For a long time, U.S. manufacturing companies have relied on traditional marketing strategies like radio/TV commercials, direct mail, print ads, telemarketing, billboards and face to face interaction. However, recent trends in industrial marketing have emerged, especially with the outbreak of COVID-19.
The manufacturing industry was one of the hardest hit by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the 2020 State of Manufacturing Report, 89% of the people surveyed said that their businesses were impacted directly because of COVID-19.
Here are some of the ways COVID-19 negatively affected their businesses:
89% of the people surveyed say that their businesses were impacted directly because of COVID-19 - 2020 State of Manufacturing Report Click To Tweet
Manufacturing companies are now being force to rethink their marketing strategies in order to survive. Here are some of the recent trends in industrial marketing:
Though content marketing isn’t exactly one of the recent trends in industrial marketing, it is becoming increasingly mainstream in the manufacturing industry. There is a greater emphasis on creating high quality and relevant content for existing and potential customers. According to Demand Metric, 91% of B2B marketers say that content marketing is part of their overall strategy. However, only 37% of B2B marketers have a properly documented content marketing strategy.91% of B2B marketers say that content marketing is part of their overall strategy - Demand Metric Click To Tweet
Here are some of the ways content marketing will benefit your company:
- Brand awareness: Content will make your company and products more visible to other businesses. When an individual realizes that their company or organization has a need, you will be the first manufacturer who comes to mind. As purchasing decisions are being discussed, decision-makers will recognize your company name. Brand awareness will therefore make you stand out from the competition.
- Positions your company as a thought leader: Your potential customers are always looking for someone they can turn to for training, education, helpful information and expert advice. Educational content will position your company as a thought leader in your industry.
- Increases lead conversions: Most B2B customers conduct extensive research before making a buying decision. Providing great educational content will make it easier for potential customers to choose your company over the competition.
When creating educational content, keep in mind the buyer’s journey. For an effective marketing campaign, you need to provide relevant content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Here are some content ideas to consider:
- Awareness stage: 101 eBooks, educational blog posts and social media posts. A good example is Cisco that publishes informative blog posts on a regular basis
- Consideration stage: Case studies, webinars, comparison guides and buyer guides. Tulip holds regular manufacturing webinars featuring subject matter experts and industry leaders
- Decision stage: Product videos, pricing calculators, brochures and spec sheets. In this video, RT engineering explain how they built the custom automation labeling machine
Types of content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
79% of B2B companies are promoting themselves using content marketing – HubSpot
Now more than ever, people are using smartphones for product research and buying decisions. Here are some stats from Think with Google:
- 39% of mobile phone users are more likely to shop or browse a company’s mobile app since it’s faster and easier to make a purchase
- 60% of mobile phone users have contacted a company directly via the search results (for instance, the ‘click to call’ option)
- 50% of mobile phone users are more likely to use a brand’s or company mobile website when shopping or browsing because they are not interested in downloading an app
- 63% of mobile phone users are more likely to buy from companies or brands whose mobile apps or sites offer them recommendations on products or services they might be interested in
To keep potential customers engaged, industrial marketers need to deliver quality, consistent experiences for all their visitors no matter what platform or device they are using. A totally optimized mobile marketing campaign should include the following:
- Easy login: Allow customers and prospects to log into your website using social media profiles. This will help facilitate the buying process
- Responsive web pages: With a responsive design, your site will display properly across different screen sizes and browsers
- Offer mobile pay options: Providing the option to pay via mobile phone will help avoid prospects abandoning the buying process due to the need to switch devices
- Streamlined connections: Your social media ads or posts should have a link that directs prospects directly to your product pages or homepage. In addition, your sales team should be notified for a call in real-time whenever a query is received through email
39% of mobile phone users are more likely to shop or browse a company’s mobile app since it’s faster and easier to make a purchase – Think with Google
Video is one of the recent trends in industrial marketing that cannot be ignored. A recent survey revealed that 69% of people would prefer to learn about a product or service from a short video. A video allows you to package a lot of information in a compact and digestible format. Instructional videos, product demos, company overviews and industry events are some of the ways video can be used for industrial marketing.
With recent advancements in camera technologies, you don’t need professional equipment or a costly production team to create quality video content. A good smartphone camera and free editing apps is enough to shoot and edit videos for your business.
Here are some video formats worth exploring:
- Brand voice video: Highlight your brand with a video featuring employee sound bites, a tour of your office space and some pointers on what makes your company an industry leader
69% of people would prefer to learn about a product or service from a short video – Wyzowl
- Video blog (Vlog): Jot down some of the most common questions asked by prospects and create one video for each question. You could shoot 5-10 videos at a time, and then post one video blog per week
- How-to video: Demystify technical concepts or complex processes that customers find hard to understand. Troubleshooting instructions, preventative maintenance walk-throughs or step-by-step product demos are a few options
Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots
Manufacturers have to handle customer queries and business operations on a large scale. Dealing with communications manually presents problems of delayed response to customers, inefficiency and loss of money and time in the process. Due to these challenges, AI has emerged as one of the most recent trends in industrial marketing. An AI chatbot can automate and scale up operations with better efficiency.
Here are a few AI chatbot use cases in manufacturing:
- Generate sales qualified leads (SQLs): With an AI chatbot on WhatsApp, you can run conversational ads on Instagram and Facebook. The leads can be directed to your WhatsApp business account where the bot will ask qualifying questions. The AI bot can also generate leads on your site and other channels with pre-qualifying questions
- Automate customer support: You are probably receiving a wide range of service requests, complaints and support queries with regard to your product or service. Resolving such queries fast is crucial to maintain a good relationship with your dealers, vendors and customers. An AI chatbot can automate most of this support for you. With Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, bots can figure out a request or problem fast, and respond with relevant action or information
- Offer personalized product recommendations: When you have multiple stock keeping units (SKUs) and product lines, prospects might get confused when making a choice. Instead of having a sales rep answering all the questions, you can use an AI chatbot for personalized product recommendations. Machine learning and predictive intelligence allows bots to figure out a prospect’s historical and personal data. With this information, they can suggest the best-suited products
Due to coronavirus-induced social distancing rules and travel restrictions, many companies are now embracing virtual events as another of the recent trends in industrial marketing. In a recent poll by Bizzabo, 60% of leadership (board members, executives and senior managers) believe that events are important for achieving business goals. 93% of event marketers are planning to invest in virtual events going forward. With a virtual event, you can reach a larger audience and thus create more brand awareness. Attendees are keener on learning and growing their skills at virtual events than at in-person events.
93% of event marketers are planning to invest in virtual events going forward – Bizzabo
Omnichannel marketing refers to the practice of offering a seamless experience for customers and prospects, no matter what device or channel they use. This means that each time a customer or prospect taps their wearable device, opens their laptop or picks up their phone, they have ready access to a company’s products or services. In addition, all these experiences should work together in harmonious fashion. For instance, if you begin a transaction on your laptop, you should be able to complete it on your phone.
Omnichannel marketing refers to the practice of offering a seamless experience for customers and prospects, no matter what device or channel they use
Here is a good example of how omnichannel marketing works:
Step 1: A prospect is browsing construction equipment on Facebook from his tablet and finds equipment from an influencer he follows
Step 2: Later at the office, he Googles the equipment manufacturer on his laptop. He then places the equipment in his basket and clicks checkout. However, he doesn’t have the time to finish the purchase
Step 3: Later that evening, he receives an email reminding him to complete the purchase
Step 4: He logs in with his phone the next day and order the equipment
Step 5: Later that day, he has second thoughts about his order. He then calls customer service to change the equipment for a different one. The customer service representative can see his account and changes the order
Step 6: Five days later, he sees personalized ads on YouTube for construction equipment based on his purchase
At every step of the process, the prospect engages the company via a different touch point. The company can monitor the buying journey and provide assistance without missing a beat. This customer-centric, consistent approach would prove beneficial for any manufacturing company.
You cannot talk about recent trends in industrial marketing without mentioning automation. Marketing automation makes it easy for industrial marketers to serve customers and prospects better at all stages of the buyer’s journey. Customers receive targeted content and communication based on actions taken such as opening an email or filling out a contact form. This not only enhances the customer’s experience, but also helps convert leads to buyers faster.
Other applications of marketing automation for manufacturers include:
- Customer service: Enhance customer relationship with relevant, continuous content and automated reminders when a product is due for replacement or maintenance
- Customer segmentation: This involved dividing potential and current customers based on geographic location, company size, industry type and how they interact with your company online. This way, you will be able to identify the most appropriate marketing strategy
- Campaign reports: Automated report monitoring offers insight into the ROI of marketing campaigns, as well as what is or isn’t working
When evaluating different automation tools, here are some things to consider:
- Ease of use: Choose software that is easy to understand and navigate
- Analytics and reporting: You should be able to track the success of any campaigns you are running. Select automation software that can keep track of metrics that are important to you
- Support: Automation can be very complex. Look for providers that offer robust tutorials, knowledge bases and other customer support options
- Integrations: Your marketing automation software should easily integrate with your already existing tools
- Pricing and scalability: Select a provider that is not only reasonably priced, but one that can also expand with you as your needs change
Since marketing is continually evolving, A/B testing is important to help you choose the best marketing strategy. By testing each marketing approach, you will understand what your target audience responds to and how to engage them.
In light of these recent trends in industrial marketing, manufacturers need to rely more on emerging digital technologies. This way, they can understand each potential customer better and create a more tailored customer journey. When manufacturers stay abreast of the latest digital offerings, they will be able to enhance, transform and future-proof their companies.
Findings from the Content Marketing Institute reveal that the main reasons some B2B marketers don’t intend to develop a content marketing strategy is because they are a small team (67%) or they lack time (44%). If you fall under any of these categories, you need a professional manufacturing marketing agency to create and implement an effective marketing strategy. ONEIMS can help you implement all these recent trends in industrial marketing.
Main reasons B2B marketers don’t intend to develop a content marketing strategy is because they are a small team (67%) or they lack time (44%) – Content Marketing Institute