Mackenzie | April 21, 2020 | Manufacturer Marketing
It sounds like an old line (and it might be) but it's true. A beautiful website might impress all who gaze upon it, but it's not bringing you new visitors or leads to look at your manufacturing company's website.
We've written a lot about why you shouldn't just waste money on another website redesign, and about what makes a great website, but today, we want to talk about a few website design best practices for manufacturers.
These best practices focus on what makes for great design, but also, what design elements can make your manufacturing website work for you by drawing in qualified traffic and converting leads.
If you're a manufacturer planning a new website or a website redesign, here are a few best practices and key website elements to make sure are included in your new site:
We have written magnum opuses on website SEO for manufacturers, and so have a million other digital marketing experts (see here and Moz, for a complete beginner's guide to SEO), so we won't belabor this point.
We will say that if you want your website to generate leads, you need to implement SEO tactics. Search engine optimization is absolutely necessary if you want to rank well, rank ahead of your competition, or generate digital leads. A couple of web design best practices to keep in mind regarding SEO include:
We're not spending a ton of time here because there's a lot of info out there about SEO, and also because it's not strictly a website design best practice. That said, if you want to see eyeballs on your site, it's worth it to invest in some quality SEO updates.
What do I mean by intelligent design?
I mean solid, clear branding, and a design that funnels visitors through the buyer's journey.
Wait, design does that?
Yep. We've talked about it before in our blog about website design elements that boost conversions.
A quality design and intuitive color palette works to draw your customers' eyes where you want them.
It also solidifies your brand in the mind of your leads — an important characteristic for manufacturers, where you're typically competing with just a few key brands. If your is the most recognizable, buyers are likely to keep you in mind when they're ready to make a purchasing decision.
A few intelligent website design best practices to keep in mind include:
A little bit of intuitive design can go a long way. When your design is consistent across platforms, you'll start to build that brand awareness that's so important in manufacturing industries.
When you use intelligent design on your website, you'll highlight call-to-action buttons and forms on landing pages, helping those potential leads convert that much faster.
This goes to our point about intelligent design. A well-designed website with a consistent, smart color palette can do a lot to pull the eyes of your leads and visitors to the information that's most important to you.
When it comes to a manufacturing website, conversions are everything.
There's only so much technical information you can put out there before your leads are going to need personal one-on-one help from your marketing or sales team.
CTAs, or calls-to-action, are what work to convert those visitors into leads.
By designing calls-to-action that are bright, bold, and eye-catching, you can ensure that whenever your visitors have a question, there's a CTA opportunity for them to reach out.
The key to lead generation is providing the right content, to the right person, at the right time.
You've already got two out of three — someone who cares about what you have to say is on your site (they're the right person). If they're there for any length of time, that means they've found some sort of content they care about (the right content).
Your CTA delivers that third component — the right time.
If that lead has a question about what they're reading, or better yet, has decided they want to talk to a salesperson, a well-placed and well-designed CTA will catch their eye.
This is exactly the right time to convert that lead, and your CTA is clearly visible and ready to help them out.
This is one of the reasons it's so important not to discount design when you're developing or redesigning a website. If your CTAs are easy to see and navigate to, you'll see conversions off of pages that offer the right content. If they're poorly designed or hidden on your page, you're missing out on qualified leads.
Manufacturers are notorious for crazy navigation menus. And we get it — you've got a lot of products, case studies, brochures, and materials for people to look at. That's all awesome content, and you do want people to see it.
It just doesn't all have to be in your top menu.
When a visitor shows up to your site and they see a menu with 15 different options, it's overwhelming. It's tough to find what they're looking for, and it might even turn them away.
Implementing strategic navigation is a website design best practice that works to funnel site visitors exactly where you want them. Work to narrow your navigation or menu bar down to just four or five options, and a contact button.
And honestly, the simpler the better. "Products", "Solutions", "About Us" and your traditional standbys are all great for your top-menu navigation because they're what your visitors expect. Navigation isn't the place to reinvent the wheel.
And if you have more stuff than what fits in your new, strategic navigation bar? Don't forget the footer! Your website footer is a great place to add a few extra links if you really need them.
One key website design best practice that manufacturers can't overlook is a responsive design. The goal of your website is to draw in qualified leads, right?
It'll have a hard time doing it if it's not designed to meet visitors where they're at.
Mobile devices account for more than half of all internet traffic.
What does that mean for your manufacturing website?
It has to be responsive.
Visitors will navigate away from a website that doesn't meet their device. What's more, you'll lose in search engine rankings without a responsive site.
Websites that are not responsive rank much lower on search engines than websites that do. This is a problem in two ways:
As we've mentioned before, most manufacturing industries are pretty competitive. Even if your competitor's website isn't that great, they're going to rank higher if theirs is responsive, and yours is not.
In an industry where exposure and reputation really matter, this is an issue, and it's one that's pretty easily solved.
Designing your website on a responsive theme can provide huge dividends, both in your company's authority, and in the qualified traffic you're able to draw in.
Manufacturers are great at technical content. Your sales team probably has stacks or digital files full of product brochures that run through the specs of any product or part you sell.
The problem with that content is that it's not always digestible, and it's also not always the content your buyers want.
Depending on where your leads are in the buyer's journey, a product guide might not answer the questions they have about your product. It's important to develop content that speaks directly to the questions and concerns your ideal buyer has.
Not sure who your ideal buyer is? We've got a Step-By-Step Guide to Defining Your Buyer Persona here to help you out.
Yes, sometimes that means technical content, but it also means developing content that builds your authority. Content that shows your visitors and potential buyers that you have the best, most helpful information, and are an authority in the industry is what will help you build positive relationships that close sales.
Think about what would be helpful to you if you were in your ideal buyer's shoes.
Is is it a guide that helps them figure out which of your products is best for them? Maybe it's a simple glossary of the technical terms they'll need to know.
Whatever it is, take some time to build out a bit of quality content that is genuinely helpful.
The more answers your ideal leads can find on your website, the more often they'll come back, and the more likely they are to purchase from you when they're ready to make a decision.
Great content is one key to a great manufacturing website, but an intuitive content layout is the website design best practice that will ensure your leads are reading that great content.
Today's internet user is not a hard-core reader. No one, not even content strategists like me, read every word in every blog post, case study, or article.
What they do is skim.
If your web design strategy includes a content layout that calls attention to the most important parts of your blogs and guides, you can guarantee those leads are reading the information that you know is most important to them.
A great content layout is the difference between someone glancing at your blog and navigating away and someone filling out a conversion form that turns them into a lead.
Develop a content layout with lots of whitespace, regular images, media, and headers to break up large blocks of text.
This will help ensure your site visitors are reading as much of your content as possible. The more they read, the more likely they are to stick to your site, and keep coming back.
Not sure what great content layout looks like? Take a look at our pillar page for Website Design. There's a ton of content on this page, but because we've got an awesome lead designer, Laura, none of it feels overwhelming.
You get one little bite-sized piece of content at a time, along with some cool motion and visuals. This encourages you to keep reading — who doesn't have time for one more little sentence?
In that way, our pillar pages are working to keep visitors on the page with a killer content layout.
Jumping off the last point: motion, interactivity, and especially video are key web design elements for any manufacturing website.
You've got a facility, right? A plant, a factory, a shop?
Whatever you call it, you make things. Chances are you've got some cool machines and some cool people working for you. Take a video of them, and include it in your web design!
Video is quickly becoming one of the top web design best practices for any industry, but it's especially effective for manufacturers because you have things going on.
What's more, it's probably ten times easier to explain your product in a video than it is in a lengthy brochure.
Video — along with interactivity and motion on your site — works to keep people on your website.
And, as we've mentioned before, the longer someone is on your site, the more likely they are to convert.
For manufacturers, yes, cool scrolling headers and a bit of motion on the page are great, but we really can't stress video enough.
We've worked with many B2B manufacturers, and video always works to boost conversions.
People love to see how things work, and if they can watch a 30-second video over reading a product brochure, they're going to do it every time.
If you're the one with the 30-second video on your site, you're going to be the one to get the lead.
Most B2B manufacturers serve a highly technical industry.
Whether your site visitors are looking for the right product for their application, or aren't sure which parts they need for their particular machine, chatbots are a great way to ensure your company is always available to answer those questions, whenever they come up.
Chatbots can be set to specific product pages and customized in a million different ways to fit your manufacturing company's needs.
Are there questions you get all the time about your product line that can be answered easily? Do you have a helpful guide or content that solves some of those questions?
You can set a chatbot up to address any of these problems. Not only does this help you convert leads, but it frees up both your sales and marketing teams from answering simple questions over and over.
Chatbots are a great way to build those great relationships that close sales. When you can answer a visitor's question the minute they ask it, they'll be sure to come back again when they have more questions, or better yet, when they're ready to buy.
Web design isn't always easy for manufacturers. If you're new to the process, it can be tough to marry highly technical products and components with a creative, intuitive design that also works to draw in and convert leads. Implementing some of these website design best practices should help.
Not sure where to start? We get it. Form and function aren't always easy to put together. We've been designing websites that work for manufacturers for decades. If you're ready for a website that delivers qualified leads directly to your sales team, we're ready to help.
At Evenbound, we're all about helping our clients grow. We use inbound and outbound marketing strategies to deliver you the qualified traffic and leads you need for serious growth. And we have a lot of fun doing it.
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