"Specialist manufacturing firm" and "sophisticated digital marketing" don't usually feature in the same sentence. While they’re great at doing what they do best; developing innovative products and solutions, the high-tech manufacturing and engineering sector is typically quite far behind from a marketing perspective.
However, prospects have shifted their research and selection process to online channels so investing in a solid digital strategy has never been more vital, offering manufacturing firms the chance to get found by the right prospects, and generate qualified leads and sales opportunities to grow their businesses.
Fortunately, there's great evidence to suggest that the sector is taking steps to become digital-savvy. In a recent report, we shortlisted 50 UK manufacturing companies who are doing a great job with digital marketing. Scoring was based on a number of factors including; social media activity, mobile responsiveness, content marketing, SEO and lead generation opportunities.
Here's a sneak peek at four of the 50 companies featured in the report, plus what you can learn from their success:
Packaging solutions provider, Macfarlane Packaging also featured in last year's Midlands Marketing Index as a result of their excellent SEO, website management, and content marketing activity.
Strengths: Content production
Macfarlane Packaging maintains a keyword led blog which they keep up to date with helpful, problem-solving content which their prospects will likely be searching for. This will help them get found in organic search for long tail keywords such as 'packaging solutions to reduce storage space.'
Visitors to the Macfarlane Packaging website will also find a packaging advice centre helping them address their challenges, and both video & text-based case studies to reassure them of Macfarlane's expertise once they are closer to making a decision. Macfarlane capitalises on this content's opportunity to convert visitors to leads by featuring calls-to-action such as 'shop online' and 'request a callback.'
What you can learn:
Align your content to each stage of your prospect's decision-making process. Blogs are great for solving problems and answering questions early on. When a prospect is more informed and shortlisting solution providers, you can use content such as case studies to build trust & credibility, and convert visitors to leads.
A manufacturer of protection and waterproofing products for outdoor clothing and footwear, Grangers is a standout example of excellent digital marketing practice.
Strengths: Creative content production
Grangers produce high quality, engaging content which they use across their website and social media channels. The video above, featuring celebrity explorer and endurance athlete Ben Saunders conveys the brand's values of reliability, adventure, and good old British spirit. It is an excellent example of how a manufacturing company can use video content to create appeal and demand for a relatively functional product.
Helpful blog content such as Breathability - what is it and why do I need it and Grangers' help and advice section help reinforce their position as a trustworthy and reliable expert - differentiating their brand from potentially cheaper, lower quality competitors.
What you can learn:
Celebrity endorsement isn't always relevant or possible, particularly if you aren't a consumer facing brand. However, video content is a great way to convey your brand's core values and drive engagement by emphasising the benefits to your audience.
Manufacturers of lead products, Midland Lead, scored highly in the index thanks to their well-optimised website.
This one could get confusing on a marketing blog talking about leads (marketing opportunities) as distinct from lead (the metal) but stick with me on this one!
Featuring a logical user journey, Midland Lead's website is well placed to convert website visitors into leads through the placement of clear calls-to-action. Each content area or page features a call to action which is relevant to it and progresses the user to the next stage in their journey. Signposts to industry specific content, case studies and news articles, for example, will ensure Midland Lead get a good conversion rate from their website.
What you can learn:
Getting your user journey right from the outset is the most important aspect of your marketing strategy. Bear in mind that your campaigns, social media activity, PR, events, direct mail, calls, etc. will drive traffic to your website, so it needs to be fit for purpose once they get there. A poorly optimised website is like having a hole in the wallet you put all your money in...you need to keep visitors on your website and provide them with a clear path to convert once they get there.
Portable machine tool manufacturer, Mirage Machines demonstrate how content production combined with disrtibuting it on the right channels can deliver great results
Strengths: Inbound marketing
Mirage employs a strong content marketing strategy encompassing blogging, social media & SEO which helps them get found by relevant prospects searching for answers to problems that their products solve.
Mirage then engages these prospects using lead generation content such as their Flange facing machine buyers guide and industry case studies which guide prospects through the decision-making process from initial awareness through to consideration and decision.
What you can learn:
One of the golden rules of inbound marketing is to first identify the right channels to reach your audience and then engage with content which aims to help. This approach can be applied whether you manufacture high-tech orbital milling machines or straightforward cardboard boxes.
See the full Top 50:
Did your manufacturing business make it into the top 50? Which other companies made the list? Find out by downloading the Midlands Marketing Index 2016 here: