Today, a manufacturer’s website is not just their digital front door. It functions as a member of their team.
In a digital-first world, websites have evolved beyond product brochures and lead forms. Now, websites greet site visitors, help navigate them to the right pages, and even nurture buyers into customers.
And websites are only one part of it. By 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions are expected to occur across digital channels. Already, some manufacturers report that their lead quality from trade shows has declined, while others say that fewer buyers want in-person meetings.
Faced with this shift, many manufacturers are now trying to find their footing with their digital marketing and sales experiences. But, amidst all the noise, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly your website needs.
That’s why I chatted with Will Lyon, 6sense’s Head of Vertical and Segment Marketing, on what manufacturing marketers should do to turn their websites into reliable and efficient digital partners. Here’s what you need to know 👇
I originally spoke about this topic on a webinar hosted by B2B Marketing Zone. If you want to watch the full recording, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for the insights 💡
What Are Today’s Manufacturing Websites Missing?
When we talk about digital experiences, it’s important to remember that your B2B customers are also B2C customers. And B2C companies like Amazon have set the bar high for what a modern website experience should be like.
Today’s customers are no longer willing to spend their time digging through your web pages for the information they need. Instead, they expect companies to provide an immediate, always-on experience that is tailored to them — regardless of what they are buying.
According to McKinsey, B2B suppliers who provide an outstanding digital experience are more than 2x as likely to be chosen as a primary supplier over those who provide a poor experience. So, the right website experience will give you an edge over the competition — which is why manufacturing websites need these three key things:
Generic experiences don’t generate as many high-quality leads. A whopping 73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. This means that personalization should no longer be reserved for your top accounts — it’s something that needs to be implemented for prospects and customers at scale.
With website personalization, the goal is to deliver a seamless and relevant experience to your site visitors, i.e. getting them what they want, when they want it. Some examples include showcasing the right solutions upfront, using tools like chatbots to respond 24/7/365, and customizing your follow-up to match the visitor’s specific needs and preferences.
A Cohesive Customer Journey
No one tries to sell skis in Arizona in the summer. In the same way, you don’t want to be selling to a customer who has already bought your solution. Nor do you want to leave a new lead confused about how your product can help them.
A cohesive customer journey ensures your site experience matches where your visitor is in the buying process. For example, a first-time visitor might want materials that help them understand a specific product line, whereas an existing customer might want support. Your website should act like an online concierge that not only meets your site visitors’ needs but also guides them to the next stage through relevant and timely recommendations.
To power a personalized and cohesive website experience, you need to have a good grasp of who your site visitors are and what they want. That’s why reliable data matters.
With Google planning to phase out third-party cookies in 2024, manufacturing marketers need to get serious about first-party data. Not only does first-party data provide an alternative to third-party cookies, but because it’s information that visitors share with you willingly, it’s also a more credible source of data. By using this data to power your website engagement analytics, your teams can get a clear picture of what’s driving revenue and take action to iterate on those strategies. (More on that below.)
Why Website Data Matters to Your Entire GTM Strategy
So far, we’ve talked about how a personalized website experience generates more leads and pipeline. But, it can also gather first-party insights to inform your go-to-market (GTM) strategy.
In reality, many manufacturing companies do not have full visibility into their buyer universe. A report by PathFactory found over 80% of first-party buying signals are anonymous. Data from 6sense also shows that, at any time, only 10% of your total addressable market is in-market to buy — and 78% of those accounts are not recorded in your CRM.
All this goes to show how easy it is to target the wrong accounts. That’s why, as Will explains, leveraging website data is a game-changer.
“There is so much, what I like to call, digital breadcrumbs that are all over your website [which you can use] to make better and more informed marketing and sales decisions on how to treat different opportunities, impacting your marketing tactics, deal velocity, and even deal size.”
By collecting first-party data through your website, you gain a better understanding of buyer and customer intent through their on-site behavior. For example, you can pinpoint accounts that are ready to buy based on the number of buying group members who are visiting your website, or you might identify a cross-sell or upsell opportunity from the web pages that a customer visits.
Using all the information that your website has to offer, you can ensure you’re targeting the right accounts, as well as make more strategic decisions that maximize your team’s efficiency and make your campaigns more optimized.
4 Ways to Grow Pipeline Efficiently with Your Website
Currently, only 8% of manufacturing companies report that their digital experience is ahead of customer expectations.
So, while many manufacturers aren’t yet delivering the outstanding experience that B2B buyers crave, this means that brands who invest in building that experience are sure to stand out from the crowd.
But, with the complexity of personalization and the noise surrounding innovations like ChatGPT, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve laid out three ways to efficiently transform your website from a digital brochure to a pipeline engine 👇
- Maximize what you are already doing. Pause and take stock of your current digital experience. Are you making the most of the tools and strategies that you already have? Take website forms, for example. Simplify your forms by asking fewer questions and focusing only on the necessary questions. Or, better yet, give visitors the chance to skip the form queue entirely and have a live conversation with you using a tool like Drift Fastlane.
- Engage high-intent buyers. Instead of going after every single lead in your database, start by prioritizing leads who show strong signs of buying intent. Here, you’ll want to leverage your first-party website data to narrow down your leads from the total number of visitors on your website — then, you can engage them with relevant resources. Will recommends taking a crawl-walk-run approach and gradually refining your use of data in both marketing and sales. For example, marketers can start by improving their retargeting, while sales can use notifications to better engage target accounts.
- Convert faster with automation. As a manufacturing company, you’re probably familiar with how automation speeds up work on the factory floor. Marketing automation brings that same level of efficiency to your GTM efforts. What you automate will largely vary depending on your team and tech stack, but by automating the processes that are already working, you will easily be able to scale your marketing initiatives. For example, Drift can automatically enroll prospects in an email nurture sequence based on the event they signed up for.
- Give your website a chatbot. If you’re looking to provide your site visitors with what they need quickly, then the best way to do that is with an online concierge. Chatbots help scale your conversations with site visitors so that you can automatically pinpoint their intent and serve up the right resources for them. Check out our collection of real-life manufacturing chatbot examples to see what a chatbot could look like on your website.
Often, when we think of digital, our minds jump to experiences that are stiff and robotic. But just because something is online doesn’t mean it can’t still feel human.
It’s true that your website may never be as customer-centric as Amazon’s website. But it’s also true that, if you neglect your digital experience, you’ll fail to meet customer expectations, which means losing out on leads, customers, and market share.
So, don’t wait. Take this opportunity to optimize your website experience today.
Ready to make your website conversational? Learn how to generate leads and revenue more efficiently with Drift for Manufacturing.