5 Ways Manufacturers Can Increase Channel Sales

5 Ways Manufacturers Can Increase Channel Sales

5 Ways Manufacturers Can Increase Channel Sales

Channel sales are a uniquely challenging sales process. As a manufacturing company that works with channel sales partners, you create a product, but you’re indirectly responsible for selling it. It’s a weird way to sell, no matter how you look at it. How can you increase channel sales if you have little to no control over the actual sales themselves?

Luckily, the channel sales process has been around forever. While it is a unique — and sometimes frustrating for you, the manufacturer — process, there are plenty of actions you can take to increase channel sales, even when you’re not the one making the sales. 

Let’s look at 5 ways manufacturers can increase channel sales by improving relationships with channel partners, and making it easier for them to sell your products: 

01. Develop a Solid Onboarding Process

First impressions are important. Channel sales are all about relationships, and that starts with your manufacturing company’s first impression. How you onboard new channel partners has a big impact on your bottom line. How, you ask? 

  • Well-onboarded channel partners start selling faster
  • Channel partners who understand your products sell them better
  • A quality onboarding process sets you up for a quality relationship with that partner 

The more supported your channel partners feel, the more comfortable they will be asking questions and learning about your products. In turn, they’ll take all of that knowledge to their customers. The bottom line? More channel sales for you

Start developing an onboarding process that makes it easy for channel partners:

  • To get to know your product
  • To contact their local representative with any questions
  • To get selling!
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And remember, channel sales are all about relationships. While a solid onboarding process gets you off on the right foot with new partners, make sure you have plenty of resources to support them once they’re fully onboarded. Which brings me to my next point:

02. Make Resources Available and Easy to Find

As a manufacturer, you probably develop a technical product. It does something great for someone, and you know how great it is, but your channel partners might not. 

Make it easy for them to learn and understand the difference your products make in the lives of their customers. 

I wrote a blog on Channel Sales Strategies for Manufacturers that offers some in-depth suggestions on how to develop and promote resources that will help you channel partners sell better. 

If you haven’t yet, or don’t want to check that out, let me summarize here: 

Create marketing and sales enablement content that make it easy for your channel partners to promote and sell your products. When you’re spoon-feeding them beautiful social media graphics or helpful pricing sheets, it’s hard to say no. 

Imagine a customer is asking your channel partner for a pricing sheet.

They could create their own, or they could just hand over the one that’s already been completed and beautifully designed — yours.  

The easier it is for your channel partners’ marketing and sales teams to talk about you, the more likely they are to do it. If it looks good, and it makes them look good to their customers, they’re going to want to use it. And all of that great content you’re creating — sales resources, marketing collateral, etc. — is working to promote your brand and close more channel sales. 

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03. Build Solid Relationships with Channel Partners

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? 

The more involved you are with your channel partners, the more invested they will be in your products. 

I like to use a term I call “pleasantly persistent.” 

You don’t need to bug your partners constantly asking for status updates, but do what you can to check in regularly.

Ask how their day is going, how those new resources you sent over are working, and if there’s anything you can do to support them. 

The more helpful you are, the more likely your partners are going to want to help you, and the more likely they are to remember your products the next time they’re talking to a customer. 

I’ve already said it a few times in this blog — channel sales are all about relationships. The more supported your partners feel by you, the more they feel like, “yeah, those guys over at X Manufacturing rock!”, the more likely they are to sell your products. 

Do what you can to build solid relationships with channel partners. Sure, that might be an appreciation dinner or conference every year, but it’s also equally —  if not more — effective, to just reach out and see how they’re doing.

04. Help Them Help You With Cross-Promotion

Cross-promotion helps to get the word out about both of your companies. For manufacturers specifically, cross-promotion is a great way to increase channel sales. Let’s take a look at how it works: 

You, a manufacturer of a product (and likely a big name) agree to do a combined marketing campaign with one of your channel partners. 

Your channel partner gets a big brand boost from being associated with you — the industry-leading manufacturer of whatever it is you manufacture. 

ZL Channel Sales example
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They want to be associated with you because you’re the best at what you do. 

You get the benefit of promotion from that channel partner, as well as every other channel partner you’re running a cross-promotion campaign with. 

Since it’s likely that these channel partners all work with slightly different people in slightly different markets, you’re expanding the reach of your brand exponentially. Depending on your products and your partners, you could be reaching entirely different industries and markets of consumers who may have never heard of you before. 

It’s a win-win for both you and your channel partners. You get the expanded reach (which means increased channel sales), and your partners get the clout (which also means increased channel sales for you). When they do well, you do well. 

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05. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

Especially when you’re in the manufacturing industry and working with channel partners, it’s so much more cost-effective to retain your existing partners than it is to find new partners.  Manufacturing is a small world. It costs a lot to find a new partner, and there aren’t actually all that many of them out there. So, when you get good channel partners — invest in them

This isn’t too much different than what I’ve been preaching through this entire blog, but it bears repeating: supply the resources and the support your channel partners need to feel successful. 

The easier you make it for them to learn about your products, get excited about your brand, and ask questions when they have them, the easier it will be for them to sell you to their clients. 

Talk to your channel partners and ask them what they’d love to see from you. 

  • What would help them sell more? 
  • Are there resources or content that would make it easier for them to close deals?
  • Is there sales support your team could offer?
  • Are there marketing materials they’d like to reuse or reproduce? 

The more you deliver for them, the more they’re going to want to sell you.  

Channel sales is easily one of the most challenging sales processes out there. For manufacturers especially, it can feel like you have little control over where your products are going, and when they’re being sold. But by playing an active role in the lives of your channel partners, by getting involved and truly supporting them on a personal level, you’ll start to gain back some of that control, and see the increase in channel sales you’re looking for. 

If you’re struggling to increase channel sales at your manufacturing company, Evenbound has worked with a number of manufacturers and industrial companies to improve and streamline channel sales. We’d be happy to help you too.

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Digital Marketing For Manufacturers: Evenbound’s Exhaustive Guide

Digital Marketing For Manufacturers: Evenbound’s Exhaustive Guide

Digital Marketing For Manufacturers: Evenbound’s Exhaustive Guide

If you’re new here, you’re about to learn a whole lot about digital marketing for manufacturers. If you’re not new here, then you know we’ve been working with manufacturers since day one. 
In all of the years we’ve been supporting manufacturing companies with digital marketing services, we’ve used what we’ve learned to develop, publish, edit, and republish dozens of blogs about digital marketing best practices for manufacturers. 
In this Exhaustive Guide to Digital Marketing for Manufacturers, we’ve gone ahead and pulled out just the very best blogs from our years of experience, and combined them into one comprehensive guide. 
How to Use The Guide: It’s comprehensive. That also means it’s long. Read through it from start to finish, or use the menu below to jump to the topics you’re most interested in. 
A Quick Note: The Exhaustive Guide to Digital Marketing For Manufacturers is split into inbound and outbound marketing sections. If you know us (Inbound + Outbound = Evenbound) you know that we believe inbound and outbound marketing together produce the highest quality results for our clients. Check out this blog for more info on the Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing debate. 
Alright, let’s get to it!
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Inbound Marketing for Manufacturers

20 Blogs To Help You Get Your Manufacturing Company’s Digital Marketing Strategy Off the Ground

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Word of mouth marketing just isn’t doing it for manufacturers anymore. I’m willing to bet that’s why you’re here.
Maybe your company was the first to develop a revolutionary part or component. Maybe you’ve been on top of the industry for decades, but are starting to see the leads dry up. Whatever your concern, most manufacturers struggle with a common issue — your leads are looking for your products online now, and you just don’t have an online presence you’re proud of. 
That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Inbound marketing: 

  • Helps you draw in more of the right leads
  • Boosts your digital presence
  • Improves your position in the market
  • Can get you in front of your competitors in search results
If you’ve ever asked someone: 

  • How to get on the first page of Google
  • How to make your name show up ahead of your competitor’s
  • How to get the leads to call you
Then inbound marketing is your answer. This guide to digital marketing for manufacturers starts with inbound marketing because that is the methodology that will set you apart online and help you draw in more of the right leads. 
Each of these resources will help you improve on a specific part of your manufacturing company’s inbound marketing strategy, starting with how you define your buyer personas.
Market to the right people:

Start With Your Buyer Personas

It’s hard to have a good digital marketing strategy if you don’t know who you’re marketing to. 

guide to defining your buyer persona-digital-marketing-for-manufacturers

If you’re not very familiar with buyer personas, start with the first blog. If you’ve heard of them, but want help figuring out how to define them, go with the step-by-step guide. 

Inbound marketing for manufacturers:

The Basics

Now that you know who you’re marketing to, you can dive into the how-tos of inbound marketing. 
The goal here is to draw more of the right leads to your website and manufacturing company, so your marketing and sales team can focus their efforts on converting those leads to sales. 
Here are some of the basics to know about inbound marketing: 
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Convert More of the Right Leads:

Functional Website Design & Intuitive Lead Generation

Inbound marketing revolves around your website. Why? It’s the only space you own on the internet. 
Your website is the place where you can convert all of those visitors into leads. To do that, it needs to be functional. A mix of lead generation strategies and website design tips can help you draw more of the right visitors to your site, and then convert them into leads.

Bringing the Right People in With Lead Generation Strategies for Manufacturers:

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Draw in Leads & Boost Your Digital Authority:

Content Marketing

inbound marketing vs content marketing
If your website is where you convert leads, your content marketing strategy is what gets them to your website in the first place. 
There’s no doubt about it — content marketing is one of the most successful ways to draw the right leads to your site. When you put out high-quality content consistently over time, it has the added bonus of boosting your manufacturing company’s digital presence. (That means you rank higher than the competition.) Here’s how you do it: 

Outbound Marketing for Manufacturers

17 of our best outbound marketing blogs to help you draw in more of the right leads.

The first section of this Exhaustive Guide to Digital Marketing for Manufacturers covered inbound marketing — how to pull in more of the right leads. This section will cover outbound marketing for manufacturers. 
This section is all about how to get the word out about your company, in a way that makes sense to today’s consumer. 
In the past, especially for manufacturers, outbound marketing had to do with a lot of cold sales calls and visits, and a lot of print marketing. Today, almost none of that is effective, and it’s a time drain for your sales team. 
The new age of outbound marketing is all about getting your manufacturing company in front of the right leads in non-disruptive ways.

And you do that with modern marketing techniques like social media marketing and advertising, paid search advertising, and the big one — sales and marketing alignment. As always, let’s start with the basics: 

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Outbound Marketing for Manufacturers:

The Basics

If you’re new to modern outbound marketing, these blogs will help provide a better picture of what great outbound marketing looks like and give you some tools to try out first: 
Getting the Word Out:

Social Media for Manufacturers

Too often, we hear that social media just isn’t for manufacturers. Your product isn’t sexy or cool, and none of your leads are on social media. 
Fortunately, you’re wrong. 
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Social media has a range of uses for manufacturers, from helping you build brand awareness, to putting you in front of legitimate buyers and leads, to helping you hire more of the right people for your growing team. 
If that’s a new thought for you, these blogs have a lot of helpful information that will show you not just why you should be using social media, but how you can leverage it for success. 
Pulling in the leads you want:

Paid Search Advertising and PPC for Manufacturers

Inbound marketing is remarkably effective, but it can take some time to gain traction. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, has the potential to deliver immediate results. 
PPC advertising, done right, is a great way to a) get your manufacturing company ahead of the competition in search results, and b) start drawing in more of the right leads, right now. 
The Final Piece of the Puzzle:

Bringing Your Sales Team On Board

When your manufacturing company has a solid digital marketing strategy rolling, the final step is bringing the sales team on board. Aligning your sales and marketing teams to one set of goals will deliver significant ROI. 

When both marketing and sales are working to the same goals, your efforts are laser-focused on just the tactics you know will pull in and convert more of those deals you’re looking for.  
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And that’s it! With more than 35 resources and plenty of help on everything from defining your buyer personas to enabling your sales team, I hope you found a few blogs that helped you finesse your manufacturing company’s digital marketing strategy. 
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Want to See Digital Marketing for Manufacturers in Action? Check Out These Case Studies

If you’re not sold on digital marketing, or if you want to see some of these tips and tactics in action, check out these case studies. Each highlights how these digital marketing tactics produced significant results that contributed to a different manufacturer’s growth: 
vanguard website mock

Winner of HubSpot's Q1 2020 Grow Better Sales Impact Award

Sales enablement and HubSpot services came together to help shorten the sales cycle for this industrial service provider. In one quarter, Vanguard Fire & Security saw 921 new leads, 96 new customers, and $2.8 million dollars in closed-won sales. 

Check Out the Case Study

angstrom web design

Cleanroom Manufacturer Increases Leads & Conversions

Consistent, ongoing inbound marketing combined with HubSpot’s robust CRM helped this cleanroom manufacturer see a 75% increase in new users, a 355% increase in conversions, and 337 new conversions — all contributing to overall company growth. 

Check Out the Case Study

binsfeld engineering

Inbound Marketing Delivers Significant Boost In Digital Presence for Manufacturer

After just one quarter of dedicated, strategic digital marketing, this manufacturer saw an 87% increase in organic traffic, a 172% increase in new contacts, and converted 10 new customers. For manufacturers who understand the struggle of a long sales cycle, this is a great case study to look at. 

Check Out the Case Study

geolean web page

Digital Marketing for Manufacturing Consultant Drives Qualified Leads and Conversions

If you’re interested to see how a complete digital marketing strategy can produce results for manufacturers in niche industries, this is the case study to see. In the course of an initial 12-month engagement, this manufacturing consultant saw 241 new conversions, a 166% increase in sessions, and a 178% increase in new users. 

Check Out the Case Study

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4 Lead Generation Strategies That Deliver Measurable Growth For Manufacturers

4 Lead Generation Strategies That Deliver Measurable Growth For Manufacturers

4 Lead Generation Strategies That Deliver Measurable Growth For Manufacturers

If your manufacturing company is doubling-down on digital marketing (and you should be) lead generation is probably on the brain. But you don’t just want any leads — you want good, qualified leads who are a good fit for your product, and who are getting ready to make a purchase. 

You’re also going to need to measure those leads and the growth they deliver, so you can show management exactly how your digital marketing efforts are working, and why it’s a valuable investment to continue in the future. 

That’s a big ask, but luckily, digital marketing is one of the — if not the — most measurable marketing methodologies out there. Here are four lead generation strategies that deliver not just the leads you want, but also growth you can measure for your manufacturing company. 

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01. Content Development

If you want to draw in more leads, you need more traffic. Content development gets you there. 

Blogging on topics and keywords that your ideal buyer is already searching for is the best way to pull in more qualified traffic. The more you educate, the higher your manufacturing company will start to rank, and the more authority you’ll gain in the industry. 

Why do you care about authority? Because when you’re the first place someone looks for an answer to their question, you’re also the first place they’ll look when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. 

Boom — lead converted. 

It’s also good to consider that content development can mean a whole lot more than just blogging. 

Developing interesting video content, helpful how-to guides, infographics, and downloadable content offers are all content development methods that work to pull in more traffic and convert leads. 

And as long as you’re measuring and analyzing the stats associated with your content (you are, right?), you’ll be able to see exactly which pieces of content are driving the most traffic, converting them most leads, and delivering measurable growth for your manufacturing company. 

02. Improve Your Website for Conversions

When it comes to lead generation for your manufacturing company, boosting your traffic is the first challenge. The second is sorting all of that new traffic into qualified leads. 

If you’re looking to support measurable growth, it’s important to improve your website for digital conversions. 

That means calls-to-actions, content offers, landing pages, and lead-qualifying forms. 

Your site can have all the traffic in the world, but if it’s not optimized to convert any of that traffic, you aren’t going to see growth, and you certainly won’t be able to measure it. 

CTA-Brutally-Honest-Website-Checklist-[button-02]

Implement buttons and calls to actions, like “Contact Us”, “Ask the Experts”, or “Talk to an Engineer” that make it easy for your leads to take the action that’s most valuable to you. That might be: 

  • Making a phone call
  • Filling out a qualifying form
  • Sending an email
  • Or even responding to a chatbot on your site

Take the time to figure out what methods are best for your sales team, and for your customers. Then, implement them!

Strategic conversion opportunities give your website visitors the gentle nudge they need to become leads, and they give you the data you need to accurately measure growth. 

When you implement forms and CTAs, you get the contact information you need to nurture those leads into a sale. You also get all the data you need to better understand what your ideal leads are looking for, and what content is most valuable to them. 

03. Invest in Smarter PPC

Manufacturers love PPC (pay-per-click advertising). Why?

It’s easy. Not for your PPC team, but for you. 

Put a little money behind a few campaigns and *bam* instant lead generation. 

All you need is a budget, and you’re ready to go. In general, content doesn’t need to be approved, keywords don’t need to be approved, you just set a campaign, and forget it. 

Unfortunately, this approach to PPC isn’t going to deliver the measurable growth you’re looking for. 

Like I said, manufacturers love PPC. In general, that means your ads cost more because there is significantly more competition. Take one look at the first chart from our Google Ad Benchmarks by Industry article, and you’ll see manufacturers outspend every other industry significantly. 

EB Google Ads Benchmark Monthly Spend

Having a big budget is great, as long as you’re strategic about where you’re allocating it. If you’ve been operating on a “set it and forget it” mentality, you can do a lot more to foster measurable growth. A few tips: 

  • Do a competitive analysis. See what your competitors are bidding on, and maybe more importantly, what they’re not bidding on.  
  • Do keyword research. General keywords like “automotive manufacturer” and “fifth-wheels” are relevant to you, but they’re expensive and don’t signal buyer intent. Look for long-tail keywords that might have less search volume, but are likely to convert greater numbers of highly qualified leads. You’ll spend less to get better leads. 
  • Create strategic, specific landing pages. If your PPC ads direct leads to your home page, you might as well throw your budget in the trash. If you’re running ad campaigns about a specific product, send those leads to the product page, or better yet, to a landing page that funnels those leads into a conversion. 
  • Analyze, constantly. Finally, you can’t just set your PPC campaign and walk away. Pay attention to how your ads are performing over time. Are you spending enough? Are you bidding on the right keywords? Is your ad copy effective? Are you pulling in the right leads, who convert to sales? If something’s not working, change it. 

In a competitive market like manufacturing, it’s important to be strategic about paid advertising. Optimize your PPC strategy, and you’ll find you’re spending less to get greater numbers of qualified leads. 

04. Track Contacts & Leads with a CRM

The point of this article is to give you lead generation strategies that will deliver measurable growth for your manufacturing company. All of these strategies will get you the lead generation you want, along with some level of measurability. 

But, if you want to take your data to the next level, and get a clear picture of exactly which of your lead generation efforts are delivering growth, a CRM (customer relationship management system) is the way to go. 

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You already know we’re here for HubSpot. It’s affordable, it’s functional, and it gives you data on literally everything, from who is on your site to who is converting from your paid ads. 

But you don’t have to go with HubSpot just because we say so. There are a number of CRMs out there — you just have to find the one that fits you best. 

Find an option that is easy for your team to use, and that helps you measure, track, and analyze the contacts and leads coming to your manufacturing company’s website. Here are a couple of tools to help you get started:  

When you implement a CRM, you get instant cross-company data on every contact, lead, and prospect your marketing and sales teams are interacting with. You can see where they came from, what pages of your site they’re interacting with, and what emails, sales touches, or content pieces are pulling them closer to making a purchasing decision. 

That’s the measurement you need to define and align around the marketing tactics that are delivering growth. 

For manufacturers, finding and marketing to the right leads is often the most difficult part of the sales cycle. These strategies should help, but if you’re looking for more answers, the Evenbound team would love to chat.

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3 Manufacturing Marketing Strategies That Drive Sales

3 Manufacturing Marketing Strategies That Drive Sales

3 Manufacturing Marketing Strategies That Drive Sales

Quality manufacturing marketing strategies can be a struggle to find and implement. For many manufacturing companies, marketing is only recently necessary. In decades past, you probably relied primarily on word-of-mouth referrals, and for the most part, you still do today. The problem is that fewer of your ideal buyers are relying solely on word-of-mouth referrals.

Maybe you’ve recognized that you need to grow your position and presence in your market. Maybe you’ve noticed that competitors have a more prominent digital presence than you. 

Whatever the reason, there are a range of manufacturing marketing strategies you can use to draw in more of the right leads and shorten the sales cycle. If you’re looking for ways to grow your manufacturing company, these three manufacturing marketing strategies are proven to help you close more of the right deals, faster. Let’s take a look. 

01. Align Sales and Marketing Teams

Marketing isn’t a new concept for most manufacturers, but it does tend to be a tricky one. Many of the manufacturers we’ve worked with here at Evenbound either: 

  • Don’t have a marketing team. They have a few sales people who take the lead on some marketing initiatives, like developing mailers, brochures, or updating the website, but they don’t have a dedicated team of marketers supporting the manufacturing company. 
  • Have a marketing team that functions separately from the rest of the company. Marketing has its own department that doesn’t often interact with sales reps, product engineers, and more.

Both of these strategies are understandable — in the past they’ve worked well. But neither strategy is winning you sales today. 

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Today, any consumer, including the buyers and purchasers your manufacturing company so often sells to, is inundated with marketing and sales messaging. That means it’s more important than ever for you to absolutely nail any marketing message that’s going out into the world. 

Sales and marketing alignment is the first step to setting your manufacturing company up for marketing that drives sales. 

Since we have so much content out there already, I won’t go too far into it. When you’re on board, check out some of these other blogs we’ve got up on the site:

I will mention a few key points though. 

Sales and Marketing Alignment: Why it Works for Manufacturers

Sales and marketing alignment isn’t some huge, scary thing. It’s just getting your marketing and sales team in the same room, so they can share their separate experiences and expertise with the other team. 

When your sales and marketing teams are in the same room they can decide together: 

  • Who to market to
  • What a good lead looks like
  • The best methods to draw those great leads in
  • How to work together to nurture and close those ideal leads

Sales and marketing alignment is a manufacturing marketing strategy guaranteed to boost sales. 

When you have a dedicated marketing team who understands what leads are the most attractive to your sales team, they can implement manufacturing marketing tactics and strategies that work to pull that ideal lead in. 

02. Account-Based Marketing

When it comes to manufacturer marketing, it’s not uncommon to market to a small pool of companies. We often find our industrial manufacturing clients know exactly who they want to sell to. Especially if you’re selling a niche product for a specific market, you likely already know the key industry players. 

That’s why Account-Based Marketing is such a useful manufacturing marketing strategy. 

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a hyper-specific marketing strategy that focuses on targeting marketing efforts to key accounts, rather than marketing to a large group of potential prospects or to a more general industry. Check out this handy ABM diagram from the team at Intercom for a visual: 

abm-diagram

When you use account-based marketing as a manufacturing marketing strategy, you do the work of identifying key companies and accounts that you know would be a great fit for your product or service.

Then, your marketing team gets to work developing highly-targeted marketing content that’s addressed to the five or six stakeholders at that company. These are the people who are most likely to make the decision to go with your product over a competitor’s. 

Why is Account-Based Marketing An Ideal Manufacturing Marketing Strategy?

While ABM doesn’t work for everyone, it’s a great manufacturing marketing strategy, especially for heavy industrial manufacturers who know exactly where they want their products placed. The benefit for companies like this is that you’re putting all of your marketing efforts into accounts that you know can deliver significant returns. When you close, ROI is known and significant. 

The benefit of ABM for manufacturers is that you’re only spending time and resources on the accounts you know can convert and deliver ROI for your company

03. Inbound Marketing for Manufacturers

The third manufacturing marketing strategy here won’t come as much of a surprise if you’re familiar with the Evenbound team. 

Inbound marketing is a smart, cost-effective, and proven manufacturing marketing strategy. 

If you’re implementing the other two manufacturing marketing strategies mentioned earlier, inbound marketing is only more effective. 

When your sales and marketing teams are aligned, and you have a clear picture of who exactly you want to market to, inbound marketing is a powerful tool for manufacturers

How Does Inbound Marketing Pair with ABM & Sales and Marketing Alignment?

Inbound marketing works to draw in the right, qualified leads to your website. By developing and putting out content that your ideal buyers are searching for, you pull them into your site in a way that’s helpful, rather than disruptive. Let’s take a look at how HubSpot visualizes inbound marketing: 

inbound-marketing-flywheel

For more information about HubSpot’s Flywheel, check out our blog: Understanding the HubSpot Flywheel. 

When you become a part of your lead’s researching phase, you can then nurture that lead with more content and marketing and sales contact that helps them through their buyer’s journey. 

Then, when that lead is ready to make a purchasing decision, you’re top of mind. If you’ve been nurturing that lead, answering their questions, and providing the resources they need to make the right decision for their company, they’ll choose to buy from you. 

Does Inbound Marketing Actually Work for Manufacturers?

So that was a lot of information, but not a lot of data. Let’s look at some numbers to see if inbound marketing actually does work for manufacturers. 

This graph shows the number of sessions of a company that sells a very niche industrial manufacturing product. 

Results-session-increase-from-inbound-marketing

As the Evenbound team began to publish content and optimize the client’s website for search engines, you can see that their sessions — or the number of people coming to their website — began to rise. From October to March, that traffic more than doubled. 

Since we’re optimizing their site for keywords that are relevant to that manufacturing client’s ideal buyer, that increase in sessions represents a significant increase in the number of qualified leads making it to that client’s site. 

With more qualified leads coming to them, that client can now nurture those leads with email marketing, retargeting, and personalized sales interactions, to close more of the right deals, faster. 

I get it, that’s just one example. If you’re not sure these manufacturing marketing strategies really work, take a look at our previous work. We have a range of case studies that showcase exactly what we’ve done to deliver quality results for manufacturers. All of our case studies are ungated and free for you to look at whenever is convenient for you. 

But you can also check out this one and many others on Our Work page. 

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And if you have any questions about implementing marketing strategies like Account-Based Marketing or Inbound Marketing to drive sales for your manufacturing company, just give us a shout. We are pros at marketing industrial manufacturers, and we’d be more than happy to help you too. 

5 Essential Inbound Marketing Tools for Manufacturers

5 Essential Inbound Marketing Tools for Manufacturers

5 Essential Inbound Marketing Tools for Manufacturers

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of inbound marketing for manufacturing companies. We’ve seen first-hand how properly implemented inbound marketing strategies can quickly skyrocket forward-thinking manufacturers ahead of the competition.

If you’re looking to boost your position in the market by trying your hand at inbound marketing, know that you don’t have to do it alone. Here are 5 essential inbound marketing tools that are particularly useful for manufacturers.

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01. A Website That Converts

If you’re trying to boost your manufacturing company’s inbound marketing game, you need a website that’s working for you. It doesn’t have to be the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen, but it should be functional. And when I say functional, I mean:

  • Optimized for search
  • Updated in the last two years
  • Features a regularly updated blog
  • Highly visible calls-to-action
  • Includes landing pages with lead-capturing forms
  • Makes it easy for potential customers to contact you

At the very least. 

For inbound marketing to work for your manufacturing company, your website has to function as your communication hub. You need to have somewhere new leads will navigate to, and opportunities for them to contact you when they’re ready for more information. 

If your website is set up to: 

1) Rank well on search engines, and 

2) Convert new visitors into leads and prospects,

Then you’re ready for the next four inbound marketing tools. 

If any of these bullet points have you scratching your head, I got you. 

See what a quality inbound marketing website looks like for manufacturers. And check out this content offer to see what upgrading your website (the right way) can do for you. 

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02. Google Analytics & Google Search Console

If your website is optimized for search engines and you’re consistently putting out great content, then tracking is a key inbound marketing tool you’ll need to assess your progress. The best tools we recommend for this are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. 

Google Analytics will tell you who is visiting your site. The tool offers a detailed breakdown of which pages are driving the most traffic, how long people are staying on your site, and more. Google Analytics is one of the best inbound marketing tools out there to measure the user-related data attached to your website. And it’s free. 

Google Search Console is perfect if you’re looking for more insight into how to improve your site for search engine rankings. Google Search Console is also free and will tell you how your site is ranking, give you organic search data, and offer helpful tips on how to improve your site. For example, Google Search Console will tell you if you have duplicate page content or page redirect errors that could hurt your site’s search engine rankings. 

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Google Search Console

How to Use Google Search Console

  • Organic search data
  • Inbound and outbound links
  • Website Improvement Tasks
  • Malware Detection
  • Shows You Site Errors
google-analytics

Google Analytics

How to Use Google Analytics

  • Audience demographics
  • Referral traffic
  • Conversion tracking
  • Custom reporting
  • User behavior

Both of these tools are essential inbound marketing tools for manufacturers because they give you real-time data on the performance of your site. They show you which pages are performing well, and they provide insight into your audience’s behavior. Which pages are people spending the most time on, and which pages might you be able to optimize for more conversions? 

Using search console and analytics in tandem will help you answer those questions, and optimize your website for better inbound marketing performance. 

03. A CRM

A CRM or customer relationship management system is the next essential inbound marketing tool for manufacturers. A CRM is especially important for manufacturers with channel sales, or with a large customer base. A good CRM will help you keep track of all of those customers, from the minute they begin interacting with your website to when they close on a sale. 

As far as what CRM to choose, we always recommend HubSpot, especially for manufacturers. 

HubSpotScreen
hubspot-tools

Many manufacturers are transitioning from an old CRM, or are moving to a CRM for the first time. The benefit of HubSpot is that it’s remarkably user-friendly, and it’s a powerful, all-in-one solution that makes it easy for you to get all of your operations on one page. 

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With HubSpot, you have sales, marketing, and service tools all on the same platform, plus all of the inbound marketing tools and metrics you need to really make the most out of your marketing campaigns.

With everything from chatbots to email workflows to lead tracking to automated customer satisfaction surveys, HubSpot is robust enough to support even large manufacturing companies but easy enough to use that the onboarding phase won’t feel like taking a trip to the moon. 

04. A Keyword Research Tool

There are about a million inbound marketing tools on the web that are advertised as a keyword research tool. In many cases, choosing the right one comes down to user preference. The bottom line is that if you’re a manufacturer looking to make a serious impact with inbound marketing, you need to do keyword research

Keyword research is essential to boosting your organic ranking, and it’s also really helpful when you’re setting up strategic paid search campaigns. 

  • For organic search, look for keywords with a high search volume and low competition for organic and strategic content opportunities. 
  • For paid search, look for keywords that are highly relevant to your products and that have a low cost per click for paid keywords.

Here are a few of our favorite inbound marketing tools with robust keyword research capabilities. All of these options offer a range of SEO and keyword research tools for free. 

While SEMRush and Moz do have paid plans, I recommend you use their free versions for a few months. If you feel you need more functionality, the paid plans might be worth it for you, but generally, the free tools will give you more than enough data. 

SEMrush

Free basic tools, $99.95/mo for a basic plan

SEMRush offers a wealth of data with up to 10 requests per day on the free version. It will tell you what keywords you’re ranking for, what keywords your competitors are ranking for, and it will help you find new keyword opportunities. 

Google Keyword Planner

Free

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that’s included with your Google Ads Account. You’ll get the most accurate keyword data here, but it is a bit less user-friendly than other options. It’s also good to remember that the data you get from Google Keyword Planner is ad-specific.

Moz

Free basic tools, $99/mo for a basic plan

Moz is one of the best free tools out there. We recommend their keyword explorer if you’re trying to find new keywords, but they’ll also help you find backlink opportunities, and put a number to your domain and page authority. Plus, Moz is just the best for any kind of SEO education. 

05. SpyFu

The last essential inbound marketing tool I’d like to bring up is called SpyFu. While it’s a great tool for any company, it’s particularly useful for manufacturers, who are often operating in tight industries where your competitors are close and well known. 

While other industries can get away with minimal competitive analysis, we’ve found it’s absolutely necessary for most manufacturers. And if you’re looking to complete a detailed, comprehensive competitive analysis, SpyFu is a tool that can help. 

Check out this basic competitive analysis I did for Starbucks. 

spyfu-overview

Using Spyfu’s free version, I typed in their URL, and the tool populated all of these results. I can see their top keywords, how much traffic they get, and from where. I can also see what keywords they’re bidding on for paid search, their top ranking pages, and importantly, I can look at their keywords in relation to their competitor’s keywords. 

(Click on an image to enlarge.)

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For manufacturers, this is an exceptionally useful tool. You likely already know your top competitors. Plugging them into SpyFu will give you a wealth of knowledge you can use to optimize your inbound marketing strategy. From what keywords to focus on for your blogs to what keywords to bid on, the competitive analysis portion of SpyFu’s results is what’s most relevant to manufacturers. 

As you can see from my demonstration above, the free version of Spyfu is remarkably robust. You might get everything you need from that initial breakdown. But, if you want more data and access, SpyFu offers paid plans starting at $33/mo. 

Moving to a modern marketing method is a big ask for many manufacturers. It’s likely you’ve been relying on word of mouth for years, and switching to an involved marketing methodology like inbound can feel like a lot of work. 

We can say from experience — if you put in the effort, inbound marketing will deliver the results you want. 

These inbound marketing tools should help make the transition a bit easier, too. With more data and analytics, you’ll be able to focus your efforts on the inbound marketing tactics that will deliver the greatest returns. 

And if you run into any questions along the way, the Evenbound team is always here to help. Inbound marketing is what we do, and manufacturers make up a significant portion of our client base. We’d be happy to offer up any advice you might be looking for. 

Like this blog? You might like our article on the 5 Best Outbound Marketing Tools for Manufacturers. Same format, same length, just different tools to help you boost your outbound marketing game. 

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Revenue-Driving Channel Sales Strategies for Manufacturers

Revenue-Driving Channel Sales Strategies for Manufacturers

Revenue-Driving Channel Sales Strategies for Manufacturers

Channel sales offer a number of benefits for manufacturing companies. Channel partners help you bring in significantly more sales than a single sales team ever could. You’ve got built-in trust with channel partners, and you have the customer service support you need to help every client if they need it. 
But, channel sales have a few drawbacks, too. The biggest being that it’s difficult to control, manage, and track the sales process. The feedback cycle can be slow, which means it’s hard to react quickly to shifts in the end-user’s buying preferences. These drawbacks can make it difficult to measure the success of your channel sales strategies. It’s not always easy to see how your product is doing at any given moment or to establish effective marketing and sales tactics. 
If you’re struggling to improve your channel sales process, or are looking for ways to better support your channel partners for bigger, faster sales, here are a few revenue-driving channel sales strategies to help manufacturers grow that bottom line in a big way. 

Focus on Existing Partnerships First

Most sales teams know it costs significantly more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. That same theory applies to your channel partners. 
The best channel sales strategy is the one that helps you capitalize on the resources you already have.

Before you go out trying to recruit new partners, make sure you’re supporting the ones you already have.

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Communicate with your channel partners

A great place to start is to just talk to your existing channel partners. 
  • Does your team talk to your partners regularly? If they do, what have your partners been saying lately?
  • What do your partners think about your product?
  • How do they feel about your service or support?
If it’s been a while since you connected with your channel partners, you might consider sending out a survey with a few quick questions, and a few open comment boxes encouraging partners to let you know if there are areas where they feel you could improve. 
Jokes aside, keep clear, open lanes of communication for your channel partners to provide feedback whenever it’s convenient for them. 

And when you do get feedback, act on it. 

In addition to making some improvements, make an effort to set up regular, quarterly meetings with your channel partners. After all, they’re the ones interacting directly with your customers.

The better your relationship with your channel partners, the better you’ll be able to understand your end consumer. 

Develop marketing resources to support your channel partners

Once you have open, clear lines of communication with your channel partners, consider developing some marketing resources they can use to better sell your products. 

 

Let’s think about it: if you were a busy sales or marketing team, which product would you push? 

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Option #1

A product that came from the manufacturer with a ton of ready-made email campaigns, social media content and imagery, and print collateral.
channel-sales-strategies-example-product

Option #2

A great product, but with no support from the manufacturer, you’ll have to develop content and marketing strategy from the ground up.
As a busy marketer myself, I can go ahead and tell you that if I had beautiful marketing content at my fingertips, that is absolutely the product I’d put in my email marketing campaigns and social media posts. 
If you’re regularly creating and providing marketing resources that make it easy for your channel partners to talk about and support your brand, there’s a much higher likelihood that they will. 
Consider developing imagery, social media content, and even email marketing campaigns your channel partners can take and use however they like. 
When it’s easy for them to get the word out about you, they’re more likely to do it. And when more of your channel partners are putting out great branded content and email campaigns about your products, you’re going to start to see more sales. 

Create Sales Enablement Content

The best way to drive revenue with channel sales strategies? Think of your team as an extension of your partner’s sales team. Not the other way around. 
If you’re not selling directly to consumers, then your sales efforts should be focused primarily around doing everything you can to enable your partner’s sales teams. 
  • What content could they benefit from to help close sales faster?
  • Are their email sequences or workflows you could develop to help the sales team nurture and close leads?
  • What about pricing sheets or helpful documents that show customers how to choose between a few similar products?
Again, discovering what sales enablement content might be most helpful to your channel partners starts with talking to them. Find out where their sales teams tend to get stuck, or where leads tend to drop out of the funnel. 
Then, look for ways to develop content and sales enablement materials that address those pain points in the sales cycle.

The more you empower your channel partner’s sales teams with the content and tools they need, the more sales they’ll be able to close, and faster. 

Provide Education and Consider Establishing Partner Certification

This is an especially useful channel sales strategy for manufacturers with partners who supply more than just your products. 
Think about it — if you had two very similar products in stock, one that you knew a lot about, and one that you didn’t, which would you talk about to a customer?
Probably the product you were comfortable with. 
When your channel partner’s sales team feels comfortable talking about your products with customers, those are the products and parts they’ll sell.  
How to get to that top-of-mind position?
Offer it up — the more education and onboarding resources you can offer to your partners, the better. 
How to get them to use it? 
Incentivize learning more about your products. 
One really common way to do this is to establish certifications or different partner tiers. 

How manufacturers can implement certifications to boost channel sales

GAF logo
GAF logo
One of my favorite examples of a smart, effective certification program for channel sales comes from  GAF, the shingle manufacturer. GAF has a special certification, its Factory-Certified Master Elite Roofing Contractors. This certification is only given to about 2% of roofing contractors in the US. 
What’s unique about their certification is that Master Elite contractors have exclusive access to top-tier products, and are the only contractors allowed to offer GAF’s gold-level warranty. 
For GAF’s certified contractors, being Master Elite certified is a clear benefit. They can offer better warranties and better products, which means more consumers who value a quality roof will seek them out. But, this incentivizing certification program also provides value to GAF. 
GAF-Master-Elite-Program
GAF knows that only their top channel partners — their Master Elite contractors — can offer high-tier warranties and products. These contractors have to take many educational courses and must provide a certain level of service. This helps GAF ensure that they’re protecting their brand’s reputation, while also helping them sell more of those top-tier products. 
While your certification program doesn’t have to be as involved as GAF’s, tying your educational materials to some sort of reward is a great way to show your appreciation for top-tier partners, and incentivize other channel partners to get educated about your products.

More than just showing your appreciation, these awards and rewards can also help boost your brand’s reputation, and get your name out there. 

And when your brand is the first that the end-consumer thinks of, you’re driving revenue, guaranteed. 

Implement Tracking & Reporting

It’s always difficult to track partner sales. 
Especially for manufacturers, it’s tricky to get a full understanding of how well your partners are doing, and which of your specific efforts are driving revenue. 
They’re not your books, so it can be tough to get the data and sales info you need to see what efforts are working, and which aren’t. Here are a few ways you can implement tracking and reporting to evaluate your progress and double-down on the efforts driving revenue. 

Tracking and reporting tactics

If you’ve already implemented other channel sales strategies, like setting up close communication with your existing partners, tracking and reporting become much easier. 

01. Ask your channel partners what’s working

The best way to figure out what’s working is to talk to your channel partners.
Surveys are helpful and can be implemented either on a quarterly schedule, or a few months after you implement a new marketing or sales effort. 
Make sure to ask your partners specifically which efforts they feel are driving value. If they’re comfortable, you can ask them to share their data collected from that new marketing campaign or sales enablement tool. 

02. Implement your own reporting

Though you can’t always get all of the numbers you want, your sales team and account managers can implement their reporting methods to track the success of your channel sales strategies. 
If your channel partners use a common CRM, their account managers can ask for view-only access to take a look at key performance indicators like conversion rate, how many deals have closed, and where those leads originated from. 
This should help you identify which of your efforts are working, and which might need a bit of finessing. 

03. Key performance indicators (KPIs) that indicate channel sales success

If you’re really in the dark when it comes to your channel partner’s sales data, there’s still a range of questions you can ask and data you can collect. 
Obviously, the biggest indicator of success would be an increase in sales. 
But, if you’re implementing new channel sales strategies, like helping your channel partners set up ad campaigns, email marketing workflows, and more, you want to know which of those efforts are working. 
Here are a few KPIs to look in on to determine what is driving your channel sales success: 
  • Average sales cycle length 
  • Percentage of partners who used provided sales and marketing materials
  • Percentage of partners who completed ongoing training
  • Partner satisfaction score — how they’re responding to your regular surveys
  • Percentage of partners who attempted, and who completed certification
HubSpot also has a full list of ways to measure your channel sales program’s success. I recommend checking that out for more ideas on tracking and reporting. 

Reward High-Performers

Have great partners? Let them know! Offer incentives to high performers and partners who close the most deals and do the best job of educating themselves, and their customers. 
While you don’t have to hand out cars like Oprah, incentives help you show your appreciation for the channel partners who are doing great work, and they also serve as an example for newer partners who might not be sure how to implement all of the great tools and channel sales strategies you’re providing. 
Let’s say you host an awesome industry event. Give top performers a certain number of free tickets. 
Or, offer exclusive materials or products to just top-tier partners. Thinking back to the GAF example I used earlier, you could make certain highly-technical products available only to top-tier channel partners, or you could simply provide extra support to those top-performers. 
Whatever you do, it is a good idea to reward your top-performing channel partners. The more your channel partners see that you’re there to truly support them, the more empowered they’ll feel to sell your products and parts. 
Channel sales offer many benefits to manufacturers, but they’re also notoriously difficult to track and manage. These channel sales strategies for manufacturers should help you get a better handle on how your channel partners are doing, establish strong relationships, and start putting marketing and sales efforts together that drive overall revenue for your manufacturing company. 
Struggling with your channel sales strategies? Talk to the team at Evenbound. We’ve worked with many manufacturers who rely on channel sales, and we’ve helped them all align marketing and sales efforts and grow revenue. We’d be happy to help you too. 
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