The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide for Industrial Companies
In the world of marketing, B2B marketing for industrial and manufacturing companies is a specialized niche.
Companies are gradually transitioning from traditional “old-school” sales tactics into utilizing the modern inbound and outbound digital marketing strategies and tactics that have come to dominate the space, but many companies are still catching up to this reality—and quite possibly missing both marketing and sales opportunities. This guide to marketing for industrial and manufacturing companies provides ideas and techniques for time-stretched marketers, whether stepping up a relatively sophisticated digital marketing presence or just beginning to build a digital marketing strategy. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Key Principles of B2B Industrial Digital Marketing
- Create a focused B2B Website and Content Marketing Strategy
- Organic SEO for Manufacturing & Industrial Companies
- Google PPC Ads
- Google Display Ads
- Email Marketing (Growbots or Lead Cookie)
- HubSpot/Marketing Automation
- Organic Social
- Business Listings & Review Sites
- Have An Ongoing Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy
- Recommended Further Reading
- Pulling It All Together
Key Principles of B2B Industrial Digital Marketing
At Windmill Strategy, we advise our clients to base their marketing on the following foundational B2B digital marketing concepts and guidelines:
- Define your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and high-level personas, so that you focus the majority of your efforts on marketing to those most likely to buy and most closely fitting your ideal targets.
- Focus efforts on very specific keywords that show high transactional intent, even if they are lower volume than less targeted or specific terms.
- Set remarketing to a long duration (90 days+) to reflect the long sales cycle for industrial and manufacturing companies.
- Narrow audiences and targeting wherever possible by geography, demographics, industry, interests, time of day, and so on.
- Focus on quality over quantity; lower traffic is fine if it’s more-qualified traffic (resulting in improved business outcomes).
- Fix the website first, and then get SEO rolling while augmenting with PPC, before delving into other channels.
Create a focused B2B Website and Content Marketing Strategy
Your website is the hub of your digital marketing—really, all your marketing. This is the marketing destination where people will go to find out more about your company, whether they first learn of it through a Google search, at a trade show, in an ad or article, or at a job fair.
Before launching into a website design (or most likely, redesign) process, be sure to define your ICPs and personas, if you haven’t already. Our article on keeping this process simple provides examples to help you define your own. This is important for all your marketing and sales decision-making. You will speak directly to these audiences on your homepage, which must have clear positioning front and center. Your homepage “hero” statement will state what you do, why it’s important, and who it’s for. This article, How to Create a Homepage that Turns Visitors into Leads, can help you with your homepage.
You’ll also keep your ICPs and personas in mind as you build content throughout the website. Your goals, as you build this hub of your marketing, are:
- Clearly describe your company and your positioning — what you do, who it’s for, and why anyone should care.
- Present comprehensive and detailed technical information about your products/services/solutions.
- Generate trust-building and SEO-optimized content for specific applications and/or industries you serve.
- Generate detailed case studies that are SEO-optimized, and that generate trust by showing visitors how you solve problems that are similar to what they might be facing.
In your blog, or resources or articles section, focus on quality information that helps your niche audience, not a sales pitch. Develop a content calendar, and work on creating content regularly. Using this growing body of content:
- Ideally, post to the website every 1-2 weeks; email your list every 2 weeks. Start somewhere and work up to this cadence.
- Every quarter, send a roundup white paper that goes deeper into topics covered and/or brings them all together.
- Identify articles to send out via email outreach campaigns (see email marketing, below).
How to Create Content That Keeps Engineers Coming Back offers advice on the kind of content that many industrial and manufacturing marketing personas are looking for.
With all of this great content attracting ideal prospects, you’ll want to create easy ways for website visitors to reach out when they’re ready to talk further. Throughout the pages of your website, include calls to action (CTAs) that are easy to spot. Include a “contact” button in the header, and include a contact form or link in the footer.
To engage those prospects who aren’t quite yet ready to talk to your sales team, offer valuable content that sets the stage for MQL conversions – such as gated content and downloadables. Make it easy for users to engage, and don’t hide the entirety of your gated content behind a form. Instead, provide a preview of the content or limited use of a tool (a calculator, for example) to generate trust before asking for their email address. We also recommend “exit intent” prompts that pop up to offer a white paper download or another helpful asset (and enroll users who provide their email into your email marketing).
And one more thing: Is your website mobile-friendly? If not, make mobile responsiveness a priority in your next redesign.
Organic SEO for Manufacturing & Industrial Companies
Organic search engine optimization refers to making the content on your website align with the keywords that your prospects use to research online. Focus on long-tail queries specific to your niche and on general + industry-specific terms (combination of your niche and the industries you serve, i.e. instead of “web design” target “industrial web design”). This could also be geography-based, in some instances. Here are a few examples:
- Rubber molding > custom rubber molding, or medical rubber molding
- Web design > industrial web design
- Air filtration > custom air filtration systems
Incorporate SEO into your overall content strategy. Research trending topics related to your industry and create keyword-optimized blog posts or other content to help drive organic traffic to your website.
Our article SEO for Industrial Companies: A 7-step guide to creating content that gets found by the right people takes a deep dive into how to define SEO topics, how to write content that will appeal to your prospects, how to modify and edit that content using industrial SEO best practices, the tools and technology you can use to help, and how to use every element on the page to support keywords, including image file names, alt tags, and captions. OEM manufacturers will find industry-specific digital marketing tips in the article and case study SEO and Digital Marketing Secrets of Successful OEM Manufacturers.
Google PPC Ads
Nearly 70 percent of industrial marketing leaders are using pay-per-click (PPC) to attract new audiences. While every company benefits from the long-term investment that organic SEO requires, we also often recommend PPC ads to supplement SEO efforts in instances where organic rankings lack. PPC campaigns can include text-based search ads as well as display or banner ads. These campaigns are highly customizable and can be adapted to any budget. Here are our top tips for PPC ads:
- Use very tightly focused, high-intent keywords.
- Use very specific ad copy that weeds out people outside of the niche you serve while attracting those within the niche you do serve.
- Start by targeting business hours (vs. all days/times), computers (vs. mobile, tablets), and contiguous USA (vs. including Alaska and Hawaii). Test expansion from there as applicable. In addition, narrow the range by removing audiences younger than age 24 and older than age 65.
- Landing pages with full navigation that allow users to browse the site and learn more are best for complex sales or situations in which the prospect can’t make a decision based solely on what’s on the landing page. If the landing page is aimed solely toward driving downloads of a white paper or another quick transaction, it’s okay to hide navigation on the landing page, but do still offer ways to access deeper information.
- If you’re currently not ranking on your brand name, consider a Brand Campaign that includes your company name, product names, and even members of the team (for lawyers and doctors). Also include common misspellings.
- Consider a brand name campaign that will display your ads to users when they search for the company names of your competitors.
- For product-driven pages, consider dynamic targeting ads to drive an increased clickthrough rate (CTR). Google serves ads based on the messaging used on your specified landing page. Ensure you always specify what Google calls “negative” keywords, to prevent your ad from being served for searches on your brand name or any other keyword that could potentially cannibalize your budget, including terms that sound like they are related to your business, but aren’t. If your company engineers custom industrial filtration systems, for example, you don’t want to be found by people searching for residential furnace filters or air filters.
- Continue to optimize the account by identifying, through audits, what is not working; take spend away from that and move it toward things that are working.
Google Display Ads
Google display ads have a strong visual component and are served to people when they’re viewing content, not when they’re actively typing in search terms. These ads can be narrowly targeted, and you can build a very specific custom audience. We recommend using these ads to remarket to visitors to your website, and to target those who visit competitor URLs, especially service and/or case study pages.
This professional networking site reaches C-level individuals and salespeople effectively. Engineers are less likely to be found here. There are different ways to use LinkedIn’s marketing resources and networking capabilities to build awareness and generate leads. This article goes deeper, but here are a few tips:
- Paid Display Advertising: Target to those who fit your ICP and personas, using LinkedIn’s built-in filtering, as well as the uploaded company URL and/or email lists from ZoomInfo and/or GrowBots.
- Use LinkedIn lead-generation forms to increase conversion rate.
- Upload your email list into the LinkedIn campaign manager and retarget via LinkedIn ads.
- Remarket to your website visitors.
- Have salespeople send out a white paper on a quarterly basis to all in-target connections—focus on sharing helpful information, no sales pitch.
- Post articles from your website.
- Recommended, but requires additional spend: Outreach (using a service like Lead Cookie) to build connections between your salespeople and prospects in your industry niche.
As the dominant social media platform, Facebook has a huge reach, although it’s often not the most effective platform for B2B industrial and manufacturing marketing. If you try Facebook, we recommend these practices:
- Remarket to site visitors, people who have engaged with your Facebook page and/or posts, and your email list.
- Post articles from your website.
- Post culture and career-oriented content.
Email Marketing (Growbots or Lead Cookie)
In your email marketing to industrial and manufacturing audiences, focus on sharing helpful articles from your website, not pushing a hard sell.
To protect the integrity of your main domain and make handling replies more convenient, use a separate domain name (.co instead of .com, for example, or adding a prefix to your company name) for outbound outreach to people who don’t yet know about you and aren’t yet actively searching. Your goal in this outreach: generate awareness, encourage them to visit your site and/or enroll in your email marketing, or, if they’re ready to talk to sales, to set up a meeting. Growbots or Lead Cookie will support your outbound email marketing.
ZoomInfo can be used as an additional source of email addresses for outbound Growbots email marketing, as well as a source of emails and company URLs to use in targeting online advertising.
Marketing automation is unquestionably powerful for B2B industrial and manufacturing marketing. First, you need an ICP, a high-quality website, a content marketing program, and a marketing automation tool such as HubSpot, which we like for its ease of use. You can learn more by reading Getting Started with B2B Marketing Automation + 10 Tips You Can Use Today. Some important marketing automation terms, techniques, and tactics include:
- Exit Intent: One of the top techniques is the exit intent pop-up. As mentioned earlier, these appear when a user is about to exit a page (which various tools are able to determine by where the user moves the cursor and other factors). Set them to appear on every page or only on certain pages, depending on your objectives. Rather than having the visitor leave your site empty-handed, offer a high-value white paper or article as a download. On a blog article or product page, offer a branded white paper or datasheet. In exchange, you get the visitor’s email address to deliver ongoing helpful marketing content.
- Lead Flows (presenting options for gated content downloads): These pop-ups are proven to help generate leads.
- Email Marketing: This is fundamental to manufacturing and industrial marketing, and tools like HubSpot help you manage it effectively.
- Social Posting: HubSpot has social media management tools to not only post content, but to monitor keywords for you.
- Lead Scoring: Powerful platforms such as HubSpot can calculate and score each prospect based on engagement signals that suggest strong intent—predicting when they’re highly interested and when it’s a good time for your sales team to contact them.
- Deal Quality & Source Reporting: HubSpot’s Sources Report gives you an in-depth look at where traffic on your website is coming from. Combining this with insights from your sales team results in a deal quality score. Over time, you can improve lead quality.
- CRM and Sales Notes: The ability for salespeople to make notes in the CRM about each interaction with a customer or prospect adds important context and improves collaboration between sales and marketing.
- Funnel and Pipeline Tracking: These reports keep track of your sales and marketing process and how many leads are moving from one stage to the next.
Distinct from ads or sponsored posts, this is what you’re organically posting for free to accounts on social media. Valuable actions include:
- Posting thought leadership articles from your blog (post to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter).
- Re-publishing articles within LinkedIn’s platform (having salespeople do so on their profiles).
- Posting job openings and company event updates.
If you are equipped to make videos, these can be especially engaging for showing processes or products that are difficult to explain concisely through words alone. Create a YouTube channel to house your videos; it is easy to link to these or embed them in your website.
Business Listings & Review Sites
Be sure to claim your business and create business listings or pages on LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook. Update them as needed, so they don’t contain obsolete information. A Google Business Profile is especially helpful for attracting customers in your own geographic area.
Ask customers to create testimonials for you by writing reviews on Google or the B2B resource Clutch. These can be displayed on your website, as well.
Have An Ongoing Conversion Rate Optimization Strategy
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is an ongoing process. We recommend these activities:
- Track conversions, as well as lead quality, soft conversions, bounce rate, and engagement metrics—overall and by channel.
- Create deal quality reports. Get feedback from your sales team weekly on the quality of conversions, to deliver better leads more efficiently over time.
- Review sales performance and increase activities that are working. Build-in experiments, and reduce activities that aren’t working
- Conduct a monthly analytics review and a quarterly deep dive and re-prioritization.
Tools that we use for analytics and other tasks include:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
- SEO auditing tools—Moz, Siteimprove
- Keyword tools—SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, Buzzsumo
Recommended Further Reading
In addition to the links provided throughout this guide, here are some additional educational resources tailored to the needs of industrial and manufacturing marketing professionals.
- Whitepaper: High Performing B2B Digital Marketing Programs and Websites
- How to Build a B2B Website that Sells for You 24-7
- How to Create a High-Converting B2B Landing Page
- How to Write A Better Case Study for B2B
- Website Not Producing Quality Leads? It’s Time to Modernize Your B2B Marketing
- The Top Marketing KPIs and Leading Indicators For B2B Companies
- 10 CRM Quick Wins—and Why Your Sales Team Should Stop Using Spreadsheets and Email Alone
- How to Conduct a Quarterly Review of Your Marketing Health
- What Makes Industrial SEO Different?
Pulling It All Together
There are many opportunities in Industrial and manufacturing marketing, but it’s not unusual to get derailed or overwhelmed, especially if you jump ahead in the process. The first and most important priority is to have a high-quality website to which you are regularly adding informative content that will appeal to your ICP and personas. All the while, be sure to maximize organic SEO and begin to integrate with a marketing automation platform. Then it’s time to move to put an email marketing program in place and experiment with paid advertising. Build your foundation, and then branch out.