How Manufacturers Can Benefit from a Robust Website
Posted on: September 11, 2014 | By: Jim Bertler | Microsoft Dynamics Manufacturing
We are always happy to have guest bloggers on our site so many thanks to Global Directive for providing this article!
Your audience is moving online, and the numbers bear it out. IHS GlobalSpec reports that 84% of industrial professionals now use the Internet to find components, parts, or supplies, while 53% spend at least six hours online each work week, reading industry trade publications, doing research, and visiting manufacturing websites. Further, 56% of industrial professionals don’t contact a vendor directly until they compare and evaluate materials online. If your customers are spending that much time online and are that far along in the buying process before contacting you, it’s critical that you build a website that enables you to facilitate their needs to become the manufacturer of choice.
But simply putting up a website emblazoned with your brand name isn’t the solution. While industrial professionals are spending more work time than ever online, they are also discriminating. Advances in B2C platforms like Amazon.com have led your customers to expect an Amazonized user-experience from the B2B professional sites they visit. Additionally, the various ways in which your customers use websites, from research to ordering, require a powerful site tailored to their specific needs. In other words, you need an authoritative website that will provide all of the information your customers are looking for, delivered in a user-optimized package.
The A, B, Cs of a Robust Website
Because customers’ needs and expectations are different, a robust website for your business won’t be the same as a robust website for a business outside your industry. That’s why it’s important to select the right set of elements that will give your customers what they need, without bloating your site with unnecessary options or digital bells and whistles. Before we look at how a robust site can help you, it’s a good idea to consider the elements that are generally included in a robust site.
User-optimization: Most site visitors, including industry professionals, spend less than 8 seconds determining whether a site is useful to them or not. When your competitors are only a mouse-click away, every element of design must be tailored to your visitors’ expectations. From quick site-loading times to the appropriate placement of products and help buttons, an optimized site is crucial, regardless of your business or industry.
Mobile-friendly or responsive design: By the end of this year, more Internet traffic will run through mobile devices than traditional desktop computers. It’s important to cater to that growing number of users that will only see your site through their iPhone or tablet. Mobile sites are lean designs specifically built for smaller devices. They provide the most important information to the user, without the extraneous frills that can slow down the user experience. An alternative to mobile sites, responsive sites automatically detect the device each visitor is using, whether that’s a phone, tablet, or desktop PC, then adjust the user experience to that device.
ECommerce and mCommerce sites: B2B eCommerce generated more than $559 billion in U.S. sales alone last year, while U.S. mCommerce is expected to exceed $100 billion this year. Delivering the products your customers or supply chain partners want, in a secure, user-friendly way, is the hallmark of a strong eCommerce and mCommerce site.
Media libraries: Industrial professionals no longer restrict their research to reading. 46% of industrial professionals use YouTube and other video services to view product demonstrations, webinars, and other professional information.
Blogs and online forums: Industrial professionals are turning online for more of their research than ever before. Blogs and online forums provide your visitors the opportunity to interact with you and their peers, getting the research and advice that they want prior to making purchasing decisions.
Dealer and distributor portals: Your website isn’t just for your end-use customers. If you rely on a complex supply chain, offering distinct portals for your customers and your supply chain partners can provide each group the user experience they require so as to increase transactions and transaction amounts.
The Benefits of a Robust Manufacturing Website
Once the right set of elements are in place, what can you expect from the new digital face of your business? As the foundation of your online presence, your site will deliver a host of benefits.
Brand Recognition and Loyalty: For good or bad, your website is your business’s digital face. A powerful website that delivers the experience your customers and supply chain partners are looking for will strengthen your brand and its reputation online.
Increased Lead Generation: A well-designed site that offers white paper downloads, newsletter signups, spec sheets, application cases, etc., and captures visitor information and behaviors, will deliver qualified leads to your sales department, efficiently and with a higher return on investment.
A New Sales Channel: ECommerce continues to grow for B2B companies. Last year 28% of B2B companies saw more than half of their sales come from online sources. A well-designed digital marketplace can help your business deliver those same results.
A Reputation as a Thought Leader: A recent IHS GlobalSpec survey showed that the average industrial professional subscribes to about 6 digital professional publications, and 66% of manufacturing professionals attended an online event or webinar in the last year. Additionally more professionals than ever use forums to seek advice on industry topics. Using your site as a publishing hub, knowledge library, and community forum ensures that professionals in your industry associate your brand with the leading knowledge in their field.
More efficient, and attractive, supply chain management: Integrating supply chain administration to your website makes everything from inventory management to fulfillment more efficient, while also providing a strong communication channel with your partners. Perhaps just as important, giving supply partners the online resources they’re looking for gives you a competitive advantage with the distributors and suppliers you would most like to do business with.
As manufacturing-sector businesses continue to move online, your website will serve as the foundation of your future growth. A powerful website customized to the needs of your customers and supply chain partners is the key to ensure that foundation is solid.
GlobalDirective combines marketing expertise and leading-edge technology know-how to deliver full-cycle digital solutions for manufacturers. Call 1-866-925-9524 today to receive your no-cost, 360° assessment, which will provide you with a custom-developed SWOT analysis, identify untapped revenue opportunities, and provide a blueprint for your business’s most important areas for online growth.
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