Word of Mouth Marketing for B2Bs: Let’s Set the Record Straight
Word of mouth marketing has been a subject of discussion in inbound marketing circles for quite some time. It’s a particularly challenging subject for B2Bs, who function in niche industries like manufacturing. Many B2Bs feel that word of mouth marketing is the only, best way to get leads. And while we certainly won’t disagree that word of mouth marketing is powerful, we do have some thoughts (and some stats to back them up), about why traditional word of mouth marketing is out, and why modern word of mouth marketing can’t stand on its own if you’re trying to grow your company.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what word of mouth marketing is, in both the traditional and the modern sense, and we’re going to talk about when you need it, and when you don’t.
Word of mouth marketing (or WOMM for short) is a big component of many marketing strategies, but we’re here to tell you why it shouldn’t be your only marketing strategy. Let’s start by taking a look at what WOMM is:
Traditional Word of Mouth Marketing
Traditional word of mouth marketing is exactly what it sounds like. Before the internet exploded in popularity, companies built brand awareness and grew their business primarily from having their customers talk about them to other industry members.
In B2B applications, especially in the manufacturing industry, this was a major driver of business because the industries are so niche. The best way to get quality leads was to have a quality reputation. When you had that, you could rely on WOMM to get you both the leads that you wanted and the ones you needed.
Unfortunately, following the internet boom, WOMM has seen a slow decline in success, even for those B2B manufacturers who have relied on it as their primary form of marketing for decades. So why isn’t traditional WOMM working anymore?
Why Traditional Word of Mouth Marketing Doesn’t Cut it Anymore
The number one answer to that question is the internet. When the internet blew up, it became easy for anyone to find the products, services, and solutions they needed, right from their own computer or smartphone. No need to pick up a phone or talk to a friend — the necessary information was directly at the consumer’s fingertips.
For B2Bs, and particularly B2B manufacturers, this change happened slowly. These industries are niche, and many manufacturers feel that they know the key players without heading to the web.
Today, though, as many incoming engineers and manufacturing sales professionals are tech natives, used to finding solutions and products online, manufacturers are realizing the importance of having a web presence and a dedicated marketing team.
In all honesty, if you’re still relying on traditional WOMM to bring in leads, you’re not going to see the same growth as your competition.
To continue to grow and be successful as a company, in any industry, a legitimate digital presence is a required qualification.
Why? Well, that’s where modern word of mouth marketing comes in.
Modern Word of Mouth Marketing
If I had a dime for every time a prospective client said, “oh we get 90% of our leads through referrals. We’re not sure if digital marketing will really move the needle.” I probably wouldn’t be writing these blogs anymore.
Guess what? They’re almost always wrong. Why?
Because while traditional marketing methods did bring in a whole bunch of leads for a number of B2Bs in the past, in today’s digital world, the internet has flipped the switch.
Enter modern word of mouth marketing.
What is Modern Word of Mouth Marketing?
Also known as amplified word of mouth marketing, this new, modern version of WOMM takes advantage of all the new technology that has erupted in the past decade or so, like Facebook, Linkedin, and Google. All of these platforms encourage what is essentially a digital form of word of mouth marketing with reviews that can be published and shared.
For many companies, this amplified or modern WOMM has taken the place of traditional word of mouth marketing. But it’s better.
With traditional marketing, you could get referral leads, but usually only from people in your area, who you knew or had talked to at a conference or trade show.
How Does Modern Word of Mouth Marketing Work?
Modern WOMM eliminates the need for any of that proximity. You get all of the benefits of traditional marketing — the company goodwill, the great reputation, and the warm leads — without the constraints.
Anyone can go online, read your reviews, and make a decision about your company and product. They don’t have to be from the same town or even the same country!
You already knew that WOMM was important. These facts just drive home the point that digital reviews have taken the place of traditional word of mouth marketing.
What’s more, this digital strategy works much harder for you than traditional word of mouth marketing. Take a look:
Reviews can be shared, posted, and boosted with social media ad spend
Digital reviews make it easier for you to connect with your clients and customers. Easily see who’s left a review, and what they’ve said.
Build visible trust. The more positive reviews and comments your company gets, the more trust you’ll have with people just learning about your brand.
The ROI is outstanding. According to IMPACT, word of mouth marketing generates 2x more sales than paid ads. And it doesn’t cost you much if anything at all.
Why Any Form of WOMM Alone Won’t Get You Leads
Alright, so modern word of mouth marketing is awesome. I hope we’ve made that clear. At no point would we ever say that word of mouth marketing wasn’t worthwhile, for any company in any industry.
With that in mind, it is important, especially for my B2Bs out there to remember that modern WOMM isn’t going to help your company grow on its own. To explain why, let’s go back to a statement I made about traditional word of mouth marketing earlier.
“The best way to get quality leads was to have a quality reputation.”
That’s still true of modern word of mouth marketing.
In today’s world, you can’t have a quality reputation without a quality digital presence.
Anyone who hears about an awesome company, whether you manufacture parts for automobiles or you develop excellent machine test technology, is going to head to the company’s website first.
If your website is shitty and from 2001, that lead won’t stick around.
For the sake of example, let’s say you have an awesome new website. That lead is interested in your company.
But, when they start clicking through your website, they can’t figure out how your products are priced. There’s no pricing sheet for them to download, or even a content offer explaining to them the differences between your products and product models. Or worse, maybe they can’t figure out how to contact you.
You’ve lost that lead again.
WOMM is Best Used in Conjunction with a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy
There are a lot more examples I could use, but I think you’ve probably gotten the point. In today’s digital era, WOMM on its own isn’t going to help your company grow.
While modern WOMM — with reviews and comments that can be shared, liked, and interacted with — is a useful and proven tool, it should not be the only way you expect to generate leads.
If you’re a manufacturing company that’s lived off of word of mouth referrals for decades, it’s important to realize that the times are changing. Even with excellent referrals, you’re not going to see the growth you could be capitalizing on if you don’t invest in a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Things like:
A website optimized for search engines
Calls to action
Unique landing pages that capture leads
Well-ranking content that puts you ahead of the competition
A professional presence on social media platforms
All of these are factors that will help boost your modern word of mouth marketing potential, and help your company grow as a whole.
Digital marketing works best when it is applied in a comprehensive fashion.
Just one or two strategies aren’t going to help your company grow.
While word of mouth marketing is important for your B2B company, it’s important to realize that there are so many other strategies out there that could be helping you get more word of mouth leads, and just more leads in general.
If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, or if you’re convinced that digital marketing isn’t going to put you that much farther ahead than the referrals you’re already getting, I invite you to check out the case study below.
In it, we’ve outlined with clarity how a comprehensive digital marketing strategy has put this cleanroom manufacturer ahead of the competition and helped them grow significantly throughout our partnership.
And if you’ve got more questions about word of mouth marketing for B2Bs, or if you’re interested to see how a full digital marketing strategy could put you ahead of those manufacturers who still rely solely on word of mouth, please get in touch. We’re here and we’re more than happy to help.
With the rise of the digital world and inbound marketing, outbound marketing can get a bad rap. While it’s no longer the only way to reach potential customers, it’s still an important part of any marketing and growth strategy, alongside inbound marketing practices. This outbound marketing shouldn’t be limited to traditional media like radio and newspaper ads, though, but should instead incorporate modern outbound tools. Here are 5 of the best outbound marketing tools for manufacturers and B2Bs.
#1 Social Media
You might think that social media is irrelevant to manufacturers, that it’s just kids sending pictures to each other, rich people hawking fad diets and scam music festivals, and your out-of-touch aunt leaving odd comments on status updates.
But that’s not entirely the case. Social media has huge potential for manufacturers’ outbound marketing efforts.
All social media platforms have some form of advertising, and most have multiple: boosted posts, banner ads, native ads, even direct messaging ads. Not only do they offer all of these kinds of ads, they provide some of the best targeting options for running your ad campaigns.
This is because of the nature of social media profiles—users indicate their demographics, location, and interests in their profiles, likes, and other platform activity. All of that activity can be used to target the audiences who are your desired market.
You might still be thinking that as a manufacturer, you’re marketing to businesses, not people.
But, if you’ve been doing any inbound marketing, you know that even to market to businesses, you have to market to people. There are certain people at your ideal client company that are key decision-makers with regard to your product, whether that is a product designer, a sourcing specialist, or a purchasing associate. You can absolutely market to those people with social media.
For manufacturers or other B2Bs, we find that LinkedIn is one of the best outbound marketing tools available. LinkedIn has very specific targeting options for ad campaigns, down to the specific companies and job titles at those companies that you want to target.
If you know anything about the internet, you know that getting people to your site means showing up on Google. While appearing in the organic search results for the keywords you want to rank for requires a certain amount of inbound marketing savvy—lots of good content, SEO optimization, keyword research, and so on—Google is also an outbound marketing tool.
Like social media platforms, Google has advertisements. And like social media, Google is ubiquitous. If you run Google ads, they’re going to be seen. Plus, Google Ads also have great targeting options by keywords, location, and even audience behavior.
Google Ads include two distinct types of ads: search ads and display network ads. Search ads are native ads (i.e., ads that look like regular search results but are actually ads) that appear at the top of the results page on searches for specific keywords you select.
If you look at the first two or three results the next time you search on Google, you’ll see that they are actually ads, and are designated as such.
Display network ads are banner and sidebar ads that appear on Google sites and sites they partner with, like local news sites, weather.com, and a host of other national and local organizations’ websites. These too can be highly targeted.
How? There are a few key ways. All of the tools incorporated in your inbound marketing software such as lead management systems, prospect reports, and analytics can be used by your sales department to make sales calls and direct mail campaigns more effective. These tools can also help you see which of your marketing content is most effective and with whom it’s effective, so your outbound marketing efforts can be more targeted.
This isn’t just an email newsletter—that’s staunchly an inbound marketing practice. We’re talking about targeted email campaigns that nurture leads and bring them into the sales cycle. Using a targeted email campaign, you can push your brand, product, or service to a specific audience that has a genuine need and use for what you’re offering.
Creating valuable and targeted messages for intuitively segmented leads can yield huge results, especially when your campaigns provide the right information at the right time, without spamming or overwhelming your leads. Using email marketing effectively can transform it from just an inbound technique to a cornerstone of your outbound strategy.
#5 An Outbound Marketing Agency
A tool is anything you use to achieve a desired end state or goal. When it comes to outbound marketing, a full-service marketing agency with years of experience is going to be the best outbound marketing tool at your disposal. Especially as a manufacturing company that may not have a dedicated marketing department or any existing marketing efforts that fall outside the umbrella of sales, a marketing agency can help you reach the growth goals you care about most.
Manufacturers can seriously benefit from outbound marketing tools, especially as more and more of your target buyers trend online. For help developing an outbound marketing strategy that actually works, talk to Evenbound.
The primary goal of any business activity is to increase profit, and your digital presence is no exception. Your B2B website exists to market your company, products, and services to potential future customers and convert them into leads. For many B2Bs, those visitors and conversions aren’t appearing. Here are five reasons why your B2B website isn’t generating any leads:
#1 Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly
Teens aren’t the only ones addicted to their cell phones. Nearly everyone is accessing the internet from mobile devices rather than desktop computers. What this means is that people are seeing your site on a variety of different screen sizes, and your website needs to be adaptable to any size screen. If not, your site will be too difficult to access and people are going to quickly navigate away.
#2 Your Website Is Old and Outdated
You’d think that at some point, we could stop saying it, but that day has never come: there are a lot of B2B websites that are old and out of date. Your website needs to be more than just a digital version of your current marketing materials, a few static pages with no way to get in contact except your phone number.
If you never ask your website visitors to become leads, you can’t convert them to leads. That’s why you need calls-to-action (a.k.a. CTAs) all over your site. A CTA is often a button or link that asks the reader to do something, to “request a quote” or “contact us.”
These calls to action need to address the content they are surrounded by as well as the stage of the buyer’s journey that your potential lead is in. Some prospects might not be ready to give your sales team a call—but they might be interested in an ebook with more information on the topic you addressed in your most recent blog, and gladly give you their email address in exchange for it.
#4 Your Website Doesn’t Use Any Landing Pages
If your paid search and PPC ads are directing clicks to your website’s home page, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to convert visitors to leads. Landing pages ensure that visitors who click on specific ads are seeing the specific content that is relevant to them.
Additionally, landing pages are essentially one big CTA—they limit options for the visitors to navigate away from the page, offer them the information they want, and include forms for visitors to enter their contact information and convert. They’re also crucial for tracking analytics and gating your content offers. Learn more in our post Landing Pages: Why Your B2B Manufacturing Website Needs Them.
#5 Your Site Content Wasn’t Written With SEO and Inbound Marketing Best Practices In Mind
PPC advertisement is one of the quickest, most efficient, and most effective methods of getting your company name in front of prospective customers, driving traffic to your website, and converting leads. If you’re marketing your B2B in the digital space, you need to have a PPC strategy. Here’s what you need to know about PPC for B2Bs.
Paid search ads make your site a top result when people search for your chosen keywords—these are the sponsored links you’ve undoubtedly seen before when searching for something on Google. You select the keywords for which you want to be a top search result and the area in which you want to be the top result (local, regional, national, etc.), and your link is in the top results for people using those search terms, which drives clients to your site or landing pages. (New to paid search? Freshen up on the basics in our Complete Guide to Outbound Marketing.)
Display network ads are text and image ads purchased through a specific network (like Google) and are displayed on affiliate sites, garnering lots of relevant views. These affiliates can include local news sites, mobile apps, or other popular sites.
Social media ads are effectively targeted ads, as native advertisements or sidebar ads, on a specific social media platform. Because the users of social media platforms provide so much demographic information, you can easily target your ads to your ideal client type.
For B2B manufacturers, LinkedIn ads are one of the most effective types of PPC ads. LinkedIn a) has tons of users, b) allows you to target users by industry, company, job title, and job function so you can specifically target your ideal customers, and c) provides stats on who clicked on your ads so you can determine whether your ads are effective. (Read more on LinkedIn Ads and B2B Marketing here.)
How Can I Use PPC Ads Effectively for My B2B Manufacturing Company?
First, know that you should be using PPC ads. Then, develop a keyword strategy. You need to determine the keywords that are relevant to your business and industry, the search terms your potential customers use when looking for your products or services, and the keywords that your competitors are using.
You can use that information to create ad campaigns that take advantage of certain keywords strategically, and to deploy PPC campaigns for those strategic keywords across relevant platforms.
For more manufacturing PPC tips, be sure to check out 5 Easy Ways to Maximize your B2B’s PPC Budget, which has lots of useful information on how to bid on brand, optimize deployment, and otherwise get the most bang for your PPC-ad-spend-buck.
If PPC for B2Bs is too many acronyms for you, HA Digital Marketing can help. We create and deploy optimized PPC campaigns that will generate leads for your B2B manufacturing company and increase your marketing ROI — that’s an acronym we know you love. If you’re ready to expand your digital marketing strategy to include PPC advertising, get in touch.
Last month, we talked about why inbound marketing matters for B2Bs, specifically industrial manufacturers, and in that post, how crucial it is for B2Bs to have digital content that is optimized for search (if you missed Inbound Marketing for Industrial Manufacturers, read it here). Your website is your company’s primary representation in the digital world, and it’s important that your content is optimized to best attract future customers.
In case your manufacturing page content could use a little love, here are a few tips to optimizing B2B page content for the clients you actually want:
Additionally, digital content has many more capabilities than print, including linking, embedding video, and searchability. These are all capabilities you should take advantage of, as interactive page elements like links and video work well to gain viewers’ attention.
How Do You Optimize Manufacturing Page Content?
Like all digital content, your website page content should use SEO principles, specifically, by including the keywords that relate to that page and your business. These should be words and phrases your ideal customers are typing in when they search for your products or services. (For more on why SEO matters for B2Bs, click here.)
But unlike blog posts, content offers, and other digital content, the purpose and tone depends upon the type of page:
Blogs and the like are primarily informative, used to refresh your site’s content, optimize your site for relevant keywords, and provide prospective customers with information they need about your product, service, or industry.
Website page content is also informative, but it’s more explicitly promotional—it informs prospective customers about your specific products and services, as well as your company itself. Your page content needs to tell website visitors what you do, what you sell, how you do it, and who you are, and you need to do it in a way that speaks to the kinds of customers you want to attract.
Check out how we’ve optimized our site for our target buyers: in the main navigation bar under “Who We Help” we have each of our client segments— Manufacturing & Industrial Marketing, Developer & Home Builder Marketing, and Professional Services & Small Business Marketing.
For each of those segments, we have page content that addresses how our inbound marketing and growth services will help clients in those industries meet and exceed their marketing and growth goals. These pages include links to relevant case studies, testimonials, and clients who are in the specific customer segment, to demonstrate our experience in the needs of the industry.
Industrial manufacturers are vastly underserved when it comes to marketing resources. But just like all other businesses, you have something to sell, and in order to sell it, you need interested buyers to know about your business and your offerings. Marketing is the way to raise this awareness, especially with the increasing primacy of the internet in researching and making purchases over good ol’ word-of-mouth. Here’s what you need to know about inbound marketing as an industrial manufacturer.
Were You Even Marketing in the First Place?
For a lot of industrial manufacturers, the answer to this question is no. For another big segment, it’s “we go to trade shows”—so, not really. It doesn’t seem like marketing is really necessary or relevant when you’re an industrial manufacturer, after all, you’re not marketing to consumers, but to other businesses, most of whom need your product to make their product or perform their service. Additionally, industrial products aren’t exactly high appeal; they’re useful and utilitarian, but they aren’t going to bring the boys to the yard.
So, you know you shouldn’t be running TV ads with celebrities endorsing your spring for garage door openers or hubcap bolt covers, but what should you be doing to attract potential buyers? Inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is kind of what it sounds like: rather than going out to your customers with interruptive ads or cold sales calls, you bring interested customers to you. (Learn more about the methodology in our complete guide to inbound marketing.) You do that by creating targeted digital content and ads that will appeal to your ideal customer and the person in the role responsible for sourcing and purchasing your products.
SEO and Digital Content
If you don’t already know this, you need a website and a digital presence. It’s 2018 (almost 2019!). But you don’t just need a website—if yours looks the same as it did in 1998 or even 2008, that’s not good—you need compelling digital content that will appeal to potential customers and make your site easy for search engines to find and categorize. This is SEO, Search Engine Optimization (find out more about SEO for manufacturers here). The content on your site should provide customers with all the information they need about your product, whether they’re just discovering that your product exists or they’re trying to decide on a new supplier, as well as the keywords for which you want your website to show up in the search engine results.
You can also use PPC ads to target your ideal buyers. For industrial manufacturers, LinkedIn ads are the perfect way to do this. Your ideal customers are often buyers or sourcing specialists for a manufacturing company, and they’re professionals who use LinkedIn. Not only is your audience using the platform, their job title and company information is included in their profiles, and LinkedIn uses this information to target ads. You can target ads to people with specific job titles, like “Purchasing Specialist,” “Sourcing Specialist,” etc., as well as by specific company, ensuring that your ads are seen by the people to whom they will be highly relevant, the people you want as customers.