Industrial B2B Marketing for More Web Leads (Step-by-Step Guide)

by | Jun 3, 2020

TLDR Key Takeaways

  • Understand the B2B industrial buying process is typically long and complex. Provide educational content, high levels of service, and follow-up.
  • Design your website to compel and convert users by showing them how you offer a solution to their problems.  Design strategies should include calls-to-action, clarity, trust, and reduced distractions.
  • Use SEO and paid search to capture search traffic on the keywords that show “buy intent”.
  • Social Ads, particularly LinkedIn, are ideal for reaching business decision-makers effectively.  Use highly targeted audiences such as uploaded email lists or demographic profiles and lead ads
  • Take advantage of marketing automation to reliably communicate with, sharing information, and follow up inbound marketing leads.  Automated email sequences and lead alert notifications make this more consistent.
  • Nurture leads by providing education and value first while the prospect is considering their purchase.  This is done with social media, email, and retargeting ads.

If you’re a marketer for an industrial business then I envy you as you enjoy one of the biggest opportunities to capture market share online.

While tech, e-commerce, and many other sectors have already embraced digital marketing for years, industrial B2B is still very much behind the times with marketing.

It is time to move beyond using dated advertising like ad placements in trade magazines, direct mail, and branded calendar magnets!

If your customers are researching and looking for their next industrial vendor online, are you going to show up?  I’m talking about Google, SEO, PPC, Linked In, and Facebook with email marketing, webinars, and content marketing to capture, nurture, and convert.

When I speak with industrial B2B marketers, it makes me absolutely giddy when I do an industry audit for them.  There is so much demand and, in most sectors, the competition is very weak.  The space is ready to be dominated by those willing to invest the time and resources into seizing the opportunity.

So what do you need to do to dominate your industry?

I’ve laid out some essential steps every successful industrial marketer needs to follow, this is based on managing dozens of digital marketing programs across construction, mining, metals, waste, and other industrial categories.

So let’s get into it!

Step 1: Website

Build a Lead Generator, Not a Digital Brochure

I’ve seen hundreds of industrial company websites and 9-out-of-10 are what I call a “digital brochure”.

By that I mean that they provide the most basic information: email, phone number, address, logo, team photos, list of services, company history, and maybe a form to contact them.

So if I’m already sold on the company and just trying to get in touch with them it works fine.  If I’m researching and evaluating which provider I should do business with, they stink.

To better illustrate, here’s an example of a typical industrial metals website (the company name is hidden for privacy)

B2B Digital Brochure Bad Website Design

Visually the site looks like it was designed 10 years ago and hasn’t been touched since.  The user experience is poor, but more importantly, it’s lacking the content that would compel new customers and get them motivated to convert. All the information is about the company and why they are great. But there is little information on how this company understands its customer’s needs or how it meets those needs.

Here are some basic landing page goals to achieve:

  • Build Company Credibility
  • Demonstrate How The customer Can Solve Their Problem With Your Solution
  • A Clear Next Step (call-to-action)

And here are some simple ways to achieve these goals:

  1. Instant Clarity (5-second rule) – A direct headline and sub-text describing what your company does.
  2. Trustworthy Logos – Using client or affiliation logos, high numbers of customers served, vendors used, or awards won quickly let visitors know your business is legit.
  3. Client Quotes – show you have provided excellent service before with compelling quotes.
  4. Clear Call-To-Action – Use a big, bold button to illuminate the path to conversion.
  5. Compelling and Relevant Visuals – Only use images relevant to your industry, ideally demonstrating the positive results of using your solution (i.e. smiling person using your product.)
  6. Problem-Solution-Results Paragraph – Adding a paragraph to explain that you understand the customer’s problem, then presenting the needed solution, and showing what life is like after is a powerful message.  To learn much more about this “one-liner” check out this video from Donald Miller at StoryBrand.
  7. Simple Navigation – Reduce the number of links in your header navigation and focus the user on what to do next.
  8. Exit-Intent Pop-up Offer – I know pop-ups are annoying, but the exit-intent pop-up only appears as a user moves their mouse to leave your website.  Before they go, capture their email with an enticing offer.
  9. Live Chat – Business owners and marketing executive decision-makers are busy, they want quick answers and easy access to information.  Not only does live chat allows your customer support and sales team to unblock any confusion quickly but you can also capture hot leads when they are ready.
  10. Sales Rep Calendar-Booking Tool – These are awesome in reducing meeting scheduling friction and yield a much higher meeting-show rate.  Visitors can see your sales rep’s calendar and book a meeting for a time that works for them.  Contrast this with filling out a web form then waiting for an email to only go back-and-forth in trying to find a time that works for both sides to get on a call.  Plus it will add the event to the prospect’s calendar and automatically send reminder texts and emails.  Hubspot and Calendly offer great solutions for this.

Here is an example of a strong landing page with a clear understanding of what they do, the problem they solve, and a CTA for what to do next

Bright Machines Landing Page

Step 2: SEO

Create the Content They’re Searching For

Search engine optimization (SEO) is key for gaining long-term consistent web leads.  When potential customers need information or are ready to find a new vendor, they turn to Google and Bing.  For marketers, it’s the perfect opportunity to be discovered by offering educational industry-relevant content and highlight the products or services they provide that can meet the needs of the prospect.

The 3 big pillars of SEO include Technical SEO, Backlinks, and Content.

Technical SEO involves setting up your website so that search engines can easily crawl and understand it.  This includes things like writing descriptive title tags, adding image alt text, formatting schema markup, having a clean site architecture, submitting a sitemap, and having pages that load quickly.  For all the details, check out this excellent guide to Technical SEO from Backlinko.

Backlinks are a major ranking factor since search engines use them to understand how authoritative your website is within your industry.  These are links to your website from other websites.  The more prominent the website, and relevant it is to your industry, the more beneficial the link is to your website.  There are endless ways to earn backlinks but some of our most common approaches include:

  • Guest Posting – Offering to write an article for another website in exchange for them including a backlink in your article.
  • Creating Shareable Content the Promoting It – Simply building useful content that is worthy of reference is the best approach.  But “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply here, it’s necessary to do outreach and distribution of your shiny new content to make other websites aware of it.
  • Press Contributions – Using a platform like HARO allows you to contribute as an industry expert to the press.

Content is the most important and truly crux of SEO. If you really think about it, search engines have the goal of providing the best answers to the questions users search. By creating articles and pages with the information that industrial buyers would be looking for, you are doing exactly what the search engines want you to do and what the searcher wants. Creating SEO-driven content starts with keyword research, figuring out the keywords that new customers would be searching, ideally topics that don’t already have a good page ranking already. Then create an authoritative post which you can also use to send out in your email newsletter and social media channels. For more on SEO content creation, this article on Wordstream lays out the process nicely or if you want it done for you, check out our SEO content writing service.

Step 3: Paid Search

Instantly Rank and Get Traffic From Search

Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) and Bing Ads give advertisers a channel to appear above or below organic search results for their target keywords.  Incorporating paid search into your inbound marketing strategy allows you to immediately drive self-qualified traffic to your marketing landing pages.

Paid search works especially well as a complement to an SEO program.  It allows you to discover the keywords that convert to buys before spending months optimizing for organic rank.  With paid search, you can also rank for highly competitive terms – such as competitor brand names and other topics difficult to rank organically.

Furthermore, the ads section on the Google SERP keeps getting bigger so it’s smart to show in the ads box.

Strategies for an effective PPC account include:

  • Extensive long-tail keyword research – We even developed a tool to identify long-tail keywords.
  • Well-organized account structure – We like the Single Keyword Ad Group (SKAG) model.
  • Manual CPC bidding – Google has tried to automate bidding, but we find taking more manual control nearly always outperforms automation. Remember – Google wants you to spend as much money as possible on ads, do you want them setting your bids for you?

Check out this video for more ways to maximize your ROI with Google Ads.

Step 4: Social Media Ads

Targeted Lead Generation Has Never Been Easier

Social media networks, particularly LinkedIn, provide a powerful industrial marketing platform to reach your ideal decision-makers at scale.  The ability to target audiences based on criteria like job title, company, industry, member skills, and seniority allows your marketing to reach precisely your niche B2B buyer.

Another targeting option, available on all major social media networks, is custom audiences.  Advertisers can build a custom audience by pixeling visitors to their website (similar to retargeting) as well as email list uploads.  So, if you’re working on a list of prospects then you can also reach them with ads on LinkedIn and Facebook.  This is an impactful way to get prospects to know your brand as your sales team reaches out to them.

The addition of the Lead Ad from Facebook and LinkedIn also enables advertisers to generate leads directly on the social feed and import those leads into their CRM.

Step 5: Marketing Automation

Turn Cold Leads into Hot Prospects on Auto-Pilot

A lack of consistent lead follow-up can easily waste otherwise good B2B marketing.  The easiest way to be consistent is to automate as much as possible, while not appearing inauthentic. Which is a challenge but not impossible.

When a lead comes to your website and shows intent by downloading a whitepaper, what happens next can make or break your entire marketing and sales program.

What should happen next is this:

  1. Hit an Upsell Thank You Page – After giving them the whitepaper they downloaded why not offer them a chance to book a meeting like mentioned in number ten above? Learn all the ways to enhance your “Thank You” page in the blog we wrote here on Upcity.
  2. Sales Rep Notification – Hot leads should trigger an alert to a sales rep for personal follow-up. See how to customize lead notifications on Hubspot.
  3. Welcome, Email Sequence – This can be 3 to 5 automated emails sent over 1 to 2 weeks to indoctrinate them to your brand and demonstrate how you offer the perfect solution to their problem. Keep has an excellent email sequence setup mini-course for free online.
  4. Post-Meeting Follow Up – If a sales meeting happens, then following up with more information or a proposal should be on auto-pilot with high consistency.
  5. Lost Lead Recovery – Did a prospect sign a 1-year agreement with a competitor?  Make sure you save the date to follow up and see if they would consider a change prior to renewal.

A platform like Hubspot or Marketo can offer marketing automation in a single platform and are worth adding to your program if you don’t know where to start.

Example Meeting Followup Email Template
Example Meeting Followup Email Template

Step 6: Lead Nurturing

Stay In Front of Your Prospects

Industrial B2B company purchases typically have a long sales cycle.  For purchases from $10,000 to $10,000,000+ high consideration and due diligence is required.  So how can you stay on the prospect’s mind with online marketing during those weeks or months?

Ensure your marketing efforts pay off by making the most of every single lead you receive by nurturing them.

Great lead nurturing practices include:

  • Retargeting – After a prospect visits your website, downloads your information, or joins your newsletter they have expressed some intent.  Make sure you keep communications with them by serving them ads across channels so they don’t forget your brand.  To go to the next level of retargeting, serve them different ads based on their current stages in the sales funnel.
  • Email Newsletter – Unlike the email welcome series, an email newsletter is not automated or evergreen.  A regular newsletter is your opportunity to reach your prospects in their inbox with educational content, company news, product or service announcements, promotions, or other information that lets them learn more about you as they progress in their decision to buy.
  • Social Media Posting – Let prospects know you’re active and knowledgeable through your social media content.  It’s also a great way to show some personality and build a deeper connection.

In Conclusion

Industrial business-to-business marketing is unique in that you have a well-defined, niche customer, and a longer, more complex buying process.

Utilizing the highly targeted social media ads audiences and industry-specific keywords in your SEO and paid search programs allows you to focus your ad dollars on your niche buyer.  The landing page, marketing automation, and lead nurturing strategies ensure you add clarity and value as prospects are considering service providers.

Set up your online marketing program with this end-to-end system and you will likely be in the top 1% of digital marketers in your industry. If you would like our expertise on your team book a call now to learn more and get a free account audit – or learn more about our B2B digital marketing capabilities now.

What step do you need to add to your funnel?  Tell us in the comments below.