1. WHAT IS DIGITAL MARKETING?
The term, “digital marketing,” has a couple different definitions, depending on who you ask. And the truth is… it’s sort of everything (as hokey as that sounds). But that only makes things more confusing when people say that industrial manufacturers need to invest in digital marketing, or else! So what is digital marketing, really?
Anything that that’s conveyed through digital channels is digital marketing.
People are going to argue over SEO, PPC, SEM, content marketing, inbound marketing, and integrated marketing like separate entities. But there’s a lot of overlap. Just start with knowing your target, and your goal. Then you can look at the channel.
“I had a campaign that we were doing, trying to hit the entire market in the whole world… 4,500 folks out there that were interested in this product or had the capability to buy… And so, the folks that started it wanted to do an ad words campaign which I was glad to do, I did the keyword planner and everything, put it together. Well, when you have 4,500 people, the odds of them searching on Google on a regular basis for the product that we were selling is really close to zero. And we proved it out very well by having a big budget and almost no traffic to it.”
It sounds painful from the budget standpoint, but the big difference between traditional versus digital in a situation like that is being able to actually track that and say, “Okay, this didn’t work.” People who invest in digital marketing will find actual, trackable numbers to their results.
2. MARKETING SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
Now, just because brands should invest in digital marketing doesn’t mean they need to drop traditional marketing. “No more print. It’s completely dead.” Digital just gives a lot more opportunity to measure and track results, unlike a print ad campaign. Even if you do still use print, like say an ad in a trade magazine, it still has a specific phone number or landing page for your readers to visit – which brings us back to digital.
In general, industrial and manufacturing marketers are about five years behind some of the consumer brand type of companies, but they’ve been doing traditional marketing for a really long time, and certain pieces of it work.
You already have the data on what resonates with your customers. Don’t trash all that information in the transition. It’s still relevant.
The first and fastest way to get your toe into digital marketing is sometimes to just ask the sales team, “What works traditionally?” and then copy it over to digital. Direct mail, for example. A lot of people have considered it dead for a while. But it’s starting to come back. Why? Because people are sick of getting their email inbox swamped with unsolicited emails. So mixing direct mail into that strategy and seeing the techniques work together in one omni-channel approach can garner some better results.
In previous years, direct mail used a spray approach: you take everyone in one zip code, and you mail them all. But now when you invest in digital marketing, it can change your sales cadence. The sales team can let you know when someone has a 70% chance of buying, thanks to digital techniques – and then you can invest in the hard print, once they’re worth spending money on.
“So instead of spending 2 bucks a person to hit everybody in a zip code, I’ve got $30 to hit the right person now. And we can send out personal mail to that person.”
In short, the two principal differences really between traditional and digital are ROI ability (or just general tracking), and then hyper-targeting. Traditional used the “spray and pray” method. Digital is laser-focused.
3. TYPES OF DIGITAL MARKETING
A lot of terms get tossed around when digital marketing is discussed. Lead-gen tactics, lead nurturing, marketing automation, sales enablement, and content marketing. This can confuse people into thinking that they’re all separate things from digital marketing; but they’re just different pieces of the process. Content marketing, for example, is the main course of the digital marketing meal. It lets you tell people about your product, which is vital– but more importantly, it lets you educate people about the value of the solution.
When it comes to content marketing, talk about the problem and its solution first – not necessarily your product. That will come later.
There might be thirty products that solve a client’s particular problem: so discuss them (in general, though: not necessarily by name). Content allows people to get educated about the market. If an engineer is looking for a product, they’re not looking for the cheapest product. They’re trying to figure out if there’s a product or service that will fix their problem and help them save money in the long haul. Content marketing is how you educate them into making the right decision.
“You’re not saying, ‘Hey, buy our greatest and latest product. This is amazing and it can do x, y, and z, and it’s also the greatest thing since sliced bread.’ [Content marketing] is saying, ‘Hey look, we understand that you have a challenge, and here’s some solutions around that.’ ”
Marketing Automation is another big term getting tossed around, too. And that, in short, is what you use after you find your leads and get them interested. Automation is just software that allows you to track what prospects are up to, and guide them through a journey. Not the journey that you want them to go on: but rather, their own rabbit trail through your funnel based on what they’re interested in. Over time, you’ll notice patterns and a natural sales cadence that your sales team will learn to recognize and respond to. And who knows? In another few years with AI, the automation may learn to respond all on its own.
Just be aware that there’s a lot of marketing automation software out there, and you know what? They probably all work. So just find one that you’re comfortable with. Don’t overcomplicate your marketing automation when you’re starting out. You don’t need to start on Day One with a marketing stack the size of Texas, with sixty different forks and decision flows.
Just pick a software; start small; and figure out how to use it. The ‘rabbit trails’ will branch out naturally from there over time, as you learn what works and what doesn’t with your customers.
Once you have people in your funnel, just keep them engaged. The marketing automation is able to measure results for you, as well as kick out automated messaging based on behaviors that people take on your website and in different pieces of content. That data will give your sales and marketing team the information that they need to be able to react and produce better content and follow up with more accuracy. And yes, the sales team needs to be interlocked with the marketing team to really make it work. A really good enablement process makes life easier on the sales team, and makes the marketing team more effective to make life easier on the sales team.
4. WHY NOW?
“Okay great. We understand. We should invest in digital marketing. But why is it so critical to do it right now?”
Because your competition is.
97% of B2B buyers Google the solution first. That’s how they start their sales process. So if you’re not there and somebody else is, you’re already behind. And even if you do have a decent number of clients, you might be surprised at the feedback if you ask them about their experience.
“I’ve had people come back and say… ‘Your client was really bad at this. The only reason we went with them is because we knew they were the best.’ ”
You shouldn’t put a customer through that process. You should be at least as good as your competition, but there’s another reason to invest in digital marketing. This is how people interact in the world today. And it’s not a switch that you turn on and then suddenly, boom! Everything’s working and it’s great! The truth of the matter is that it really takes time and research to develop these campaigns.
If you want your marketing to become a fully fledged, well-oiled, digital, automated machine, it’s could take six months… or two years.
And we know for a fact that a lot of manufacturing and industrial clients have another big problem: “leaky pipes.” They come back from a trade show with 100 leads, and a plan to follow up on, say, the top 10% that are really qualified and ready to buy (all according to the sales person with the spreadsheet, though they may have no data to back up that claim). It would be nice to follow up with everyone, but it’s not about favoritism. It’s time management and just being productive. So what happens to the rest of those leads? There maybe an Excel spreadsheet in Judy’s desk. But then suddenly Judy’s not here anymore. Or six months later, the list is nowhere to be found.
That’s where the digital systems and automation come in. They’re built to nurture and maintain a conversation with them. That way, they don’t fall through the cracks 18 months down the road when they’re ready to buy.
Salespeople know that the average person needs at least three touches to become interested in your product or working with you. It’s the same truth here – just with digital methods. It’s about tapping that other 90% until they’re eventually changed into someone worth contacting like the rest of the top 10%. With digital marketing, you’re able to continue that conversation on an ongoing basis, without having to physically have a sales rep in the field.
So yes: digital marketing for industrial manufacturers is huge, and it is vital, and you do need to start now. But you don’t need to whip up a whole new meal. Just start adding new courses, spices, and ingredients to the recipes you already know.
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