Saying “marketing, as an industry, has changed a lot in the last ten years” is a huge understatement. Before the Internet, companies leaned heavily on outbound marketing strategies to reel in potential consumers. Outbound marketing includes those tired and abused advertising techniques that we’ve all come to loathe: cold calling, billboarding, pamphleting, postering, advertising on commercials, etc.
Today’s consumers are more tech-savvy than ever and are more wary of the “old-school” advertising tricks. The Internet and social media have provided new outlets and a whole new outlook for marketing experts to reach their targets, rendering older methods ineffective. However, some companies are still unsure about shifting their promotional efforts to platforms sometimes viewed as “trivial” and “unofficial.”
Industrial manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, and other B2B contract manufacturers often have a hard time seeing the benefits of adopting social media as a part of their marketing strategy.
“Our clients aren’t using those platforms to find us,” they say.
This simply isn’t true. Since 2006, inbound marketing strategies have proved to be the most effective way for companies of all kinds to attract sales leads.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a strategy that employs search engine optimization (SEO) and social media to engage potential customers at their point of interest. It includes paid search advertising, search engine optimization, directory listings, email marketing, and more.
The 2014 State of B2B Procurement study revealed that 94% of B2B buyers use an Internet search to learn about a product before making a purchase. And we aren’t talking about everyday consumers here, either—these are floor managers looking for new conveyor belt systems and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who may be searching for a new supplier. If your website isn’t properly optimized—or worse, nonexistent—then you will not appear on the list of results and your potential business will go to your more forward-thinking competitors.
According to Cyance, B2B businesses using inbound marketing strategies have a conversion rate that twice as high as that of the industry standard. People—consumers and those behind B2B companies—use the Internet to research products and find solutions to problems. They do not want to be marketed to and are perceptive enough recognize when it’s happening. Instead, make yourself worth finding. Inbound marketing strategies help show your customers that you are the best solution for them.
Three Content Considerations for B2B Manufacturers
- Have a website. A functioning website is the most important part of an inbound marketing strategy. Your website is like a storefront you can leave open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Websites should not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also easy to use and optimized to appear in search engine results. Search engine optimization (SEO) ensures that your website will be picked up by Google’s algorithms and will rank higher than your competitors on the results page of a related search query. Social media platforms are also considered in SEO, which means establishing a presence for your business on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Facebook will improve your discoverability and conversion rates. Yes, even manufacturing companies benefit from having a Twitter.
- Find out what your prospective customers want to know. The basis of any inbound marketing strategy is content creation and promotion. The goal is to target topics important to your audience and your potential customers. Find out what sort of challenges they are facing and present them with clear, informative solutions. Pure self-promotion doesn’t provide value—real content that answers questions and establishes you as a useful authority in your field is best.
- Become the #1 result. Google gives higher rankings to websites with content that is shared and linked to the most. The assumption is that users are more likely to share and link to landing pages that contain high-quality or useful content. Once you present your users with valuable information about your products and services, they will choose you over your competitors; this will establish you as a brand authority and allow you to rank higher in a Google search result.
Converting Website Visitors to Sales Leads
There are a number of ways you can connect with potential customers. Surveys are a great way to establish a baseline for what your customers are thinking. The Net Promoter Score (also known as the “Ultimate Question”) is a simple tool used by businesses in a variety of industries to help connect with clients. It asks:
On a scale of 1–10, with 10 being most likely, would you recommend this brand or service to a friend? Explain why.
Asking questions like the Ultimate Question can help you determine the kind of content your prospective clients want. These questions will also reveal what they currently like—or dislike—about your business. It is always a good time to begin connecting on social media, too. Check out your competitor’s sites and social media profiles and ask yourself:
- Which of their content is shared most often? Most commented on?
- Do you have something you could add to their discussion?
- Which users are following each other?
- Which hashtags are relevant to your business?
- What kind of content is shared on those relevant hashtags?
Use these methods, and tools like Google AdWords, to see what kind of questions people are asking in your industry. Once you have an idea of what people are looking for, you can produce a blogs, infographics, case studies, and more, while promoting that content on social media and your SEO-optimized website. The purpose of inbound marketing is to make your B2B service as visible as possible on relevant platforms (the ones they’re using to find new products and services). Inbound marketing delivers 54% more sales leads than traditional outbound marketing, making these strategies the most effective method of finding prospective customers.
Are you still relying on cold calls and pamphlets to attract business? Do you have a website that may not be user-friendly? Applied Interactive specializes in providing SEO and content development services for B2B manufacturers and service providers. Call us today!