Manufacturers face unique struggles in the world of website design. Manufacturing isn’t often seen as a sexy industry. It doesn’t change very much, and often, its products are necessary standbys that are only purchased by other industrial companies. Still, building and maintaining a solid online presence is essential for manufacturers who want to engage with modern customers – and as more competitors in the manufacturing industry answer that call, it becomes even more important.
What Customers Want
Designing a great manufacturing site isn’t easy, and most don’t know where to start. If your top priority is attracting and retaining new customers with your website (as it should be), start by prioritizing these five features that customers want:
1. Multimedia content
People love to be visually stimulated, and the manufacturing industry isn’t exempt from that rule. It isn’t enough to have some colors and some written content on the screen; that alone won’t build a solid impression of your business, and it won’t make your site stick in your users’ memories. Instead, offer professional photographs of your products, equipment, and even your people. Consider Knuckles Industries – there are only a handful of words on the homepage, atop a series of visually compelling, industry appropriate images. It compels your attention immediately, and gives you a glimpse of what the brand is all about.
2. Detailed information on products and services
Customers in the manufacturing industry typically have strict requirements, strict budgets, and specific standards. That means when they’re searching for a supplier online, they want as much information about their products as possible. As a result, it’s your job to provide that information. The more details you can provide about your products and services, the happier your users are going to be. Take a look at the rigs page from Dragon Products LTD as an example. All their products are listed with images and full descriptive details to make sure customers find exactly what they’re looking for.
In the manufacturing world, it’s easy to lose personal touch. With straightforward products, and purchases made out of necessity rather than desire, most manufacturers spend less time developing their brand image than their consumer-focused counterparts. However, a little bit of personality can go a long way-develop a consistent branding strategy, and show off the character of your company through your imagery, design, and voice. Forge a personal connection with your users before they get to the next step of your sales cycle.
4. Contact information
Unless you’re a manufacturer with an e-commerce platform, chances are your customers will want to contact you. To make a great impression and start that conversation on a good note, be sure your contact information is easy to find. Include your phone number and locations on every page you can, and consider offering a live chat feature as an added bonus. The more opportunities users have to contact you, the more likely they’ll be to follow through.
5. Regular updates
Don’t underestimate the power of regularly updating your site. On the surface, this is valuable for repeat customers-every time they come back, they see something new (which gives them more information and encourages them to come back even more). It also gives users a great first impression-seeing a long list of blog posts and news items up through and including this week makes you look industrious and committed to your users, forging an instant connection with every new visitor. Thomas Industrial Coatings is a good example of this. They constantly update their blog, newsfeed, and offer free guides and newsletter signups as peripheral content options.
These five features don’t guarantee that your site is going to attract thousands of visitors, but they do serve as a good foundation for a functional, reliable online marketing strategy. Take regular measurements after you launch your site or as you release new features. Pay attention to what your users respond to and make note of any areas that could use some improvement. Constant refinement is the key to a winning strategy.