The rapid shift to digital put pressure on B2B manufacturers not only to offer digital capabilities, but to optimize their online experiences to retain and grow their market share. But for manufacturers who are new to digital, creating a digital-first strategy can seem impossible. From identifying the right marketing channels to evaluating progress towards business goals, manufacturers face multiple roadblocks on the path to digital transformation.
How can B2B manufacturers and distributors start leveraging digital tools effectively and plan for the future? Check out three key pain points for developing a digital strategy below, with tips and tricks on how to overcome them.
Should a manufacturing company have a digital strategy?
The short answer is, absolutely. B2B companies in general, and manufacturing companies specifically, need to keep up with fast-changing B2B buyer expectations. Manufacturers that haven’t already started their shift to a digital-first strategy are sacrificing current and future revenue.
According to our 2021 B2B Buyer Report, 90% of B2B buyers would turn to a competitor if a current supplier’s digital channel couldn’t keep up with their needs. But there’s good news: fast movers can expect to see the return on their investments, as 87% of buyers would pay more for a supplier with excellent eCommerce capabilities, up from 81% in 2020 and 74% in 2019.
Pain Point #1: We’re unsure if we’re progressing towards our goals.
When it comes to determining what success looks like for the future of your business, step back and review what you’ve accomplished in the past 18 months. Where did your business strategy succeed and where could you have improved? Where did your business stumble or slow down? What’s most important to your employees, buyers, and stakeholders?
Don’t forget about your business goals. Common goals from our clients include: increasing online revenue on a year-to-year basis, turning visitors into customers, maintaining already established buyer relationships, and even targeting new ones.
Once you’ve identified your larger goals, break them down into smaller parts to effectively evaluate progress. Make sure each business goal is specific, with quantifiable steps and clearly stated stakeholders. But don’t get ahead of yourself: Planning too far in advance can slow down your team’s efficiency. Instead, plan 6 months into the future to set your team and business on a path to success.
Pain Point #2: We’re not sure what’s most important to our buyer.
The world is constantly changing, and so are your buyers’ experiences. Don’t assume what worked in 2019 will work in 2022. Buyers needs change day to day, just like technology. It’s time to find out what’s most important to your buyers by taking the first step with looking into our 2022 B2B Buyer Report. We asked buyers what would heighten their overall customer experience online:
- 58% said ensuring online product information is up-to-date and accurate
- 44% said making eCommerce websites and/or apps more user-friendly
- 31% said making it easier to contact a human for technical support and offering digital invoicing
Pain Point #3: We don’t know how to align digital marketing tactics to our business goals.
Before the transformation to digital, manufacturers reached their target audience through the dependence on traditional methods such as: trade shows, conferences, and mailers. The rapid shift to digital left B2B marketers scrambling to stay above the surface when it came to improving their digital maturity in time. The transition to digital is happening at an accelerated rate; however, it is important to not rush in without a plan. Marketing practice lead Mary Schneeberger outlined three key capabilities for brands starting their digital marketing journey.
- Segmentation and Targeting: The key behind effective segmentation is that it drives communication that is relevant and meaningful to both prospective and existing customers. Segmentation can be done by either location, previous engagement, account information, or digital behavior.
- Website Optimization and Personalization: Outdated website equals limitations for making a purchase, due to the inconvenience buyers will face. Measurable impact is made on the bottom line when effective website optimization and personalization are taken into consideration. Take immediate steps towards website optimization by focusing on these three SEO best practices: accessibility compliance, page speed optimization, and content optimization.
- Lead Generation: The buyer’s journey needs to flow from start to finish, and to ensure that, utilize map content, marketing campaigns and sales communications. Optimizing outreach efforts and creating relevant content consistently will ensure customers are receiving the right information, which will move them towards making a purchase.
Gain more insight when it comes to launching and improving your digital marketing campaign by checking out marketing practice lead Mary Schneeberger’s integrated marketing playbook here.
How to Make a Digital Roadmap
Still struggling to put together an effective digital roadmap? In our recent white paper, “Designing Your 2022 Digital Roadmap,” digital transformation practice lead Mousumi Behari outlined the five key steps to a great digital strategy in 2022:
- Have a strong plan. Identify your business goals and understand the gaps.
- Align marketing and sales around a common goal.
- Personalize journeys. Deliver a unique experience for every visitor to achieve marketing KPIs.
- Optimize search to make it easier for potential buyers to find your site and navigate to the right product or service.
- Understand the landscape and sleep track of how you measure up against the competition in your sales, talent and technology.
Next Steps for Manufacturers and Distributors
Not sure where to kick off your digital transformation? Check out our Manufacturer’s Guide to Digital, where we walk you through every step in the buyers’ journey – and give you actionable steps to optimize the purchasing process. Need more in-depth advice? Schedule a meeting with our marketing and commerce experts by completing the form here.