How B2B Manufacturers Can Generate Leads during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis
If you’re marketing for a B2B manufacturer, the coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly forced you to change your lead generation strategy for 2020. According to a recent study by IEEE Globalspec, 84% of industrial marketers report that one or more of the trade shows they planned on attending have been cancelled. Meanwhile, many manufacturers have seen organic traffic to their websites drop over the past few weeks amidst decreased demand and temporary shutdowns of non-essential industries.
While connecting with prospects, especially face-to-face, has become more challenging, there are many ways you can leverage digital lead generation alternatives to maintain a healthy marketing funnel. In fact, 2020 could be a golden opportunity to make new contacts and acquire new customers online. Some businesses have cut back on marketing spending in the wake of COVID-19, so if your business is in a position to reinvest all or part of your trade show budget in digital marketing, you may very well find that the reduced competition leads to better than expected ROI.
Here are our suggestions for how B2B manufacturers can continue to generate leads in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis:
Online trade shows
In the absence of physical trade shows, industrial buyers are turning more towards virtual trade shows or marketplaces to discover and make contact with new suppliers. These online marketplaces, such as Environmental XPRT, Energy XPRT & Agriculture XPRT, provide buyers with an easy way to shop around for the right solutions, consult related content such as technical articles and white papers, watch videos of products in action, check out webinars, and get in touch with suppliers that can help.
Now is a good time to make sure your virtual trade show exhibits are updated with the latest product descriptions and content, especially videos and webinars. It’s also a good time to consider upgrading your online exhibits in order to maximize exposure and quickly attract buyer requests you’re missing out on due to trade show cancellations.
Targeted digital ads
Paid digital ads, such as Google ads or social media ads, can help make up for losses in organic traffic and are convenient during times of crisis because of their flexibility. Using your control panel, you can schedule ads, turn them on and off, reduce or increase daily spending, run split tests in order to optimize your ads, etc. The disadvantage is the time and effort it can take to optimize your ads to achieve acceptable ROI, but the ability to monitor stats in real time means you can iterate ads fairly quickly.
If organic traffic to your website is slumping, now is the perfect time to get more out of the traffic you already have. First, you need to sprinkle your website with calls to action to ensure you are collecting prospects’ contact details and building your email list. Check out our blog post about how to convert traffic to leads for more on that. Then make sure you’re doing everything you can to convert those leads to sales opportunities.
Improving the lead generation efficiency of your website can offset losses in organic traffic. And it’s a good long-term investment. Once organic traffic rebounds, you’ll be generating more leads than ever.
Out of all the ways you can optimize your own website for lead generation, webinars are probably as close as it gets to face-to-face contact. If your business has unique knowledge to share with prospects, webinars not only partially replace the human touch we are all missing due to the COVID-19 crisis, but they are fantastic ways to generate high quality leads.
And don’t forget to publish recorded webinars on your website as gated content so they keep the leads coming long after the live webinar is over. You can announce your upcoming webinars on XPRT’s event calendar and publish your recorded webinars as gated content on your XPRT exhibit. If you are an XPRT Premium member, we’ll send you the contact details of any prospects who view your webinar.
And lastly, a note on how to approach SEO during the COVID-19 crisis. While SEO is an ongoing process you should never ignore, be aware it will be difficult to measure the effectiveness of SEO improvements as long as organic traffic in your industry as a whole is on a roller coaster ride due to the crisis. Measuring SEO requires you to compare traffic before and after improvements, but how will you know whether fluctuations in traffic to your website are a result of SEO or simply a result of the macro environment? The answer is you won’t know for sure, and this could lead you to false conclusions if you’re currently running SEO experiments.
When adding the aforementioned measurement difficulties to the fact SEO can already require lengthy experimentation before achieving results, we recommend B2B manufacturers looking for quick lead generation solutions to prioritize the other digital marketing alternatives mentioned in this post and consider postponing your SEO efforts until overall organic traffic in your industry has stabilized.