Utilizing Effective Websites for Manufacturing
BY CHRISTINE TORRES
Published January 28, 2021
A website is a vital tool for a business. Yet, whether a stagnant or dynamic design, a website’s design, and content aren’t a one-and-done task. It’s crucial that manufacturers and other businesses maintain, update, and improve their website frequently. Rebecca Hart of Drive Source International, Dynamatic, hosts “Effective Websites for Manufacturing” for #USAMfgHour on Twitter.
Rev-Up the Search Engines
Crafting a website that works for your company takes time and effort. Hart started the chat by asking the group of manufacturers and supporters to examine their websites. Is it up to date, or does it need some work?
“Our website is currently up to date, but it's a continuous work in progress for us,” said UNEX Manufacturing.
“Work to do. As my business evolves to does my site,” said Sharon Landis of Consultative Sales Coaching.
“We have been in the long process of redoing all four of our websites, with two mostly updated,” said Obsidian Manufacturing. “With so many products and a smaller marketing team, it's been a bit of a process but we're on our way to completing it!”
“I was hired in September, and that's what I've worked on since,” said Dar-Tech. “SEO. Check. Revised copy. Check. Pillar pages. Check. PDFs. Check. Video added. Check. Internal links. Check. New pages and content. Check. Blog. Check. Whew!”
“It's a never-ending labor of love,” said Graphic Products. “We try to update and change frequently to ease e-commerce and access to our vast free resources. We also add new/custom items regularly.”
“We just built a new website in 2020, but we have work to do on it,” said Chenango Valley Technologies. “We hope to upgrade some things soon and we are pushing of eCommerce possibilities.”
“We think it's pretty spiffy, but we're constantly doing little things to improve upon the design,” said Striven Software. “Updating graphics, adding interactable content. We just had a meeting this morning to talk about adding more success stories!”
“Our website was just revamped about 1 year ago, however, we make it a priority to review & tweak content monthly,” said DuraTech.
“In general, yes,” said Snaptron. “We take the approach that our website is a constant work in progress.”
“Maintenance is a weekly, if not a daily task,” said NJMEP.org. “We maintain our website as our programs and services are always dynamic. There's always work to do but we stay on top of our site. However, we might have a surprise during the latter half of 2021!”
“There is always work to do, but we are always updating it, so it's pretty much up-to-date,” said Paul Kiesche of Aviate Creative. “So many manufacturing sites are way too outdated. Can we change that, please?”
“Your website should be a fluid thing,” said Hart. “No one wants to visit your business online and see the same things each time. It's good to keep things up to date and fresh.”
The importance of updating a website regularly is more than pure aesthetics. Here are a few other reasons why you need to update your website:
- Technologically responsive: Make your site responsive and easy to access in a world where smartphones are in nearly everyone’s hands.
- Programming: The version of the website’s programming language has to meet basic web standards. If not, search engines like Google, Microsoft Edge, among others, will not be able to load your website quickly, or sometimes if it’s too old, at all.
- Quality: Be sure any images you use are your own and are high-quality. They also need to showcase your company’s vision. The content also needs to be refreshed from time to time for search engine optimization. Keywords and backlinks will make the site more attractive to those looking for what your company has to offer.
- Relevancy: If the website is old, potential customers won’t know if your business is still in operation. Make the site memorable and striking to attract the right clients. This will reduce bounce rates, which happens when someone comes to your website for a few seconds and then leaves.
- Security: An old website is easy to hack. You can also lose information and have to rebuild from scratch if the website’s technology doesn’t mesh with newer or updated software.
“We all visit websites every day,” said Hart. “It's become our second nature. Effective websites have a focus.”
When visitors come to your website, what's the first thing you want them to see?
“The first thing I want them to see is who I am, that I have worked in their environment, and what they can expect from our collaboration,” said Felix Nater of Nater Associates Security Consulting.
“We want them to see all of our services that we can do in-house,” said CVT. “We like that we are a 1 stop shop for plastic injection molding. No outsourcing. Easy Peasy.”
“Oh gosh. Because we offer a lot of different services through our product our landing page is a neat, simple summary of all we can do,” said Striven. “We also just added a beautiful review display. We love when our users gush about us. It's their feedback that's most valuable.”
“We want to be able to show the visitor a professional, well-thought-of, quick intro of our products,” said Obsidian. “If they want more information about what they are looking for, we want to give them links, menus, etc. to get them there.”
“We want our customers to see who we are and what we can do for them,” said SCTools. “We learned this from Ruby Rusine of Social Success Marketing in one of the #USAMfgHour chats. It is working well for us now.”
“They should know that they are in the right place and found what they've been searching for. So... We quickly mention we're a branding & creative agency with an edge in manufacturing & technology,” said Kiesche.
“That we do more than just print labels from a printer,” said DuraTech. “Some do not know how high-tech we are and the types of customers we have, products we make. To understand what we are capable of.”
“That we are a wire mesh manufacturer, we've been around for a long time, no job is too big or too small, and that we are a USA Mfg,” said SpaceGuard Products.
“I give a big space on my site for helpful content to anyone that may not be ready to get my services,” said Rusine. “Anyone researching for tips, my site has it for free. And if SM is out of their depth, I can do it for them.”
“Logo, Dynamic Photos and Videos of Products and Services, a site that looks modern,” said Radwell International.
Hart then went on to say that it's important to know how people find your website so you can focus your advertising or other marketing and sales energies.
Align Website with Company Goals
Do you know where your traffic is coming from? Care to share what you know?
“Acknowledgement is reality. Here’s my question - what does your website conversion analysis say about your website’s present ROI,” said Nater. “If you’re happy you are doing a good job. My website is woefully lacking in SEO but l, I am okay with it because my services are for my ideal clients.”
“We track and have the analytics, but I'm honestly more concerned where our leads come from rather than where our traffic does. It's not necessarily the same place,” said Kiesche.
“We use multiple data points. We rely on data when running client-approved experiments and when doing social media campaigns,” said Rusine. “We just finished an experiment and it's amazing what it can tell you. Huge resource-saver.”
“I have not looked at the number for a couple of weeks. I need to do that. Guilty,” said CVT.
“Direct searches for the most part. We do get a decent amount of traffic from social though,” said Obsidian.
“If you mean acquisition, we acquire traffic through direct search, organic search, paid search, social, email, and some other channels,” said Snaptron.
“As a manufacturer, are you seeing results from paid search? Are you primarily using LinkedIn sponsored ads? Have you done any remarketing?” Dar-tech asked.
“Primarily from 70% organic search, 20% direct, and the remaining 10% is roughly a split between social and AdWords,” said Cleveland Deburring Machine Company. “We could get way more via AdWords but don't want to expand the budget.”
“ Yes and no. Yes, because the gal in our department keeps track of all that and reports back to the big dogs on campus,” said SpaceGuard. “No, because, I don't know, but I should. Shame on me.”
“Like driving a car: I look at the rear-view mirror occasionally,” said Nigel Packer from Pelatis. “My focus is on the road ahead not what is behind us. Data seen is in the past and has a multiplicity of reasons why something happens.”
“There is truth to that,” Hart said. “We follow patterns in our analytics. If something specific shows up quite a bit over some time, we know to put some focus on it.”
“Yes, we do! it is coming from our weekly newsletters and social media advertising,” said SCTools.
“Marketing is so underrated sometimes--and yet what we do is important to the overall organization,” said Radwell.
“Mainly direct search and organic search thought social traffic is increasing. Referral traffic still is low,” said Dar-Tech.
Most of the businesses in the #USAMfgHour chat knew from where their website traffic is coming. Once businesses have that data, they can use it to help further business mission and goals. Do you use your analytics?
“Nope. I am just happy we have a new website right now. I don't have a staff to do this,” said CVT.
“It definitely helps us make informed decisions where we can invest more time, try new things or, if things are looking up, to keep up the work we're doing,” said Striven. “If we see an upward trend coming from a particular place, we follow that lead!”
“We review the analytics periodically, but it doesn't change too much,” said Kiesche. “It's helpful to know where folks are coming in from and what's their behavior once they get there.”
“We use our data to see where our growth is at and where we need more growth,” said Sue Nordman of Obsidian Manufacturing. “It shows our weaknesses, our strengths, and gives us lessons on opportunities possibly missed. And it's always changing with the economy, etc.”
It also helps their sales and marketing teams get on the same page about what customers are looking for and how to help them best.
“Since before Sept., our website was just a stood-up shell and there was no social or analytics. We still are in the early stages. I took a baseline and am watching it grow from my initiatives,” said Dar-Tech.
“We use analytics mainly to determine what our website looks like and where to focus ad dollars,” Hart said.
“Yes, it's so important to use your data to make marketing and business decisions,” said Snaptron. “For example, should you change or modify your SEO strategy to help generate leads? How are your blogs performing? Are you getting the right kind of traffic to your site?”
“Yes in multiple places -- Google as well as analytics through our CRM system -- plus for social we use a bunch of analytics as well that show some traffic to our website,” said Radwell.
“Yes! We always rely on or look to data in our decision-making process,” said John Buglina of Optessa. “This takes time as you need 'enough' data to make an informed decision.”
What could be improved on your website and what would it take to make it happen? If money were no object, what would you want your website to include?
“Paid Ads to stay on top but those are pricey,” said DCSC.
“We would love to do more testimonials and case studies, but so much of what we do is confidential, or some customers do not want to release who their suppliers are,” said DuraTech. “It's tough to showcase the amazing work we do at times. and get new product pictures or videos.”
“Personally, I'd love to see more people,” said Striven. “The folks working behind the scenes and our customers. It would be nice to celebrate them through content on the site. Behind this kick-ass software are people, their businesses who are trying to be better all the time.”
“I think we need to get as much information as possible about our products on our sites,” said Obsidian. “More visitors want the information right in front of them when visiting sites, otherwise they would have resorted to calling and asking in the first place. We’d like more how-to videos of a lot of products, interactive history pages of our brands, a larger, single site, setting up e-commerce for smaller orders would be good too.”
“We need more information, case studies, and that sort of thing,” said CVT. “It's on the radar, but I don't see it happening for a while. Frankly, we don't need it right now, but it would be nice to have it. We have plenty to do. Case studies and a blog. Maybe eCommerce.”
“Well, that's a loaded question for our situation,” said Nordman. “I'd say constant tweaking to keep up with current trends. Our brand sites are looking good and we are currently in the process of a big update on our corporate site. I'm not sure...maybe more videos? I loathe websites that take too long to load so I'm a little particular about that. But I'm not sure that has anything to do with cost.”
“We are happy with our site, but in some ways, everything can be improved and evolved,” said Kiesche. “Websites are a big part of what we do at Aviate Creative. We are always trying new things. However, we often get too busy and our site takes a back seat to client work. I'd like to add significantly more landing pages for services. But if I'm really dreaming... Maybe add more animation to bring our work to life.”
“There are always so many things that can be improved,” said Snaptron. “One area we want to focus on is our resources/blog section. It will take some minor development work and time to restructure and optimize the layout/pages.”
“I just started a blog this month. We are shooting for monthly. I know we should blog more but once per month is better than none. At least fresh content will be going up,” said Dar-Tech. “(I want to add) more valuable product content and recommendations for formulations. More video. Oooh, I would like an on-staff graphic designer/videographer and web developer! LOL or the budget to go crazy with freelancers.”
“Aesthetically ours is dated and we could use a completely revamped, new site which is being discussed now. Functionality wise, it works fine,” said Cleveland Deburring.
“We are working on self-service technical information, providing all necessary parameters to run our tools,” said SCTools. “I would like to have more content and a web administrator.”
“I'd hire an SEO expert to write more blog posts,” said Landis.
“Video/Animation - we are exploring some options now to get the ball rolling, but, it needs a lot more attention,” said Buglino.
“Definitely incorporate a lot more video content,” said NJMEP.org. “Video is such a valuable form of communication and showcasing what your company is all about! That of course goes along with if money AND time were no object.”
Anyone who champions U.S. manufacturing can join in on a new conversation each week on Twitter using the hashtag #USAMfgHour. The chat starts at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time/2 p.m. Eastern. Share positive blog posts, helpful articles, news, important information, accomplishments, events, and more with other manufacturers and supporters from throughout the country.