Creating a quality website for a manufacturer that converts visitors into leads is a unique challenge because the subject matter is exacting and technical, and the target audience has a unique set of needs.
At Saturn Lounge, we’ve created a number of websites for manufacturers and observed some of the best practices that make more successful sites work so well.
Start With the End in Mind
Before redesigning a manufacturing website, it’s important to define marketing goals in order to understand what success looks like. If the site is intended to drive requests for quote or leads, then a key question to ask is:
“What information does my customer need in order to take the next step?”
For instance, what questions would they normally ask you during a first call, or what information might you provide to them in order to determine a good fit in working together?
There are a number of possibilities we’ve uncovered, things like:
- Quality capabilities like tolerances
- Materials you can work with
- Available equipment
- Typical turnaround times on quotes
- Part turnaround times
- Minimum order sizes
Specific product literature, information about your business processes and value-added services are also very helpful.
The goal is to knock out as many of these FAQ as possible up front to let the website do some of the selling for you and to cater to the needs of your customer so that they are empowered to connect with you with a project request.
How You Can Learn More About What Your Audience Wants
There are several methods of gathering information about your customer both with obvious direct outreach methods, but also by immersing yourself in their online behaviors.
One of the best tools is to utilize in addition to Google Analytics is a heatmapping software that shows website engagement visually as well as records sessions.
Some of these tools offer the ability to poll website visitors using a popup that asks a key question about why they visited your website.
Alternately, you could interview your current customers, especially the best and most profitable ones, about what they look for from an informational standpoint.
For more second and third-party information, you could read forums online or websites like Quora where your target customers congregate in order to identify patterns or insights about how they make decisions.
In a Commoditized World, Brand Will Set You Apart
We have built B2B websites for manufacturers and distributors in several industries, and in the most competitive industries, we’ve found that one of the only ways to stand out is a strong brand.
One recent example of manufacturing branding was our work on the Northern Gear website, a Wisconsin-based precision machining company.
Northern Gear is all about production runs of custom precision machined components, often with challenging quality requirements. They have a long history of providing engineered solutions to their partners, especially OEMs who manufacture things like motors and pumps.
One of the branding challenges we were presented was the fact that the business continues to evolve well beyond “gears” which is in the company name.
We created a new company logo, produced a number of custom component photography and video assets, and redesigned their aged website.
The bar to standing out is surprisingly low in some cases, and this was one of them; simply by investing in these quality creatives, Northern Gear is now able to point to their website as an asset for both potential clients and employment candidates.
Top-Tier Manufacturing Website Examples
These manufacturing marketplace companies are truly next level in terms of capabilities, branding and design, so they are worth learning from. Maybe you can’t provide instant quotes or dynamically updating product catalogs, but there is no doubt some lesson to be had from a careful study.
3dhubs is a manufacturing marketplace with an instant quote feature and over 240 manufacturing partners in their network.
What we like: Dark theme, clean call-to-action, social proof with OEM logos.
Fictiv is another manufacturing marketplace with value-added capabilities.
What we like: focus on speed, deep resource library, on-demand production transparency.
Xometry is one to watch, experiencing rapid growth in terms of clients, manufacturers in the network, and capabilities.
What we like: focus on quality, breadth of capabilities, service by representatives with engineering background
Overall, if you are a manufacturer thinking about investing in a new website, it’s best to think about your organizations goals, how your website will be used by your target audience, and how you can incorporate principles