In this white board video, we’ll look at the six things a manufacturer website needs in place to serve as business-generating tool and resource for potential buyers – rather than simply a digital capabilities brochure. After introducing those six building blocks, we’ll look at examples within the context of a real website.

The B2B Website Planning Handbook

This guide gives you as a manufacturing organization a structure for auditing your marketing and lead generation strategy, as well as next steps for improving your program’s ROI.

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About The Foundry: Building Better Industrial Marketing

We created our original video library – The Foundry – to teach manufacturing companies how to grow their businesses online. Subscribe to our newsletter to get these videos and other industrial marketing content in your inbox monthly.

Video transcript:

Hey, everybody. I’m Joe Sullivan, a co-founder of industrial marketing agency, Gorilla 76. And today, we’re gonna be talking about the six building blocks manufacturing organizations really need to have in place for their websites to serve as business-generating tools instead of just digital brochures that kind of talk about what they do and how great they are.

So, I’m gonna start by introducing these six building blocks and then we’re going to jump over to my screen and we’ll take a quick look at what each of them kind of looks like within the context of a real website.

So let’s start with this first building block, a Flexible Content Management system. In short, a content management system – or a CMS – is exactly what it sounds like, really. It’s a software platform used for managing all the information on your website. The reason your CMS is so important is that the process of building a website can’t be looked at anymore as a project where you have a start date over here and an end date over here. Instead, your site needs to go through a continuous improvement process as you learn how visitors use it, what content they’re consuming and why they are or aren’t converting into real leads.

So, for continuous improvement to happen, you need to have the ability to quickly make edits on the fly without having to go through your IT guy or your web design company every time you need to change something. Our CMS or content management system of choice for growing our manufacturing clients is WordPress, hands down. It’s estimated at this point that WordPress powers something like 25% to 30% of the internet – and for good reason. The platform is “open source”, meaning that code is freely available to developers who can modify it, edit it, make it better or customize it to their needs. And that means thousands of developers are out there constantly making WordPress better. LightCMS and Joomla are a couple alternatives that you could use as well.

The second building block is Thought Leadership Content. I can’t emphasize enough how important content is going to be in your online marketing and lead generation strategy as a manufacturer. So just about every manufacturer’s website at this point is filled with service and product pages, maybe some case studies – ultimately, things that are kind of all about them, right? How great they are, why you should be their customers. And I don’t disagree that this content needs to be there. After all, you need to state your value proposition, you need to make it clear to your potential buyer that you may have what they’re looking for. But during that industrial buying process, the reality is this: Your customers and your website visitors don’t care about you. They care about themselves, right? And at least until they’re confident that you understand the problems that they have, the challenges they’re trying to solve, and the goals they’re trying to accomplish, they’re thinking about themselves.

So, if you think about the best sales professionals out there, they’re problem solvers, right? They’re able to demonstrate that they can understand the pains of their buyers, and your website kind of needs to act the same way. Only once that happens do the ears of those potential buyers start to open up. So, what am I talking about when I say that thought leadership is building block number two? Really, I’m talking about content that helps answer common questions, solve common problems, and in the process of doing so, earns the trust and attention of your website visitors. Only then does it prompt real sales conversations to happen.

It’s estimated that over 50% of the business-to-business buying process happens before the buyer even makes contact with sales. And so, you really need your content to deliver during the first half of that buying process. Thought leadership content can come in a variety of forms from educational articles, to white papers, downloadable guides, ROI calculators and videos like this. The key is that your thought leadership content is there to be helpful and not to talk about you, but to help your buyer solve problems.

Okay, the third building block is on-page SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This is all about ensuring that your website is optimized to show up in Google searches related to your offerings in your areas of expertise. There’s still a lot of old-school thinking and really terrible advice out there from SEO professionals – things like stuff your site with keywords, write a bunch of mediocre content with those keywords incorporated into it, build as many links as possible from anywhere on the internet back to your site. We’ve covered the complexities of SEO in much more depth elsewhere and we’ll link to some of that content in the page notes here, but because right now, we’re talking about on-page SEO or, sort of, what you can control from within the walls of your own website, we’ll keep it short here.

So, the first thing you need to know is that exceptional, resourceful, audience-centric content is key. And we’ve kind of covered that already in the last section here. Another thing you need to know is that from an on-page SEO standpoint, there are some best practices that you’re gonna want to follow to tell the search engines like Google what your page and your site as a whole is about. So, you need to think of each page on your website as an opportunity to attract ideal customers who are looking for content related to topics on that particular page. So, if your page is about metal stamping for the aerospace industry, you probably want a keyword like “aerospace metal stamping” in the page title of the URL, the headline, and maybe a couple more times on the page. SEO is a lot more complicated than what we’re covering here, but when you’re talking about what you can control from within the walls of your own website, these SEO best practices are a good place to start.

Okay, the fourth building block is User Flows. Sometimes, we call these “visitors-to-lead conversion paths”. And what we’re talking about here are the routes along which you want to direct your website visitors from the point at which they arrive on your site to the point at which they take a lead-generating action like filling out a form. Planning user flows is a really strategic part of the website planning process, and it’s an ongoing thing you need to be doing after your site launches, too. So here’s kind of how you want to think about it.

Each buyer persona that you’re targeting – whether that person is an Engineer, or a Procurement Manager, or a CEO – each person has a different need when he or she lands on your site, and your job is to get those individuals to what they’re looking for before they leave and don’t come back. Because a vast majority of B2B website visitors are researching and evaluating and not yet ready to buy something, you need to equip your website with opportunities to convert those anonymous visitors into leads once they arrive at their destinations on your site as well. So just because your qualified visitor might not be ready yet to pick up the phone or to fill out a “request a quote” form doesn’t mean they won’t trade their names, email addresses, and phone numbers for helpful white papers, guides, case studies, tools related or whatever information they’re trying to gather. So when that happens, it allows for your team to step in and take control of the sales conversation. So, this process really isn’t optional anymore if you’re serious about generating leads on your site. It works really well for 100% of our manufacturing clients and it’s pretty central to their business development strategies at this point.

The fifth building block is Mobile-friendly Design. In the 2017 study about digital media use in the industrial sector, a company called GlobalSpec reports that engineers spend 21% of their online time on smartphones and tablets, and that percentage is growing, not shrinking. So what kind of user experience do you think your visitors are getting if they’re constantly pinching and scrolling as they try to navigate your site on their phone? Here’s a hint, it’s not good. So, mobile friendliness is also on the rise as a factor that affects search engine optimization and it needs to be a consideration on your website, for sure.

The sixth and final building block is CRM and marketing database integration. In case you’re unfamiliar, CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. Some of the most popular CRM software platforms out there include Salesforce, Pipedrive and HubSpot. And when we refer to marketing database, we’re really talking about a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, Pardot, or Act-On. Without going into too much detail here, these databases are where you manage your leads and sales opportunities. And it’s critical that your website is properly synced to whichever CRM and marketing automation tools you’re using. So that means tracking code is going to be installed on your website, your website forms are configured to funnel new contacts directly into the software, etc. The best automation tools do a whole lot more as well, and we won’t go into that here, but we’ll link to an article in the page notes so you can learn more. So, in short, your CRM and your marketing automation software tools are, kind of, your bridge between your website and ongoing marketing and sales processes.

Okay, so now that I’ve explained what each of these building blocks are, I want to put each of them in context for you. So, let’s jump over to my screen and very quickly look at examples of each within the context of a real website. Because I want to protect the privacy of our clients, I’m gonna use our own Gorilla 76 website for these examples. I realize we’re a marketing agency and not a manufacturing organization, of course, but these six building blocks that we’ve been talking about are present and equally important for us as a business-to-business company. So, we’ll go ahead and open the back door to our site and let you inside for a few minutes.

Okay, so let’s use this page on the Gorilla site for our example. This is an article we recently wrote titled “Manufacturing marketing: Four questions to guide your strategy.” Building block number one, as we’ve talked about, is the Content Management System, which, for us, is WordPress. And because I’m already logged into WordPress, I get this little navigation across the top that lets us access the CMS or Content Management System. If I click on “edit post”, it will take me right into the back end of this article where I can make updates on the fly, edit content as I see fit. And I just click this blue “update” button over here and all the changes I made will go live immediately. I can also add new articles over here on the left with the click of a button, and I can access other pages on this site, make edits to those as well, over here in the left navigation. Because our developer has done a lot of customization of our site over the years, we can add call-to-action buttons, resources, videos, forms, things like this very easily as well. So, let’s put it this way, if you’re capable of using Facebook, you’re capable of using WordPress. It’s really easy.

Okay, so the second building block is Thought Leadership Content, and this article that we were just looking at is a good example. We’re speaking to our core audience here which is midsize manufacturing organizations, and teaching them about our expertise which is industrial marketing strategy. This is really just one article inside an extensive industrial marketing learning center that we’ve created. We’ve been publishing a wealth of content here for years from articles to white papers to videos and other guides. And all that stuff is written for that exact manufacturing audience that we target as an organization.

The third building block is On-page Search Engine Optimization. So, as you can see, we’ve targeted this keyword “manufacturer marketing” here. It’s up here in the page title. It’s here in the title of the article or main headline on the page. We’ve used it in other places on the page – not keyword-stuffed it – but we’ve used it. And we’ve used related phrases in some places as well, like “marketing for manufacturers” here in the URL, used “marketing for manufacturers” down here in one of the sub-headlines on the page. And sort of, you know, the combination of this content being thorough and targeted and making use of on-page SEO best practices and also the credible links that we’ve built to that page from other sources on the internet as well has helped us to rank first organically for “manufacturer marketing” as you can see here. And we’re also ranking first for “marketing for manufacturers” in the same way. And it’s worth noting that we get a lot of our best leads through this page directly out of related Google searches.

Okay, the fourth building block is User Flows or “visitor-to-lead conversion” paths as we sometimes call them. While we make it easy for visitors to request a consultation up here in the top navigation when they’re ready to do so, we also, you know, understand that most visitors aren’t ready to buy right away, as we’ve talked about earlier, so we make sure we equip our pages with other calls to action. In this case, we’re thinking about, you know, what this person might care about, what else they might maybe download, or how we could get them to fill out a form. And so here, we’re, you know, saying, “Prioritize your marketing spend and maximize ROI,” and encouraging them to download our “How to Audit Your Industrial Marketing Strategy” guide. So, we’re driving them to this piece here where we, kind of, tease them of, you know, what they’ll get if they’ll download the guide and ask for some contact information in exchange for it. And, you know, it’s really through these conversion focused pages that we generate a majority of our leads at Gorilla, and the same goes for almost all of our manufacturing clients.

The fifth building block is Mobile-friendliness. So, let me exit full screen here, and we’ll show you what I’m talking about. As the size of your browser window shrinks, you can see how the content on your website, adjusts to fit that size. So this is about the width that you’d find of the content on a mobile phone and maybe this is what a tablet looks like or an iPad versus a desktop computer that small or big. And so, the content adjusts based on what device you’re on, which is referred to often as “responsive website design”.

Then finally, we have the sixth building block which is CRM and Marketing Database Integration. So, when somebody fills out a form like this on our website, this form is actually hosted through our CRM and marketing automation software, HubSpot. And inside the software, a contact record for anybody who fills out these forms is automatically created for us. And then, inside of these contact records, I can add notes to their profile, see what pages they viewed on the site and send alerts to tell me when they revisit our site. I can also track open deals that are going on on the sales side of the software.

Let’s pop over there real quick. Deals can be tracked here. I can set tasks for myself, forecast what the pipeline looks like at any given point in time, build reports, send email campaigns. There is just a ton you can do between the marketing automation and sales sides of the software. So, for Gorilla, HubSpot is a really important tool in both our marketing and sales processes. And over half of our clients use it as well.

Okay, that wraps it up for today. So, thanks for bearing with me. I know that has a lot to cover. As I mentioned, I’ll post some of the related resources in the page notes on our site. I also encourage you to subscribe to our industrial marketing newsletter to get more content like this in your inbox once or twice a month. Just visit gorilla76.com/newsletter to subscribe. And then finally, if you’d like to set up a free consultation to talk about your website and how it fits into the bigger business development picture for your organization, please fill out the request for consultation form on gorilla76.com. So, thanks for watching.

Build a consistent inbound pipeline of qualified leads

Our Tactical Guide to Industrial Lead Generation will teach you how to attract, engage and convert ideal-fit prospects into real leads, move them into your sales funnel and measure results.

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