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Lead Generation Strategies for Manufacturers: 11 Ways to Boost Your Sales

Are you a manufacturer struggling to generate leads? Check out these 11 proven strategies to help you drive more revenue.

by Beth PopNikolov

Manufacturers tend to have a longer sales cycle and a difficult time getting in front of a large quantity of qualified B2B leads without running constant ad campaigns.

Without the right strategies in place, it’s easy to feel like your acquisition costs are getting out of hand, which is why exploring new opportunities and learning how to optimize them is critical to ensuring growth in both low and high seasons.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of lead generation strategies along with a variety of actionable techniques that you can apply in your business starting as soon as today.

4 Benefits of Thoughtful Lead Generation for Manufacturers

With so many options available to consumers, it's important for manufacturers to differentiate themselves and connect with the right prospects. By developing a strategic and thoughtful approach to lead generation, manufacturers can achieve a range of benefits, including the following.

1. Improved Targeting

When you know exactly who to target, you can ensure that your campaigns are getting in front of the right people at the right time. In turn, you’ll see better results from the campaigns you run in terms of brand awareness, engagement, leads and sales.

2. Increased Credibility

Part of any lead generation strategy is creating highly-targeted, in-depth content that answers your ideal prospect’s specific questions and requests. When your target customers consume this content, they’ll consistently be left with the impression that you’re a skilled, knowledgeable, and trustworthy manufacturer that can effectively address their needs.

3. Higher Quality Leads

By focusing on attracting the right prospects, you can generate higher-quality leads that are more likely to convert into customers. The result? Your cost per acquisition (CPA) will go down while your overall conversion rate goes up.

4. Increased Sales

Ultimately, the goal of lead generation is to increase sales. With a thoughtful approach, you can generate more qualified leads that, in turn, are more likely to convert into customers. This can save your sales team time spent qualifying leads, shorten your sales cycle and reduce the amount of legwork your team has to invest in educating and converting prospects.

Understanding the Buyer's Journey

Segmenting your customers is important as you go about mapping the journey to making a purchase decision because a designer will follow a very different process compared to a retail purchaser or a construction firm.

The buyer’s journey is divided into three general stages — awareness, consideration and decision. Here’s a look at how the marketing strategies you could apply to each stage differ.

  • Awareness: At this stage, prospects are experiencing the symptoms of a problem, but they need a lot more information to figure out the way forward. During this stage, you need to provide informational content, like eBooks, guides, industry reports and white papers, that help them classify the problem they’re facing.

  • Consideration: Once a prospect can define their problem and they have decided to pursue a solution, they enter the consideration phase. For instance, a retailer who can’t keep a product in stock might begin to explore the option of finding a new manufacturer at this point. More expert content should be delivered to prospects in this stage, narrowing to specific solutions.

  • Decision: During this stage, prospects are aware of their problems and the solutions they could pursue, but they need to compare the solutions in greater detail to decide which one to choose. For example, a retailer might enter this stage by being aware of a few different manufacturers that can provide the product they need. They need specific information at this point, such as vendor and product comparisons, brochures, spec sheets, price quotes and demonstrations.

Taking the time to analyze what these stages look like for your prospects is essential to strategically driving results.

Content Marketing Strategies

Content marketing is an approach where a manufacturer works to develop a variety of content (including non-written content, like videos) on topics concerning their target customer. Content marketing relies heavily on educational content that aligns with the needs of your prospects, but does not try to directly sell them on your solutions.

The power behind content marketing is that it builds trust. By showcasing your industry expertise and openly providing substantial value to potential customers, content marketing allows you to demonstrate niche authority and knowledge while ultimately creating resources that are highly shareable. In turn, content marketing can help you drive organic traffic, earn backlinks and generate leads.

There are countless types of content that you can use in a content marketing strategy for your company, including:

  • Blog Posts

  • Infographics

  • eBooks

  • White Papers

  • Case Studies

  • LinkedIn Posts

  • Brochures

  • Spec Sheets

  • Email Newsletters

Keyword research plays an important role in informing a content marketing strategy, but it shouldn’t be your sole driver. When thinking about topics and themes for your content calendar, consider the questions, pain points and interests your audience has. Focus on offering value rather than strictly creating content around queries that are likely to lead to conversions.

John Deere is often considered the father of content marketing because they pioneered the earlier known examples of this strategy in the form of a farming publication known as The Furrow. John Deere started mailing it to farmers in 1895, dubbing it a “Journal for the American Farmer.”

Inside, they didn’t try to sell their equipment. Instead, they talked about the growing season, climate considerations, soil health and other topics that farmers needed to know, regardless if readers used John Deere equipment or not. However, they would naturally and sparingly include stories about farmers who used their equipment, focusing on the improved efficiency they were able to achieve.

The takeaway? Content marketing should always come down to offering value to your readers. As a manufacturer, focus on the end use cases and the results your target customers are trying to achieve. By openly educating them on construction industry trends, DIY tips and design concepts, they will seek you out the next time they have questions or need supplies.

Lead Generation Strategies for Manufacturers: Social Media Strategies

Social Media Strategies

There are many ways you can leverage social media as a manufacturer, especially if you’re marketing to a B2C crowd of DIYers and hobbyists. Both organic and paid social media marketing can prove valuable, so long as you focus on creating and maintaining a strong presence that is consistent, helpful and authentic.

Some of the best platforms for manufacturers include:

  • TikTok: Short videos on TikTok have the potential to reach millions. By going behind the scenes, featuring customer projects and putting an entertaining twist on industry problems, you can easily reach homeowners, contractors and industry professionals while building a more relatable brand.

  • Reddit: With multiple dedicated subreddits surrounding home improvement and architecture, Reddit is an often-overlooked social media platform that could prove very valuable to your social media strategy.

  • LinkedIn: Famous for being the only dedicated B2B social media platform that has withstood the test of time, LinkedIn is a critical part of any social media strategy if you intend to reach decision-makers representing retail and wholesale buyers.

Any of these social media platforms can fit into a content marketing strategy, and so can less conventional platforms like Houzz and Pinterest. Organically, you should use them as a means of sharing content natively (meaning without always linking to your blog posts or other off-platform content).

If you choose to advertise on them, opt for high-value lead magnets — such as industry reports — that can help you attract your target audience with ease and quickly get their contact information.

Email Marketing Strategies

Whether you’re collecting prospects’ email addresses using lead magnets, getting them on your list via cold outreach, or marketing to your past buyers, there is no overestimating the power of email. Consistently sending emails on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis to your segmented lists can keep your business top of mind.

  • For leads, you can use email as a means of educating and nurturing readers.

  • For new buyers, you can use automated drip campaigns to ensure they feel supported and happy with their purchase.

  • For past customers, you can employ newsletters and promotional emails to keep them engaged and increase the likelihood of a future order.

Before emailing anyone, make sure you’re adhering to the anti-spam laws and following all the right protocols (like an obvious unsubscribe button and including your company name and address in the footer).

To ensure the success of your campaigns, take the time to optimize your subject lines and make your content top-notch by always offering something exclusive to your subscribers instead of simply linking to your latest content. For instance, if you have a list for DIYers, you can include a unique project idea in each email.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Strategies

PPC advertising remains one of the most widely used forms of promotion, especially for manufacturers who are trying to target a very niche or hard-to-reach audience, such as wholesale buyers.

You can run a PPC campaign across search engine results pages or on specific websites and platforms, like LinkedIn. Wherever you run your campaign, much of the success lies in the targeting rules you establish in the very first step, with the rest of the equation coming down to your ad copy and offer.

Some of the best practices for PPC campaigns include:

  • Split testing various headlines and teasers for your ads to drive the highest click-through rate

  • Designing a designated landing page that’s instantly relevant to the search query and presents a high-value offer

  • Tailoring the offer on your page to the journey stage the viewer is most likely in (based on their query and your targeting rules)

  • Using exit intent pop-ups and other features to reduce bounces and help convert more people who click on your link into leads

  • Quickly and effectively following up with a lead via phone or email, depending on their stage in the journey

Aside from running a PPC ad to build awareness about your company and entice new leads, you can also use these campaigns for remarketing purposes — helping to drive home brand recognition and convert or re-convert people who previously expressed interest in your products.

Video Marketing Strategies

Product demos, customer testimonials, how-to videos and countless other forms of video content can be used to market your company and generate leads. However, you must pay close attention to the best practices of video creation for the platform you’re using.

Case in point — TikToks and YouTube Shorts look starkly different from the top-performing Facebook videos and longer-form YouTube content. It’s a good idea to find a handful of creators in your industry to see what type of content they’re producing and how it’s performing. For instance, a roofing materials manufacturer can follow accounts like @IndyRoofCompany.

Given the time they take, it’s also crucial to make the most of each video you produce. If you start with longer videos, learn how to cut them down into shorts to get the most out of your investment. You can repurpose videos into podcasts and turn the scripts into articles and other content, too.

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Interactive Tools

Calculators, quizzes and configurators can help you engage prospects during the consideration and decision phases while offering something of serious value that can earn links with ease. For instance, providing an easy tool that helps designers calculate the total square footage of a material they need could prove immensely valuable.

  • Calculators and other tools are ideal investments because other industry sites are likely to link to them as a resource.

  • By building relevant content around your calculators, including articles and lead magnets, you can attract more leads

  • By creating a tool that a prospect is likely to bookmark and return to often, you’re building brand recognition automatically.

Aside from engaging prospects already in your CRM, these tools can also generate leads. When someone arrives on your page to calculate the price of the materials they need, for instance, you can have them enter their email address to receive an instant quote via email and then have a sales rep follow up with them later.

Webinar Strategies

Webinars are typically an hour or more in length, and they feature a knowledgeable speaker, like someone at your company, who is able to walk the audience through a specific solution or topic with authority. Webinars can be hosted live or recorded and replayed endlessly, either on-demand or at scheduled intervals.

A webinar can be educational, promotional or demonstrative in nature, allowing you to engage prospects in various stages of the journey. If you always have a webinar lined up (whether it’s new or previously recorded), you can easily capture leads on your landing pages by getting them to enter their email for access, whether or not they choose to actually attend.

Like other videos, you can also repurpose webinars into other forms of content. For instance, the Department of Energy repurposed its webinar on innovative building materials into an article. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency turned its webinar on AIS construction materials into a PDF.

While webinars aren’t always evergreen in nature, especially if you’re covering industry trends, finding ways to repurpose the materials into various formats will help you get the most out of your content investments. Plus, it can help you drive more traffic to your landing pages than video content alone given the SEO benefits.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization and content marketing go hand-in-hand. By producing content (including blog posts, web pages and case studies) around keywords, you can increase your online visibility and attract organic traffic around the clock.

Some of the essential techniques that you need to incorporate into your SEO strategy include a full site audit, on-page optimization, keyword research and link building.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but some initial steps to take include:

  1. Tools: Set up Google Search Console and other tools to track your site’s performance and health.

  2. Keyword Gaps: Analyze the search terms you’re already ranking for and compare them to the search terms your top three competitors rank for.

  3. Clusters: Consider forming topic pillars and clusters around more difficult keywords. This makes it easier to rank and helps you keep readers engaged by offering multiple relevant resources on a given topic.

  4. Creation: Create high-value content around the keywords you have identified and get it out in front of your target audience by sharing and repurposing it across platforms.

  5. Optimization: Monitor the performance of your content and optimize it based on search performance. Aim to update content every 3-6 months to keep it competitive.

Links: Actively reach out to industry sites that might find your content (such as tools and articles) valuable and ask them if they’d like to link to it. Suggest a piece of existing content where they could add the link.

While it’s not easy to design an effective SEO strategy, it will pay off in time. Of course, if you don’t have the in-house resources to plan, create and push content, it’s always worth looking into how external talent could support your SEO and content marketing initiatives.

Local SEO

In addition to creating an SEO strategy to target broad keywords relating to the products you offer, your company can also benefit from optimizing your website for local search. This could mean optimizing for the area your warehouse(s) and plant(s) are physically located in, or you could choose to optimize for many different locales to get a leg-up in the search results.

For example, building materials manufacturers can target keywords such as "siding in [city]" where their target audience and distribution resides.

Local SEO is a whole other ballgame, but it’s easier to rank for localized keywords because there is so much less competition. Ideally, you’ll use both local and non-local SEO strategies and, if you choose to pursue local SEO, you’ll need to discover the right keywords, focus on the right geographic areas and optimize your local directory listings.

Referral Programs

Word-of-mouth marketing is known to be highly effective, both in terms of cost and success rate. If you can get an already happy customer to talk about your business with others, you’re bound to see results. However, you may need to incentivize word-of-mouth marketing with a referral program.

By giving your customers and partners an incentive to refer new customers to you, you can reach new corners of the market that you haven’t been able to tap into using any other method. Plus, the instant trust that a referral builds in the prospect’s mind helps strengthen your brand, even if they don’t buy any time soon.

Trade Show Strategies

Trade shows are perhaps one of the most effective ways for manufacturers to generate leads because they attract a very specific audience of attendees, and they allow you to get face-to-face to chat, demonstrate and make deals.

Beyond in-person trade shows with booths and vendors, consider attending industry conferences and virtual events. Certain local gatherings could also present an unconventional opportunity to get in front of the right crowd, including sponsored charity events.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a strategy focused on increasing the number of people who perform the desired action. For instance, CRO for your email campaigns could mean split testing subject lines until you get the highest open rate for purchase quotes. CRO can also be used for your landing pages.

There are countless factors that need to be considered when it comes to CRO, which is why we created an entire guide to explain the process, considerations and best practices.

How to Measure the Success of Lead Generation Strategies

With so many lead generation strategies to choose from, it’s essential that you put the right metrics in place to ensure that the approach you’re taking is actually driving the results you need. By establishing a handful of key performance indicators (KPIs), you can measure the success of your tactics.

Some of the KPIs to track include:

  • The number of leads generated: This is the total number of leads a strategy generates in a given time period.

  • Cost per lead: Average cost paid to acquire a lead. For instance, if you paid $1,000 to run a PPC campaign that generated 10 leads, your cost per lead is $10.

  • Conversion rates: This would include the percentage of viewers that turned into leads and the percentage of leads that became customers.

  • Return on investment (ROI): This tracks the amount of profit you earned over and above the breakeven point in percentage form. For instance, if you spent $1,000 on a campaign that led to $3,500 in sales, your ROI was 250%.

Some of the tools you can use to track the performance of your campaigns include Monday, Hyros and Hubspot.

The Importance of Lead Nurturing

Generating leads is an essential step in the sales process, but your team has their work cut out for them once a lead enters the funnel. Instead of trying to sell something to a lead right away, you should strike while the iron is hot by delivering a steady stream of highly-targeted educational content and support. This will help nurture a lead, moving them from one stage in the buyer journey to the next.

Of course, if you don’t have many resources to spare, taking more time to qualify leads up-front will ultimately result in a higher conversion rate and less effort expended on unqualified leads. You also need to make sure you’re getting in front of leads at the right moment with the content and resources they actually need.

In order to properly nurture a lead, you must know which stage of the process they are in when they become a lead. Then, you need to recognize the signs that show they have moved to the next stage.

Some of the most effective lead nurturing techniques include drip email campaigns, personalized content recommendations and retargeting ads. Using these methods, you can set up an automated nurturing workflow for each of your lead segments.

A few tools that can support the lead nurturing process include HubSpot and Pipedrive, but it’s really in your timing and technique, not the software you choose to use.

Final Thoughts

While paid ads can drive results right away, organic strategies can build lasting awareness and keep leads coming in for years to come, although they take some time to get going. The best next step is to sort through your options and prioritize a few strategies based on your team’s capabilities, capacity and overall budget.

Once you have an idea of which strategy is a good fit for your business right now, don’t overthink it. By taking the time to learn the best practices, set up metrics and continuously optimize the performance of your approach, you can start seeing steady growth for your company.

If you’re looking for experts to help you through the process, our team at Venveo can help. Reach out to us today and let us help you increase your sales for ultimate brand success.

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