Manufacturers today face a tough challenge to remain competitive in the face of increased competition from overseas whilst still producing high quality, innovative products.
According to the business lobby group CBI in its quarterly survey of 472 manufacturers it was reported that total new orders edged down in the three months to April, matching the decline in the previous quarter. But, there does seem to be a pervading optimism that domestic and overseas demand will improve, despite the struggling North Sea oil and gas industry and the steel plant closures.
In today’s difficult selling environment, few industries are able to survive without marketing themselves to an increasingly powerful buyer. The manufacturing industry is no exception. Yet with the focus on staying one step ahead of the competition through product innovation and driving down costs, many manufacturing businesses are finding themselves falling behind when it comes to sales and marketing.
Here are three challenges that marketers in manufacturing face today, and three opportunities that marketing automation can offer to help relieve that stress.
1. The New, Powerful Buyer
Todays buyer doesn’t wait for you to qualify them as a lead and take them through the sales cycle at your pace. They are skipping this step altogether, and have taken much of the sales cycle into their own hands. They are focused on consuming online research, reading peer reviews, and weighing their purchasing options long before they’re willing to speak to any sales people. Marketers in manufacturing (like many other industries) struggle to shift their sales and marketing efforts to accommodate this new buyer. The result? Too often their content misses the mark – they aren’t offering the right content to guide the buyer towards preferring their company as that buyer does the qualifying research.
2. Disconnect Between Buyers & Sellers
As buyers rely less and less on salespeople to deliver information about manufacturing organisations and more and more on the content marketers provide, oftentimes a disconnect between the two parties starts to grow. Sales and marketing teams within the organisation may disagree on what constitutes a qualified lead. Sales may or may not see value in behavior that marketing believes indicates sales-worthiness. Ultimately, organisations who struggle with this disconnect often fail to deliver the information buyers need to make manufacturing purchasing decisions.
3. Keeping Up with New Digital Trends
Many manufacturing companies have been around for decades, flourishing with minimal marketing. What’s carried the success of many manufacturing companies in recent history has been a strong product supported by a knowledgeable sales team. While these two aspects are key to the success of any manufacturing organisation, there also needs to be a savvy middle man (marketing) to help connect the great product with the right buyer. More companies are discovering that their prospects are online, and they see the advantages of meeting those buyers there.
Improve Opportunities using Marketing Automation:
1. Give Buyers the Content They Need via Email Marketing
If your buyers aren’t banging down your door to purchase your product, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. They may not know about you. If they do know who you are, they may not have yet discovered a compelling reason to give you consideration. It’s your job to give them a good reason to take another look.
Most of a buyer’s journey is now done digitally. Set your sales team up for success by reaching out to your prospects via email to provide them with the information they need about your organisation to make a purchasing decision. Let them know what you offer, and how and why you are different – and better.
Manufacturing knows automation. In fact, most manufacturers are already automation pros! From the shop floor to distribution, manufacturing has led the way for centuries in adopting automation techniques and technologies. Marketing is no different; much of it (especially email) is a process that can be automated, saving time and ensuring consistency. Automating your email marketing is the natural next step for continuing your business momentum and optimising efficiency.
2. Use Segmentation to Speak Directly to Your Buyers
In order to bridge the gap between the buyer and the seller, marketers need to make a point to show the prospective buyer that they are understood. Don’t send emails that don’t apply to them – DO send emails that are highly personalised and directly speak to that unique prospect’s needs and wants.
Using an automated marketing platform to segment your audience is one of the most powerful tools of modern marketing. Segmenting your email list by products, buyer types, sales cycle stages, or previous online activity (web page visits, email clicks, etc.) allows you to deliver the most relevant messages to your audiences. Receiving solid, consistently meaningful messaging from a manufacturer, can begin to build trust and that can lead to a direct enquiry or a sale. Personalised emails also translate into higher open rates and click-through rates, which are directly related to higher attributable revenue for your marketing programs.
3. Capture & Convert Leads with Customised Landing Pages
Customised landing pages help marketers in the manufacturing industry reach and engage more customers with a lot less effort. Using marketing automation to create landing pages to streamline your inbound and outbound marketing efforts is a huge win that requires less work on your part. In order to reach the highest percentages of your target audience, make sure that your landing pages are fully mobile responsive in order to ensure a positive experience across all devices – desktop, tablet, and mobile. When you send an email with a single focus or offer, make sure you have a landing page tailored to give your prospect a way to take the next step, give them the option to convert by filling out a form. Capturing these leads will help you to generate interest in your products, give you more data you can use to tailor more relevant offers or information, and will give you the capability to nurture these leads until they’re ready to purchase.
In short, Marketing automation provides the tool for marketers to easily track the engagement and behaviour of their prospects and customers. But automation alone does not guarantee success. You will still need the skills to create campaigns utilising the various marketing disciplines.
Protean Inbound provides an automated marketing platform as part of it’s service offering. Combined with our expertise in marketing strategy and planning, content development and careful campaign execution we can provide your business with visible results in building brand awareness, lead conversion, and ultimately increased company revenue.