manufacturer.
- Capitalise on Visual Search: When you think about Internet search capabilities, no doubt you automatically think of text-based searches. You may also think about voice search. But what about image search? Users are able to upload photos and conduct a search without typing out or speaking a single word. Good examples of these capabilities include Pinterest Lens, Google Lens, and CamFind.
- Make the Most of Micro-Moments: A micro-moment is nothing more than the instant when someone turns to a device to find information they need in that instant. For instance, someone might conduct a Google search on their smartphone to find information about a topic they’re discussing at that moment. Someone might search for product specifications, product materials, or product availability, as well.
- Social Media Stories: You’ve done your due diligence and created a profile for your company on Facebook and Instagram. Now it’s time to go further. Social media stories, including Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories, are great ways to highlight visual content in a non-traditional method (they disappear after 24 hours).
- Split Testing: Split testing, also called A/B testing, or A/B split testing, is often used with PPC ads, but it can and should be brought to bear with other types of content. In fact, you can use it to test your SEO efforts and isolate variables that help to drive success and visibility.
- Invest in Visual Commerce: Like social shopping, visual commerce is a new technique that allows you to connect directly with your audience and encourage them to make a purchase right through a digital image. Instagram is the most obvious place to use this technique, but you can find numerous others, including Pinterest. Of course, this really only works if you’re a B2C or D2C manufacturer.
- Go Omnichannel: Omnichannel marketing was a catchphrase for much of 2019, but its importance is only going to increase in 2020 and beyond. It allows you to market across multiple channels at the same time, ensuring consistency in your message and broadening your reach exponentially, while simultaneously reducing costs and time spent.
- Go Immersive: Both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) offer you the ability to deliver an immersive experience to your audience. AR in particular is a good solution for manufacturers looking to get a leg up on the competition by providing the means to delve into the manufacturing process of your products, highlight quality, and touch on what makes your products superior in unique and innovative ways.
- Predictive Marketing: As AI and machine learning continue to grow and become more and more sophisticated, predictive marketing allows you to identify patterns that would otherwise go unnoticed and make informed predictions about the future to fuel profitability and engagement with your audience. You can use this to inform a broad range of digital marketing efforts, ranging from blog posting to ebook creation to product description writing, and everything in between.
Keep reading to discover another three bonus tips!
- Use Geo-Fencing: Geographic audience segmentation is nothing new, but geo-fencing allows you to engage in real-time targeting based on someone’s immediate physical location. Then, you can market products to them through push notifications, SMS, and other methods. This tip is most useful for D2C manufacturing companies, but can also be used by B2B firms in order to reach your audience while they are within a specific geographic area.
- Measure, Measure, Measure: One of the most critical tips when it comes to digital marketing for manufacturing firms is this – measure, measure, and measure again. Your metrics and KPIs will constantly change, so it’s essential that you actively measure performance and progress in blogging, PPC costs and results, SEO success, traffic statistics, social media audience size and reach, email subscribers, and more. Without access to accurate measurements, it’s impossible to judge success or make decisions about future efforts.
- Make Informed Decisions: Every decision you make regarding your digital marketing efforts should be based on hard data. Never resort to sentiment-based decision making. Your gut is not a good indicator of success here.
Work with a specialist
In the end, digital marketing has a great deal to offer manufacturing companies. However, it’s imperative that you know the right techniques and tactics, and are able to harness the right tools and platforms. At Emarkable, we’ve worked with manufacturing brands large and small to help build success and expand their reach, and we can do the same for you. We invite you to reach out and learn more about how we can assist you in building a stronger, more competitive business. Call us on 01 808 1301 to schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our specialists.