Inbound Marketing for Manufacturers
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Inbound versus outbound marketing
Inbound marketing refers to a method of attracting customers and earning their interest by offering valuable content and experiences which provide a solution to the problem they are looking to solve.
Businesses using inbound marketing will generate content and resources in the form of blog posts, technical guides, social media posts and whitepapers, that look to educate and solve a problem for the customer. This content will be targeted for specific audiences and will be optimised for search engines to ensure it is easily discoverable to those researching online. Content can then be made available to appropriate audiences by sharing via the company’s social media and other digital marketing channels.
An inbound marketing strategy offers the following benefits:
Builds trust and credibility
Generates higher quality leads and more of them!
Saves time and prevents wasting budget on reaching out cold
Increases brand awareness
Aligns sales and marketing
Provides a clear understanding of what is working and how to invest marketing budgets in the future
Comparatively, outbound marketing pushes products and services onto customers, using interruption methods to get their attention. Outbound marketing can involve methods such as TV and radio advertisements, generic/blanket online advertising, advertisements in catalogues, billboards and telemarketing.
Depending on the industry, inbound is rapidly overtaking outbound marketing due to the increasingly digitalised world of business. This is mostly due to the impersonal nature of outbound marketing and that rolling out blanket marketing campaigns to a wide audience is an expensive way to reach a few.
Furthermore analysing success and return on investment is often very difficult with outbound marketing methods.
To put it simply, with inbound marketing customers come to you whereas using outbound marketing methods means you chase customers.
Why is inbound marketing important for the manufacturing industry?
Although not always the case, it’s not unusual for some small to medium, and even some larger, manufacturers to be a little behind in their approach to marketing compared to other B2B businesses.
Marketing strategies within this industry can sometimes be stagnant, employing similar tactics year in year out - attending that same trade show, or sending out a sales rep with another new brochure – all without consideration of the overall effectiveness of the methods.
Many businesses will refuse to invest anything in marketing at all, viewing it as an unnecessary expense; understandable if it’s not possible to calculate any return on their investment!
But why change now?
From Google, to social media, to review platforms, we are all moving online to research a company and their products and services prior to purchase, and it’s no different within a B2B setting. A study by Forrester and Google/Millward Brown found that 68% of B2B buyers carry out their own research online before deciding which suppliers to approach, and 62% of B2B buyers say they develop selection criteria or finalise a supplier list based solely on digital content!
Traditional methods of generating new business through cold calling, recommendation and sales reps on the road are certainly still successful but are often now being supplemented with an added dose of personal online research by the customer to aid decision making.
Furthermore, there’s a new generation coming through within the manufacturing sector and they work differently! As with many B2B companies, responsibilities are beginning to be passed on, whether it be to family members inheriting their parents’ business, or just firms hiring a new generation of talent. This new generation has been brought up with the internet, and online is a default research tool. So even if your business has always worked with traditional outbound marketing methods, chances are your customer won’t always be doing business this way.
So, it’s time to make sure your business, products and services can be easily found across all online channels and you’re not left behind the competition - this is where inbound marketing strategies come in!
How to implement inbound marketing within your manufacturing firm:
This is the first stage of inbound marketing and involves attracting the right people with valuable content that establishes your businesses as a trusted advisor.
The attract stage is about creating awareness for potential customers sitting at the top of the sales and marketing funnel that are aware of their problem but do not yet know about your solution or business.
This stage involves the creation and development of content that provides value. Content at this stage should educate and provide the customer with answers to their questions and help solve their problems. Examples could include product guides, checklists, tools and kits, how to videos and webinars.
Putting some of this content behind forms is a great way to obtain contact details of leads, enabling you to nurture and engage with them further. However, it’s important that only content that is deemed valuable enough be ‘gated’ in this way. Gating content that is available everywhere else on the internet will not be successful. Therefore, at this stage there needs to be time invested in developing valuable, useful content that a potential customer wouldn’t mind trading their contact details for.
Also in this stage, time should be spent optimising content for search engines, (SEO), targeting specific keywords and phrases that relate to your products and services, which will ensure you appear organically in search engine results for your audience researching online. Read more about SEO here.
The engage stage of the inbound marketing methodology is about moving prospects into the consideration and decision phases of the marketing funnel. It involves lead nurturing, building relationships, and developing further trust with your brand.
At this point, you’ve already successfully captured their attention - they are aware of their problem/s and are looking for the best way to solve them. This is the point at which your business would present their solution and why it best fits their needs. Now is a good time to offer proof of the value of your product or service, such as case studies or free samples. Use marketing channels such as retargeting, email marketing and social media to present this content.
This is also the stage at which you should determine whether your offering is not a good fit for the customer, to avoid wasting time, encouraging a high churn rate, and developing poor brand association.
Engagement is also important at the decision stage of the purchasing funnel. Giving prospects that final nudge to purchase can be achieved by engaging them with an offer or a final piece of content that help them make up their mind and seal the deal.
The engage stage is where you might incorporate outreach from sales, depending on the nature of your manufacturing business.
The delight phase aims to develop the relationship with your customer beyond the sale, leading to higher customer lifetime value and helping them to become brand advocates, referring your products and services to others. The delight phase provides customers with service that goes above their expectations.
Once a prospect becomes a customer it is important to ensure future ongoing support is easily accessible; using live chat, FAQs and knowledge bases to help solve any post purchase issues. Channels such as email, retargeting and social media can be used to inform of updates to products, new products, and offers etc.
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So that’s it in brief! Developing an inbound marketing strategy to attract, engage and delight customers.
Inbound marketing = customers come to you. Outbound marketing = you do the chasing.
The way we do business is changing - online is the default research tool and new generations are only accelerating digitalisation within business. Manufacturing firms need to catch-up and invest in their marketing strategies before they are left behind.
Traditional outbound marketing techniques commonly used within the manufacturing industry provide little information on success of the campaign and return on investment.
Using an inbound marketing strategy to inform and educate target audiences with the right content that can be found in the right place at the right time, your manufacturing business will naturally build credibility, generate more leads, develop relationships, and convert prospects into valuable customers and brand advocates.
Inbound marketing builds trust and credibility, generates more higher quality leads, saves time and removes wasting budget on reaching out cold, increases brand awareness, streamlines and aligns sales and marketing and boosts ROI.
Sound interesting? Want to know more about how to implement an inbound strategy and analyse return on investment? Give us a call to find out more.