Industrial Marketing Blog

SEO Must Complement Conversion Optimization for an Effective Industrial Marketing Strategy

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I find too many manufacturers and industrial companies still hung up on individual keyword rankings and getting to the top in Google and other major search engines. I’m not trying to minimize the time, effort and the expertise needed for search engine optimization (SEO) of industrial websites. After all, traffic is the lifeblood of online marketing and you can’t get traffic if your site is invisible in search engines.

The problem is that traffic by itself means nothing if you fail to convert it into qualified leads and sales opportunities. The old assumption that visitors will call after finding you in Google and visiting your site is not working anymore. Industrial buyers do their own research and usually complete 60-70% of their buying journey before contacting your sales team.

I understand most industrial companies tend to define a qualified lead as an RFQ or RFP but it is too late if that is the first contact you have with the buyer. You are either one of three competitive bids or competing on price alone. Your potential customers will turn a deaf ear to your spiel about differentiation and expertise at this stage of their buying decision. All they care about is your price and lead time.

Doing SEO for the sake of generating more RFQs may work well for distributors selling standard components and/or commodity industrial products but that strategy doesn’t work for manufacturers or distributors selling engineered solutions. In the first situation, pay per click (PPC) may be better for conversion than SEO traffic. PPC also allows for controlled experimentation which can then be implemented for improving organic SEO.

Keeping up with frequent algorithmic changes from Google is difficult enough but it is equally challenging if not more so to persuade human visitors to take an action. In other words, increasing your organic SERPs (search engine results page) is an important goal but the ultimate objective is to convert more of that search engine traffic into customers.

What is Conversion Optimization?

In digital marketing, conversion optimization, or conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the method of creating an experience for a website or landing page visitor with the goal of increasing the percentage of visitors that convert into customers. (Wikipedia).

In complex industrial sales with long sales cycles, conversion usually means a qualified lead for sales to take follow up action and close the deal if possible. (See “SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation.”)

A good industrial marketing strategy must align SEO with CRO in order to increase sales. Even though the two go hand in hand, it is important to understand the differences between discovery optimization and conversion optimization.

Conversion optimization or CRO is complicated and is a vast subject just like organic SEO is. Instead of trying to explain everything here using hundreds of words, let me show you two infographics that explain the concept very well and show how SEO and CRO work well together.

Conversion optimization or Conversion Rate Optimization 101 – Understanding CRO (Infographic) - An Infographic from Digital Marketing Philippines
10 Ways Your SEO works with Conversion Optimization #infographic

Find more infographics at Visualistan

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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  1. We have seen lots of businesses losing potential leads because they ask for a high risk commitment like “sign up for a site survey” at the end of a top of the funnel awareness offer.

    These visitors are researching; they are not yet ready to consider a survey from a supplier. They move swiftly away and become a statistic that didn’t turn into a lead.

    Give your visitor the option to just ask a question and they are usually willing to part with their email address in return for the answer.

    • Jo,
      Thanks for sharing your experiences and the suggestions.

  2. Hi Achinta

    I agree traffic without conversion leaves you with no tangible results.

    At the core of every conversion strategy is the offer and call to action. With the right offer, you will get more visitors to reveal themselves earlier in their research/selection process.

    As you said though, it’s too early in the process for prospects to request a quote or even an introductory phone call.

    But these prospects may be willing to request a white paper, a how-to guide, industry research, a case study or something similar. Especially if you don’t require much more than an email address.

    My advice is to spend some time developing these offers, build a library of them over time, spread them around your website and continually test their effectiveness. Often just changing the title a particular report or guide will have a big impact.

    For those who don’t respond, you still have remarketing (aka retargeting) which allows you to continually send display ads to past visitors of your website.

    • Bob,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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