Throughout our more than 12 years in business, Stifel Marcin has developed a special focus on clients in B2B markets like manufacturing, industry and technology. Our portfolio is full of industrial and manufacturing web site design and development projects, and it is our goal to produce sites that are not only visually appealing, but also increase sales.
Visitors to B2B web sites have different needs, and typically there is a broad array of information that needs to be presented. Specific technical data, operating information, capabilities and services have to be presented within a format that clearly communicates your company's brand message and benefits.
Most of our manufacturing clients operate in a highly-competitive markets. It is imperative that these companies' web sites perform at their best.
Our team has worked to come up with a "top 10" list of items an industrial or manufacturing web site design and development project should include. While each company has specific needs related to their industry, this is a good starting point when you're thinking about your new site.
1. Your Company's Brand Promise - Be sure your web site's pages (internal pages, product pages, etc) offer some marketing language that defines who your company is and your capabilities. Imagine landing on one of the most specific pages within your site – maybe an individual part/model page – make sure that page "sells" not only that part, but your company as a whole.
2. Cross Sell Products & Capabilities - Make all your products or services visible – either in the menu bar or in a consistent product list that appears throughout your web site. You'd be surprised how many customers mention that they sell new products to existing customers just by getting the word out.
A "mega-drop down" style menu can be a great way to quickly display a lot of information to a web site visitor. It also can serve to reduce clicks, acting as an efficient means of navigation.
3. Consistent Navigation - Make it easy for users to get around the site. You want them focused on learning about your products and services, not trying to figure out how to find information.
4. Track Site Activity - Sites produced by Stifel Marcin include an application that will track site activity - usually Google Analytics. These applications can track general data that shows site performance, like how long people are on your site, how many pages an average visitor goes to, and what referral sites are driving traffic to your site. Tracking can also reveal very specific information, such as what keywords perform best, paths visitors take through your site and locations of visitors. Data can be filtered by date range, pay-per-click advertising can be tracked and site goals can be set.
Besides being a great marketing tool, tracking your web site performance can provide valuable insights into your customers, your messaging and the market. Some clients prefer we handle the detailed analysis and maintenance, and opt for an on-going web site optimization plan that tracks performance.
5. Include Downloads - Specifications, diagrams, instructions, quality certificates, etc. should be included so it is easy for customers to work with you. Downloads let your customers find the information they need any time of day, and it reduces the time you spend on customer support. Consider including downloads not only on the product page, but also in a download area where you list all the data in one easy to access location.
Additionally, pdf files (which are most often what would be downloaded) with embedded text are visible to search engines – so customers who are searching for highly-specific content may find you from your downloads.
6. Highlight Certifications - Besides including all your certification documents as downloads, include text that describes your company's credentials. Overall it will support the image of a quality company with reliable products and services. Most importantly it will help you rank in searches where customers are looking for specific qualifications for a bid.
7. Technical Data Presentation Balanced with Good Web Design - We try to develop content on an industrial or manufacturing web site so there is a user-friendly balance of product/capability information, technical data and brand messaging. Tabbed content can often be useful, allowing one page to present a lot of information, so users can quickly find specific content. Or you can build out a series of specific sub-pages, which also offer the opportunity for new keywords and search engine visibility. Try to not load all your content up on one long, scrolling page.
8. Include a RFQ or Info Request Form - Forms provide an easy way for people to contact you when it is convenient for them. They allow potential customers to tell you when, how and why they want you to help them - all to their terms. Forms can usually allow for an attachment (like a CAD drawing) to also be sent, with little effort. Oftentimes a form submission is the first step in a sale. If you don't make the process easy from the start, you might loose that opportunity.
Additionally, forms are a great way to create new marketing opportunities. You can collect the data that is submitted and use it in future marketing campaigns. Emails can be used for email blast recipient lists, and addresses can be collected for post card mailings. The ideal way to use this collected data is to sort it a step further and categorize it for highly-targeted marketing efforts (based on the products they inquired about, their industry, the location, etc).
9. Be Specific - We understand the importance for confidentiality and the highly specialized, proprietary work of many of our clients. Patented data and private company techniques must be protected. But technical and manufacturing web sites need to clearly and specifically provide the information a potential customer needs so they understand you are a good resource. Sometime clients are so protective of their information they strip away the specifics until the web site becomes vague and too general.
10. Know What You Don't Need to Say - Keep in mind your web site won't be seen by just customers, your competitors will see it too. Think about what information is helpful and will be important in a sale.
Customer lists are often a topic of discussion. Oftentimes we recommend against including them. Is the benefit of a potential customer knowing you sell to XYZ Company going to make a huge difference – or are you providing a competitor with a list of potential leads? Sometimes listing your list of customers has a big impact – showing you are large and established. However, it usually isn't the defining reason a vendor is chosen. Our opinion is often "when in doubt – leave it out".
Please contact us, or fill out an online RFQ. We're more than happy to talk about your site, your goals and what Stifel Marcin can do for your industrial, technological or manufacturing web site project. We are a full-service manufacturing marketing and industrial marketing agency.
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