5 steps to transform your B2B manufacturing marketing strategy
The aim of business-to-business (B2B) manufacturing marketing, is to connect your manufacturing company with wholesalers and distributors, ensuring your customers obtain your product.
B2B marketing has become almost identical to B2C (business to customer) marketing due to the customer conducting more thorough research during the sale process, and more notably, expecting a more digital experience, especially in the industrial and manufacturing industry with 67% of purchases being influenced by digital marketing.
A model that B2B manufacturing marketing professionals can utilize is the RACE planning system, which covers the full customer lifecycle, including paid, owned, and earned inbound marketing activities.
(Plan) > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage
It can be used to identify improvements to your customer lifecycle by generating awareness to build your audience, encouraging interaction, lead generation, purchase, and then loyalty. Here’s how each component can be broken down and used to improve your marketing strategy.
PLAN your customers' B2B manufacturing purchase journeys
The B2B manufacturing buying journey has become increasingly complicated due to the increase of digital buying methods, leading to anonymous prospects and little personal selling.
The ‘Future of B2B Buying Journey Report’ published by Gartner, states:
“B2B buyers report spending exceedingly little time with sales reps. Considering the average deal involves multiple suppliers, any given sales rep has roughly 5% of a customer’s total purchase time.”
The coronavirus pandemic has been seen to both advance and make this trend more permanent, affecting B2B manufacturing marketing and the sales process. There is an emphasis on the importance of analyzing the buyer journey, allowing you to generate better leads and convert them into sales. The initial planning stage of the RACE Framework therefore should include:
- A fully integrated B2B manufacturing marketing strategy, formulated from insights, to enhance your digital marketing and propose a plan for future growth
- Objectives that define the resources, skills, and technology needed
- Relevant customer personas and customer segments identified along with the appropriate digital media to be used for the target audience
- Improved content marketing, unique selling points (USP) and customer experience to generate more leads, sales and to improve brand engagement.
REACH more B2B industrial goods buyers
90% of industrial goods buyers use the internet to search, qualify, evaluate and select suppliers, and 84% say the experience during their B2B buying process is as important as the products and services provided. This highlights the importance of getting the digital experience right in a competitive digital manufacturing market.
The Reach stage of the RACE Framework can help to separate your business from the competition by increasing traffic to your website, utilizing social media channels, and using microsites, which will bring about awareness of your brand, products, and services. The following should be included to achieve this:
- The utilization of social media, co-marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) to enhance inbound visibility
- Paid promotion e.g. targeted Google Ads, social media affiliate ads, and display marketing
- A B2B manufacturing marketing customer acquisition plan, setting a cost-per-acquisition based on return on investment forecasts and researching online search intent.
The effectiveness of your marketing manufacturing activities can be measured by tracking your unique website views, value per visit (‘goal value per visit’ in Google Analytics), social media followers, and opinions of your brand.
INTERACT with B2B industrial buyers on your site
The early stages of a buyer’s journey are when you need to differentiate yourself from the competition, using a B2B manufacturing marketing content plan to build strong relationships and trust.
Product datasheets, specifications, downloadable CAD files, and online product configurators can only do so much for your business, so by investing in a content plan, your will position your company as a value-added partner, setting you apart from the competition.
Your B2B manufacturing marketing content plan should identify common pain points of your customer, followed up by a lead nurturing and scoring program with the aim of providing high-quality leads. This can be done by gaining the contact details of prospects in exchange for providing them with something of value.
To help with this, the Act stage of the RACE Framework should include:
- An analysis of the customer journey
- Profiles on visitors and customers
- Audits of your content strategy and lead magnets
- A landing page improvement plan to ensure full optimization
- A campaign plan with an editorial calendar
Your B2B manufacturing marketing content plan should represent your knowledge and expertise of the industry, and be relevant to your target audience. Some examples of content include:
- Articles and insights on industry topics
- White papers on pain points and how to combat them
- Webinars on hot topics
- Buyer and comparison guides
- Case studies from clients and customers
- Video content
- Brochures and specification sheets
Our content marketing matrix details further how content can be used for a range of marketing goals across entertain, inspire, educate and convince.
For more industry-specific ideas, take a look at Digital Customer Experience Trends Manufacturing Leaders Are Embracing In 2021 by Thomas. Are there any opportunities you and your team could tap into in 2022?
CONVERT more B2B manufacturing customers
The Convert stage of the RACE Framework focuses on increasing conversion to sale, which is why it’s important to monitor and measure the conversion rates of online leads to offline sales and online originated lead average order value. Some activities and outcomes to create are:
- Lead nurturing and retargeting for prospect nurturing
- Web personalization
- A mobile marketing review and optimization plan
- Conversion rate optimization
- Assisted selling e.g. chatbots
The Rodon Group, a custom plastic injection moulder, uses chatbot software to qualify leads and direct visitors to the information they need, driving almost 1000 sessions to their website pages.
They are now seeing a 17% increase in overall website sessions and a 53% increase in new contacts, improving their customer experience and providing answers to common support questions from customers.
Personal relationships can help to distinguish B2B markets as customers become more familiar with representatives from the business, build stronger relationships, and lead to long-term loyalty.
A staggering 66% of B2B leaders plan to invest in personalization in 2022, as profits have been seen to increase by 15% and 33% of customers are reported to have left a business relationship due to lack of personalization in the previous year.
A focus on personalization is crucial to the long-term reputation of a business, hence why face-to-face contact, supported by digital marketing such as website content, social media, and email campaigns with the objective of increasing lifetime value, is so important.
The Engage stage of the RACE Framework comes into play here, building and nurturing customer relationships to maintain their loyalty. To manage engagement successfully, businesses should administer:
- Customer welcome contact plans
- Customer service plans
- Customer email communication plans
- Social media plans
The success of your B2B manufacturing marketing activities can be measured through customer satisfaction, repeat sales, and customer lifetime value.
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