Scour the manufacturing SMB landscape and you’ll find all kinds of websites that look like they’re crawling out of the 1990s. Sure, plenty of fun things were popularized in the 90s – Super Mario, mix tapes, MAD LIBS – but timeless website designs didn’t make the cut. And a quick way to self-sabotage your manufacturing business's success is to wait another three or four years before you implement a fresh look and a number of updated attributes.
In the past few years, marketing for manufacturers has gone increasingly digital, shifting away from exhibitions and more traditional outbound marekting methods. Consider these hard-hitting statistics:
- Over half of engineers did NOT attend an in-person trade show in 2012. (Source: GlobalSpec)
- 79% of manufacturers utilized some form of paid print or offline promotion in 2015, but only 32% found this tactic effective. In contrast, digital search engine marketing ranked highest among paid marketing methods in terms of its efficacy, at a solid 61%. (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
- 81% of B2B manufacturing firms report they are now utilizing content marketing as an integral piece of their overall marketing strategy. (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
Industrial manufacturers, the writing is on the wall. If you haven't gone digital full-tilt, it's time you join the party. Below are three key elements you should be incorporating into your modern manufacturing website in order to attract prospects and facilitate higher conversion rates.
1. Show Off Your Product Catalog with Images
Visuals. Visuals. Visuals. The importance of including images cannot be understated. Our brains are made to digest and process visual content more efficiently than text (60,000 times faster!) – and visuals are much more likely to influence the way we perceive not only a product, but the company selling that product. Including professional product shots accompanied by the facts is one way of bringing your business to life. However, although PDF downloads and digital brochures “get the job done”, they’re quickly falling out of style in the manufacturing business.
Interactive product catalogs and design worksheets that allow your customers to research and browse online are much more modern (and helpful!) Users should be able to search your catalog based on a number of product options and specs – and your website should immediately and accurately deliver the search results that reflect exactly what they’re looking for. What’s more, 84% of today’s industrial professionals use the internet to find the components, equipment and services they need, so your buyers expect this process to be as fluid as possible.
2. Provide a Streamlined Way to Submit Specs
Piggybacking on number one, if prospective customers are going to buy your product directly from your website, you need to have a simple, intuitive and organized way for them to submit technical specifications to your sales, engineering or production teams. Make sure all forms on your website are detailed but clear, and keep a safe amount of white space in between forms and other text on the same page in order to avoid confusion. Finally, do not require more steps in the specs submission process than necessary.
We recommend user experience testing as a way to measure how much time and effort it takes a person to get from one end of this interaction to the other. Do what you can to provide a clear navigational pathway throughout the user’s visit to your site. Again, convenience for the buyer is key. If a prospect is able to see they can upload application details and files with a quick click of a button, they’re much more likely to move forward with the purchase. When in doubt, provide very explicit instructions!
3. Explain Your Manufacturing Process
People are more likely to fill out forms and make purchases on your site if they feel they can trust you with their information. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate elements into your website that speak to your company’s reliability, such as security badges and certifications – as well as a detailed privacy statement. A study conducted by Actual Insights posted on eConsultancy reveals that 76% of consumers feel trust logos do, in fact, affect their sense of trust in a particular website (and 64% said unknown logos also affect that level of trust.)
Particularly if your industry or market is difficult to understand, it’s best to provide a window into your company’s manufacturing process with an explainer video or infographic detailing how you create your products and what kind of impact it has on your community. No doubt, members of the manufacturing audience appreciate when a firm actively embraces its sustainability strategy and looks for innovative materials or processes that leave little to no carbon footprint behind. A survey conducted by Cone Communications and Echo Global found that 9 out of every 10 consumers consider environmental impact when making a purchase – and 78% of shoppers will flat out refuse to purchase from a company that is misleading about green practices. Furthermore, 76% of consumers say the best way to confirm a company’s eco-friendly claims is to see a certification. So keep those badges coming in order to remain competitive!
Interested in seven other ways you can make your website more powerful?
Our complimentary eGuide Going Digital with Your Industrial Marketing Strategy: 10 Essential Elements for the Modern Manufacturing Firm's Website will highlight the ten most important attributes that should be included on your company's website – and how they should be leveraged when effectively marketing to your customers and prospects. Click to get the scoop!