For marketing teams within manufacturing businesses, there are competing demands when it comes to developing a website project. There is best practice to consider as well as the sales needs and changing technologies and platforms – legacy systems in IT and ERPs.
There is also a strong drive from internal technical stakeholders to ensure websites fulfil important product and technical requirements. These range from legal obligations of housing specifications to providing ‘how to’ and install content. And this is all fair.
But whilst there’s a need for the technical aspects of a product to be accessible to users, I’ve been working with clients lately on packaging this for users in a more intuitive and useful way. it’s all about making sure the effort put into this technical information reaps a reward, and that reward is ensuring it gets the eyeballs by being picked up in Google Search. But to achieve that, the website process needs to flip from a product-first approach, to a user/solution lead approach.
Here are five ways to help make sure your website gets better outcomes for the business and prospective customers.
- Ask more questions.
Go through a discovery and planning stage at the start of a web project – even if it’s not a new build. Interview key internal personnel to understand their roles and work through the challenges they see day to day.
Essentially, we’re trying to establish:
- What role does the site play in the marketing conversation? [define the journey].
- Who are we targeting through this site?
- What do our visitors need to understand/know while they’re on the site (will be a different answer for different visitor types).
- What do our visitors already know about the company and the product line?
- Are there any third-party systems we would need to integrate (salesforce, PoS, inventory etc).
- Reframe technical products through a customer / market solution lens
So you’ve got a very technical product that needs a lot of technical information and supporting engineering collateral.
Rather than just creating a repository of documentation for the technical team, we need to package it in a way that’s useful for the user and that helps us create more qualified leads from the site.
Some common themes are:
- The technical literature comes with the territory and it’s a key driver of technical users coming to these sites so make it visible and accessible through the top navigation.
- Craft the technical elements of the product into a story. We want content to focus on solutions. Outline business challenges and demonstrate how the business has solved these in the past. This gets users to relevant content quickly, and drives more qualified leads.
- Surface news and case study content at a product page level to support claims. For example supporting the development of bespoke engineering solutions through XYZ Project. Here we can validate abilities and provide credibility to the customers/potential clients.
- Contact us – the ‘contact us’ tab in the top navigation is a staple and relevant for general enquiries, but it’s also important to have a focus on individual section CTAs. This will mean we can also hope to target more qualified leads.
- CTAs to connect with a business manager/engineer whilst a user is browsing that specific product page make sense.
We can leverage your marketing automation tools at this point. For CRM integration, if using Salesforce, a web-to-lead form can be applied to capture information about visitors to your website. This information is then stored within the CRM and can be automatically routed to the sales rep for that specific product page.
If available, other automation tools can be deployed, for example by dropping these new users into an automated workflow whereby they are sent email offers and incentives i.e free resource access offers/trials. User action off these emails is then fed into the CRM to further build out the users’ profile.
Take a phased approach to developing the web presence. Launch a phase 1 and get feedback on it from internal stakeholders and the market. Build web properties in a modular way with the ability to scale up down the track – eCommerce, integrate with IOT dashboards and customer portals.
- Get better at facilitating enquiries
The website should be one of the primary methods of lead generation whether this is through the use of:
- The general enquiry form
- CTA at a product page or case study page level, or
- Through a gated piece of content or lead bait
As a general rule when requesting users provide information, tailor the required info fields depending on what you’re trying to achieve. For general enquiry forms we know users intend to reach out for something specific, so here go ahead and ask them for a bit more information. Name, company, email, phone, state, comment.
On the other hand if putting a piece of content behind a lead gate, limit this to just an email address at this point (brochure / product guide / white paper). Once you have the email data, you can then funnel into the CRM and rely on the power of your CRM to further profile these users through your ongoing marketing and comms strategy. Practicing restraint here will ensure we don’t dissuade users when they’re only at first base.
- Consider Google Search upfront
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is often perceived as a dark art and with hundreds of Google ranking factors, which are changing almost daily so there’s no wonder Marketers either default to Agency SEOs to ‘sort it out’ or just avoid it altogether. With all of the investment that goes into a website however, considering an approach to how you will get your site to rank in Google once it exists is really important.
Some thought starters.
- Do an audit of your site.
Leveraging tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console and SEMRush you’re able to look at what terms your site is ranking for and how certain pages rank in Google (if at all).
- Do an audit of what keywords you want to be ranking for.
The Keyword Overview tool from SEMRush, shows you search volumes for keyword phrases related to your product or industry. This can also tell you which search results rank for that term in Google.
- Be more competitive for terms that you want to be ranking for.
Ultimately to be competitive in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), we want to be providing new and useful content for users. It’s not as simple as rewriting existing content in a different way.
At this point take your research on keywords and average search volume for those keywords and sanity check it against your own Value Proposition. What can you bring to those search terms and existing results pages that are new? Think insights, research, expertise unique to your offer.
- Build out your content road map.
Based on the research and analysis done to date, it’s time to put together the plan.
I’m a big fan of mind maps – once you have the relevant terms and topics, visually build this into a plan. The plan is key to get stakeholder buy-in but also to keep you honest in executing the plan.
- Get started.
Using the comparative information from SEMRush builds a picture of why those content pieces are ranking so well and then set about developing your content to be more competitive with what’s already out there. Make sure to consider:
- Type of content – rich content, video if you have it, infographic
- Length of content – 1000-2000 words
- Moderate keyword saturation and lots of synonyms for those keywords
- Ensuring that the primary keyword is in the URL, the page title, and at least one subhead, as well as all the alt text for the images
With the investment that goes into a website – asking some questions upfront will make sure the output achieves the objectives for those internal stakeholders, but more importantly you’ll create a web property that better meets the needs of your prospective customers.
SEMRush has a free trial offer and Google Search Console / Google Analytics are fairly intuitive with lots of guides available out there to get you started. So jump in head first and reach out to us for any technical or setup queries you may have along the way.