How Manufacturers Can Target the Right Audience - 4 Mistakes & Solutions

-        Many companies fail to distinguish between their own esoteric terminology and their customers’

-        Understanding what your customer is looking for is a crucial aspect of lead generation

-        You are wasting effort and money if you aren’t 100% certain what they are looking for. 


The application of “Looking” throughout this article refers to a physical search in Google, but the concept remains the same wherever and however you are advertising.  It’s all about understanding the terminology your target customer uses when they are looking for a supplier.  Below you’ll read about four buyer intent related mistakes manufacturers commonly make on their websites and in their marketing, and how to fix them. 


Mistake #1.  Overuse of Brand Names

A manufacturer that designs and builds lifting solutions for cranes, had built out their entire marketing strategy around promotion of cool sounding brand names for their product lines.  These product lines were called things like “LiftPro” and “RigPro”.  It’s ok to have neat brand names for your product lines, but it’s more of a customer retention strategy than an acquisition strategy.  This company was struggling to gain market share, and hired me on to help generate more organic search traffic.  In my first meeting with them, I told them, the brand names were killing the effort.  Their main landing pages were optimized for the brand name only, which means that the only people who would find those pages in Google search were the ones who already knew about their brand.  What the new customers would actually be looking for are things like “Below the hook lifting beams” or “Load rotation equipment”.   As we changed these pages around to focus more on the solution than the brand, their search traffic and sales skyrocketed. 


Mistake #2 Focusing on the Short Tail, and Forgetting the Long

75% of the manufacturing websites I visit have this issue.  Think about it, if you go on Google, and you are looking for a company that does metal stamping, what are you going to type into the search bar? Are you going to type “metal stamping”, or are you going to type in “metal stamping manufacturer” or “metal stamping services”?  The intent of searcher using the first keyword set “metal stamping” is ambiguous.  They could be looking to learn about metal stamping, or maybe they are looking for metal stamping examples.  The second and third keyword sets are much more likely going to be searched by a person that is looking for the services of a contract metal stamping manufacturer.  Many websites have their main service pages optimized for only the short tail keyword like “cnc machining” or “fabrication”.  Pages optimized for these short tail keywords very rarely produce (attract) traffic, for two reasons.  The first reason is that short tail keywords are more difficult to rank for, and the second is that the intent of the searcher is difficult to define, even if you do rank for that short tail keyword.  Let’s analyze these two reasons a little more closely:

Why are short tail keywords difficult to rank?

A short tail keyword means a keyword set that does not contain a verb and a noun.  For example, a short tail keyword might be a verb “machining” or it might be a noun “machine shop”.  The contrasting long tail keywords might be “contract machining manufacturer”, or “High volume production machine shop”.   Imagine for a moment that you had a list of all of the pages on the internet that contain the keyword “machining” in their title (Google has this list).  There might be 100,000 such pages.  If you wanted to be #1 in search results when someone typed in that term, you would have to outrank 99,999 competitors through heavy on-page and off-page SEO.   Now imagine you had a list of all of the pages that contain the keyword set “high volume production machine shop” in their title.  Now we have a list of 50 that we are up against.  Our SEO job is now much more manageable because we just need to have better on-page and off-page SEO than 49 competitors.  Yes, you will get less traffic if you rank a long-tail, versus a short-tail, but the traffic will be better, and in many cases, ranking the short tail isn’t even an option. 

Why will short-tail keywords produce lower quality traffic?

Imagine a faceless, nameless individual behind a keyboard goes to Google and types in the keyword “injection molding”.  Right off the bat, Google assumes that this person is curious about the process of injection molding, and serves them a long list of informational articles and videos.  Even if the individual was looking for information about the process, chances are they aren’t going to be thrilled with that list of results.  That person is going to go back and revise their query to give them a better list of results.  They might type in “infographic about injection molding process”, or they might type in “ISO Certified Injection Molders in PA”.   If your company provides injection molding services, I think you can figure out which keyword set you should rank for to produce the better result.  According to Hubspot, 50% of searches contain 4 or more words which solidifies the point that long-tail keywords matter, and having an exact match in your content to the search query enhances your chance of ranking. 


Mistake #3 Insufficient analysis of core competencies

If your content doesn’t match your competencies, you will either not get a lead, or you won’t be able to service the lead you do get.  This sounds simple, but if you are an injection molder with a 500,000 square foot facility that offers large tonnage presses, can produce millions of parts per year, and has an ISO 13485 and AS9100 certification, you are not an injection molder.  You don’t even want to get a lead from someone that Googled “injection molders near me”.  You want a lead that needs someone that is certified, and can produce 200,000 or more parts per year.  You aren’t interested in producing the cheapest parts which is why you have certifications.  Perhaps an ideal customer would be an aerospace OEM that needs a plastic bracket for seat supports to retrofit their fleet.  They are required to hire a U.S. company that has AS9100.  Their sourcing manager is looking to get quotes from qualified manufacturers, and the first thing they do is go to Google (insert stat).  The one thing we know about this individual, is that they want to spend the least time possible, to come up with the best fit company.  We know that in their search query, this person is going to specify the material, the process, and the certification, and they just might specify location because high volume parts are expensive to ship.   All of this information needs to factor into your keyword choices the for the content on your website.  It also needs to factor into your decision about ad creative if you are doing other types of advertising.  The location, frequency, and structure of content and keywords is covered in more detail in the free “Website SEO Content Template” on the right side of your screen on desktop, and at the bottom of this article on mobile.   


Mistake #4 Forgetting about Geography

Geography matters for all types of advertising, and this is even more true for SEO.  Every manufacturer has to consider where their customer is going to come from.   In SEO, geography matters for the same reason that long tail keywords matter.  Inserting a location based keyword like “Contract Machine Shop in Pittsburgh Pa”, shrinks your competition from the thousands of contract machine shops that have that keyword set on a page, to those that have that keyword set on a page in Pittsburgh.  Often times, I will make this type of an edit to a client’s page, and they go from zero traffic, to a hundred visits per month.  The reason? When their page just said “contract machine shop” they were on the 7th page of Google search results, but when we added “Pittsburgh”, we were on the first page when someone was looking for a contract machine shop specifically in Pittsburgh. 

Competition isn’t the only reason to focus on a geographic region.  The other reason is that for some manufacturers, like that contract machine shop, there is little reason for the outsourcing company to search outside of their immediate geographic area.  This changes with more specialized types of manufacturers, and even those with some advanced certifications.  In these cases, not every local market has the offering, and the searcher knows they may have to look outside their area for a provider. 


Which manufacturing services should be promoted at the city or state level, and which at a national or global level?

It may be helpful to the reader to understand what a professional manufacturing marketer like myself takes for granted and automatically optimizes a page or campaign for.  While some regions may have different levels of these services, and specialties within them, here is a general guideline for when to include geographic keywords and when to leave them out:


Geographically limited marketing (city/state)

-        CNC Machining

-        Fabrication

-        Manual machining

-        Prototyping

-        Fixturing

-        Heat Treating

-        Very common plating processes (electroplating or powdercoating)

Broad Geographic Marketing Examples (Tristate/region/nation)

-        Metal Casting

-        Metal Stamping

-        Less common plating processes (you’ve mastered the art of matte olive drab nickel plating)

-        Large part metal stamping

-        Any OEM product manufacturing

-        Injection molding

This partial list of geographically limited and less limited services does not communicate a hard and fast rule, but it should give you an idea of where you should focus your marketing.  Don’t lose heart though if you are a machine shop that wants more business nationwide, look at what we can do with the previously geographically limited list:

Updated Broad Geographic Marketing Manufacturing Services:

-        ISO/ITAR/AS9100 CNC Machining

-        Specialty fastener or skid fabrication

-        Short run, fast turnaround machining

-        ITAR Compliant Fast Turnaround Prototyping

-        Fixturing Design and Manufacturing

-        Carbonitriding

-        Specialty injection mold plating services

If you’ll observe what we did here, we took the unique aspects of common services and turned them into a keyword set or marketing tool.  The service is now promoted in a way that serves a niche need – one that we know people are looking for, and that the data supports.  On the right of your screen on desktop and at the bottom of the article on mobile, you’ll see a handy free tool I’ve developed to assist in keyword selection. 


Combination of services as a competitive advantage

Let’s say you perform two very common services, that alone, do not lend themselves to marketing over a large area geographically speaking.  For example, 3-axis machining, and metal fabrication/welding/cutting/bending, are fairly easy to find in any given market.  I recently spoke with a fortune 500 OEM that was struggling to find a single shop that was ISO Certified, used 3D design files at their work stations, and also did traditional fabrication.  In a case like this, it’s all about saving money by consolidating supply chain.  Think about what keyword set the OEM’s procurement staff would use if they were doing an internet search for such a company.  It would probably go something like this: “ISO Certified Machine Shop with Fabrication Capabilities.”


Understanding Manufacturing Buyer Intent

Many manufacturers struggle to understand the importance of their website and content, mostly because they do not see the real time search data that I do every day.  The point I’d like to emphasize is that serious buyers are “googling” when they are looking for a provider.  Yes referrals are great, outbound sales works, tradeshows can get you leads, but if your company is not taking advantage of internet search and getting in front of the thousands of buyers that are doing internet searches to find companies like yours, then you are missing a huge growth opportunity, and likely the easiest lead generation you’ve ever done.  According to Brightedge, B2B companies generated 200% more revenue from online search than from other marketing channels. 


If you’d like a more personalized analysis with no obligation, I’d be happy to walk you through your site and make recommendations, or you can put my experience to work.

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