With more and more brick-and-mortar stores in the retail, B2C realm moving online, it’s natural to wonder whether online shopping and e-commerce sites have any value for B2Bs. E-commerce can be useful for B2B manufacturers in providing their customers with a convenient and seamless purchasing experience and differentiating themselves from their competition. Does your site need an e-commerce component?
Most obviously, a negative aspect of an e-commerce site for B2Bs is that sometimes, orders are complex. If you create custom products for each of your clients, you may not be able to take orders through a traditional e-commerce platform, as you’ll need to design and estimate the product. Additionally, B2B products often have multiple pricing tiers, depending upon size of order, client, etc., which can be difficult (though not impossible) to build into the e-commerce experience. If your B2B doesn’t offer tangible products, but services, e-commerce won’t make much sense.
There are several advantages to e-commerce sites for B2Bs. Customers can easily place orders online, eliminating the need for a sales rep or account manager to take the order and forward it to fulfillment. Recurring orders can be automated, and longtime clients can have their specific orders, payment schedules, and other specific information tied to their accounts in your e-commerce interface. Additionally, the product selection can be updated in real-time to reflect changes in inventory or product offerings.
Another benefit to incorporating e-commerce into your B2B site is that it creates a seamless buyer’s journey experience for the customer, which can result in more sales and conversions. If your e-commerce component integrates content including images and video, customer support, how-tos, specifications, articles, and other relevant information, you can funnel customers through the buyer’s journey to the purchase stage, and have that purchase made instantaneously.
B2C buying trends are increasingly influencing the wants of B2B customers, who are eager for quicker, easier, more convenient ways to make business purchases, much in the way that they make personal purchases on Amazon. For B2B manufacturers, e-commerce, if thoughtfully combined with pertinent content and information, can simplify the ordering process for both the buyer and seller.
Whether e-commerce is right for your B2B or not, if you’d like to discuss your current digital strategy, Evenbound can help. Let’s start that conversation. For more information on how our unique formula has produced unprecedented results for other B2B manufacturers, check out the following case study:
When you’re building out your local contractor website, it can be tough to set yourself apart from the competition. First of all, there’s the business of actually building the site, from deciding on a design and a color palette to putting the thing online. Then there’s the problem of making sure it’s visible. Once you’ve got all of those things taken care of, you have to make sure you’re still standing out from the competition.
All in all, building a contractor website that stands out from your local competition can seem like a tedious, monstrous process, but know that it can be done, and it can be done well. Once you know what to do to make your site stand out, it’s just a matter of implementation. So, let’s get to that recipe for success right away: When it comes to creating a contractor website that stands out from local competition, you need to be clear about who you are, and you need to be technically solid. After that, it’s just about making sure the right people find you. So, let’s break those initial steps down:
Be Clear About Who You Are
The best way ensure your contractor website stands out from the competition is to be absolutely clear about who you are, and why you’re different. What makes your contracting company better than your local competition? Do you have a hyperfocus on customer experience? Are you really great at communication? Do you offer the best prices, or the best quality? Whatever it is, it should be clear, and it should take a site visitor less than 10 seconds to figure it out. Put the heart of your contracting company at the front and center of that new website, and make it easy for potential clients to see who you are, and what you do best.
Let’s say there’s three major contracting companies in your local area. They all quote competitively, and do the same type of work. However, one of those contractors regularly posts blogs that demystify some of the more confusing aspects of the contracting industry, and they share them to their social media pages. That contractor, all other things being equal, is going to be the contractor who pulls in more, bigger jobs. Why? Because they’ve positioned themselves as an educator, and a resource for potential clients who are looking into hiring a contractor.
Remember that the modern consumer is research-driven and educated. The modern consumer wants to gather as much information as possible before they even consider talking to a salesperson or asking for a quote. By offering up the information they’re already looking for, you become that resource that they go to when they have questions, and you’re more likely to be the first contractor they call when they decide it’s time to start collecting bids.
It’s not enough to just write those educational blogs though, you gotta post ’em too! And not just to your website. You should be sharing your tips, as well as helpful information from other industry leaders to your Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts, because if no one sees what you’re writing, there’s not much point in writing it. Sharing useful information gets you followers, and it gets more eyes on what you’re putting out. Active social media accounts are also a great way to set yourself apart from contracting competition just by sheer numbers. Most social media platforms prefer users who post regularly, so if you’re posting every week, and your competition posts just every month, you’re likely to have a bit of a leg up when it comes to visibility.
We should caution: don’t use your social media accounts just to talk about you. That’s probably the fastest way to lose followers. Make sure you’re putting out content that’s relevant to your target audience and your ideal buyer. Whether you wrote it, or another industry expert did, the content that you’re sharing should be engaging, interesting, and answer some question your clients often have.
Address Specific Pain Points
Finally, when you’re writing content and developing your contractor website to stand out from local competition, it’s important to remember to address specific pain points. Sure, you finish projects and meet deadlines, but what pain points do your ideal buyers have, and how—specifically—do you work to fix those?
The more you can do to assuage common concerns that your target market is likely to have when it comes to finding a contractor that’s right for them, the more likely you are to get their business. How do you ensure their project is completed to their specifications, and how do you work to maintain a tight schedule? Specific answers to questions that worry consumers the most is a surefire way to set yourself apart from local competition.
While all of the soft skills above will set you apart from the competition when it comes to consumers, you also need to know how to set yourself apart from the competition when it comes to search engines. Anyone building a contractor website would be wise to remember that it’s not only consumers who are looking at your site and its quality—you also have the internet and its bots to contend with. What exactly do we mean here?
Well, on any search engine like Google, spiders, or bots, crawl websites on the internet to search them for information. It’s these bots that decide where on results pages a site will rank, and it’s these bots that tell Google what your site is about. So, when you’re building your contractor website, you also have to make sure you’re building with search engines in mind, and that means taking care of a few technical details.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the first step to ensuring that your website ranks well on search engines. There’s a lot you can do to optimize your site but start by implementing keywords relevant to your contracting business. These keywords should focus on the specific type of contracting work your company does, your location, and terms that your ideal client might be searching for on the internet. Start with keywords, and once you’ve got a handle on those, implement some of these more advanced strategies from our SEO Site Checkup, to make sure your site is ranking as well as possible.
Google My Business Page
One great way to make sure you’re really standing out from any local competition online is to claim your contracting company’s Google listing. If you have a website, Google has probably already made you a stock listing that tells people who and where you are when they search “contractors near me.” To stand out from the crowd, you’ll want to claim that page, which is actually pretty easy to do.
From there, you can customize your Google My Business page any way you want. Add high-resolution photos, office hours, and information about your company that’s optimized around relevant keywords if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Don’t Hate on Ads
Google search and Facebook ads are a sort of brave new world for those in the contracting industry. Since they’re so new and different, many contractors shy away from them, at a loss to themselves. If you want qualified leads in your area to see your contractor website before anyone else’s, the easiest thing to do is invest in Google search and Facebook ads. These two very powerful programs work to make sure your company is put in front of the right people, at the right time, ensuring ROI and new leads.
Though they’re a little bit more complicated than the old standard YellowPages ad, it’s not by much, and the ROI you’ll receive makes them well worth your time. It’s in your best interest to at least check them out because when done properly, they’re guaranteed to put you ahead of local competition.
In the end, a successful contractor website that stands out from local competition is achieved by optimizing the content you create on that website and the tech that supports it. If you can focus on both aspects of your website, and you optimize for keywords your clients are out there searching, you’re sure to see a marked improvement in your contractor website’s ability to draw in and convert new leads.
If you’re excited about boosting your contractor website’s potential, but you’re not sure about implementation, know that Evenbound can help. We’ve worked with a number of small businesses in your industry, and know just what to do to ensure your site stands out from local competition. The best way to see how we can help your contracting company improve is to have a conversation with our President, John Heritage.
By now, you know that content marketing is an important part of any company’s inbound marketing strategy, even for B2B manufacturers who in the past may have done very little marketing at all. But it’s not enough to just do content marketing. Here are some things you should be doing to improve and simplify your content marketing strategy for success:
Create the Right Content
While it can seem like quantity is hugely important in inbound marketing, especially when it comes to SEO and generating organic search traffic—the quantity of keywords you use and the number of times you use them—but as ever, quality reigns supreme. Rather than trying to churn out as much content as possible, instead focus on creating good content that is relevant to your audience and provides value. That’s what will make a successful B2B content marketing strategy. (Here are 5 steps to successful content for industrial and manufacturing B2Bs.)
Use the Right Platforms
You can create amazing content, but if your target audience doesn’t see it, it will all be for naught. You need to meet your audience where they are, so to speak, to get your content under their noses. This means using social media advertising and promotion, and for manufacturers and other B2Bs, this will likely mean LinkedIn, the professional networking site. Not only can you connect with industry leaders and potential customers, you can use LinkedIn ads to target very specifically your ideal clients. (Read more on LinkedIn ads and B2B marketing and easy ways to make LinkedIn work for your B2B marketing strategy!)
Video is one of the most compelling media, especially when one considers how we consume media daily: in quick snippets, on smartphones. For a B2B content marketing strategy, video is a way to demonstrate your capabilities. Sure, your product may not be more exciting than it is practical, but what your product does or enables or how it’s made can be fascinating and compelling to engineers and your potential customers.
Have a Plan
Don’t just write content willy-nilly and think that you’ll start attracting tons of new visitors to your site and acquiring new leads. Content marketing isn’t about attrition, it’s about strategy. It’s about creating the right content (see above) at the right time, promoting that on the best platform, integrating the right keywords, and more. And those things aren’t happy accidents. Performing research on the keywords and topics that will interest your target audience and that audience’s needs and behaviors is critical, and your B2B content marketing strategy should be using that information to ensure your content and delivery are as effective as possible.
A well-planned B2B content marketing strategy that is based on extensive research and combines compelling content with targeted promotion can enhance your marketing efforts manifold. If you want to improve upon your existing content marketing efforts, we should talk.
Regularly updating your B2B website is necessary to keep up with changes to the Google algorithm, as well as web design best practices. If it’s been a while since you’ve tested your site for optimum performance (an issue may B2Bs have), you risk not being found by potential customers. Here are a few tips to revamping your website to maximize good traffic.
Mobile Responsive Design
If your B2B website isn’t mobile responsive (i.e., viewable on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and adaptable to any screen size), it should be. With most consumers using their smartphones for web browsing and online research, a mobile responsive site is crucial to reaching your potential customers, especially B2B customers, who may be doing their research on their phones quickly between meetings or sales calls.
If you’re using a WordPress site, you can easily find templates that are mobile responsive; entirely custom websites are trickier, and require testing to ensure that they appear and function as you intend on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Accurate metadata is critical for being indexed by search engines. Metadata, if you’re not familiar, describes the individual pages on your B2B website. Title metadata affects how titles appear in browser windows; meta descriptions are the text that shows up on search engine results pages, and keyword metadata designates a specific keyword for the page. Ensure that you have custom meta descriptions, a keyword designated, and appropriate title metadata for each page of your website, or search engines, and the potential clients using those search engines, won’t find your site.
Fix Broken Links and Redirects
Broken links annoy site visitors and can lower your search engine rankings. Luckily, they’re easy to fix. You can go through all of the links and all of the pages to ensure that they work, or you could use a tool like Check My Links. If you find broken links or 404 errors, you can resolve the issue by updating the link, if possible, or using a 301 redirect, which will help you maintain the original ranking power of the page, as well as the original keywords and metadata, while still helping visitors find the what they’re looking for.
Get Rid of Pop-Ups
Google has started penalizing certain kinds of pop-ups, called intrusive mobile interstitials, which your current site may be using. If your B2B website has a pop-up message that viewers have to dismiss before they can view the page content on a mobile device (aka a standalone interstitial), a layout where the top portion of the page looks like a standalone interstitial, or a pop-up that covers the main content of the page while they are looking through the page Google will penalize your site, as these types of pop-ups are intrusive and affect the viewer accessibility of content on mobile devices.
Completing these quick checkups on your B2B website can make all the difference in your search engine ranking and site performance, driving more qualified traffic to your site. For more on revamping your site to enhance SEO, check out our SEO Site Checkup. If you have questions on how to improve your B2B site’s SEO, get in touch. Our SEO experts can help you achieve excellent site rankings and implement SEO best practices.
Landing Pages: Why Your B2B Manufacturing Website Needs Them
If you’re looking to improve your B2B manufacturing website’s digital marketing ROI and the effectiveness of your paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, you need to incorporate landing pages into your strategy. Landing pages allow you to control visitors’ interaction with your site and are a valuable tool in gathering visitor information to convert them to leads.
What’s a Landing Page?
A landing page is where visitors land on your site when they navigate to it from a specific interface, for instance, an ad on Google. More specifically, the term landing page is used to refer to a page that visitors land on where you can capture their information. These pages generally have limited navigation options (to keep visitors from wandering to other areas of your site and failing to provide their information) and offer something in exchange for the visitor filling out the form with their contact information, such as a case study, ebook, or whitepaper, which is called a content offer.
Landing pages are a super-effective way for B2B manufacturers to convert visitors to leads because they simplify the process. A landing page presents the visitor with two options: enter their information in exchange for the content offer, or navigate away from the page.
Why Use Landing Pages?
Directing visitors to a landing page, rather than the homepage of your B2B manufacturing website, ensures that they see content which is relevant to them and that they are directed to the content, offers, or calls to action that you want them to see. If visitors are directed simply to the homepage of your site, you risk having them navigate away.
Target your Buyer Personas
A landing page allows you to be extremely specific in your targeting, as well. For each of your different keyword campaigns, you can have different landing pages with content and offers specific to those keywords—a tactic that is much more effective than something general; visitors will be more likely to enter their information (convert) when presented with a highly relevant offer.
Track your B2B Manufacturing Website Analytics
Additionally, you can track the traffic and conversion rates of these landing pages to determine the effectiveness of the campaign and the content of the landing page itself. You’ll be able to track how many people navigate to the landing page from your ad, and what percentage of those visitors convert. With that information, you can adjust your campaign, landing page content, or content offer accordingly.
If you’re running ad campaigns but directing visitors to your B2B manufacturing website’s contact or homepage, you’re missing out on a ton of leads. A simple landing page that provides your visitors with value, a content offer, in exchange for their contact information will incentivize them to convert and will allow you to better calculate the effectiveness of your efforts and marketing ROI, in addition to increasing that ROI.
If you’re interested in incorporating landing pages and PPC and social media advertising into your digital strategy, we should talk. For firsthand experience on how we use landing pages to generate leads for our B2B manufacturing clients, be sure to check out the free case study below:
Everyone is using email, so it’s a great way to reach out to customers and potential customers. But if you’re doing it wrong—and a lot of companies are—your email marketing efforts can be at best ineffective and at worst harmful. Here are a few tips to help you avoid email marketing pitfalls and ensure your email campaigns aren’t in vain:
Don’t Overwhelm your Customers
Everyone with an email address has gotten annoyed with a company that sends them too much email. If you’re bombarding your clients and leads with email everyday, chances are they’ll notice you, and not in a good way. Send too many, and your recipients will be looking for the unsubscribe button.
Also, don’t spam people. We shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t. You don’t like it, and your leads won’t like it either.
Send the Right Content at the Right Time
Your content must not only be relevant, it should also be timely. If there is seasonality in your industry, ensure that the content you’re sending right now aligns with those trends. Additionally, your content must be timely in terms of the lead’s point in the buyer’s journey. Leads who are further along in the journey and are nearly ready to purchase won’t respond as well to content explaining what your product does—they already know—as would a lead who is just discovering their need for a solution your product provides.
Intuitively Segment your Leads
Another way to turn off potential clients is to send them an irrelevant email. To make sure you’re sending the right content to the right leads, double-check that you’re segmenting your leads properly. Separate your marketing qualified leads (MQLs)—leads with demonstrated interest in your product or service, but who aren’t ready to make a purchase—from your sales qualified leads (SQLs)—leads who are further along in the buyer’s journey and are closer to purchasing.
You’ll probably also want to segment your leads based upon their company size, job title/responsibilities/authority, and pain points; if you’ve created buyer personas, you can use those to segment your leads. Luckily, in email marketing programs like MailChimp and others, it’s easy to segment your leads—so there’s really no excuse not to!
Dumping all of your contacts into your mailing list is not going to be effective. If they aren’t leads or customers, you don’t need to send them email—it’s not going to generate sales, and like we mentioned earlier, it’s just going to annoy people. Plus, it’s going to throw off your numbers: it will be harder to get an accurate picture of your open and click-through rates and the overall effectiveness of your email campaigns.
If you’re interested in implementing techniques for effective email marketing or adding email marketing to your marketing strategy, let’s start that conversation.
For more information on how Evenbound has helped B2B manufacturers draw in qualified leads and massively increase sales, check out the case study below: