Digital marketing is becoming more important for manufacturers and wholesalers. It allows you to intentionally reach your ideal customer in a way that feels organic.
There are several different approaches to digital marketing, and which you use will depend on your unique offer and target audience.
In this post, we’re going to talk about some of the top digital marketing strategies for manufacturers. We will take a deep dive into SEO, social media, paid ads, and more before reviewing some general content marketing tips. We will wrap things up by discussing how to leverage a B2B eCommerce platform, like Alibaba.com.
Let’s get started by discussing why digital marketing is important for manufacturers.
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Digital marketing is a method of marketing that leverages the internet and online media to reach a specific audience. In general, marketing is used to connect with your ideal buyer with the end goal of having them make a purchase or make some other conversion.
Over the past few years, a lot of business has moved to the internet. The desire to shop online has pushed both retailers and wholesalers to sell online. This streamlines sales and makes it easier to connect with buyers around the world.
Digital marketing is relatively affordable, which makes it easy for manufacturers to test different strategies to see what works best for reaching their audience while making the most of your marketing budget.
Digital marketing is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Even though manufacturers are all targeting other businesses, their audiences will have unique needs, so they need to be approached in the way that makes the most sense.
Let’s take a look at some of the top digital marketing strategies for generating leads and increasing B2B sales.
Search engine optimization, which is often shortened to “SEO,” refers to curating content so that it ranks well on search engines. The goal here is to drive qualified traffic to your website through organic search results. By targeting relevant keywords, you can actually capture the attention of prospective clients that are searching for terms related to your products.
For example, if you are selling T-shirts, you could optimize your content for different terms like “best wholesale t-shirts,” “bulk wholesale t-shirts,” “plain t-shirts in bulk,” or “t-shirts in bulk for screen printing.” You can take these keywords and create landing pages and blog posts on your website.
Google and other major search engines are looking for cues throughout your web pages and blog posts that signify that your content is valuable to users. If you are targeting the keyword “plain t-shirts in bulk,” for example, you may consider creating a post that answers the question of where to get plain T-shirts in bulk.
Add valuable information and incorporate your offer as a solution. The goal is to incorporate the keywords as naturally as possible and to make the content very user-friendly.
There is also a more technical component of SEO that looks at the optimization of your actual web design. Search engines scan for different back-end elements, like site speed, ease of reading, mobile compatibility, and more.
We recommend hiring an SEO specialist since the technicalities can be a lot to learn.
SEO is particularly important to keep in mind because it applies to most online platforms at this point. While Google, Yahoo, and Bing are among the largest search engines that scan the entire World Wide Web, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and other major social media platforms double as search engines, so SEO can be applied to these popular platforms, as well.
Search engine marketing, or “SEM” for short, also involves leveraging high search engine rankings to drive traffic to your website. However, with SEM, you must pay the reach engine to put your content at the top rather than optimize it to rank organically.
The benefit of SEM is that results are more precise than with SEO. However, the downside is that search engines label your ranking content as sponsored content, so users know that you paid to have your results there. Some users don’t care that the content is sponsored, but some will skip over sponsored content to look for organic results.
Since Google is the most popular search engine, manufacturers can start with Google Ads for SEM. We recommend hiring an SEM specialist for the best results because it requires a bit of a learning curve. This sort of specialist will help you target the best keywords for your specific audience, which will help you eliminate a lot of guesswork.
Video is an engaging medium that gives viewers a more lifelike experience and helps them connect with your brand. There are two main types of video content: live and on-demand.
Live video streaming can be used to broadcast virtual events, product demos, Q&As, and other things that could call for the participation of the audience.
On-demand video can be uploaded for viewers to access at their convenience. Some popular types of on-demand videos are educational videos, “How-Tos,” and other tutorials. The idea is to provide value to viewers.
There are a couple of ways to go with video content marketing. You could upload videos to a public, social platform, or you could create a video platform of your own by embedding video players on your own site.
YouTube is a popular option for businesses that are dipping their toes in content marketing. The platform is free to use and it is designed to build an online community. The YouTube video player can be embedded with different web hosting platforms, and the YouTube Dashboard is pretty easy to use. The downsides are that the YouTube video player cannot be white-labeled, and there are some restrictions when it comes to content and functionality.
Embedding video on your site is often seen as the more professional approach because it gives you more control over the situation. With the help of a professional streaming solution, you can customize your video player and simulcast to different platforms. However, this can get costly and complex.
Email marketing can be very effective when done right. Some businesses send out promotional blasts and others send newsletters with the goal of building brand awareness. The key is to add appropriate calls to action to make it easy for your recipients to buy from you.
Some of the top tools for email marketing are Constant Contact, MailChimp, and ConvertKit. Web hosting platforms, like Squarespace and Wix, also offer comprehensive plugins.
Emails need to be sent very strategically so that they are not overwhelming to recipients. You might consider sending different emails to different segments of your contact list. For example, past customers would receive different email blasts than you’d send to leads that you are still nurturing.
For email marketing to work, you need to have a collection of email addresses of qualified contacts. “Qualified” is key here. 50 email addresses of people who are in your target audience are more valuable than 1000 email addresses of people who are not in your target audience.
There are a few ways that you can collect email addresses. Many businesses collect email addresses by including a popup on their site that allows users to unlock a discount in exchange for their email addresses. Sometimes, businesses use this same model but require the email address to unlock access to an eBook or similar document.
Another great way to generate email addresses is to present at virtual events. How this works is you would ask the event coordinator to provide attendees’ email addresses as part of the “payment” for your participation.
Other marketers buy email addresses. This can be controversial because sometimes the legitimacy of how these email addresses were originally collected is questionable.
Social media marketing is a type of content marketing that taps into popular social media platforms to build brand awareness by creating engaging content. Many find social media marketing most effective when they approach it like building a community. This helps businesses to establish a sense of influence and authority that drives customers their way.
Determine which platforms your target audience is active on and build a presence there. Some of the top social media platforms that you might consider include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Clubhouse, LinkedIn, and TikTok. Again, which platforms you should invest in depends on your unique audience.
Each of these platforms has unique features that allow you to create and share different types of content.
Many B2B companies run paid ads to reach their target audience. Ads can be run on search engines, social media platforms, and other online locations. This is the modern alternative to running advertisements in newspapers, radio stations, magazines, and the like.
Again, the goal is to run ads where your audience will be exposed to them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to running ads since every manufacturing business and every ad agency is different. However, it is important to keep in mind that your ads should be very targeted and specific.
They should use copy, or text, that addresses pain points and demonstrates how your manufacturing service can solve them.
Collaboration goes a long way in the professional space. We encourage leveraging connections to form strategic partnerships to reach a larger audience and attract new customers.
Referral partnerships can be especially valuable. Let’s say you sell t-shirts. You could partner with a brand that sells leggings or sweatpants. You may be targeting the same retailers, but you each have something different to offer. One way to do this is to offer a commission to a referral partner each time they bring you a lead that ends up buying from you. This incentivizes them to bring you leads, and it helps you make more sales.
Influencer marketing might be something that you consider. An influencer is a person with a significant following on social media that has an active and loyal audience. Brands pay influencers to promote their products. Influencer marketing is typically used in the B2C space, but if you can find a B2B thought leader with an audience that aligns with your own, it may be worth the effort.
Networking online is a great way to connect with new leads or to connect with new contacts who could send you referrals. Online networking has been especially valuable during the pandemic because it has made it possible to “meet” people online and continue to build relationships.
There are a few different online spots that are great for connecting with others. The first is social media.
LinkedIn is a platform that is dedicated to connecting professionals. You can search people by name, location, job title, company, and more. Users can post content, including pictures, videos, text posts, and even live streams. LinkedIn also has a private messaging function, so you can personally reach out to new connections to introduce yourself and lay the foundation of a professional relationship.
Facebook groups are another great place to meet people and discover new opportunities. Users can search Facebook for industry-specific groups. There are several general groups for manufacturers and wholesalers, but you can explore more niche options. The best way to make the most of these groups is to interact in threads and start productive conversations.
Virtual trade shows are another great way to connect with others. Large platforms, like Alibaba.com, feature these virtual events. Do some research to find out what is available in your specific industry.
Optimizing your online presence is essential, and this includes your website. You must use a responsive web design to make your user experience pleasant for visitors on mobile devices.
Many web hosting platforms, like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix, automatically use a responsive layout to give users the best experience no matter what type of device they are using. However, this is something that you should discuss with your web developer if you have a custom-coded website.
Ensuring that your web layout is optimized for mobile users is also very valuable for SEO.
Listing your items and creating a storefront on a B2B eCommerce marketplace is a great way to get your offer in front of potential customers. The beauty of these platforms is that buyers come to them looking for products.
Alibaba.com is one of the top B2B wholesale platforms in the world. It is trusted by buyers thanks to a variety of programs and restrictions that protect transactions that are carried out through the platform.
Alibaba.com and other similar B2B eCommerce platforms double as a search engine, so if your listings are properly optimized, your products will appear to buyers who are looking for them. This is great because it keeps you supplied with warm leads.
Now that you know what sort of digital marketing tactics manufacturing marketers are using, let’s review a few tips and best practices for making the most of each of these practices.
Knowing your audience is absolutely key for finding success in any digital marketing strategy. Build an ideal client avatar that paints a picture of the exact persona that you are trying to reach. Identify where your ideal customer is located, how large their budget is, how often they will need to place orders with you, and who they serve.
Although you’re targeting other businesses, a person will be in charge of making the sale. Identify the emotional side of the buying process so that you can figure out how to best target them. Figure out what sort of problems and pain points your business solves. Use this information to curate each advertisement or piece of content that you produce.
One way to optimize your digital marketing strategies is to track your leads. When you chart where your leads are coming from, you can see which channels are worth investing the most in.
If one channel seems to be lacking, you can reassess and see if you’re better off investing more or cutting it loose.
Social media is a very important tool for digital marketing. This helps to build a community and make the most of your digital marketing efforts.
In addition to simply having profiles on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the other top platforms, we encourage you to stay active and engage with your community. Answer comments and messages, and create content that encourages your audience to join in the conversation.
As the owner or operator of a manufacturing company, you can’t be expected to do it all. A variety of skill sets are necessary for growing a company, so calling on the help of a specialist is a good idea.
Although the digital marketing tactics we mentioned above could be handled in-house, many of them are more effective when carried out by somebody with specialized knowledge and skillsets.
When you hire a digital marketing specialist, make sure that the person you hire has case studies, reviews, and testimonials to back them up. You want to hire somebody who has proven to get results with their methods in the past.
Look for someone who is trustworthy and has experience in your industry. A good way to do this is to ask for recommendations from your colleagues.
Alibaba.com is a B2B eCommerce marketplace where buyers and sellers come to make wholesale transactions. What sets Alibaba.com apart from other similar platforms is that it offers an array of digital marketing tools to help businesses connect with the right buyers and propel their sales.
Let’s take a look at a few of the digital marketing tools that sellers have access to on Alibaba.com.
Running paid ads is one of the tactics that we mentioned above, and Alibaba.com actually has built-in advertising tools. This allows you to run ads on the Alibaba.com platforms so that your products rank in searches for relevant keywords.
Alibaba.com also targets ads based on geography and click history. The best part about this feature is that you pay per click (PPC), so you’re only paying when people actually interact with your listings.
One unique lead generation tool we have is a Request for Quotation (RFQ) feed. This is a section of the site where B2B buyers can post their wholesale needs. Sellers can browse these requests and be
This allows manufacturers to target offers directly to one single prospect at a time. This is definitely different from the other digital marketing tactics that we’ve mentioned, but it can be very effective.
Analytics are a huge part of digital marketing. They help you to understand how to best reach your audience, and they help you to see what is working and what is not.
Alibaba.com provides powerful analytics tools to give you insights into your target market and the performance of your online store. These analytics provide information on platform-wide trends.
Digital marketing is more important than ever, and there are so many different approaches that you can take as a manufacturer.
If you are looking to start, grow, or scale your wholesale or manufacturing business, we invite you to start selling on Alibaba.com. Our platform is the go-to spot for over 14 million retailers who are looking to source products for their stores. That means that you can connect with tons of warm leads who are in need of a supplier for a product like yours.
To get started, sign up for an Alibaba.com account, and indicate “Seller” as your trade role.