Your company may have a robust, full-featured Web site, complete with a searchable online catalog, product specification sheets, technical articles, intuitive navigation, a site map and more. If this is the case, you should be commended for a job well done.

Yet, in the digital age, having a great Web site isn’t enough to help you rise above your competitors and gain the attention of potential customers. The fact is, your target audience and customers use a variety of online sources to seek out suppliers, products and information. Your company Web site is one of those sources—and an important source—but it’s not the only one, and usually not the first one that potential customers find.

According to the 2010 GlobalSpec Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, in the early stages of the buy cycle, when buyers are defining needs, conducting research, and identifying vendors, a broad array of information sources are used, including social media, Webinars, e-newsletters, search engines and GlobalSpec. It’s not until buyers reach the procurement stage of the cycle that supplier Web sites become the most important information source.

Increase Your Online Presence
This data indicates that suppliers need a broad, yet focused online presence to connect with potential customers where they are online. Suppliers should consider allocating marketing budget to:

  • Advertisements in targeted industrial e-newsletters
  • Building presence on specialized search engines and directories such as GlobalSpec
  • Using banner ads on industrial Web sites
  • Increasing social media initiatives such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs
  • Participating in virtual conferences and online events

Online events are growing in popularity as traditional in-person tradeshows decline in attendance due to lack of effectiveness as well as the burden of travel and opportunity costs. According to the Forrester Report, “B2B US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009-2014”, investment in online events is expected to grow 11.8% in 2010 alone. As an online event sponsor, your company can communicate its message, participate in discussions, chat with potential customers, promote its content, and track exactly who interacted with them.

Another trend in the digital age is the use of video. According to a recent industrial marketing trends survey conducted by GlobalSpec, 68% of manufacturers stated they plan to increase their spending on video in 2010. Video has rapidly become an important business-to-business marketing tactic, for a number of reasons:

  • Higher bandwidth connections allow for smooth video streaming
  • Video is inexpensive and easy to produce
  • People respond to video—it takes less effort than reading and it’s a preferred medium in an era where many are glued to the screen

You can accomplish a number of goals with video, including promoting your brand, educating prospects and customers and generating leads. The opportunity to showcase your products ‘in action’ allows the audience a new way to learn about your company offering. When using video, be sure to include a call-to-action at the end. When you upload videos to YouTube, take advantage of features such as adding keywords.

Re-Purpose Content for Multiple Online Uses
In the digital age, with potential customers using a variety of online sources to gather information, you should have a broad library of educational and technical content to meet their needs. The GlobalSpec Industrial Buy Cycle Survey reported that 70% of buyers review four or more pieces of content for purchases greater than $10,000.

Your content library may include brochures, specification sheets, Webinars, e-newsletters, white papers, videos, application notes and more. Providing good content to prospective buyers helps you gain an advantage over competitors.

As noted in this month’s Marketing Maven Article, “Five Steps to Implementing a Content Strategy”, you don’t have to create all your content from scratch. Re-purposing content from one format to another is an effective and efficient way to meet the information and education needs of potential customers. Re-purposing content means that you keep the bulk of the copy and images intact, and make necessary tweaks to optimize it for a different format.

For example, a print brochure can be re-purposed into a Web page; the white paper is edited into a technical article; blog entries become bylined articles; a presentation becomes a video. Re-purposing content helps save time and offers your audience choices on how to engage with you. It also keeps your message and point of view consistent.

Use re-purposed content wherever appropriate. You’ll want all of your content to be available on your Web site. Upload videos to YouTube. Consider adding presentations to slide sharing sites. GlobalSpec allows suppliers to add a great variety of content to their supplier pages. In this way, you will extend the reach of your company and communications, meet the needs of potential customers, and increase opportunities for leads and sales—helping you achieve success beyond your Web site in the digital age.

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