Before the internet became part of daily life, marketing for industrial and manufacturing companies was largely geared toward funneling resources into traditional sales strategies, trade fairs, and advertisements in industry publications. Websites were an afterthought at best.
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Fortunately, most of today’s manufacturing companies recognize the benefit of websites as a lead-generation tool. Even if conversions don’t happen directly on a company’s website, the site still plays a role in shaping consumer perspectives about brand, quality, and customer service. Research shows that even in situations where a company is not selling their products online (as is the case for most manufacturers), B2B websites tend to be a frequent conversion point on the B2B sales funnel.
To help you make your manufacturing website designs more effective, we offer five critical best practices for designing manufacturing websites, along with five helpful examples of industrial websites that effectively put those best practices to work:
1. Simple and Clear Navigation
Few experiences online can be as frustrating as a website that is hard to navigate. That’s why simple, clear navigation is a must for manufacturing websites.
Cisco(Open in new windows) uses a three-level navigation structure, accessed through the Menu button located in the top left corner of their homepage, to effectively simplify navigating a large website with a lot of content. By helping the user find their way around the site with this menu, Cisco did a fantastic job of improving user experience.
In addition to the Menu button, Cisco’s subpages include an on-page navigation bar just below the hero that helps move site visitors to the content they’re most likely seeking on that page. While it looks like the same nav bar commonly used to jump between a website’s various pages, this navigation is different because clicking a menu option doesn’t leave the page, but rather jumps down the page to the matching content.
2. A Well Placed Call to Action
Even for manufacturing companies, your website should be a place that helps you grow your business. The best way to do this is to include clear next-steps on your website for visitors. For many manufacturing companies, the main call-to-action involves a lead generation form. “Start a Project,” “Request a Quote,” or “Contact Us” can all be effective messaging for buttons that drive to a contact form.
IBM’s website(Open in new windows) drives visitors to different content on the site using different calls-to-action that are based on user persona and intent. Notice each CTA begins with action-oriented verbs, such as Explore, Build, Start, See, and Learn. This kind of wording helps users feel like they’re actively making progress by clicking the CTA.
3. High Quality Images
Many manufacturing websites are still relatively outdated, and their imagery can be even more so. A high-quality graphic that tells your viewer exactly what you do is critical. For many manufacturing companies in long supply chains, quality product imagery clarifies what device, piece, or material that you manufacture.
Lockheed Martin’s (Open in new windows) use of the F-35 Lightning II on the homepage is a great example. It tells the user the sophisticated technology their company is responsible for. The modern, exciting feel is also an effective brand message, reinforcing Lockheed Martin’s positioning as a state-of-the-art company.
4. Great Hero Messaging
For many visitors to a website, their first few seconds will determine if they will convert into a lead or not. Your home page hero message generally represents the most-seen area of your entire website, so it’s critical that your hero quickly and clearly informs the viewer exactly what it is your company does and the value it provides.
Zeon Chemicals (Open in new windows) does a great job of presenting their value statement in five words: “Innovative Elastomers. World-Class Service.” The message instantly clarifies what they manufacture (in this case, they are elastomers manufacturers, not rubber manufacturers).
In addition to quickly informing the user of their corporate purpose, Zeon’s new site is also one of the fastest loading sites we looked at. With page loading speeds of under one second, Zeon ranks in the top ten percent of websites in terms of speed. Because page load time is a now a ranking signal for SEO, a fast site is crucial.
5. Effective Content Marketing
The most effective B2B content marketing happens on a company’s website. By utilizing existing material for fresh content and linking two in-house e-magazines on their Construction page, John Deere(Open in new windows) achieves effective content marketing.
While content marketing pieces often serve inbound marketing strategies as entrance points for website visitors, they can also be value-adds to offer visitors who come into your website through other channels. By putting your most effective content pieces on your main landing pages, you allow all website visitors to be informed and engaged through your content.
In addition to effective content marketing, John Deere(Open in new windows) also makes great use of quality images that engage the viewer, letting them know immediately what the company is about.