Industrial B2B market long resisted to submit to modern digital marketing methods. However, over the last few years, more and more business are embracing industrial digital marketing as a viable growth strategy.
Why is this switch happening?
There is no secret here. When your audience goes digital, you have to follow. Millennials present a new force of B2B buyers as 73% of millennials provide input and 34% act as decision-makers. And they expect to find the solutions and products online.
For those businesses that are ready for digital transformation, this article will aim to explain the industrial digital marketing category, discuss the specifics of industrial marketing, and outline a standard digital marketing process.
Let’s dive straight in.
What is industrial digital marketing?
As its name suggests, industrial digital marketing refers to doing digital marketing in the industrial sector. No revelations in this definition 🙂
You can also think about industrial marketing as a subset of B2B marketing. That being said, industrial marketing does have some unique characteristics that call for this categorization. Otherwise, we would have no need to differentiate it from its parent category.
Let’s take a moment to talk about those specific as they are going to have an impact on the marketing process we will outline later on.
The specifics of industrial marketing
The main difference between B2B and B2C digital marketing is not so much in the techniques you use, but in the execution itself.
For example, every firm benefits from ranking high in search results for the terms that are related to their core business. So you can say that SEO works no matter which business you have. However, what you are going to show people on your website, how you turn them into leads, and how you nurture them, can vary greatly depending on they type of business you run.
B2B requires more focus on the product/services you are selling and how that improves their business, while B2C can focus more on the benefits of the product/serivce and try to sell through emotional appeal. Additionally, B2B funnels are on average quite longer than B2C funnels as you are effectively selling your product to a team of people, not a single consumer.
Industrial digital marketing takes these principles to the extreme. As you’re often selling expensive items (be it one high-ticket item or a big volume of cheaper items), the sales process needs to include a lot of education, trust-building, and even price negotiation before you can actually close a sale.
Trade shows, advertising in print magazines, and word of mouth can still work OK for some businesses in the industrial space, the thing is that digital marketing has become way more cost-effective. So even if these traditional methods still work for you, it is time to think how to combine them with modern digital marketing efforts.
Industrial digital marketing process
The process that is going to be outlined below is a general approach that works for most industrial businesses. That being said, unique circumstances and unique products might require you to adapt the strategy to your needs.
Step #1: Knowing your audience
Anything you do in marketing should be preceded by a deep understanding of your target audience.
While Q&A sites like Quora, Reddit, and various niche forums are great way to find out information about your target audience in the B2C market, industrial marketing audience often needs to be probed in additional ways.
Looking at the top competitors in your industry never hurts. Here is a few things you can look at:
- review their top performing content (by links, shares, traffic)
- review type of content they feature (do they only have written content or they feature videos too, do they publish ebooks and whitepapers, do they organize live seminars and demos, etc.)
- review their activity on social channels
- review their pricing plans and other money pages (sign up/landing pages/feature pages)
Analyzing content will help you determine what kind of content performs best in your industry which is always nice to know if you plan to develop your own content marketing strategy. Looking at money pages can give you an idea which are the most important pain points of your ideal audience – or at least what your competitor’s think those are.
Aside from competitor research, there are a few more things you should do. First, if you have the budget for it, you can hire someone to do a survey among your ideal audience or take some time to conduct in-person interviews with existing or potential clients.
The second thing you should do is to talk with your sales and customer support teams. They are in direct contact with the people you are targeting so they have first-hand information that you can use in your marketing materials.
Ask them to make a list of most commonly asked question, what kind of complaints they are getting, and what are the usual objections to sale. Knowing these things is going to be crucial for your industrial digital marketing efforts.
Step #2: Attracting potential buyers
When you know your audience, it is going to be easier to decide which marketing method provides the most cost effective growth.
One thing you will need for every digital marketing method is content. Content can have numerous purposes:
- it helps you increase trust in your brand by offering valuable advice and sharing more info about your services and products
- it can be a great source of leads if combined with a proper SEO strategy
- it can be used to nurture leads
- it can be used to supplement your PPC efforts
The list above already hints at a few different strategies for attracting potential buyers. When we talk about digital marketing, the most prominent strategy is content marketing. In essence, content marketing boils down to attracting potential buyers with interesting and helpful content inside which you place a variety of call to actions to get their contact info to turn website visitors into leads.
Some business can get away with paid ads on Google and LinkedIn if they do not sell something that has a huge price tag. In any case, PPC in the industrial space usually doesn’t work as well as in B2C market as it can get really expensive, really fast. It is not impossible, but you really need to be on top of your numbers to ensure your PPC campaigns are profitable.
If you’re selling a software solution in the industrial space, it is really beneficial to get good ratings on top software review sites in your category. For example, we have a client in the maintenance space called Limble CMMS that is on top of one of those lists:
This is a screenshot from Predictive Analytics Today and every month we get a few leads from there. And the only thing we had to do is submit the tool for the review.
If you are selling a physical product, on the other hand, B2B eCommerce is an increasingly appealing option.
To summarize, as a part of industrial digital marketing, you can attract potential buyers through:
- content marketing (publishing and promoting great content)
- PPC (paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google…)
- referral traffic from big software/service review sites
- B2B eCommerce
- all or a combination of the techniques listed above
Step #3: Transforming leads into buyers
As we mentioned earlier, leads in the industrial marketing sector need a lot of nurturing. In translation, that means they need to have a lot of touches with your brand before they commit to a purchase. A touch can be reading one of your blog posts, getting your email sequence, seeing your LinkedIn ad, scheduling a demo, jumping on a call… you get the point.
This step in customer lifecycle marketing cannot be rushed. Businesses need to take time to inform and educate their audience about what their products or services can do and why are they the best choice for a given business.
Nurturing can be done partially with a select content on your blog, but industrial digital marketers should also have their sales team ready to jump on several calls. Those calls serve to:
- educate leads about your offering (often includes explaining similar things to different people at the same organization)
- deal with potential objections to sale
- create custom plans and negotiate the final price
Step #4: Maintaining the relationships
Good relationships with your clients and customers means positive word of mouth that leads to better brand recognition and brand trust. Both of those things are extremely important in the industrial sector where the number of competitors is often smaller, but where the barrier to entry is greater (when compared to the B2C market). When a brand becomes more known and enjoys a good reputation, funnels get shorter and closing the sales becomes much easier.
Additionally, maintaining good relationships leads to repeat purchases and long-term customers which is again really important in industrial marketing where cost to acquire a customer can be very high.
As a new business entering industrial market, you should seriously consider investing into industrial digital marketing. Some big players in your space might have little need to compete in SERPs because of their brand recognition. This leaves you with more room to grab that digital space for your own business.
Research your target audience, review what your competitors are doing, understand your advantages and disadvantages, and then decide which growth strategy you want to pursue – be it digital, traditional, or mixed.