Vital Bulletin on Coronavirus Safety and Business Continuity Read More

22 min read

Calling All Manufacturers: Here’s How to Create a B2B Digital Marketing Plan

B2B manufacturing marketing plan_1 Title Image

When you spend your days designing new product plans, coordinating equipment installations, or dreaming up assembly line process efficiencies, marketing can seem low priority by comparison. But short-changing marketing — and digital marketing, in particular — is one of the worst mistakes a manufacturer can make.

The fact of the matter is that, in today’s market, prospective clients are increasingly reliant on online research to help them determine which B2B manufacturing companies to work with. According to Forrester, 60% of B2B prospects prefer not to depend on a sales representative as their primary source of information. Another 68% report that they prefer to conduct research on their own, online, and 62% say that they are able to develop selection criteria based solely on digital content.

This data supports something those of us in the marketing business have known for some time now: that buyers depend on digital channels to make decisions, and that businesses across all industries must embrace digital marketing in order to stay top of mind. For manufacturers, this starts with crafting a B2B digital marketing plan that educates both prospects and channel partners, positively differentiates your company from your competitors, and responds to your target audience’s needs.

We’re here to help you create such a plan.B2B manufacturing marketing plan_Before we Get Started

Download a FREE Marketing Plan Template >>

Industrial Marketing vs. Consumer Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Manufacturers tend to be reluctant to invest in marketing because previous campaigns didn’t generate the results they expected. But in reality, the issue wasn’t marketing in general — it was that they invested in the wrong type of marketing.

There are hundreds of different types of marketing but, for our purposes, let’s focus on two: consumer marketing and industrial marketing. Consumer marketing refers to the practice of businesses selling finished goods — think clothing, food, books, and so on — directly to individual consumers. Industrial marketing refers to the practice of businesses selling highly specialized products and services — think raw materials or machinery — to other businesses.

B2B manufacturing marketing plan_2 Consumer vs Industrial

As you can see, these are two very different animals, and each requires a distinct approach. After all, as a B2B manufacturer — emphasis on the B2B — why would you waste your marketing spend on a strategy designed to sell products to individual consumers? And yet, that’s the mistake so many manufacturers make: They believe they can use consumer marketing strategies for a B2B audience and are ultimately disappointed when the outcome doesn’t align with expectations.

Marketing is not one-size-fits-all — it needs to be tailored to its intended audience. To that end, here are a few things to keep in mind when creating an industrial marketing strategy:

  • Know your audience. This is one of the guiding principles of marketing and should be the foundation of your manufacturing marketing strategy.
  • Know where your audience is. Odds are, businesses looking to purchase heavy duty machinery or individual components won’t do their research on social media — they’re more likely to read industry publications and consult experts in their field. Your marketing strategy needs to account for this and should be designed to reach prospective customers through the channels they’re most likely to frequent.
  • Take a targeted approach. B2B industrial buyers are typically in the market for specific, niche products, so your marketing strategy needs to be equally specific and niche. The more targeted your marketing, the more effective it will be — there’s no room for mass marketing here.
  • Know what information is valuable to your audience. B2B industrial buyers want to see technical specifications, detailed product descriptions, and specific benefits in the form of ROI and other metrics.
  • Plan for a longer sales cycle. The manufacturing sales cycle tends to be longer than the sales cycle for most other industries — anywhere from months to years — so your manufacturing marketing strategy needs to include multiple touchpoints.
  • Focus on building relationships. For most B2B industrial buyers, deciding which product(s) to purchase is a team effort. Therefore, it’s important that you form relationships with each member of that team, starting with the researcher, in order to build trust. Doing so will not only improve your chances of making the sale but of developing a long-lasting partnership with the customer.

5 Pre-Plan Research Steps

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Unless you’re in the forestry industry, marketing has nothing to do with chopping down trees, but the sentiment still rings true: In order to do something well, you must first prepare.

To that end, any successful B2B manufacturing marketing strategy needs to begin with research. Here are a few steps we recommend you take to get started:

Learn Your Competitors’ Strengths & Weaknesses

If you want to outperform your competition, you’ll need to beat them at their own game. To do so, consider the following:

  • How do my competitors position themselves in the market?
  • What are their top-performing products?
  • Which industry trends do they seem most interested in?
  • What marketing strategies do they use?
  • Which segments of the market do they target?

By researching your competitors, you can develop an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and manipulate them as necessary. From a digital marketing standpoint, you’ll also want to analyze your competitors’ SEO and paid advertising performance.

To illustrate, here’s a screenshot from SpyFu analyzing the paid advertising budgets of laboratory fume hood manufacturers and resellers:

This type of competitive analysis enables you to view not only your competitors’ paid advertising budgets, but also the actual keywords and ad copy that they’re using. Armed with this information, you can make more strategic decisions about how to market to your designated audience. We also highly recommend adding Moz and SEMrush to your toolbox to further analyze organic ranking strategies.

It’s important to note that although we’ve listed competitor research as a pre-plan step, it’s really an ongoing process. By keeping tabs on your competitors, you can better position yourself to respond in the event that they change tactics or that new competitors arise. Fortunately, technology makes it easy to stay apprised: You can set up monitors that will automatically alert you via email any time a competitor makes a change to their website, as well as set up Google Alerts for brand names.

Conduct a SWOT Analysis

If your job involves developing business strategy, you’re likely familiar with the concept of SWOT analysis. For the uninitiated, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis is a planning technique that enables business to gauge their competitive position within the market and use the results to design a process improvement strategy. SWOT analyses are usually presented in the form of a matrix, like the one shown below:

B2B manufacturing marketing plan_7 Swot

In marketing, specifically, businesses use SWOT analysis to determine which factors might help them or prevent them from achieving a specific goal. To that end, the kind of questions you need ask for a marketing SWOT analysis differ slightly for those that you’d ask in a traditional analysis.

We’ve listed examples below to help give you some ideas:

Strengths

  • What differentiates our company and our products from the competition?
  • What tools and resources do we have at our disposal to help us achieve our goal?
  • How can we leverage our existing audience to meet our goal?

Weaknesses

  • What do we struggle with as a company?
  • What improvements can we make to our existing business processes?
  • What technical limitations might prevent us from reaching our goal?

Opportunities

  • What industry trends can we write about?
  • What types of content have our competitors overlooked?
  • What stories have our competitors overlooked?
  • Are there opportunities to 10x our competitors’ content?

Threats

  • What obstacles might prevent us from reaching our target audience?
  • What do we currently do that is the same as our competitors?
  • What does our competition do better than we do?

In order to be effective, SWOT analysis needs to involve members at all levels of business from across all departments — so be sure to cast a wide net when conducting your analysis. To get even more granular, you can conduct SWOT analysis for different segments within your B2B manufacturing marketing plan, such as content marketing, social media, and SEO.

Envision Your Ideal Customer

Remember when we said that “know your audience” is one of the guiding principles of marketing? It comes into play in a big way here with buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and actual data. Buyer personas enable manufacturers to identify which key customers or customer segments they want to target and how to refine their B2B marketing campaigns to reach those audiences.

When developing buyer personas, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What are the persona’s job responsibilities?
  • What do they need to be able to do in order to fulfill those responsibilities?
  • What specific challenges or pain points does this persona face?
  • What are this persona’s goals?
  • What type of companies does this persona work with?
  • What are this persona’s motivations?
  • What kind of language would resonate with this persona?
  • What concerns might this persona have about our company’s products?
  • How can our products alleviate this persona’s pain points?

You can glean this data from customer interviews, surveys, competitive analyses, sales team input — essentially, anything that might provide valuable insight into how your audience thinks, feels, and acts.

To help you get started, here are some examples of what buyer personas for the most common roles in the industrial manufacturing industry might look like:

Dante the Design Engineer: Whenever a challenge arises, Dante’s the guy to turn to. His job is all about creative problem-solving, which means he can usually be found conducting in-depth research or using his CAD modeling system to create designs for the manufacturing team. He’s also responsible for providing the Procurement Manager with a bill of materials for each project, so he plays an integral role in his company’s buying process. Dante is strongly motivated by his desire to come up with perfect solutions to design challenges, but sometimes struggles under the pressure of his peers relying on him to keep projects moving forward. He’s risk-averse by nature and is wary of talking to suppliers, so it’s important to earn his trust.

Priya the Procurement Manager: Once Dante draws up a bill of materials, it’s Priya’s job to source them. To do that, she goes to her handy-dandy list of approved vendors — suppliers whose products and services she knows she can trust. If she can’t find what she needs there, she’ll evaluate new suppliers based on a number of factors, including cost, shipping options, delivery reliability, and product quality. The idea of a delivery arriving late or one of the items she sourced breaking causes Priya a lot of stress, so she spends most of her day tracking shipments and researching products. Priya’s the final decision-maker in her company, so it’s important that suppliers demonstrate their value to her through proven results — think case studies, customer references, measurable quality standards, and certifications.

Michael the MRO Manager: When there’s an emergency, Michael’s the man to call. Although his day-to-day job involves performing routine, scheduled maintenance, Michael knows that unplanned interruptions can happen on a moment’s notice, and that the company depends on him to get things back up and running. In order to do that, Michael needs to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the systems he maintains, so he often relies on installation guides, troubleshooting guides, and product maintenance bulletins to stay up to date. His job is one of the more stressful ones within the company, so if a supplier is able to prove to him that they’re reliable in an emergency situation, they’ve won a customer for life.

Renee the R&D Manager: As the head of her company’s research and development team, Renee is directly responsible for spearheading new programs and overseeing the creation of new products. The company depends on Renee to help it meet organizational needs and stay one step ahead of the competition; as a result, she not only needs to be intimately familiar with the inner workings of each department, but also to have her finger on the pulse of the industry. She subscribes to multiple industry publications and newsletters in order to stay on top of the latest trends. There’s a lot at stake for Renee, so she can’t afford to take risks — that’s why she’s only interested in working with suppliers who she knows are reliable.

Understand the Buyer’s Journey

Again, we alluded to this earlier when we talked about the fact that the B2B manufacturing sales cycle is longer than that of other industries; according to some industry experts, it involves as many as 15 distinct steps!

Now, that isn’t to say that every single industrial buyer goes through an incredibly drawn-out, complicated buying process — after all, every prospective customer is unique. Odds are, their process more closely resembles the three-step buyer’s journey as defined by HubSpot:

  • Awareness: The prospect realizes that they have a problem and starts to look for a solution. Through their research, the prospect becomes aware of your product.
  • Consideration: The prospect shows interest in learning more about your product and begins to engage with your sales team. As the seller, this is your opportunity to demonstrate the value of your product and your company to the prospect.
  • Decision: The prospect is on the precipice of converting into a lead or a new client.

Each of these stages represents an opportunity to demonstrate your deep understanding of B2B manufacturing topics and trends, the ways in which your products can eliminate the prospective client’s pain points, and the value your company can deliver as a business partner. The most effective way to accomplish all three is by developing a targeted content marketing strategy (more on that in just a bit).

Nail Down Your Budget

The final stage of pre-planning is to determine how much you’re actually willing to spend on a marketing plan for your manufacturing company. In an ideal world, money would be no object, and you could dedicate as much funding to marketing spend as your heart desired. In reality, you’ve got a bottom line to think about. How much you’re able to invest into your marketing budget will dictate what goals you’re able to focus on, how you prioritize those goals, what resources you have access to, and whether you’ll be able to extend your digital marketing efforts for a month, a quarter, or a year.

Pro Tip: Struggling to put together your B2B manufacturing marketing budget Check out our marketing budget blog post – featuring a free sample marketing budget template  – for some assistance.

The Tools You’ll Need [& How to Leverage Them]

Every digital marketer’s toolkit should consist of a wide variety of software solutions and platforms designed to give them an edge. To help you start assembling your own B2B manufacturing marketing toolkit, here are a few of our tried-and-true favorites:

CMS

What It Is: Short for “content management system,” a CMS is an online platform that enables you to design and build websites either using pre-made themes or custom coding.

Why We Love it: Your website is your way of selling products, connecting with customers, promoting new content, and showcasing your brand — basically, the central hub of your business. A CMS platform gives you the tools to turn whatever vision you have for your website into a reality.

Platforms We Recommend: We’re pretty partial to WordPress — we even use it for our own website! That said, you really can’t go wrong with Drupal, either.

ECommerce Platform

What It Is: An eCommerce platform is a software application that supplies the client-facing component of an online business. Ecommerce platforms enable businesses to manage online sales, marketing, and operations.

Why We Love It: Once the domain of B2C businesses, eCommerce has become more popular with B2Bs in recent years for its ability to increase order values, boost sales team efficiency, and extend customer reach.

Platforms We Recommend: Here at Vital, we’re fond of Magento — and not just because we’re an official partner. Magento is the most popular eCommerce platform on the market today, powering well over 250,000 merchants.

CRM

What It Is: Short for “customer relationship management,” a CRM is a software system that enables businesses to gather and analyze customer data to improve customer service, sales, and marketing efforts.

Why We Love It: A CRM system provides a solid foundation for any B2B manufacturing marketing strategy because it enables you to drill down into customer data and even segment your audience for additional insights.

Platforms We Recommend: When it comes to CRM solutions, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce, and HubSpot are all industry juggernauts (for good reason) and are a pretty safe bet for any business.

Email Marketing Platform

What It Is: Email marketing software is designed to help businesses plan, execute, automate, and monitor the success of email marketing campaigns.

Why We Love It: Email marketing gets results: For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. If that weren’t enough, 40% of B2B marketers say that email newsletters are critical to their content marketing success.

Platforms We Recommend: When it comes to the best email marketing software in the business, there’s no question that MailChimp is the clear winner.

Marketing Automation

What It Is: Marketing automation basically refers to a software system designed to make it easier for businesses to streamline repetitive tasks and market across multiple channels at the same time.

Why We Love It: Why do more work than necessary? We’re big fans of marketing automation because it takes care of tedious tasks so we can focus on the important stuff.

Platforms We Recommend: There’s a vast array of marketing automation platforms on the market, but Marketo, Pardot, and HubSpot are three of the most popular for B2B companies.

Live Chat

What It Is: A live chat is a module that appears on a website — generally in the bottom right-hand corner — that enables visitors to interact with live customer service representatives in real time.

Why We Love It: Live chat is proven to generate more leads — plus, it’s a great way to reduce a website’s bounce rate, enhance customer service, and build customer loyalty.

Platforms We Recommend: Olark, Intercom, SnapEngage, Drift, and LiveChat are some of the biggest names in the game right now and are all used by enterprises around the world.

Exit Overlays

What It Is: Also known as an exit-intent overlay, an exit overlay is a pop-up that appears just as a site visitor is about to close the page. Exit overlays typically advertise some sort of special offer or discount to recapture the visitor’s interest and lure them back in.

Why We Love It:  We know just how effective exit overlays are because we’ve seen the results first hand: Using an exit overlay prompt, we were able to grow our email list subscription rate by 97%.

Platforms We Recommend: There’s no contest here for us — OptinMonster is the way to go.

Website Call Tracking

What It Is: Website call tracking enables businesses to trace the origin of phone leads by inserting a tracking number into paid ads, emails, landing pages, and more.

Why We Love It: Call tracking fills in gaps in reporting by providing you with a wealth of data-driven insight into which components of your marketing strategy are working and which aren’t.

Platforms We Recommend: CallRail is the call tracking software of choice here at Vital because it allows for both source-level and keyword-level tracking.

Google Analytics

What It Is: Google Analytics is Google’s free web analytics tool that tracks and reports website traffic. As of 2019, Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics service in the world.

Why We Love It: Here at Vital, we use Google Analytics to generate detailed reports on everything from search traffic to social media ROI to page performance. It’s pretty integral to how we do business.

Platforms We Recommend: You know what to do.

Heat Mapping

What It Is: Heat mapping is a data visualization technique that enables businesses to track the actual time visitors spend interacting with various elements of their website using a warm-to-cool color spectrum.

Why We Love It: Heat map analysis provides a window into how people think when they interact with your website — for example, a move map can show you where visitors are looking as they navigate a page.

Platforms We Recommend: Crazy Egg is one of the best combination heat mapping and A/B testing tools on the market, but Hotjar is a free, reliable alternative.

Planning Your B2B Manufacturing Marketing Strategy

Know Your Goals

When planning a journey, it helps to have an idea of where you’re going. The same is true when setting goals for your manufacturing marketing strategy. The best (and easiest) place to start is by reviewing the results of your SWOT analysis, with special attention to your weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. Where is there room for improvement? What opportunities are available to you? What do you need to do in order to stay one step ahead of your competitors? The answers to these questions should serve as the foundation for B2B manufacturing marketing goals.

Make sure your goals are either quantitative or qualitative in nature or, ideally, some combination of the two. For example, if you experience a high rate of one-off purchases, your goal might be to generate 20% more sales from your existing customer base by end of fiscal year. If you recognize growth opportunities in other verticals, your goal might be to diversify your customer base in a new market by end of quarter. Use key performance indicators wherever possible to quantify your success and set milestones to make each goal more digestible.

By the time you’re finished, you should have two primary goals and three to five supporting goals; each of these goals should be challenging, yet attainable, and should support your business’s overall mission.

Figure Out What Makes You Unique

Surprisingly few B2B manufacturing companies have a unique selling proposition (USP), not because they lack competitive differentiators, but because they’ve never taken the time to figure out what their competitive differentiators are. And look, we get it — when you’re producing industrial equipment, determining what makes your company “special” can seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, if not downright silly.

But your USP needn’t be frivolous; it can be something as simple as a rigorous quality assurance testing process, the durability of the materials you use, or decades of experience in your industry vertical. For example, take a look at this statement from our client, Parterre Flooring Systems, a commercial flooring manufacturer:

B2B manufacturing marketing plan_Parterre

This copy, which is featured on Parterre’s homepage, highlights four different USPs within one simple statement — they manufacture luxury products made out of vinyl, which is known for its industry-leading durability, in an array of aesthetically pleasing designs.

The easiest way to come up with a USP is to go with what you know — specifically, how your products benefit your customers. For additional tips on how to craft a winning USP, we’re big fans of Fizzle’s Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Unique Selling Proposition.

Invest in Your Brand

Despite insistence to the contrary, branding is every bit as important for B2B companies as it is for their B2C counterparts — in fact, Marketo has an excellent blog post on branding that explains how brand-influenced heuristics impact B2B buyer decision making.

If you don’t have time to parse all of that elementary psychology, no worries — we’ll make things simple: Essentially, business buyers are only human, and therefore prone to making decisions based on emotions, especially when overwhelmed with options. By developing a strong brand, B2B manufacturing companies can appeal to both the emotional and rational side of prospects and can build trust with the buyer, thereby making it easier for them to say “yes.” Surveys have even shown that B2B brands that connect with their buyers on an emotional level earn twice the impact over those that try to sell purely on business or functional value.

Kind of cool, right? All the more reason to invest in your company’s brand. Whether you’re new to branding of your manufacturing company’s brand just needs an update, here are a few pointers:

  • Take a look at all of the places where your audience comes into contact with your brand and ask yourself, “What does each piece say about my brand as a whole?”
  • If your brand encompasses several sub-brands or subsidiaries, make sure to strategically audit your brand architecture to leverage maximum brand equity.
  • Above all, make sure your brand is consistently represented across all channels and media, including your logo, website design, advertisements, social media profiles, sales collateral, and more. Studies show that consistent brand presentation can increase revenue by up to 33%, so you literally can’t afford to have inconsistent branding.

Pro Tip: Need help developing your brand identity? Try using our branding and logo questionnaire to get started.

Make Your Website One to Remember

In this day and age, it isn’t enough that B2B manufacturing companies simply have a website — they must have a website that is as easy to use as it is aesthetically pleasing.

Think of a website as a house for sale: Even if the rooms were bright and airy, with large windows and beautiful artwork hanging from every wall, you probably wouldn’t want to tour it if the floors were covered in clutter and the hallways difficult to navigate. The same is true for site visitors: Even if your website boasts eye-catching designs and clean lines, it’s likely to have a higher bounce rate if it’s riddled with broken links, crammed with too much copy, or impossible to locate your products for sale.

There’s a science to good web design — literally, there are entire books dedicated to it — but to keep things simple, make sure your company’s website is somewhere visitors want to stay, both for its form and its functionality. For examples of B2B manufacturers who excel at website design, check out the examples below:

B2B manufacturing marketing plan_CSS

B2B manufacturing marketing plan_SIG

B2B manufacturing marketing plan_GeminiValve

When updating and optimizing your website, consider hiring a web designer who specializes in inbound marketing and SEO and who has experience working with manufacturing companies. You might even consider hiring an agency to take your website to the next level (Vital specializes in WordPress and Magento website design and development).

Develop an SEO Strategy …

For those who aren’t already in the know, SEO is short for “search engine optimization” and, according to the experts over at Moz, “is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results.”

A successful SEO strategy can boost your manufacturing company’s website search engine rankings in Google, thereby making your company more visible to a larger audience. Without an SEO strategy in place, prospective customers looking to purchase your products will have a harder time finding you.

There are two types of searches that happen on search engines like Google: branded searches and non-branded searches. As its name would imply, with a branded search, the searcher knows the name of the company they’re looking for — for example, “Arnold Company case packer.” Conversely, a non-branded search is more general because the searcher doesn’t have a particular manufacturer in mind, they just know that they have a particular need that must be met — for example, “semi-automatic case packer manufacturer.”

Most manufacturers do well enough with branded searches, but non-branded searches present a massive opportunity — after all, people conducting non-branded searches usually have a specific need, are actively looking for the products you sell, and have an intent to buy. In this instance, searchers are more likely to find a manufacturer whose website organically ranks — that is, not as a result of paid ads — at the top of a search engine’s results page.

In order to rank for non-branded searches in Google, you’ll need to ensure that your site’s technical architecture — sitemap, encryption, responsive design, page load times, and so on — is well-organized and thought through. Additionally, your B2B digital marketing plan must involve backlink building, creating content that draws new business to your website, and continuous education about ever-changing search engine algorithms.

… And a CRO Strategy

While SEO is about driving traffic to your company’s website, CRO — short for conversion rate optimization — is about making that traffic usable. In short, CRO entails optimizing offers on your website in order to convert site visitors (who are anonymous to you) into leads (who you can identify and follow up with). This generally involves getting a site visitor to fill out a form with their contact information or to contact your company directly. CRO testing is crucial for manufacturers because, as we’ve mentioned, the B2B manufacturing sales cycle tends to be longer, so the earlier and faster you can convert new leads, the better.

Our client Rose Displays manufactures visual communication systems for some of the biggest retailers in the world, including Best Buy, Kohl’s, and Columbia. Given the custom nature of their work and the average size of their deals — for example, manufacturing signage systems for 300+ Best Buy store locations — their sales process is long and intensive. In order to convert more of Rose Displays’ site visitors into leads, the Vital digital marketing team created gated content in the form of an eBook to help visitors with their research, which we regularly promote on the company’s website.

To download the eBook, prospects must fill out and submit a form with their contact information, which provides the Rose Displays sales team with leads to nurture. By being able to influence the purchase decision of prospects much earlier in their buying journey than its competitors, Rose Displays has a distinct business advantage.

Another way to increase the conversion rate on a website is to use an artificially intelligent chatbot mechanism to ask site visitors qualifying questions based on pre-defined scripts. This technology helps you qualify and convert leads round-the-clock without the need for live support. To see this in action, check out the chatbot we deployed for Consolidated Sterilizer Systems, an autoclave manufacturer.

Other CRO tactics we employ for manufacturing clients to convert anonymous site visitors into identifiable leads include webinar offers, newsletter subscription offers, pop-up CTA technology, and more, all of which we thoroughly A/B test.

Run Paid Ads

There are three types of paid online advertisements that manufacturers need to consider, starting with search ads. These are the ads you see when you type keywords into a search engine; each one has a small “Ad” icon next to it. Here are some examples of paid search ads, including one for Labconco, a laboratory equipment manufacturer and Vital client.

The second type of paid online advertisement is remarketing ads. These are ads that “follow” you around after you visit a website; they can appear on other industry publications, media sites such as the New York Times, or social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Here’s an example of a remarketing ad on Facebook for Labconco:

Labconco’s got a paid advertising one-two punch going on here: First, the company attracted prospects to its website with a search ad and is now retargeting those prospects with a remarketing ad. Remarketing ads typically have high return on ad spend because they target individuals who have already looked at a manufacturer’s product, thereby demonstrating at least some level of interest or intent to buy.

Social media remarketing ads come in different forms, including static images, video, and text, and can appear in a prospect’s timeline or feed. Which social media platform you advertise on depends entirely on your product — this is where the difference between industrial marketing and consumer marketing comes back into play. For example, an ad for a machine room-less elevator or a dual-chamber tower autoclave would likely seem out of place on Instagram, sandwiched between photos of your niece’s 10th birthday or a coworker’s recent trip to Cancun. As a B2B manufacturer, you’d be better served running remarketing ads on LinkedIn because your target prospects’ employees likely have LinkedIn profiles.

Here’s another example of a remarketing ad from Hyster, a forklift manufacturer, that follows prospects around after they visit the company’s website:

 

The last type of paid advertisement is prospecting ads. The only real difference between a remarketing ad and a prospecting ad is the intended target. While remarketing ads target prospects who have previously visited your website, prospecting ads target potential customers who have not — you simply choose the target demographics that you want to see your ad, and you’re good to go.

By incorporating all three of these paid advertising techniques into your B2B manufacturing marketing strategy, you’ll ultimately increase sales — that is, if you use a data-driven approach to advertising. Data-driven ads use customer data to refine the target audience for different campaigns based on a variety of factors, including demographics, interests, location, what stage they’re at in the buyer’s journey, and so on. This not only ensures that your ads are seen by the right people, but also adds a touch of personalization that can increase target audience engagement.

Develop an Email Marketing Strategy …

For B2B manufacturing companies, a strategic email engagement plan requires the inclusion of a few different types of email campaigns in order to be effective. Let’s start by talking about email segmentation.

Email segmentation refers to the process by which email campaigns are segmented based on target audience. So, rather than send out the same email to your entire mailing listing of 10,000 people, you’d break that mailing list up into five separate mailing lists, each one based on a particular buyer persona, and customize the email copy to each persona.

Here’s an example of a segmented email we used to announce a new product from Parterre Flooring:

Here’s another example from compact equipment manufacturer, Bobcat:

Next up are lead nurture campaigns (also known as drip campaigns). Lead nurture campaigns (LNCs) are a great way to send highly personalized and relevant emails to prospects in order to capture their interest and, eventually, prompt them to book a meeting with your sales team. LNCs are typically triggered by a specific action on your website, such as filling out a form to download an eBook. In the case of an eBook download, once the prospect fills out and submits the form, they’re automatically enrolled into an email workflow that includes several follow-up emails based on the same topic as the eBook.

HubSpot LNC Email Workflow featuring click-through rate

 

By using a combination of email segmentation and LNCs, you can stay top of mind with your target audience and build a relationship with them by delivering content tailored to their interests. You can even measure the impact of your email campaigns to see which ones were the strongest performers and how to refine your email engagement strategy.

Pro Tip: For even more B2B email marketing tips, check out our definitive guide on the subject.

… And a Content Marketing Strategy, Too

As its name implies, content marketing is all about using informative and engaging content to capture prospective customers’ attention and establish your company’s authority as a thought leader in your industry. This content can come in any number of forms, including blog posts, eBooks, white papers, case studies, infographics, videos, testimonials, how-to guides, and more. High-quality content is typically actionable, educational, or thought-provoking — or some combination of the three.

Bobcat’s content marketing strategy leverages customer stories to demonstrate how existing customers have used Bobcat equipment to overcome challenges.

Examples of Bobcat’s posts are:

The Vital digital marketing team writes about all aspects of autoclave ownership, including common maintenance questions and autoclave safety procedures, on behalf of our client, Consolidated Sterilizer Systems. The content we produce positions Consolidated as a resource to all autoclave buyers and significantly increases awareness of the company’s brand.

Ultimately, your content marketing strategy should highlight the value you bring to potential customers, deliver information that is as educational as it is promotional, and build trust with your audience. To make sure your content reaches the right audience, incorporate SEO keywords and phrases into your copy for maximum reach.

Conduct Regular Analysis

This part is pretty straightforward — it’s the old adage of, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” It’s imperative that you use KPIs and other metrics to regularly re-evaluate your manufacturing marketing strategy and see how well it’s performing against goals. If you’re seeing returns from your strategy, keep doing what you’re doing and apply it to new goals. If, however, your strategy is falling short of expectations, take a step back, figure out which parts work and which ones don’t, and refine your B2B digital marketing plan accordingly. Marketing involves a lot of trial and error, so don’t be discouraged if your first campaign isn’t the rousing success you thought it would be — there are valuable insights to be gained from every experience, you just need to know where to look for them.

Marketing for Manufacturers: The Future

B2B manufacturing marketing plan_8 future

A nimble and creative digital marketing strategy is a must for any B2B manufacturing company seeking to maintain a competitive advantage and win market share. In order to devise such a strategy, you need to have the support of an open-minded, forward-thinking internal team and a marketing partner with manufacturing industry experience.

Vital is one such marketing partner. We have a proven track record of helping our B2B manufacturing clients leverage data analytics, marketing technology, and the latest and greatest digital marketing trends to reach their target audiences and drive business growth. Are you ready to get ahead? Give us a shout.

Get Your Marketing Plan Template >>

Stay ahead of your competition. Fill out the form below to download Vital’s Marketing Plan Template, which features lead-driving strategies we implement for our clients.

Get your marketing fix. Get Leads.