Brad Shorr, Director of Content Strategy for internet marketing agency Straight North describes the channels and tactics manufacturers and distributors need to use for online lead generation in today’s complex marketing landscape.
Meeting the Challenge of Online Lead Generation in Manufacturing and Distribution
Online lead generation is exceedingly important — and sometimes exceedingly complex — for manufacturers and distributors. Among the most difficult challenges:
1. Many manufacturing and distribution companies are sales driven.
As a result, they invest tentatively in their website and Internet marketing campaigns. With limited investment, their online lead pipelines may be little more than a trickle. For companies without a prominent brand, a weak Internet presence severely limits lead generation: businesses looking online for the product/service but don’t know about these companies have no way of discovering them when they are in the market.
2. Many manufacturers and distributors have a complicated lead follow-up process.
A supply chain lead follow up process may result in leads being distributed to distributors, dealers, brokers and agents depending on the inquirer’s location, product/service needs, purchasing volume, industrial niche and/or other factors. These dynamics present additional challenges for tracking leads through the sales process; without accurate tracking, it becomes difficult or impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of Internet marketing campaigns.
Online Lead Generation: Effective, Affordable Internet Marketing for Supply Chain
Created by the professional SEO company Straight North, the Internet Marketing Lead Generation Ecosystem infographic will help marketers visualize all of the many components that go into a well-executed and productive lead generation campaign.
At the center of the infographic is the company website: Internet traffic flows through the website; visitor inquiries are processed, tracked, followed-up on, evaluated; quantitative and qualitative traffic and lead data suggest improvements and tests for Internet marketing campaigns and website content. A few items manufacturers and distributors should give particular thought to:
- Consider every option for company website content.
Especially when products/machinery/services are complex, visual content such as custom photography, video and infographics will be far more persuasive than plain text. Visual content may provide a dramatic spike in lead generation, in and of itself.
- The top row of hexagons represents the various sources of Internet traffic that can feed into a company website.
Unlike consumer businesses where large pools of prospects exist in almost any traffic source, manufacturers and distributors must be far more selective. For instance, it is doubtful that the buyers of industrial hydraulic equipment are hanging out on Facebook and Twitter all day. Without a sense of the prospects’ online behavior, manufacturers and distributors will only be guessing as to which types of Internet marketing campaigns (second row of hexagons) will produce leads.
- At the bottom of the infographic we see the flow of inquiries through the CRM and sales team.
As mentioned earlier, the process flow at this stage must be carefully managed for sales-driven companies and when website inquiries are passed on to third parties. If inquiries fall into a “black hole,” the company’s Internet marketing campaigns will lack the data it needs to improve them, rendering their online marketing investment continually sub-par.
The good news is, surprisingly few companies get it right when it comes to online lead generation. Companies that understand the ecosystem know all of the pieces, and how they fit together.
8 Routes to Improved Online Lead Generation for Manufacturers and Distributors
Among the eight routes to online lead generation for supply chain businesses (including both traditional manufacturing and distribution businesses as well as “new” supply chain businesses like Amazon merchants, Zulily vendors, app developers and digital services firms, etc.) are:
From these eight routes, manufacturers, distributors and other supply chain businesses that want to improve online lead generation may be able to identify dozens – if not hundreds – of digital marketing tactics that produce more leads and conversions. While the complexity of online lead generation might be the bad news, the good news is that with so many proven digital marketing tactics to choose from, today’s supply chain marketer need never run out of ways generate more leads.