If you are like most companies out there selling engineered products and equipments, you probably have already made the smart choice of starting your own website. That’s great, but is it enough? A static catalog that offers just a little information about your industrial or manufacturing products or services is like an untapped resource. It’s like a 2-D movie playing in a 3-D theatre, in other words, a wasted opportunity. The question is why are you squandering this marketing goldmine when a few budget-friendly changes are all that is needed? Isn’t getting (and keeping) customers the most important process for your company?
Your customers want to use your website. Why aren’t they? Lack of want, or need, are not the reasons. You may have inadvertently formatted your website to be more of a corporate presence, better suited to target investors rather than buyers. Most companies think that they don’t have the time to invest in optimizing their website, or think that their product is too technical to be fully marketable on the internet. But ignoring this readily available (read cheap) asset is a mistake you can no longer afford to make.
Consider implementing these four simple steps and you will be well on your way to harnessing the potential of the internet, the most versatile marketing medium available today.
Step 1: Review your marketing goals and set up your parameters
What is the function of your website? The answer is simple: to attract potential customers and keep your existing customers interested in your products and services. Before you make over your website, you need to decide up front on a few key marketing issues, such as:
- How many visitors do you want to attract? How many of those visitors do you want to convert into leads and ultimately customers? These projections are necessary to set up your marketing goals, and therefore, your budget.
- How is your website doing now? What is your traffic like? Who are your current visitors? If you don’t have this info, you’ll need to set up Google Analytics on your website so you can get a baseline for what it is currently doing. This in turn will help you make appropriate decisions to the needed improvements to your existing data.
- What kind of web platform do you need? Consider an open-sourced and customizable web software like WordPress. It’s free and very popular with bloggers. If you don’t want to deal with the technicalities in-house, there are literally thousands of WordPress designers who can create any kind of site you desire. Best of all, it’s easily optimized for search engines.
Step 2: Start with small changes that have the maximum impact
- Buy keyword rich domains names: It’s surprising how many manufacturers own and have trademarked their company name but don’t own the domains to the widgets they produce. What product do you manufacture and for what industry? Make a list of all the keywords used in your manufacturing field and check if their equivalent domains are available, then buy as many as your budget allows. You do not have to maintain a multitude of websites; you can simply roll the domains to your main website and have all traffic directed at these keyword-rich domains funneled to yours.
- Speak directly to your target audience: Highly technical information may not be the best way to greet your potential customers. Unlike B2B sites which focus on the company and the product they provide, focus yours on the customer and the problem you are helping them solve. Creating headlines that focus on the people who will be landing on your website, and speaking to them in the simplest language possible, helps ensure that they are engaged and motivated to continue exploring your website.
- Maximize each visit: After all the work you’ve done to get them there, don’t let your visitors leave without capturing their information. A very easy way to do this is to use a lead generation form. Give your visitors information for which they will happily give out their email or contact information, for example highly valued downloads like ebooks, ecourses, or newsletters. Place your lead generation fold above the fold and use catchy phrases like “GET YOUR FREE EBOOK”.
Step 3: Add more substantive content to your website
- Write a blog: Don’t let the name fool you, blog articles and posts are simply advertisements and educational advertising pieces that answer the question “Why should you buy my stuff instead of the other guy’s?” in a more reader friendly form. Write articles with headlines such as “HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST WIDGET” or “10 TELL-TALE SIGNS THAT IT’S TIME TO REPLACE YOUR WIDGET”. Your blog will help you showcase how you have solved common problems in your industry, and specific attributes about your products or services that illustrate your brand’s competitive advantage over your competition.
- Create an online video: If a picture paints a thousand words, videos speak volumes. This makes them very powerful marketing and educational tools. Create videos that demonstrate your product but from the customer’s perspective; they will help you feature your products while simultaneously addressing common frustrations experienced by your customers so that you can show them exactly how your products solve them. A portable HD camera such as a Kodak Zi8 has the right quality fit for the web.
- Create online guides: Similar in concept to that of a blog or a video, an online guide is just another way to showcase your technological edge over your competition. Because online guides are keyword-rich documents, they serve the triple purpose of SEO optimization, substantive content, and advertisement, all in one 3,000 word document. Fill your guide with tips, ideas, recommendations, and resources that will make your buyers’ life easier and they will thank you for it.
Step 4: Dress up your website with discrete professional and aesthetic touches
- Get high quality logo and graphics: Your website should feature a clearly visible logo or your company name so that your visitors know exactly where they are within a few seconds. The preferred location is in the upper left hand corner, because people read their computer screens from left to right. Having a high quality logo graphic to complement your company name adds a professional touch to your website, as well as keeping it aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
- Create a favicon: A small graphic touch that pays back hugely in brand recognition is the little it-thing called favicon. It’s that little graphic icon that appears next to the URL when you bookmark a page. The small but effective favicon will set you apart from other sites who are not using them; it will be like your website is wearing a tie – it’s not necessary, but it will show the world that you are serious about your company’s image.
- Add pictures: To give your website the extra oomph as well as maximize space usage, consider using customized backgrounds that display key features or distinctive (read: the sexy) attributes of your product. The idea is not to fill up every spare inch with clutter, but to subtly, contextually, imprint your product and your brand visually on your visitors. If your design format allows, consider running a video of perhaps customer testimonies or interviews.
The idea is to keep it simple, keep it succinct, but keep it interesting. Then step back and watch your website turn into a new customer generating magnet!