Given how long sales cycles are for industrial procurement, you need a steady flow of new and promising leads to keep your sales efforts active (and to maintain a continuous pipeline of work for your production team).
But that’s easier said than done (especially when you’re dealing with a highly niched market).
You have to contend with multiple decision-makers, long contractual negotiations, requests for financing or credit, and after-sale maintenance and support, to name a few areas.
Not only do you need the right leads, but you also need to communicate the benefits of your products or services in response to the priorities of different decision makers.
Traditional Advertising isn’t Enough
It’s not uncommon to find many manufacturers, integrators and suppliers post traditional ad copy in industry magazines (like Buildings Magazine, IHS Jane’s, Plant Engineering or Industrial Machinery Digest, etc.)
This is a good move for brand awareness, but not great for attracting leads you are in need of your solutions.
In fact, 94% of businesses do research online before making any decision. This includes all of the businesses that read industry journals religiously.
Moreover, 90% of people searching for solutions on Google haven’t made up their minds yet.
They’re looking for information — not seeking sales pitches. So if your corporate website doesn’t have a blog, whitepapers, case studies, or ebooks, you’re missing out on the vast majority of your potential leads.
Traditional ad copy emphasizes branding and elevator pitches, but it doesn’t offer any room to discuss the technical benefits of your products and services to prospective buyers.
The nature of industrial marketing is that you have a lot of technical information to convey.
From specifications to expected performance parameters to guarantees about support — explaining the benefit of a single product or service generally can’t be done within a handful of sentences.
Another big shortcoming of traditional advertisements is that they might not reach your intended audience.
For example, many readers of industrial magazines are students, enthusiasts, industry reporters, investors, and advertisers. And it’s difficult to know how much brand awareness your traditional campaigns are actually driving amongst your target audience.
Magazine ad space is also expensive.
It can easily cost $3,000+ per month for a 300×250 px ad space online or $8,500+ per month for a full magazine page.
Is this an efficient use of your marketing spend?
Because the impact of traditional marketing is so difficult to measure — you probably don’t know.
Moreover, according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report for 2018, 32% — i.e., nearly a third — of companies are expected to spend less than $25,000 on their marketing.
By relying solely (or even mostly) on traditional ads, these companies would be at a huge disadvantage — draining their entire marketing budgets for a few magazine ads.
The nature of industrial marketing is that it’s niche Driven
In industrial manufacturing, there is no single company that provides every necessary input or service to produce a good — especially in complex areas like aerospace and shipbuilding.
In aerospace, shipbuilding, and vehicle manufacturing, a myriad of vendors contribute to the production of a single product:
- jig/tooling manufacturers
- subtractive manufacturing service providers
- raw materials sourcing
- forging steel (and that too across multiple grades for different industries)
- subcomponent manufacturers (e.g., dynamic parts, aerostructures, etc)
- electronics manufacturing services (EMS)
- and many others
That’s why traditional advertising drives such spurious results.
It’s very difficult to cost-effectively target a buyer who only needs a very specific service. And your industrial marketing strategy must be focused on a niche.
Imagine you’re a jig manufacturer targeting a broad vertical like aerospace, construction, or automobiles.
You niche down by focusing on SMEs — because you don’t have capacity to service the biggest companies in the space. But that’s still too broad. So you focus on SMEs that manufacture a very specific set of parts.
Realistically speaking, how many members of your target audience will be reading a magazine you’re advertising in?
How many of them might benefit from your exact solution?
Further, how many of them will be ready to make a purchase?
Any given month — close to zero.
That’s why you run your advertisements year round, and hope you catch a ready lead that ticks all the boxes.
What if I told you that there was a much cheaper way to target your ideal prospect, nurture them with minimal effort, and keep your pipeline full year-round?
Cue: Taking Your Industrial Marketing Strategy Online
Your budget is tight, traditional marketing is expensive, and you have no visibility into the success of your efforts.
Digital marketing addresses all of these issues.
Keep your order pipeline full with digital marketing
Key Characteristics of Industrial Marketing Lead Generation
So we’ve determined that you need to target leads in niche areas.
The question now is, “how?”
Fundamentally, this requires two broad steps.
First, you must drive more traffic to your website (typically through organic search).
However, you don’t want just any traffic. You want prospects matching the qualifications, traits, and interests of your target (i.e., your buyer persona).
Second, you must produce content that engages your audience and converts readers into leads.
How to Increase the Right Traffic
A search engine optimization (SEO) strategy built on answering relevant questions is key.
In the simplest sense, your goal is to rank on the first page of Google / Bing for the search terms of your target audience. (But it gets a lot more complicated).
Before we explain how you could achieve this, we need to distinguish between types of searches: ‘short-tails’ and ‘long-tails.’
These are statistical terms that refer to areas of a distribution curve.
The “short-tail” is a part of the distribution curve with a very small value on the x-axis and a huge value on the y-axis.
In plain terms, the short-tail is the red portion of the graph above — a small handful of keywords that account for a huge proportion of total search volume.
Because of their high search volume, many companies focus exclusively on trying to rank for these search terms.
But there are 2 main problems with targeting these sorts of keywords.
- They’re typically very competitive and can take years (and a lot of resources) to rank for.
- They’re usually very broad, and don’t target your particular persona
You’re probably already trying (and failing) to rank for these short-tail terms. That’s why you’re reading this article.
The solution isn’t a magical bullet that’ll catapult you to the first page for these terms.
The solution is an entire reframing of your digital marketing strategy.
That’s because by focusing on the short-tail, you’re completely missing out on low-cost, low-competition, highly targeted traffic within ‘long-tail keywords.’
Exactly opposite to the short-tail, the long-tail represents the longer portion of the X-axis with a smaller Y-axis value.
Or, in the case of SEO, a very large number of total keywords that, individually, get low search volumes.
Sure, if you compare individual search queries, the long-tail keyword will have substantially less traffic volume than a long-tail search.
However, long-tail keywords make up a significant portion of searches online.
Let’s look at this graph again:
As you can see from the chart above, long-tail keywords account for 143.8 million search queries, while the most popular terms — individually popular on a per-keyword basis — make up less than 1% of total search queries on the web.
All of this is to say — you should be focusing on highly targeted keywords with lower volumes and lower competition to start driving results as quickly as possible.
How to Convert Your Traffic with Content
You’re getting the readers, but how can you convert them into leads?
Assuming you’re attracting the right readers (by accurately determining the search intent of the reader who’s using your target keywords), you need high-quality content to keep them engaged.
This content could comprise of blogs, ebooks, whitepapers, podcasts, videos, infographics, and other material.
However, when targeting long-tail keywords (like questions), you must keep in mind that the reader is looking for answers, not a sales pitch.
You should act as a subject matter expert who’s sharing their knowledge — not a salesperson.
For example, you could offer technical white papers and case studies to the searcher. 63% of buyers stated that they had used vendor case studies as part of their buying decision. Take advantage of this by creating insightful content and asking readers to share their contact information in exchange for this content.
One thing to keep in mind when planning your content is frequency.
B2B companies that blog 11+ times versus B2B companies that only blog 0-1 times per month see 3X more leads (HubSpot).
You need to find a way to reduce the time you spend producing content while ensuring that your expertise shines through.
You need more than just writers to produce white papers or blogs, but a full content team and strategy that delivers your expertise in the best light possible.
The Importance of Industrial Marketing Lead Nurturing
It’s not enough to have an inbound marketing strategy.
Yes, your website can drive traffic and your offers can convert leads. But unless you’re actively nurturing those leads and warming them up to an eventual sales call — you’re flushing money down the drain.
And don’t expect your sales team to do all the nurturing. What happens when you have 100 mid-funnel leads in your pipeline? 1,000?
Your sales team should be focused on contacting the most sales-ready leads and closing them.
This is where ABM and marketing automation is critical, especially if you’re actively building your prospect list through digital efforts.
This will let you organize your leads according to buyer persona and sales funnel stage. It equips your sales team to personally send relevant content to key contacts. And with ABM, you will have active sales activity while also scaling your inbound investment (e.g., your sales team can send whitepapers and case studies to key accounts).
Think on this: With ABM-based lead nurturing, B2B companies get 1.5x additional sales, but at the cost of only 1/3 compared to non-nurtured leads (Forrester Research).
We’ve thrown a lot your way, but this should set you well on your way to drafting an industrial marketing strategy and prioritizing your efforts.
At this stage, it’s clear that you will need to establish a complete digital marketing team to build and implement the functions we’ve described above.
For some insight, check out our article on how to build an inbound digital marketing team.
But since building an in-house team is expensive (up to $1,000,000 a year) and time-consuming, consider taking on an expert agency to help you with your inbound efforts.
You can start growing your traffic, nurturing your leads, and closing new sales within a month — for a fraction of the cost of an in-house team.
Jumpfactor is a full-service digital marketing agency with in-house experts in SEO, PPC, ABM support and content development. Contact us today to get started in finding and engaging the leads you need to keep your production lines active through the long-term.