At SpinWeb, we love working with manufacturing companies. So much opportunity exists to help them utilize their websites more effectively to facilitate growth. Many of today’s manufacturers, however, are facing significant challenges in utilizing the Internet to increase sales. So what are some things that make a difference?
1. Invest in a great design. Image matters. Companies that make great products need to present a strong image and the corporate web site is the place to do it. A great image can make the difference in lost or closed sales when prospective customers are performing the “sniff test” on your company to see if you can deliver.
2. Present your catalog online. I’m not just talking about a PDF download. I’m talking about having a full-fledged interactive product catalog that allows your customers to search, browse, and research your products online. Products should not simply be listed on a page, but should be part of a true product database so that individual product listings can be sent to prospective customers electronically as a link or via social media. This speeds up the sales cycle and gives your sales team better support as they present products. If possible, include video demos.
3. Collect leads. Manufacturing websites should be asking site visitors for names and email addresses so that email communications on new and updated products can be delivered. This keeps prospective customers in your funnel and improves your chances of reaching them when it comes time to buy.
4. Facilitate an ecosystem. Manufacturing companies can benefit a great deal from creating online communities that their customers can use to communicate with each other and share knowledge. This helps build value around your company’s brand and improves retention. An ecosystem can be an online forum, an extranet, or even a Facebook Group.
5. Utilize search engine optimization (SEO). Most manufacturing companies are not investing very heavily in SEO campaigns. This opens up a huge opportunity for those who do. By investing in targeted search engine marketing, smart manufacturing companies can ensure that their products show up at the top of the list when prospective customers are doing reasearch online. This can make the difference between lost business or closed business.
6. Distribute documentation. If your products come with documentation that helps your customers better understand how to use or implement your products, post it on your website - all of it. By driving your customers back to your website, you are reinforcing the value of your brand. It also allows you to eliminate or reduce printed documentation, which saves money. Online documentation can also be updated in minutes - a huge advantage over printed documentation.
I’m not referring to PDF downloads, I’m referring to an online database of documentation that your customers can search and sort easily to find what they need. This makes you easy to do business with and improves retention. It’s also a great sales tool because prospective customers can see how easy it is to get the supporting information they need about your products which reduces anxiety.
7. Increase your PR efforts using Social Media. Manufacturing companies should be investing in PR to increase brand awareness and tell a story. Social Media is a great way to extend your PR efforts. Press releases should be listed on your company website and then distributed via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This improves your search engine rankings and encourages others to re-distribute your content for you. Make sure your website content includes “share this” buttons to facilitate easy distribution by site visitors.
Many manufacturing companies are not taking full advantage of their company websites to leap ahead of the competition which means that the ones who do will have a significant advantage. Support your sales team and your customers with a great website and enjoy greater customer loyalty and increased sales.