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Website Design for Manufacturers

5 Critical Components of a Successful Website Design for Manufacturers

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Creating a successful website design for manufacturers takes careful planning, a deep understanding of how engineers and industrial buyers make decisions and a lot of hard work. These have nothing do with the aesthetics of the site. Applying a new skin to an existing website to make it look “pretty” won’t help you move the needle when it comes to generating better quality leads. Reading Time: 5 minutes

Nine out of ten conversations about website design for manufacturers start off with, “We are not getting too many good leads from our website.” Are you facing the same problem?

The problem with that problem statement is that “not enough leads” is the symptom or the pain you are feeling. Naturally, people want a quick fix, so they jump into redesigning their manufacturing website. What they end up getting is nothing more than a cosmetic facelift to their current website.

Right after launch, everyone is excited with a new look and you even see a nice bump in traffic. Soon the initial euphoria dies down and you are back to the same old problems… no one can find you (SEO), declining traffic, poor conversions and so on and so forth.

What went wrong? Well, there is a big difference between an attractive but ineffective website design for manufacturers and one that is efficient and effective at generating good quality leads. Read my post, “Why do so Many Industrial Website Redesigns Fail?” to learn more about the problems.

In this post, I’ll mention five key areas you should focus on to make your next website design for manufacturers a big success.

#1: Understand what engineers and buyers want from a vendor’s website

This may sound simple and obvious, but I have seen too many manufacturers find it difficult to think from their customers’ perspective. The expression, “can’t see the forest for the trees” applies here because they are eager to push their products and services right off the bat.

I’m not minimizing the importance of product specifications and features; they are definitely important for engineers in making a buying decision. However, those only address the “What” questions and cannot address the “Why” question.

It is very likely that your competition has the same or similar specs on their website. You must quickly answer the basic question, “Why should I buy from you?” Making a generic statement like, “We have the best customer service” won’t cut it.

#2: Earn trust and build stronger relationships

When you design or redesign a website for manufacturers, pay attention to the content. Just recycling the old content won’t help you. Focus on earning the trust of your target audience. Engineers and technical professionals are naturally skeptical of content and claims made on a vendor’s website.

Make sure your website content is technically accurate, presented in a logical manner and provides proof of concept. You are going to have a hard time convincing your audience to believe you until you earn their trust by providing content they can rely on and verify.

The best way to do that is to bring your in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to the forefront. I have found one engineer to another to be a very powerful strategy for earning trust and credibility. Read my post, Industrial Content Marketing that Engages Engineers.

#3: Engineers are time-challenged—ease their pressures at work

According to the findings from the survey, 2019 Pulse of Engineering published by IEEE GlobalSpec:

  • 65% of engineers work on design teams of five or fewer participants.
  • On an average, engineers work on between three and five projects concurrently.

Engineers are constantly asked to do more with less, are under tremendous time to market pressures and shrinking resources. Anything you can do to save time for busy engineers and help them make an informed decision will go a long way in becoming a trusted partner.

Plan your website design for manufacturers to include content assets that I refer to as sales enablers. I’m talking about assets such as downloadable CAD files, parametric search applications and online configurators to name just a few.

These sales enablers not only save time for busy engineers, they improve accuracy throughout the design process, shorten time to market and move the buyer closer to the buy decision in a logical manner. These are practically a necessity if you are manufacturer of components that must be “designed in” by a Design Engineer.

I have written several posts about this topic, here’s one you may want to read, Industrial Content Marketing for Engineers to Make a Buy Decision.

#4: Understanding the age difference among engineers is important

Every manufacturer wants to reach key decisionmakers but focusing 100% on senior engineers can be a mistake. Many of the junior or less experienced ones are tasked with gathering information in the early stages of the buy cycle. They share this information internally with senior engineers, some of whom may never visit your website.

Some of these younger engineers are Design Engineers who are specifiers, as I’ve mentioned earlier in this post, unless your industrial component is specified or designed in first, you are not likely to receive that call or email from the Purchasing Department for an RFQ/RFP.

Your industrial website design must take into consideration the age difference among engineers when targeting these technical professionals. For more information about this aspect, read my previous post, Marketing to Millennial Engineers.

Notice how the content consumption habits are different among millennials vs. older engineers. Making your new industrial website mobile responsive (RWD) is critical. Also, it is very important to understand what types of content they consume and how they use different formats in making the final decision.

#5: Website design for manufacturers and industrial content marketing

Aah, last but certainly not the least, we come to the relationship between website design and industrial content marketing for manufacturers.

This topic alone can fill up several blog posts and I have published many such posts right here. Just search for industrial content marketing.

Let me summarize its importance in one sentence, if your industrial website is the engine for lead generation, then content is the fuel that drives it.

Read Industrial Website Redesign and Content Marketing Strategy are Connected.

Don’t shortchange your industrial content marketing for lead generation by thinking of it as just a new way of doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Your content not only needs to improve your search engine visibility, but it must also increase your conversion rate optimization (CRO). While the two are related, SEO is not the same as CRO.

Manufacturers have used industrial content marketing to achieve a wide range of goals over the past 12 months as seen in this chart from the 2019 Manufacturing Content Report published by the Content Marketing Institute.

goals achieved with manufacturing content marketing

As you can see, a good website design for manufacturers, one that is effective at generating high quality leads, requires a lot of planning and expertise. Which also means they are not inexpensive like a simple reskinning of an existing website that isn’t producing in the first place.

If you are planning a new website design for manufacturers in Q4 2019 or Q1 2020, you may want to download our guide, Step-by-Step Guide to Web (re)Design.

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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