Contrary to what some marketers believe, your website is NOT merely a silent salesman. It’s an engaged ecosystem of product information and promotion, with a goal to become a communication tool that successfully identifies and targets good-fit leads. Product launch doesn't happen in a vacuum; your site is in constant competition for your audience’s attention.
With 4 billion internet users, and 3,877,140 Google searches every minute of every day, how is your brand going to stand out in a crowded marketplace? On-page SEO always helps, but search engines are ranking site engagement as an essential factor, and a site that frequently adds new content will climb higher than a site that has been idle for months. The days of the “set it and forget it” model of web development and maintenance are long gone.
Before you leap into a full website overhaul, here are our recommendations for creating an active, engaging site:
Write Once, Publish Everywhere
Regularly adding content to a site doesn’t necessarily mean using a CMS system like WordPress for site updates. You should seriously consider using a product information management system to drive your website. With PIM-driven sites, the product information is dynamic, meaning it pulls from common content data. This allows you to easily repurpose content for new pages just by using a new template.
Data-driven sites also create a lower barrier to site updates. Adding new products, updating product information, or expanding a line can all be managed by your site administrator, and shouldn’t need to involve web developers. Dynamic content allows your site to be market-responsive and able to turn on a dime.
As an added bonus, all this product data can be used for print projects too. We use data-driven design to manage many components of our client launch campaigns. For example, we frequently use the same data fields to build print catalogs, sales sheets, and package design.
Add B2B E-Commerce
B2B e-commerce is already a huge market and is projected to grow to $9 trillion by the end of 2018. Yes, almost half of this traffic is comprised of EDI transfers on existing networks, but an important consideration is that $954 billion is expected to come from employees on suppliers’ websites. In this scenario, you are the supplier. Do you have a plan to drive those sales?
Large retailers have very defined avenues for how a product gets to their shelves; landing just one contract can dramatically increase sales for your brand. But there are scores of smaller retail networks and family-owned businesses that you can and should be reaching. How well are you representing yourself to smaller firms, especially those who might not be part of your existing distribution relationships?
A B2B e-commerce platform, with customized landing pages targeting smaller retailers and supported by digital ads targeting the needs of smaller retailers, can generate a healthy revenue stream. Pair this with marketing automation to nurture those leads within an active CRM system, and you can extend your brand’s reach and boost the bottom line.
Generate Helpful Product Info
In order to keep a steady stream of new content flowing toward your site, keep in mind that “blog” posts don’t have to be great literature. Try to keep yourself from agonizing over each post, remember to value your own time spent writing. And don’t overspend. A dynamic site can also support other stages in the buyer’s journey than the shopping cart. Researchers may want to know more about a product before they buy. User manuals and suggested applications are reasons shoppers come back after the sale. Instructions, product dimensions, parts lists and user guides are categories of product information that are important to add and regularly update.
The food industry has been generating content marketing since the first printed recipe, and any product line can emulate that same recipe concept. Suggested uses, holiday ideas, and trending product information are all easy ways to add content to a manufacturer’s website.
Influencer marketing helps, and can be a massive boost to your content plan. Form relationships with industry experts and influencers who have a large following. Include in all of your contracts some language that outlines the ability to publish influencer content to your site. Look for cross-marketing opportunities with products throughout the pipeline and develop collaborative content.
Leverage Divisible Content
We subscribe to the theory of divisible content as a management practice. Divisible content is a method that consists of breaking apart core content into smaller, repurposed content. An example would be a long-form, detailed instruction manual. That content could be reused as source material for an infographic, a how-to blog post, in addition to pieces of micro-content posted to your social streams.
As you add information to the site, be sure to include a strategic social sharing plan to the mix. Social activity without a solid plan to drive shoppers into the funnel is just adding noise without purpose. Social engagement should not be just about audience building, but should also help to bring up your search ranking. Be sure to create posts that drive shoppers to your site.
Recipes, fashion tips, and home interior ideas posted to Pinterest are highly shareable, and each post drives traffic back to the source website. Instagram stories and “buy now” links are gaining traction with online shoppers and can be hugely beneficial in sending direct traffic to your site.
Product ratings and reviews not only boost consumer interest, they are also another way to add user-generated content to your site. As shoppers add comments on your products, they are also contributing content to your website. Each review adds indexable words in addition to increasing the engagement rate of your site.
With a robust framework in place, you can easily update your website with each product launch. Your website will quickly become a true extension of your sales team. When you invest in the proper digital architecture, your website can truly transform into a trusted sales rep who never leaves your company.