Web presence and manufacturing haven’t always gone hand and hand, but they should. With the global economy playing a much larger role in an already competitive industry, making sure you can be found online is a must for any manufacturing company. Just having a presence online for your manufacturing company isn’t enough anymore. Below are six shortcomings that are common for a manufacturing website and what to do to about them.
No Call-to-Action or Lead Generation
So I found your site… now what? Many manufacturing websites don’t specify a clear next step. A call-to-action provides the visitor some direction on what to do next and provides the site owner a chance to motivate the individual to an action of his or her choosing. Here are a few common calls to action:
- Buy Now
- Sign Up Now
- Request a Quote
- Contact Us Now
- Request a Sample/Demo
- Download This Whitepaper
- Chat with us live
- Register for our Webinar
If you’re not able to sell directly through your site, a Lead Generation form is the next best thing. Lead gen forms provide an opportunity for the business to follow up with visitors who are interested in learning more about a product, and hopefully lead to a sale.
Your Call to Action should be big, bold, and in bright contrast to the rest of the page. Visitors should be drawn to the call to action almost immediately after the page loads. For more on effective calls to action, check out this list of 72 examples of effective landing pages.
No Online Shopping Cart or Too Many Hoops to Jump Through to Make an Online Purchase
I’ve heard a lot about the quality of your sprockets and I need a large number of them to build my fleet of starships, but how can I purchase them easily from the comfort of my Pluto-based shipyard?
If you are a manufacturing company that has product[s] to sell, then not having an online shopping cart is one sure way to miss out on potential revenue. For many manufacturing companies, online purchasing isn’t possible or the process to do so can cause severe migraines. In those cases, product videos, combined with clear “Speak with a Rep” buttons may be your best bet.
(By the way, a PDF order form does not count as e-commerce).
No Onsite Blog
Many manufacturing companies have great personal stories filled with family history, and an About Us tab doesn’t do many of these stories justice. Having an onsite blog provides a manufacturing/distribution company a chance to expand on their business history on an ongoing basis. Being a family owned distributor that has 100+ years of history to tell is not only interesting but it is also a marketing opportunity. A blog is great place to continually tell this story – it’s also one of the best ways to optimize your site for search engines and engage your audience.
Outdated Site Design
Many manufacturing sites were created in the ‘90’s or early 2000’s, and then never touched again. Outdated site design runs rampant within the manufacturing/distribution industry. This is especially evident in product photography: small, grainy photos scanned from printed brochures a decade ago aren’t instilling confidence in your buyers.
Sites that have outdated design also include outdated SEO tactics, like meta keyword stuffing or old link buying methods – both of which can harm a site and its ability to rank in search engines. Security is also a concern for websites that haven’t been updated in years. Plugins that are not kept updated leave a site open to security risks. Keeping your site design focused, clean and simple is usually the best approach, especially within the manufacturing industry.
Ultimately, the goal is to project the image of a modern and vibrant company that visitors can trust. Studies have shown that an outdated or poor website may hurt your business. If your website and product images are ten years old, one might assume your products and policies are lagging ten years behind as well!
Site Content Written Without Search in Mind
Content on a site should be user-friendly but also keep in mind how people search. Use the keywords consumers search for. Your customers might not know the technical name for a product. Two examples we have encountered:
- A site referred to photographers as “professional image capturers.” This is a great example of creative marketing getting in the way of search ranking.
- “Collision Repair” vs. “Body Shop” – The industry began using the term “collision repair,” but consumers search “body shop” more than 15x as frequently.
Not sure what words people actually use in search? Type them all into Google’s AdWords Keyword Research Tool. Find out what people are actually searching for, and then write interesting and unique content accordingly!
Lack of Social Media
Not all social media makes sense for manufacturing/distribution companies, but one does for sure. Every manufacturing company should have a presence on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social network for professionals, and having a company page can only add to a company’s web presence. Make sure that your key employees can be found via LinkedIn and they have full profiles. If a company or individual is looking to do business with you, then count on them scouting you via LinkedIn.
There are cases where having a presence via other social media channels (for instance Twitter) fits a company’s image and product, but again, this varies depending on your industry and product. Some industries have their own social networks or forums. Find out if your customers congregate on niche sites and participate! (Note – “participate” means being part of the conversation and adding value, not just spewing advertisements and links).
The potential revenue from doing business online, even within the manufacturing/distribution industry, is tremendous. If you don’t have a solid online web presence that keeps the above six shortcomings in mind then that potential business could be lost.