In manufacturing, like in most industries today, delivering exceptional and innovative customer experiences is the key to success. After all, 89% of B2B customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
A growing number of manufacturing marketers understand this. According to recent research, 53% of manufacturers view customer experience as their competitive differentiator, and almost half of all manufacturers are increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience.
While some manufacturers lag behind when it comes to adopting new technologies and approaches, others are blazing new trails. Here are four of their best methods to deliver innovative and personalized experiences for their customers.
Reimagine the value of your website
According to Forrester, 68% of business buyers now prefer researching independently online over engaging with a sales rep. This makes your website a powerful marketing tool. According to the State of Marketing report, manufacturers say their website is their top channel for return.
Today, your website likely has more influence than your sales team on the early stages of the buying cycle and offers a huge opportunity to capture insights about your customers. Based on these insights, you can develop audience segments and personas and build more engaging experiences — including personalized ads and website experiences. You can also pass these insights on to sales to augment their lead data.
Customers aren’t the only ones visiting your website, though. Channel partners frequently use it to find product specs and other information. This is a perfect opportunity to capture data around the content dealers and distributors engage with, so you can build better experiences for them, as well.
Invest in and scale digital experiences to drive revenue growth
Manufacturers can drive innovation and digital engagement at scale by bringing together systems and disparate data sources. Establishing a single source of truth for your data helps you build customer experiences that are seamless and more personalized and, in turn, give you access to new opportunities for growth. Your existing customer base offers an excellent opportunity to grow relationships and revenue through upselling, cross-selling, replenishment, and warranty and service agreements.
It’s important to note that manufacturing buyers today share the same expectations as many B2C buyers; 69% of business buyers expect Amazon-like buying experiences, and 82% of B2B customers are willing to pay more for a better experience, according to the State of the Connected Customer report. Be careful not to overlook service requirements and requests opportunities to provide exceptional experiences and drive long term loyalty and revenue. This means using product information or purchase data to trigger automated service requests and keep customers informed about their upcoming service via their preferred channel — like email or mobile — or responding to their needs via social.
Your customer call center is also a key touchpoint for driving deeper engagement with your brand. Use it to capture consumer insights, especially if you sell in a B2B2C model where consumer data is often owned by channel partners. You can also use those engagements to trigger product or parts replenishment journeys to drive purchase with incentives and offers.
Expand into new markets with the power of data
Business buyers today expect personalized experiences. As more manufacturers understand this, standing out from the crowd will become a greater challenge. This is where you can enlist the help of your data.
Most often, your existing customers are your best customers. You can learn a lot from them. Use the power of your CRM to find customers that look like your best existing customers. Then use that data to build lookalike audiences and target them with personalized ads to help break into new markets. You can also target new audiences and increase website traffic using first, second, or third party data.
Social listening is useful for keeping a pulse on what customers, influencers, industry bloggers, dealers, and distributors are saying. You can use these insights to aid content marketing initiatives or pass them over to sales to provide your sales team with a 360-degree view of your customers.
Use connected product data to launch new lines of business and improve category success
By combining connected product data, manufacturers can shine a light on how customers use their products and engage with content online. They can also use data to trigger personalized journeys for replenishment, replacement, renewal, or related product cues.
By building automated journeys, manufacturers can guide customers to order new parts, replenish their existing inventory, service existing products, or initiate an order for new products. You can even automate journeys to drive cross-sell strategies by targeting customers across complementary lines of business based on prior purchase patterns. For example, a customer who ordered bathroom hardware from one division of your organization may be interested in paint from one of your complementary brands, as well.
Manufacturing customers today have higher expectations than ever, and brands that connect customer data with automation and AI are leading the industry in a digital transformation. These brands are future-proofing their businesses by unifying and personalizing the customer experience across every touchpoint and channel, from awareness to purchase to post-purchase and beyond. Not only do these connected customer journeys better serve the customer, they also drive new and better opportunities for manufacturers to grow revenue and stay competitive in an evolving landscape.
Check out this State of Manufacturing infographic to learn more about how manufacturers can connect with audiences.