Manufacturers – Do you Have These Five Essential Website Elements?

by | May 30, 2012

With all the marketing activities we are all doing today, we sometimes forget to review some of the old standbys like your website to make sure it’s current.

Today we have a guest post from Derek Singleton from Software Advice, a company that helps companies pick the right software whether it’s for an application or industry. Derek has been a guest blogger before and it’s always good to get someone else’s insights. Enjoy.

Graphic courtesy of: Thomas Industrial Network, Industrial Purchasing Barometer

The industrial buying market is undergoing changes. An industry that once relied purely on traditional marketing to generate sales leads is now moving online. Survey results released by the Thomas Industrial Network recently found that 9 out of 10 industrial buyers research and evaluate their purchases online today.

As more industrial buying activity moves online, manufacturers will need to focus on building their online presence. In order to make the most of the increase in online activity, manufacturers need to create a website that meets buyer expectations at each step of the purchasing cycle:

1. Discovery – Site visitors are just starting their research process and are trying to find companies that make what they need.

2. Research – Visitors are looking for information on product specs, operations procedures and materials used.

3. Sourcing – Individuals are ready to see detailed pricing and want schematics to ensure that your product works with what they’re building.

4. Procurement – This will usually happen offline.

Beyond modeling a website that guides visitors through the sales cycle, there are four other areas manufacturers should focus on to improve their websites.

  • Show Off Your Facility & Processes – It’s important to use your website to show off what differentiates you from the competition. If you have a clean, modern looking facility, then you should show it off with pictures or a video tour. If you’ve received awards or other accolades, let visitors know about it.
  • Create a Product  Catalog – The product catalog is a great way to provide visitors with an easy way to navigate the products you make. It shouldn’t, however, simply be an electronic version of a print catalog. In the online world, buyers expect  to be able to compare multiple products side-by-side. Your website should allow for this so visitors can narrow their options quickly.
  • Provide Detailed Product Specs and Schematics – Beyond product comparisons, buyers these days want to see detailed information on each product. It’s essential that photographs, detailed measurements, product tolerances, and schematics are provided for each product so they can move further along  the sourcing process. Not providing this information can result in the visitor leaving your website.
  • Create Downloadable CAD Files – A final element to include in your website is the downloadable CAD file. Providing visitors with access to these files is a great way to speed up a purchase as it allows visitors to determine with greater precision whether your product meets their needs.

Naturally, content is only part of the equation. This content needs to be coupled with calls to action (CTAs) to convert visitors into leads. One critical CTA that works well for manufacturers is the request for more information. By balancing a website with the right content and CTAs, manufacturers can generate more leads online.

To see a few examples of how these web elements are being put to use on manufacturer websites, visit Software Advice, a site that reviews manufacturing software. You can find more detailed information at: Manufacturers, Listen Up: 5 Tips to Convert Your Web Traffic.

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