In any industry today, you want a robust, full-featured Web site complete with intuitive navigation, detailed product information, up-to-date content, and offers that help you capture qualified leads. It’s a basic requirement in this digital age. Yet having a great Web site isn’t enough. By itself, your Web site will not lift you above competitors and connect you with potential customers. Why not?

Because in the industrial sector, your target audience and customers use a variety of online sources to seek out suppliers, products, and information. Yes, 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 potential customers find.

The Buy Cycle Determines Information Sources
According to the GlobalSpec Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, supplier Web sites are the least used information source during the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, when buyers are defining their requirements, conducting research, and identifying vendors who might be able to meet their needs.

During these early stages buyers use a wide range of information sources including general search engines, online catalogs, GlobalSpec.com, e-newsletters, social media, and others. It’s only in the later stages of the buy cycle, when buyers are comparing vendors and making their final purchase decision, that supplier Web sites become animportant information source.

Build Your Online Presence
The conclusion to draw is that you need a broad, yet focused online presence to be found in the early stages of the buy cycle; otherwise, your company will not make a buyer’s short list in the later stages of the cycle and you could miss an opportunity to win new business. A broad presence means you can be found in a variety of information sources. A focused presence means these information sources are used by the target audience you are trying to connect with.

Consider, for example, these marketing ideas:
• Placing advertisements in targeted industrial e-newsletters that with a single click send customers to your Web site to take advantage of an offer for a white paper or Webinar.
• Building a presence on specialized search engines and directories such as GlobalSpec where, during the early stages of their buy cycle, engineers and technical buyers seek out suppliers, products, and services that meet their needs.
• Promoting your brand and products using online banner ads on a network of industrial-related Web sites, again sending interested prospects back to your Web site with a single click.
• Participating through sponsorship in online events such as virtual conferences where you can establish your company’s reputation as a leader and showcase your entire portfolio of products and services.
• Teaming up with a leading online media company that is focused on the industrial sector to produce and promote an educational Webinar directed at the audience you want to attract.
• Increasing social media initiatives such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs to help your company become a trusted and valuable resource for buyers.
• Producing short video segments such as executive interviews, technical advice/how-to’s, or customer case studies and posting them on YouTube where you can take advantage of features such as adding keywords that are relevant to the content and your offerings.

Each of these tactics can help expand your online presence, which will increase your opportunities to be in front of buyers during the early stages of the buy cycle. Then, once you are found, you can drive qualified traffic to your Web site and wow prospects with the breadth and depth of the information and offers you make available to them. But remember, they won’t come to your Web site unless you help get them there.
 

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