A few clear industrial marketing trends have emerged from the many disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trade shows and personal sales calls are still on the sideline, which has put many manufacturers and service providers into catchup mode if they had been slow to invest in digital marketing. (And let’s be honest, many were.)
The biggest winners on the industrial marketing front are:
- Digital advertising, which increased faster with the onset of stay-at-home orders than every business sector except for health care.
- B2B digital sales and e-commerce, which had lagged in adoption vs. other sectors but are clearly here to stay.
- Content marketing, which is quickly maturing as manufacturers look for ways to get their products and innovations in front of prospects and customers.
Another reality: after the pandemic ends, industrial marketers are not eager to return to previous tactics. Some 89% of those who are developing new digital selling models are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to retain them.
Digital Fragmentation is Real; Good Analytics Reveal Insights
As industrial companies increase their digital marketing spend, and as more wade into the pool, the importance of good data reporting and analytics will come into focus.
The digital world is far more fragmented, and the buying cycle far more complicated, than the legacy models. Say what you will about trade shows and personal sales networks, but savvy sales people knew where their leads came from.
Your competitors also are getting more sophisticated about their marketing and what channels are working for them. A manufacturer with some marketing savvy can make great headway if their competitors are not keeping pace.
Digital media is no longer a differentiation in industrial marketing. Analytics may be now, but it won’t be for long.
An Analytics Foundation Arms You With Business Intelligence
How good are your analytics? Investing in digital marketing means investing in reporting tools and talent. Can you afford to not know where your leads are coming from?
Let’s use a hypothetical example. You are trying out a new digital channel, and $5,000 the first month produced 100 leads. You have a way to capture leads, but you don’t necessarily know where leads are coming from. The next month that same spend resulted in slightly fewer leads, but you are not sure why. You do not want to end up with 6 months of losing inbound lead volume.
A good analytics foundation can address:
- How many leads are you getting?
- Where do they come from?
- Are they good leads?
That analytics foundation will also help you improve in each of those three areas.
You have to be proactive to have some knowledge of where those leads are coming from. Why does a tactic work, and why does another channel not work? What adjustments do you make on the input, and how do you measure the performance?
Marketing Technology is a Path to Efficiency, Much Like in Operations
If you are like most companies, you have had to cut back on staffing and find ways to do more with less. Much like the operational side of manufacturing, there are efficiencies in automation for marketing as well. Marketing technology can:
- Automate sequences of outreach and responses.
- Personalize contacts with prospects and customers.
- Use algorithms to analyze inbound activities.
- Programmatically buy advertising.
These tools will grow in use and are quickly evolving.
Another marketing technology-related trend for 2021 will be optimizing your CRM and inbound marketing platform. Many of these tools are incredibly robust; it’s worth the investment in time and training to be able to mine your existing data and leverage the capabilities of the platform.
Prepare to Grow Your Industrial Marketing Prowess
Many manufacturers are using this “slow time” to invest in equipment upgrades and implement new processes in anticipation of an economic rebound. Industrial marketers would be wise to consider something similar. Investing in analytics and tools will bring efficiency as requirements grow for understanding the leads that come in digitally.
To get more perspectives on what it takes to make marketing the strength of your business, visit our insights page.
MAKE MARKETING THE STRENGTH OF YOUR BUSINESS
We can help you develop strategies for winning more business during uncertain times.