- August 16, 2020
The digital world is only going to continue advancing - and if you don’t move with the digital transformation, you’re going to get left behind.
The digital world is only going to continue advancing - and if you don’t move with the digital transformation, you’re going to get left behind. Particularly within the B2B industry, there has been a growing emphasis placed on expanding into the digital world to boost sales and remain competitive. So, why does it seem like an outstanding number of businesses waited until the outbreak of a global pandemic before embracing digital channels?
One can only assume that it’s due to the romanticism of face-to-face business; sales made over a beer with a firm handshake. Don’t get us wrong, in-person sales tactics have their time and place, but your sales process can be exponentially more successful when combined with online methods. Of course, thanks to the unprecedented events of 2020, in-person interactions are almost entirely off the table, making it all the more pressing for the B2B industry to adjust their selling tactics.
Rollback the clocks to 2017, and you’ll find a study from Grainger predicting that approximately 80% of their sales would happen online by the year 2022 (Hockett, 2017) - and considering the way things have been trending, they weren’t wrong. Not only has there been a natural shift in this direction over the past three years, but COVID-19 has also accelerated the need for digital sales and marketing.
That being said, those that weren’t already using digital technology before 2020 - pandemic or not - were destined for failure. Digital isn’t just the future, it’s the present, and those that aren’t actively adapting will fall far behind.
The rise of digital sales & marketing
The digital revolution of the late 20th century seemingly came out of nowhere, but only continues to evolve and change the way that businesses sell and market themselves.
It’s no secret that the buyer's journey has been changing as technology advances. According to Forbes (2017), buyer’s are 70% of the way through their buying journey before they want to speak to a sales rep - essentially, by the time they seek out a salesperson, they know what they want, who to buy it from and what price they are willing to pay.
Why does this matter? Buyers are smarter and savvier than ever before. They would rather shop around online for what they’re looking for and only speak to a salesperson when they’re actually ready to move forward with a purchase. If they can’t find the information they need about you quickly and easily, they’ll count you out before you even get a chance to influence their decision.
Whether you like it or not, face-to-face interactions in the B2B sphere will continue decreasing as digital takes over as it has for B2C already. It’s time for businesses to jump on the proverbial bandwagon and travel at full speed into digital transformation.
Should I invest in digital sales & marketing?
The simple answer is - absolutely.
Manufacturers that aren’t already in the digital space are at risk of becoming obsolete in the next few years, if not months. Countless studies have shown that B2B buyers start their search for a product or service behind a keyboard, so if they can’t find you online, you will miss out on being considered for the purchase.
On average, manufacturing firms only allocate 8% of their budget to marketing, so it’s critical that the marketing they do invest in, drives some serious ROI (Deloitte, 2017). Fortunately, digital marketing is not only comparatively cheaper than traditional marketing methods, but it can also generate exceptional ROI.
Take email marketing as an example; email boasts a 4200% ROI on average, $42 for every $1 spent (Specht, 2019). Not only is that an incredible return, but it’s also easy for your team to execute. All you really need is an email tool and some good content, and you’re ready for launch.
And that’s just one tactic. There are a wealth of digital marketing options out there, ranging from search marketing to content to advertising in online publications. Of course, when discussing digital marketing, we’d be at fault if we didn’t bring up the impact of technology and software. Many sales and marketing tools can be used to drive the ROI of your campaigns even higher - depending on the tool you use; you can see a 10X or higher increase in the number of leads generated from your digital marketing efforts.
Whether you’re ready or not, the manufacturing sales landscape is changing, and the only way to stay competitive is to invest in digital sales & marketing.
Where do I start?
Before you decide on the tactics that you want to use in your digital marketing strategy, you need to understand what you want to achieve from moving online. Take the time to evaluate your customer’s needs and determine how a digital shift could improve their overall experience.
It’s also essential to determine the metrics you’re going to use to gauge your strategy’s success. Is success related to form fills? Website traffic? The number of leads or new customers generated? This will help establish what tactics are going to be most effective for you based on your desired results.
Of course, the most significant restraint on your digital transformation is likely going to be the budget you have available. While it’s natural to want to hang on to dollars and cents during a slow down, remember that cutting corners will often come back to bite you in the future. Take a website redesign as an example; you may elect to DIY it or hire a cheap newbie contractor, but that may not be wise. A website is far more complicated than just a pretty brochure. From having engaging content to establishing conversion paths and ensuring search engine optimization - a new site is a lot of work, and hiring a professional upfront will often save you money in the long run. The same goes for many digital marketing activities; search marketing, content creation, and even social media can take months to perfect. An expert can help accelerate that.
Once you have nailed down your budget, you can start narrowing down your marketing plan. As a manufacturing firm, some digital marketing tactics will prove to be more effective than others. For example, search engine optimization tends to be particularly powerful for manufacturing companies thanks to their extensive product lines with highly specific names and identifiers. But, to push yourself to the top of more Google searches, it may also be worth investing in pay-per-click advertising. Google Ads offers a low-cost solution to reaching your target audience when they’re actively on the hunt for what you do, giving you the chance to beat out your competitors.
Content is also often a successful marketing channel for B2B & manufacturing companies. Content marketing includes case studies, eBooks, videos, white papers or articles (like this one). Whether you promote the content on social media or email it to your prospects, it’s a great way to get people engaging and learning about your product.
Take it to the next level with software
By now, you’re hopefully convinced of the importance of digital transformation, but expanding digitally is far more than just redesigning your website and being active on social media. It’s about driving success in your business using technology - and that’s where software comes into play.
There are a number of platforms on the market designed to optimize a business’s marketing & sales functions. These tools can be used to generate new leads, nurture prospects, execute campaigns, and much more.
Investing in the right sales and marketing software can have a dramatic effect on your results. According to Invespcro (2018), 80% of companies see an increase in leads when using marketing software and 77% of companies see an increase in conversions. This can mean an exponential difference in the ROI of sales and marketing campaigns.
Whether you’ve been moving into digital sales and marketing for years or have had to hit the accelerator thanks to COVID-19; the digital era is here to stay. Your actions over the next few months have the potential to impact your success for years to come.
Need help with your digital transformation? Visit www.activeconversion.com.
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