Inbound marketing can help manufacturers close leads to sales, but how do you attract visitors to your site in the first place? In a manufacturing context, where traditional sales and marketing methods are still the default, switching to an inbound mentality can feel like a leap of faith. One of the toughest challenges a marketing team can face is getting buy-in from the C-Suite where the norm can be to see marketing as an expense, rather than an investment.
What if you could prove that inbound marketing will not only bring your manufacturing company more leads than traditional marketing methods, but they will be good quality – sales ready leads? Here are some ways in which inbound can help your manufacturing company with B2B lead generation.
Stand out from the crowd
Inbound marketing helps you stand out from the interminable sameness of traditional manufacturing marketing where laundry lists of product or service features are the usual fare. It provides information that your customers truly care about by looking beyond your own products and services and addressing the fears, aspirations and needs of your customers.
But more than that – if you write about topics your competitors aren’t, optimise your posts around specific keywords or topics (more on this later), you will get found online and generate more leads.
Example: Marcus Sheridan in his latest book “They Ask, You Answer” Marcus discusses a blog post that has generated more than $3,000,000 in Sales for his pool manufacturing company. How? Because it tackles a question that no other pool manufacturer was willing to write about – pricing. Marcus found that by the time prospects were ready to speak to him they were already well informed about every aspect of his products, except the price. They were not willing to get in to any lengthy discussions until they were satisfied the pools Marcus sold would be within their reach financially.
Manufacturing pricing is often complex – with many variables depending on the requirements of the customer. Pricing information is also competitor sensitive. But – if you read Marcus’s blog it doesn’t once give a definitive price, it just simply explains the different elements you need to consider when pricing up a swimming pool. Although the piece was written in 2009, if you type in “fiberglass pool cost” into Google, it is still the top of the search rankings.
Build long lasting relationships
An inbound approach to sales and marketing is the perfect fit for the longer sales cycles associated with manufacturing. It can take time to close a deal, including several phone calls and meetings to understand each other’s businesses and create a working relationship. With inbound 70% of that process is done online by the prospective client.
By blogging regularly Google will notice that your website is growing (each blog post adds a new page to your website). Each post creates opportunities for links back to your site, building authority.
A well-managed, well-written blog can attract visitors and enhance your position as trusted adviser in your industry and draw more relevant traffic to your website.
Once you have built your customer’s trust you keep it by continuing to provide them with interesting and informative content, relevant to the products or services they are using, ensuring their repeat business for years to come.
Blogging requires skill and discipline, and writing does not come naturally to all. Look beyond your marketing team and tap into the wealth of knowledge available to you throughout your whole organisation. Or you may consider employing the services of a content writer.
Harness the power of Google
In response to the more conversational style people now use when searching online, Google now interprets a searcher's intent and results will be served up to the them based on the value of both the content and the context of their query. So, the quality of your content matters. This will include spelling and grammar as well as usefulness, uniqueness and volume. The secret to people finding your content online lay less in optimising around a specific word or phrase and more in focusing on writing around a topic or concept.
Going back to the Marcus Sheridan example, you will notice the title is a question in the style that someone is likely to type into Google: How much does a fiberglass pool cost? The sentence is also repeated within the body of the article.
If you think about your own use of Google – when is the last time you ever went beyond the first page of search results? Optimising your content around keywords and topics which your buyer personas are searching for builds your authority with Google, helps bring you more web traffic and ultimately more leads.
Another key way to amplify your content and get found online is through social. You need to find out where your customers are online. In a manufacturing context LinkedIn and YouTube continue to be the most useful social media sites for manufacturing buyers, but Twitter is also relevant. There are pros and cons for each social channel, so take time to research and choose the ones that are the best fit for your company.
Once you’re there start building trust by listening out for opportunities to join in the conversation.
Be mindful of etiquette and best practise in each platform though – while setting up a sequence of ‘Tweets’ at different times across several days is perfectly acceptable, posting to LinkedIn in this way would not be recommended. You also need to bear in mind that, without engagement and interaction, social profiles can soon look and feel neglected, so allocate time each day to respond to any messages, comments, retweets etc.
Once you have established a social community you can share high-value, helpful content containing links back to your site, bringing you more traffic and leads. Be mindful to alter your style depending on which channel you are publishing on, and do not blast all channels with identical posts, tailor to suit. Twitter has a 140-character limit which means only simple messages can be posted – generally these are links to longer content elsewhere. LinkedIn allows you to post approximately 600 characters, but text is truncated around 150 characters and displays "...read more" to expand text.
Inbound marketing helps your manufacturing company get found online, earns you permission to connect, builds trust and authority, and, ultimately, delivers marketing qualified leads to your sales team. Developing an inbound marketing strategy is by no means a quick fix, if you do not have the expertise in house consider hiring the services of an inbound agency.