Lead generation is a top priority for manufactures. That may be stating the obvious, but if you work within the manufacturing industry, you know there is fierce competition for a limited pool of customers – the same customers that your competitors are after.

So what are some of the techniques industrial companies are using to fill the sales pipeline? According to a 2014 benchmark report by Cultivate, 62% of manufactures rely on referrals. This is no surprise. After all, your current customers can be your biggest fans, especially when you provide high quality products and personalized service. Your customers will share their experiences, have conversations on social media, and leave positive product reviews.

While referrals bring in a huge percentage of leads, email and social marketing are not far behind. 53% of respondents indicated that email produced leads, and 45% are generating leads from social.

Today’s consumers, whether they are shopping for shoes or researching truck fleet purchases, are shopping and interacting with companies across more digital channels than ever before. Research shows that as much as 57% of the purchase decision is completed before a buyer engages a sales rep. And according to research by GlobalSpec, 84% of industrial professionals use the Internet to find components, equipment and services and 74% use the Internet to compare products across suppliers. While technology and data won’t replace the personal touch, they play an important role to reach these prospects through every point of the purchase journey.

Finding Social and In-Market Prospects

Discussions about your products and services or your competitors are happening frequently – especially on social media. Your customers and prospects are actively seeking to engage with you and NOT participating in the conversations is no longer an option. Every manufacturer must have some sort of presence to encourage referrals, share information about your products, and nurture relationships.

Just as importantly, social media conversations are a great source to find prospects who are searching for products you offer – prospects of whom you are most likely completely unaware. Finding each of these leads can be quite a challenge. However, using a solution such as Data-as-a-Service, data and technology can be used together to find and target social prospects with personalized offers.

Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) is an approach in which a vendor sources, structures and delivers streams of highly qualified prospects to your marketing systems. These may be prospects sourced through web scraping services, such as specialty niche databases or RFP sites. Or social media sites may be monitored for people talking about products and services you offer, a competitor’s name, or other purchase signals such as management changes or venture capital investments.

Targeting Prospects with Digital Messaging

DaaS sources prospects based on “in the moment” and real time behavioral triggers. Therefore, these prospects must also be targeted in real time.

Digital marketing channels such as email allows marketers to send customized and personalized messages based on a prospect’s individual interests. And according to The Direct Marketing Association, the average Return on Investment (ROI) is 40:1.

Here are even more compelling stats:

  1. A recent study concluded that email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. (Source: McKinsey & Company)
  2. 44% of consumers made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email they received. (Source: Convince and Convert)
  3. Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media, with a 17% higher value in the conversion. (Source: McKinsey & Company)
  4. 75% of marketers report that email marketing is the most effective channel for customer retention, leading social network marketing by almost 20%.

A report by Aquity also reported some significant mobile statistics B2B marketers must consider:

  • 24% have made a purchase for their company using a mobile device.
  • 55% of Millennial buyers (age 18-25) use mobile phones for procurement research, compared with 36% of respondents over the age of 45.
  • 50% of Millennial B2B buyers use tablets to conduct product research, compared with 31% of buyers over the age of 45 who do so.

Websites and emails must be optimized to be viewed on mobile devices, especially as the percentage of millennial buyers grows in the workforce.

Lead generation in manufacturing has moved well beyond traditional methods. And by embracing data and technology to drive customer acquisition, manufacturers can significantly boost market share.

To learn more on how manufacturers are generating leads, view our latest webinar here.

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