At the start of every year I reflect on the strategies and feedback gathered from my visits with hundreds of industrial suppliers and I read-up on the Internet Marketing (now commonly called ‘Digital Marketing’) trends for this coming year. Most articles are written for a B2C audience, but I read enough of them to glean what I believe are the hot topics in B2B digital marketing for 2016. Most of these initiatives are not mutually exclusive, but best treated as such for the purposes of this email. We at ThomasNet have done a great job staying ahead of the digital marketing curve and are the premier partner to help you with any of these initiatives.
Here are my “Best Strategies for Industrial B2B Digital Marketing Success in 2016“:
- The biggest buzz is “Inbound Marketing”–Identify places where your target audience searches for your products and position yourself in front of them–The strategy of inbound marketing is not new, in fact I can argue that Thomas Register/ThomasNet.com is one of the oldest and most successful inbound marketing strategies in existence. But the focus of digital marketing and SEO has been so much about pushing your website out on the search engines that many companies neglected the importance of growing your own audience by developing good content and marketing to them.
- “Content is King”/Blogging–People love reading web content if it is interesting and informative. Technical specs are important, but they usually don’t differentiate you from the competition. Blogging allows you to tell a good story and capture the interest of Web visitors. And it is universally agreed that blogging with ‘rich-content’ (i.e. no keyword stuffing) is the foundation for any sound SEO strategy. We partner with copywriters to interview and write the content for you!
- Target Marketing/Personalization–Virtually all companies have followed the basic elements of SEO but still find themselves competing with Amazon, Wikipedia, Target, Walmart, etc. on the first page of results, even for niche industrial terms. There is genuine value in SEO, but take a step back and you’ll see that Google is a consumer marketplace. Let’s face it, the consumer market is much bigger than the industrial market so they have coded their algorithm to favor consumer brands. There is a growing budget shift away from SEO and into sites with audiences that match yours. In industry, ThomasNet is the leader and our tradition of being more horizontal than vertical has really been a tremendous advantage as it aligns very well with the behavior of web users.
- Testimonials and Case Studies–When visiting clients, I constantly hear stories about complex projects and problems they solved for major corporations, but very few companies promote these on their websites. Why? Certain projects can’t be discussed by name, but case studies are just as effective without names. In some cases it’s uncomfortable to get this kind of information from clients yourself…..so have us do it for you. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to provide testimonials for you. Furthermore, we’ve found them to be some of the most popular pages of your website!
- Videos–The popularity of web-videos remains high and I doubt it will go down just based on the amount of time my 10 year old daughter spends watching videos on the computer! The fact of the matter is that a 1-2 minute video can provide more information than 10 minutes reading your website. And there is still a genuine competitive advantage to this as not enough companies are doing it!
- Mobile–General (consumer) web stats will tell you that up to 85% of web use is mobile. We’re not seeing it anywhere near that level for our clients, BUT there is no question your website should be mobile friendly for 3 simple reasons: 1) It’s now an established best practice that should be followed, 2) Search engines include it in their ranking algorithms, 3) Let’s face it, mobile friendly sites are the norm nowadays and it’s irritating to visit a site that is not mobile friendly.
- E-Newsletters–People may not always take the time to read your e-newsletters, but they are NOT the nuisance we once thought they were. More importantly, it’s a way to get in front of people in a place you know they are looking. Anti-spam laws have done a good job of cutting back on spamming and companies like iContact adhere to the rules for fear of losing their business. We continue to see good response rates to e-newsletters and very low unsubscribe rates, especially since we don’t use purchased lists. We start with your customer/prospect list and help to grow it through the development and placement of forms on your website.
- International SEO–Just because your site is on the World Wide Web doesn’t classify it as an “International” site. Adding a Google translator or spending the money to get the whole site translated into one language isn’t enough either. There is a relatively simple strategy that we’ve seen work VERY well for our clients and there is a significant competitive advantage as it’s a strategy very few seem to know about.
- The rest–social media, keyword optimization, meta tags, regular site updates, etc. all remain options but those listed above are trending up and proven to improve the results of your digital marketing strategy.
These are all strategies that we are well equipped to manage for you should you be interested. Feel free to reach out to me anytime and we can discuss further.