Digital marketing is by far the most effective form of marketing for businesses. But digital marketing strategies differ from industry to industry. For manufacturers, the online marketing efforts you use will have varying degrees of success. In this guide, you’ll learn what strategies we recommend as well as sample campaigns that you can begin to build yourself.

Who is this for:

  • Contract Manufacturers
  • Electronics
  • Heavy Equipment
  • Global Manufacturers
  • Metals
  • OEM’s
  • Plastics
  • Textiles
  • Valves
  • Liquid Contract Manufacturers
  • Building Materials
  • CNC Machining
  • Small Parts

What digital marketing strategies are best for manufacturers?

Let’s start with the basics. Online marketing is a huge umbrella with several different strategies including:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Search Engine Marketing and Pay-Per-Click Advertising
  3. Social Media Marketing / Viral Marketing
  4. Pay Per Click Social Media Advertising
  5. Content Marketing
  6. Affiliate Marketing / Influencer Marketing
  7. Email / Outbound Marketing
  8. Mobile Phone Advertising
  9. Channel Marketing
  10. Partner Marketing
  11.     Video Marketing
  12. Website Placements

With all of these different options, how do you choose? Of the 13 forms of marketing listed above, I’m going to eliminate the ones that you probably hear a lot about, but don’t provide the most return for your team in terms of revenue.

Video Marketing

You’ve probably heard and seen the stats of the effectiveness of video marketing. The problem, the data that exists does not take into account industry. For your manufacturing business, it may pay off to have a couple of product/process demos.

But the effort to create high quality, entertaining videos will not be worth the return, when you compare it to other forms of marketing.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is a great tool for certain industries to build awareness and generate revenue. Unfortunately for manufacturers, social and viral marketing is most often a bust than a boom. The problem is that your target market is most likely not actively looking to make purchase decisions or even be remotely interested in seeing your brand across networks like Instagram or Twitter.

There is a form of social media marketing that can be effective, but we lump that in to outbound marketing.

Mobile Phone / SMS Marketing

Do you like receiving text messages asking for you to try products or learn more? Didn’t think so. Avoid SMS marketing because it can do more harm to your brand than good.

In certain situations and industries such as fitness, gym, clothing, that offer flash sales or reminders for services and specials SMS can be incredibly valuable. But on a general basis, Mobile and SMS marketing should not be included in your immediate marketing mix if your a manufacturer.

Effective Marketing Strategies for Manufacturing

Ok. Now that we know which strategies to avoid, let’s look at the one’s that will be worthwhile for manufacturing businesses.

Pay Per Click Advertising (SEM) for Manufacturing

When you search for a service, what’s typically your first step? For 90% of people, it’s typing in that query right into Google.

PPC/SEM is a high performing strategy for manufacturing businesses, especially if location plays a part. However, keep in mind that the space can get very competitive for the most relevant terms. And by competition, I mean your costs will increase per click because your competitors will be bidding on those terms.

Here’s what I recommend for a beginner strategy to test the waters.

  1. Think of all the terms used to describe what you do. These will be your primary keywords that should drive visitors straight to a “contact us” form or conversion point. Note: If you were thinking of starting with your primary term of “Manufacturing”, then try taking it down a level. Be slightly more descriptive by using something like “manufacturing for x,” etc.
  2. Next, think about terms that your ideal customers are searching that may not be exactly your service but leads to your service. Example: “how to pick a X manufacturer,” “how to prepare your X product for manufacturing,” etc.
  3. For the keywords in step 2, you can start building checklists or “how to” downloadable PDFs that you can use to generate leads at a lower cost/lead. Example: Create a landing page with an offer for a “Checklist to Prepare Your Product for Manufacturing”, and set up an ad campaign for related keywords. You’ll start generating leads based on this stage of the buyer’s funnel.
  4. Make sure you set your campaigns up for “broad” keyword match. This will give you a wide umbrella for searches that your ads will show up. Next, use the “Search Terms” tab to see the exact keywords that are showing up, and which are converting. You’ll want to add the ones that are converting, and negative the ones that drive a significant amount of impressions but are irrelevant or do not convert.

As you get more comfortable with paid campaigns, you can keep building out your campaigns using different match types like exact, phrase, etc.

Affiliate / Influencer Marketing

Affiliate marketing and influencer marketing is a popular form of reaching customers through like-minded people. Meaning, using industry people to help promote your brand in return for a percentage of the sale, or cost/opportunity. This can definitely vary by manufacturing speciality, and if there are any thought leaders or people that are regularly followed in your industry, then these are great people to begin an influencer program with.

I recommend finding a few people with a high number of followers. Make sure to look at actual engagement! If your influencer has 10,000 followers and only averages 10-100 likes or no real comments, then they’re not worth it. Send them some messages saying you regularly follow them, and that you’d love to collaborate with them.

Partner / Channel Marketing

This is one of the most effective forms of marketing. If you know of complimentary services that work with your ideal customer, then you have an opportunity to build a partner / channel marketing program.

The goal here, is similar to affiliate networks, but you leverage other professional service providers to cross-promote and cross-sell your manufacturing services to their customer base.

For example, if you have an IT firm that has customers who would be great for your services, you could have them refer business to you as a preferred partner. Additionally, if you manufacturer a specific part for cars, then you could partner with an automotive association, or another company that manufactures a different part for vehicles.

Click here for a complete list of the materials you’ll need for a partner marketing program.

Website Placements

This is similar to PPC and SEM, in that most of these websites that you’ll want to be featured or post ads in will be “pay to play.”  

Website placements are an effective way to drive high-quality traffic to your website. Look for websites that your ideal customers frequent. Trade websites, association websites, and knowledge hubs where your ideal customers look for information. Those are all great locations to focus on website placements that will increase your brand awareness and new customer acquisition.

Email / Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is one of my favorite forms of marketing. With outbound marketing, you start by making a list of your ideal customers. What are the companies that you want to win? Here’s a step-by-step process of how to successfully run an outbound marketing program:

  1. Make your list of ideal customers
  2. Determine who the key decision maker is. Who’s the person who will ultimately decide whether to use your services?
  3. Identify the decision makers email address. There is a usual format that professional email addresses normally take: (letter of firstname)(lastname)(@)(companywebsite), (firstname)(@)(companywebsite), (firstname)(.)(lastname)(@)(companywebsite). I also recommend google searching the person’s name and (@)(companywebsite). Sometimes it will show up in search. Note: There are also google chrome extensions that you can use that will pull email addresses and contact data from social media sources such as LinkedIn.
  4. After you’ve generated a list of email addresses for your ideal contacts, you’ll want to craft the messaging you’re going to use to push them to become a customer. I like to start with an introductory sentence, and then talking about the benefits of partnering with us (cost, speed, quality, etc.), and then wrapping up with a call to action (schedule a time to talk, get a free quote, etc.).

With outbound marketing, you can even take this process in to social media platforms and directly message your sales prospects. LinkedIn is a common place to do this but don’t be afraid to experiment with other sources.

SEO Search Engine Optimization / Content Marketing

SEO is a popular term that gets thrown around when it comes to marketing. The problem is that most people who claim to be SEO experts, have no idea what they’re actually doing. SEO is also discussed like it’s a “magic bullet” solution that drives instant business. It’s not. SEO is a foundational marketing element that requires you to get started sooner rather than later. Your business may not experience return within the first 90 days, as it takes time for your modifications to update within search engines, and for you to gain authority.

However, once your website is viewed as an authority in topic areas, you start to rank in the top of search engines. This means when people Google something related to your industry, you turn up first.

SEO is a powerful marketing channel for manufacturing businesses as it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Your website will continue to see traffic and opportunities come in via SEO growth, and as you continue to add content to your site, you’ll see an exponential effect occur across all content.

Here is a list of a few tips for doing SEO properly:

  1. Do keyword research. Figure out what keywords are being searched by your target customers to find services like yours.
  2. Include the most relevant keywords in your SEO title, meta description, H1, H2, and content in your website.
  3. For the keywords that are popularly searched phrases, you’ll want to write articles to support those.
  4. Post new content frequently. It’s important to post blogs/articles on a weekly schedule to keep your rankings at the top, and to expand your reach of keywords.

By following the above tips, you’ll be doing better than 90% of businesses online. However, there is always more detailed strategy and optimizations that can be made to further boost your online rankings.

Final Thoughts: Marketing for manufacturing businesses

Winning new customers is the goal for every business. While your personal network and word-of-mouth will help keep your business running, it’s essential to leverage different digital channels to further increase business growth. Using the above strategies, you should be able to make some headway. However, if you need any additional help or have questions, then don’t hesitate to reach out by using our contact form on our homepage or emailing me directly at