Over recent years our team has been fortunate enough to have been entrusted by some leading global manufacturers with transforming and enhancing their typically complex digital platforms. In this article, we will take you through some of the digital marketing trends that we’ve come to see that are successfully impacting customer journeys and, in turn, boosting conversion rates.
1) Single integrated platforms
As in most businesses, manufacturing companies have a wide range of marketing activities that are used to drive interest and engage with potential customers. Whether it’s through email marketing, Google organic searches, PPC, Social Media, and traditional offline marketing activity that drive direct traffic, a lot of the data generated and collated from each media channel is measurable and can provide a business with a lot of insight into how users are interacting with an organization. The one downside is this data is often general and, in most cases, cannot be associated with a single user across the disparate channels. On top of that, the data gathered typically has to be manually inputted into standalone databases, ERP, or CRM platforms, tying up valuable resources in the process.
Without an integrated platform, you only capture a fraction of your customer’s important data, and therefore you only have a limited understanding of them. An integrated understanding of your unique customers’ behavior at various stages of their buying cycles means you can more accurately communicate relevant content through the stages. Integrated marketing provides you with more integrated information. That means you have data that isn’t only specific to each customer, but that corresponds with the stage in which they are in the buying cycle. A solution that isn’t fully integrated into the website content management platform only provides you with a partial picture of your prospects.
Utilizing an integrated platform at the center of your marketing activities brings efficiencies and automation of manual, tedious, time-consuming tasks, while not changing your marketing activities and crucially taking the guesswork out of it. Out-of-the-box marketing platforms typically offer different combinations of online marketing functions as an integrated package. These typically work well for manufacturing companies who do not want to purchase and manage several different systems to handle activity such as; marketing automation, content management, SEO, social media marketing, contact management, and commerce.
2) Automation and data-driven marketing campaigns
To deliver seamless digital experiences and encourage loyalty, manufacturing companies should look more and more towards machine learning and automation to deliver business goals. Whereas it was possible to achieve good results with rule-based marketing in the past, it is working less and less in today’s times. Buyers and customers expect messages that are relevant to personal needs and address their most pressing pain points and frustrations.
The top CMS platforms now offer advanced workflow designer tools for creating complex workflow processes that are meant to assist marketing teams in realizing efficiencies in running marketing campaigns by automating certain functions and processes. Allowing you to develop new leads and generate wider demand for your products, by automatically delivering engaging content to prospective customers as they go through their buying process and establishing yourself as an expert in what you offer.
Utilizing automation for your marketing campaigns is another way for your teams to cross and up-sell related products, using data gathered to keep in tune with customer needs and wants as they occur. It also opens up the opportunity for your customer service teams to quickly set out more tailored follow-up steps with customers based on actions taken or products purchased.
3) Chatbots and artificial intelligence
These days speed and transparency are priced commodities, using chatbots for specific use cases and personas that are simple and repetitive where customer needs are well-understood can make all the difference. Chatbots are an option that can provide an added level dimension to your customer service teams, serving immediate, personalized responses 24/7 virtual assistants that engage with customers in simple conversations.
Chatbots can help customers search for products, place orders, and pay for them, creating a quick and seamless purchasing process. Chatbots also allow you to target visitors based on such factors as their location or country, giving you the ability to customize your bot’s behavior further to suit those visitors. Functionality has reached a stage whereby profiles now show you which pages your visitors have visited on your site, making it easier to get a holistic view of behavioral patterns across all potential touch-points and interactions.
Chatbots in the future could potentially be developed and evolve into becoming a direct marketing tool, opening up even more opportunities for marketers to engage with customers. When selecting a Chatbot provider, ensure to check whether it will integrate seamlessly with your current digital platform and that it ticks all the boxes in terms of functionality that you require to meet your objectives.
4) Personalization and tailored customer journeys
When we talk about personalization, we picture delivering tailored, relevant communications to the right customer at the right time to provide a richer experience. In reality, many manufacturing companies are still some way off from delivering on this.
The challenge for manufacturing companies is that both B2B and B2C customers have come to expect a personalized experience from their day to day engagement with companies in other industries. Brands such as Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify, have without doubt raised the bar by delivering personalized experiences and recommendations to their customers, in turn, increasing customer expectations and putting pressure on other companies and industries to do the same.
Personalization has the potential to increase sales and revenue, with 80% of consumers indicating they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. It can also be a major differentiator and influence which brands people prefer and lead to greater customer loyalty. Almost two thirds (61%) of consumers say that they are now loyal to brands that tailor experiences to their needs and preferences. This expectation is also being mirrored with B2B customers who have an even higher expectation for personalization.
Understanding how customers use the channels your digital platform supports, such as your website, is crucial to delivering personalized customer experiences. Before you start on your journey to implement personalization, it is a worthwhile exercise to first consider which data you want to use to personalize content, e.g., persona groups, known interests, location. There are plenty of software providers offering personalization functionality, however, ensure you select the one that ties in personalization with your wider marketing activities.
What’s in store for manufacturing companies?
In an era where habits and buying patterns will continue to change at rapid rates, marketing of the future will increasingly rely on emerging digital technologies and techniques to discover more about each potential customer, making each journey more relevant, more detailed, and more personal. From our experience, manufacturers must keep up to date with all the latest and brightest digital offerings, as these may have the potential to transform, enhance, and future-proof their companies.
To have a lasting impact and to get the most ROI, marketers across manufacturing will have to take a strategic approach when implementing any of the above. Critically marketers will also have to take measures to ensure compliance with GDPR and be transparent when implementing any data collection functionality on their digital platforms.
Join us on our upcoming webinar to learn more about the digital marketing trends that are impacting manufacturing.