One of the principal ways in which the manufacturing industry differs from your typical consumer-facing business is in customer acquisition. B2C industries typically implement diverse marketing strategies as the engine to drive acquisition, while most B2B manufacturers rely heavily on referrals. After that, there’s acquisition based on loyalty, partnership deals, and finally, marketing and outreach.
But what we’re seeing in recent times is a fundamental reshaping of the customer’s purchase path. Or, put more simply, the buying journey has been turned on its head. Customers of all kinds are demanding ever more personalized experiences, and it’s because of this that B2B industries are starting to look more like B2C. It’s incumbent on manufacturers, then, to reshuffle their priorities and to finally start placing their marketing initiatives at the top of the list.
So now that we’ve established the vital importance of manufacturers focusing more on marketing as opposed to referrals, let’s look at some best practices that will serve you well in 2019.
Think of it as “solving” as opposed to “selling.”
This is one of the most fundamental ways in which the customer journey has changed with the rise of the internet and social media. The old sales tactics manufacturing companies used to land big clients aren’t so effective anymore. Because even in the B2B world customers are no longer waiting to be sold to—they’re actively searching online for solutions to specific problems.
And while making contacts at industry events and trade shows is still crucial, these days it’s only one of many strategies B2B manufacturers need to implement in their marketing strategy. So the first and most vital best practice is to stop selling and start solving.
Keep your content marketing ahead of the curve
On the surface, that may seem like pretty general advice. However, where marketing is concerned, all these new trends in manufacturing require strong content that reflects the technological advancements. So all your blog posts, vlogs, webinars, podcasts, etc., need to address those new advanced manufacturing trends that are reshaping the industry, like automation. But the list goes beyond just that. CB Insights looked at the market strength and industry adoption of emerging trends and categorized them according to a number of criteria. These included listing the trends as everything from “necessary” to “transitory.”
Just a few trends they found that are absolutely reshaping the manufacturing landscape include:
- Robots integrating more with human tasks
- New blockchain initiatives for IoT and 3D printing
- Augmented reality becomes vital to workplace training and safety
- Analytics software becomes proactive
The good news is that while that it can be difficult to keep up with all these changes in manufacturing, they’re also a veritable goldmine for your content marketing. With so many new trends out there, manufacturing marketers will hardly be lacking topic ideas.
Streamline sales and marketing initiatives with data-driven content
Above we established how the customer journey has changed dramatically. Whereas once a customer saw an ad, showed interest, and then the sales team took the reigns, now the journey is decidedly less linear. Customers are reviewing multiple sources over different touchpoints in order to educate themselves (once solely the responsibility of the salesperson). Therefore, the typical customer is now ahead of the curve and likely knows quite a bit about your manufacturing operation and products before they even speak with a salesperson.
This can throw the entire process in flux and fragment sales and marketing teams as they scramble to address customer needs without communicating with each other. The solution to eliminating these silos is data-driven content marketing. That means personalizing content for the target audience and making sure it is highly relevant. Creating this can be a breeze when marketers and salespeople work together, with the former sharing their analytics insights and the latter sharing data gleaned through customer engagement and interactions.
Not only will focusing on data-driven marketing help eliminate silos but it also the potential to boost ROI by a whopping 224%.
Raise your email game
Manufacturers can’t get around the fact that they need to start offering their buyers the personalized experience they crave. And you can’t make personalization a cornerstone of your advertising strategy without solid email marketing. Sadly, if statistics from the beginning of 2018 are any indicator, manufacturing businesses are woefully lacking in their email initiatives. Emails in this sector receive an anemic 15% open-rate, which lags behind many other industries.
What’s the solution to boosting open and click-through rates, then? Manufacturers can start by setting goals for every email sent. Maybe you want to link to a blog or webinar that educates your potential customers and/or solves a problem they may have (that “helping” as opposed to “selling” we mentioned above). You’ll also want to personalize every email and you can do this by further segmenting your database and narrowing your audience. Utilize all factors at your disposal to speak to your contacts directly, including geography, social-media activity, online reviews, etc. And be sure to optimize your email delivery schedule according to ideal times of day when your audience is most like to engage.
By adhering to the above best practices your marketing initiatives should bear fruit in the form of increased ROI by the end of the year. And if you haven’t adopted modern marketing tactics, like maintaining a regular blog or investing in social media marketing, then 2019 is certainly the time to start.