Diagnosing a manufacturer’s underperforming website
November 1, 2016 By Joe Sullivan Gorilla 76
Nov. 1, 2016 – I have many conversations with business owners and marketers within manufacturing organizations who know their companies need new websites. “It’s old. It’s outdated. It’s ugly.” And ultimately what matters is that it’s not producing business opportunities.
Sure — old, outdated and ugly may account for some of that, but the primary causes of underperforming manufacturing websites usually stem from one of two problems, if not both:
1. The website is not attracting enough of the right type of visitors (targeted traffic generation problem)
2. The website is not generating real contacts out of your visitors (qualified lead generation problem)
Before embarking on that long and often painful journey to a new website launch, it’s important to understand the source of your current website’s core problems and receive a proper diagnosis so you get it right from the beginning this next time around. You may even learn that a new website isn’t the first step toward better results. In this article, we’ll dig into both the targeted traffic generation problem and the qualified lead generation problem and examine three common causes of each.
Diagnosing the targeted traffic generation problem
The idea here is simple. You’re not driving enough good prospects to your website to significantly impact lead generation. Here are three likely causes.
Cause #1: Google doesn’t know what your website is about
If Google (and the other search engines like Bing and Yahoo) don’t know what your website is about or who it’s intended to serve, they can’t list you in search results for keywords related to the products or services you sell, solutions you offer, or problems you solve. The first things Google will look at are the page title, the URL and the H1 headline.
When the keywords used in these places are general, rather than descriptive of the content on that particular page, the search engine struggles to understand what the page is about, and that means your prospects will struggle to find it in searches.
Start with one important page on your website. What’s that page about? Choose a consistent keyword or phrase to use in the page title, the URL, the H1 headline, and a couple times in the body copy. Make sure it reads naturally. Then move on to the next page on your site and do the same. See the following screenshot from the website of a manufacturer who is ranking well in searches for “CNC machining services.”
Cause #2: Your content is promotional rather than helpful
News alert: your audience is not out there in search engines trying to find you. They’re trying to solve a problem by asking questions and seeking solutions. Your website needs to be a problem solver for your prospective customers, not a promotional digital brochure about you.
Think about your audience — the engineers, business owners and procurement staff on the other end of your company’s sales calls. What are their pain points? What questions do they ask to assist their buying processes? Now address them in the form of how-to and comparison articles, white papers that take a stance, instructional videos and other informative content. Use smart keywords in this content, like we described earlier. You’ll attract a targeted, qualified, captive audience by demonstrating your expertise — not by talking about it.
Cause #3: You lack a promotion strategy
Once you’ve naturally established some visibility in the search engines, you’ve begun creating a lasting asset out of your website that can drive targeted traffic well into the future. And unlike the assets on your balance sheet, this one will actually appreciate in time. For that reason, we are big advocates of starting there first. That said, a proactive website promotion strategy that involves both some manual labour and paying for some of your traffic belongs in the mix as well.
Email provides a venue to deliver valuable content to your existing contacts, bring them back to your website and re-engage them. Pay-per-click ads guarantee visibility in front of prospects in the search engines, even if you’ll have to pay for every resulting visit. Retargeting ads let you follow your website visitors around the Internet, placing ads in front of them to prompt repeat visits. LinkedIn groups serve as industry forums where you can share helpful content with targeted prospects who are looking for answers to questions. And playing the role of guest author in industry trade journals that your customers read creates visibility and builds valuable links back to your website that Google considers votes of confidence for you. These inbound links play a significant role in your search result rankings.
Diagnosing the qualified lead generation problem
We started by examining the website traffic problem because without good traffic, you can’t generate good leads. Once your traffic is strong, or at least getting stronger, you can shift your focus to converting those visitors into leads for your sales team to pursue. Here are three common causes of ineffective lead generation.
Cause #1: You’re relying on a Contact Us button to generate a lead
According to marketing software company Marketo, “Approximately 96 per cent of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy.” Yet most companies rely entirely on little tiny, passive Contact Us buttons in the top right corners of their websites to generate leads. You’ll need to try harder than that!
The industrial buyer’s journey is complex. Unless you’re selling a commodity product that requires no consultation whatsoever, your website visitors are most likely gathering information long before they want to be sold to. Align your strategy to their buying processes; create compelling reasons for your visitors to trade you their contact information during the earlier stages of their buying processes.
Earlier in this article, we talked about the importance of helpful content. While some of that content should exist primarily to attract targeted visitors to your website, other content — like white papers, buyers guides and case studies — should exist to convert your visitors into leads.
When this content is perceived as valuable enough to your visitors, they’ll be willing to trade you their contact information — gate them behind forms on your website.
Trust us, this works. And most importantly, it allows you to take control of the sales conversation rather than relying on them to click that measly Contact Us button and hoping they call you.
Cause #2: You’re not asking your visitors to take action
I’m amazed by how many manufacturing websites are filled with page after page of content without a clear “next step” for their visitors. How often do you think your best salesman spends an hour with a prospect, shakes his hand, says “thanks for talking” and walks out the door without suggesting a next step? If the answer is anything other than “never,” he should be fired! This is no different with your website.
Contextual calls-to-action can make all the difference. Pick a page on your website. Think about who is likely to be reading it. What do you want them to do next? Call you? Fill out a bid submission form? What if they’re not ready for that? How about downloading one of those white papers, buyers guides or case studies like we talked about earlier? Your visitors want to know what they should do next. Make it easy for them.
Cause #3: Your calls-to-action are ineffective
If you’re in the minority of readers here that was able to pat yourself on the back after reading those last few paragraphs because you have already equipped your website with smart calls-to-action, you can now start to look at how effective they are. Conversion optimization software (one of our favourites) helps you understand how visitors are actually engaging with your website’s content – what they’re clicking, whether they’re scrolling and where their cursors are moving.
Install an engagement software platform and gather real insights on how your visitors are actually using your website. When you have this kind of data at your fingertips, you can learn why calls-to-action might not be working and adjust accordingly.
Hopefully by now, your reasons for a website revamp are more insightful than “it’s old, it’s outdated and it’s ugly” and you know how to begin that diagnosis.
Joe Sullivan is a partner at Gorilla 76. For a more comprehensive look at how manufacturers can attract targeted traffic and generate qualified leads online, check out Gorilla 76’s complete guide to industrial marketing.