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Where Do You Begin with Industrial Marketing in the 2020s?

September 27, 2021


For decades, industrial operations largely saw public marketing as unnecessary. When your customers are major corporations, why have a big public profile?  After all, traditional methods of networking and direct sales via salespeople were effective for a very long time.

However, times have changed – radically. In what feels like just a few years, the entire industrial marketing landscape has been upended. This can be traced to numerous causes, including the rise of digital marketing, the demographic shift of Millennials (and now Zoomers) entering the business world, and recent upheavals brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Now, an industrial operation still utilizing 20th Century marketing and outreach techniques is in danger of falling behind, while those that adopt more modern industrial marketing methods are poised to grow and succeed.

So, if an industrial or manufacturing operation wants to update its marketing techniques, where can it begin? In this guide, we’ll outline the major elements of modern marketing – particularly online digital marketing – as well as how buyer expectations have changed in recent years.

1.Creating A Buyer Persona

Before beginning any marketing push, it’s important to have a strong grasp on who you are actually marketing to. To be clear: You aren’t marketing to companies, you’re marketing to the individuals within those companies responsible for making decisions.

So, you need to do research. What are the average ages and demographics among the decision-makers at the businesses you target? What are their lifestyles like? What are their overall life and career goals, and how can you help advance those goals? What sort of marketing pitches would appeal to them, specifically?  These insights can be compiled into documents referred to as “buyer personas.” Basically, they’re profiles of fictionalized examples of the type of people you’re marketing to. Modern marketing is intensely personalized and hyper-targeted. The more you know about the people making decisions, the better you’ll be able to target them, and buyer personas are how you make that information concise and digestible. 

2. The Basics of Digital Industrial Marketing

If there is a single underlying foundation beneath most modern digital marketing, it is this: let customers come to you. This doesn’t mean that traditional “outbound” marketing is entirely dead, but by and large, you will see much better results and ROI with tactics aimed at pulling in customers rather than pushing yourself onto them.

This utilizes a few different techniques.

Search Engine Optimization

The vast majority of buyers in all markets now rely on search engines to do most, if not all, of their primary research.  When people are doing search engine research, they will almost always click on links that appear on the first page of results. According to studies, 28% of searchers click on the very first link on a search results page. This drops off to 15% and 11% for the second and third places, and the tenth place only receives 2.5% of clicks. Once a link is off the first page of results, it might as well be invisible. 

So, the top priority of a digital marketing campaign is getting your website onto the front page of Google searches, for searches related to your business. This process is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. The short explanation is that it involves putting plenty of content on your website that is likely to show up highly placed in Google searches.  For example:

  • Blogs answering common questions or discussing your industry
  • Videos showing product demonstrations or technical information
  • Frequent use of keywords related to your industry, as well as to your local geography.
  • Podcasts and other supplementary content

This is also known as “content marketing.” You produce materials that people want to read, and this draws them to your website where you can then capture them as leads.

Social Media

Social media is now a critical part of any marketing campaign. Your buyers are increasingly people who have grown up online and have online-focused ways of thinking. They consider social media networking and recommendations to be at least as important as face-to-face networking, if not more so.

It’s vital for even industrial operations to maintain a presence on LinkedIn, at the least, and likely Facebook and Twitter as well. Post interesting content. Make yourself available for questions. You can even turn social media into a persistent customer contact point, a customer service hub outside of your standard sales and communication network.

Broadly speaking, social media content should be:

  • Engaging. People need to want to view what you’re posting.
  • Educational. Your social media will be a source of research.
  • Enticing. You want enough content to pique a potential buyer’s interest so they will continue to engage with you further.
  • Sharable. The best-case scenario for social media is growing an audience who enthusiastically shares your content among their social circles.
  • Measurable. You should be tracking all social media posts, along with their response rates, shares, etc., to measure effectiveness.

Email marketing

Email is still one of the most effective forms of industrial marketing, in terms of costs versus returns. However, it should be reserved for customers who’ve already expressed an interest in your products. Harvesting email addresses is one of the primary goals of content marketing because then you’ve got them on the hook.

Emails should be drip-fed over time, to keep your business alive in a lead’s mind. They should include interesting information, as well as special offers or other enticements.

Pay-Per-Click banner and sidebar advertising

PPC ads are a good choice for industrial operations because your target audience is quite narrow. This will limit the amount you’re spending on the ads since relatively few people will be bidding on industrial-related terms. Good PPC ads placed on websites your target market is likely to visit should have very positive returns, as long as the placement and keyword targeting is well-planned.

3.Defining Goals and Measuring Progress

Like all modern marketing, today’s industrial marketing is highly focused on data and analysis. Digital marketing campaigns need to be goal-oriented and highly measurable.

The goals you set should be specific and achievable.  For example, you might want to increase sales by 10% or increase website traffic by 20%. Always deal in hard numbers which can be easily measured, so that you can track progress – and quickly identify problems – without ambiguity. Likewise, these goals and milestones should be clearly communicated to all relevant parties, such as sales and marketing staff, so they can become shared targets.

The most important metrics to measure in industrial marketing include:

  • Cost-per-customer: How much does it cost to gain new business?
  • Upsells and recurring sales: It’s always cheaper to sell to existing buyers.
  • Website lead conversions: The real measure of your website’s effectiveness is how many leads it generates.
  • Social media metrics: Measuring followers and shares is a must.
  • Content views: This is especially important for supplementary materials such as YouTube videos or podcasts.

4. The Importance of Customer Experience (CX)

Customer Experience is now considered one of the most important aspects of digital sales and marketing. Simply put, when buyers now have a literal world of options for buying any particular item, they’re going to tend to favor businesses that make their experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Some of the most important factors here are:

  • A modern adaptable website that performs well on any device, from smartphones to full PCs.
  • “Amazon-style” online DIY purchasing options whenever possible. Customers should not be forced to call a salesperson, or go through a lengthy sales process, just for basic orders, or repeated sales. Although it should still be an option.
  • Robust contact routes, including email, phone, social media, and possibly on-site chatrooms.
  • Multiple payment systems, with as many options as possible.
  • Shared data between different points of contact, to make the experience as streamlined and standardized as possible.

Great CX creates loyal customers and brand evangelists. Bad CX will drive them away, or even generate negative publicity. 

5. The Benefits of Partnering with An Industrial Marketing Firm

If all this sounds like a lot, it is. Honestly, it’s hard to overstate just how much the marketing landscape has shifted in the last decade – and it’s going to keep changing for the foreseeable future. For this reason, most industrial operations find it easier to work with an industrial marketing partner who can help build the best possible campaigns.

When you’re looking for an industrial marketing agency, you want:

  • As much experience as possible, especially if it’s in or adjacent to your own industry.
  • A robust set of services on offer, covering as many types of digital marketing as possible.
  • Modern web design services.
  • Analytical tools which you can easily access and use to view the progress of your business and your campaigns.
  • A network of content experts and others who can supplement any needs that come up.
  • A focus on communication and understanding your goals, to help build your business the way you want it to.

With the overall complexity of modern digital marketing, and the range of tools needed to do it successfully, partnering with a quality marketing firm will almost always pay off in the end.

WSI B2B Was Built to Help You Succeed

Since 2005, we’ve been leaders in digital marketing for industrial operations, as well as other B2B and B2G business models. We have extensive experience working with thousands of marketing agencies and individual businesses around the world – and our results never fail to impress!

If you want to kickstart your move into modern digital industrial marketing, contact us for a consultation

Successful marketing starts with a plan. Contact us to discuss how our digital BluePrint can improve ROI for your business. Get started on your Blue Print

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