marketing for manufacturersLike any other consumer, when technical and engineering professionals have a problem, they generally look for help online. Successful manufacturing and industrial suppliers are adapting their marketing mix accordingly, shifting budget and resources to digital marketing methods to connect with their audience, according to a survey from GlobalSpec.

The Internet provides virtually unlimited research opportunities for industrial buyers to do their jobs better and more efficiently – from e-newsletters and technical blogs to webinars and more. They also have access to more companies – your competitors – that they can buy from. The result? Your customers have more choices, personalized preferences, and more control, over their buying process than ever before.

The manufacturing industry has clung tightly to many of the old marketing methods. For years, marketing for many manufacturers has consisted of traveling and displaying at industry trade shows which requires a big budget for travel and staff, or direct mail and cold calling which is time consuming and produces inconsistent leads and sales.

The GlobalSpec survey of marketing and sales professionals in the industrial sector showed that while industrial marketers continue to mix traditional and digital media in their marketing plans, they are shifting more budget and resources to the digital side.

There are good reasons why manufacturers are scaling back their budgets for traditional, “outbound marketing” techniques and redirecting those dollars to more online, “inbound marketing” methods.

Inbound marketing generates leads

According to the GlobalSpec survey, 43% said that customer acquisition is their primary marketing goal. Inbound marketing is uniquely suited to generating new sales prospects by attracting interested website visitors during their decision-making process, and converting them into leads.

Rather than spending a lot of money to attend a trade show, or send a direct mail campaign that produces limited results, inbound marketing takes full advantage of the company’s website to attract people that are actively researching the products and services that can offer solutions.

Inbound marketing proves ROI

Marketing directors at manufacturing companies must demonstrate the ROI from their marketing efforts. In fact, 31% say it’s the biggest challenge in their profession while 58% consider sales attributed to marketing campaigns as a measure of success.

An effective inbound marketing program using marketing automation software, like Hubspot, makes it easy to track these critical marketing metrics. Leads acquired through an inbound marketing campaign are segmented, tracked and nurtured through their buying cycle.  At the same time, leads are being qualified by the marketing department, based on their level of engagement or activity on the company website, before they’re passed along to the sales department.

To make it even easier, marketing automation software is linked to customer relationship management (CRM) software, completely automating the process, and creating a streamlined “closed-loop” sales and marketing process.

Inbound marketing content attracts prospects

Industrial marketers are spending more to create online content including videos (58%) and webinars (49%), the survey found. In addition, marketing plans for manufacturing companies will include more content distribution channels over the next five years.

A company blog is a core component of any inbound marketing plan to distribute content. Relevant blog articles attract visitors who find them in their search results. In our eBook, “10 Useless Things to Cut From Your Marketing,” we describe how 70% of business that blog just two or three times per week acquire a customer as a result of their efforts. And business blogging builds a library of entertaining and informative articles that can also be a valuable resource to potential customers, who will come to trust the company as an expert in their industry.

Industrial marketers are also beginning to realize the potential of social media as a platform for company branding and content delivery. Not only can they promote blogs and other content, but they’re becoming more comfortable with the two-way conversation that customers expect from the brands they follow on their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

Engineering and technical professionals have already shifted to online resources to find product information and compare suppliers. Manufacturers who have not yet shifted their marketing online are being forced to play catch-up.  Inbound marketing provides the strategy and tactics for industrial marketers to compete online, prove ROI and generate leads.