In today’s fast-moving world, it’s more important than ever for manufacturers to establish meaningful direct relationships with customers in order to foster brand loyalty. It’s not enough to have a website that covers the basics; manufacturers need to identify ways to customize and personalize that experience to ensure long-lasting brand advocacy.
A company website can be much more than a signpost for your products and offerings. It can facilitate a range of experiences depending on what your visitor needs at any given moment. The trick is to craft a meaningful web presence – one that is more than just smoke and mirrors. If you don’t approach your digital presence tactfully, you run the risk of alienating both the retailers you distribute products to and the end consumers themselves.
Overseeing a high-functioning content management system and website that resonates with consumers can be challenging. But, devising an optimal digital experience doesn’t mean just picking shiny pieces of technology off the shelf. As a manufacturer, understanding your customer – whether B2C or B2B and B2C – and their unique needs is critical to developing a personalized and customized web presence.
Understand Your Various Constituencies
From the use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, the manufacturing industry continues to evolve and innovate at a rapid pace – accelerating production lines and streamlining procurement. However, too many manufacturers fail to leverage such technology to engage their various audiences online – and that can be a critical oversight when it comes to attracting, engaging, and delighting customers.
The challenge is that manufacturers don’t always acknowledge that much like an end consumer, B2B customers today expect the same optimized experiences when engaging with their brand. Complicating matters, manufacturers typically don’t have massive marketing and digital teams, so they run the risk of investing time and resources toward different approaches to B2B and B2C audiences.
While they may be doing a lot of pretty, beautiful things with their website to try to capture the end consumer, it can be easy to overlook the fact that manufacturers are also distributors. It’s important that manufacturers recognize that, much like the consumer, the retail partners they sell to expect the same seamless, omnichannel experience when they engage with their website.
Catering to Everyone Doesn’t Necessarily Require Double the Effort
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we suggest a series of steps to creating a richer web presence for both retailer consumers and end customers.
1. Build a Solid Foundation and Grow
Just like building a house, the most important part of any website is its foundation. Managed services like Acquia provide countless resources to help build a solid base, while offering tools for flexible presentation and content distribution models. We don’t believe the two need to be tightly coupled, and in fact encourage a staggered approach to building out capabilities, with autonomous components that fit together harmoniously.
Why is it good to use a staggered approach? While a manufacturer can certainly invest upfront in all the digital products that their hearts desire, they will ultimately leave some of these tools rotting away on the shelf as a result of the pressure to accelerate too quickly. We don’t think this works in their favor, and an a la carte approach offers a more efficient solution.
Acquia has worked closely with companies across industries to help first set a solid omnichannel foundation that is enticing from both a B2B and B2C perspective. From there, we can hone in on the right digital maturity program – for example, the proper pathway to expansion for a global brand.
2. Personalize Your Digital Experience and Build Loyalty
Appealing to customers can be as simple as personalizing the digital experience. Customers don’t want to feel like just another fish in a big pond. Use your website as a way to simulate a one-to-one relationship and to differentiate yourself from competitors and build loyalty.
Take the B2B relationship, for example. Retailers are incredibly reliant on the strength of the manufacturer to provide a great customer experience. A shopper might visit a retailer to purchase a new refrigerator, but six months later – when they’ve broken a glass shelf and need a replacement – they’re likely going to turn to the manufacturer’s website rather than the retailer’s for solutions. The better the digital experience the manufacturer provides, the more it will ensure brand advocacy and loyalty both pre- and post-sale.
However, if a manufacturer isn’t putting in the effort not only to create content but also to contextualize and personalize it at the right time of the customer journey, both retailers and end consumers will grow frustrated. Soon enough, they may be consulting another manufacturer’s page for solutions, putting you at risk of losing valuable customer loyalty.
3. Optimize Intranets and Portals
The right technical solution can also improve staff attrition and acquisition. Your website is one of the first things current and prospective employees alike consult when seeking information about your company. The more efficient the site, and the more personalized it feels to them when they’re using it, the more likely you are to attract top talent and retain existing staffers.
In order to be more agile and nimble, manufacturers will benefit from starting small and efficiently when building a web presence. When it comes to delivering better digital experiences, bigger and flashier does not necessarily mean better. Grasping for cutting edge technology without thinking through consumer needs isn’t going to help business. However, strategizing around your web presence doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Success will come from breaking down your customer’s journey and thinking through the entire lifecycle in order to foster lifelong brand loyalty.
The team from manufacturer Sealed Air needed technology that was fast enough to match the team’s ambitious schedule. Based on decades of collective experience, they decided that only an open source environment could offer such a capability. Read about it in the short case study on Sealed Air, here.