Why manufacturers have been so slow to initiative digital marketing programsBy Thad Kahlow, CEO, Business Online

Why have effective digital marketing programs been so slow to take off in the manufacturing sector?

To find out, Business Online surveyed more than 100 global marketing leaders in partnership with the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI).  At the core of the honest and remarkable revelations, we uncovered the fact that 65 percent of respondents said their digital marketing programs were only in the experimental or new phase.

In other words, they are just starting out on their digital journeys. 

So how can marketers make greater headway with digital, create and convert leads, and generate the data to prove it? In an effort to answer that question, Business Online first explored and summarized what these marketers told us – and we’d like to reveal some of their answers to you:

1. Lack of Management Support

“Senior management doesn't understand its value nor the effort it takes to create and maintain an integrated digital strategy.”

43 percent of respondents to our survey said they do not receive enough support from senior management to accomplish digital marketing goals.

2. Lack of Funding

“There can also be resistance to scaling back traditional marketing efforts to fund higher impact digital marketing. In some cases, it is because it is not as visible to the sales force as printed materials, trade shows, etc.”

64 percent of respondents said they do not get enough funding to accomplish digital marketing goals.

3. Lack of Data to Assess ROI

“The challenge with digital marketing is not being able to show ROI because of limited tie-ins to the CRM system.”

74 percent of respondents said they do not have enough data to assess the ROI of digital marketing. 

4. Lack of Data Assessment Skills

“We end up assigning digital responsibilities to resources with traditional marketing skill sets.”

Only 40 percent of respondents reported having the internal ability to assess digital metrics.

It's clear that these factors ultimately prevent manufacturing marketers from using digital marketing strategies to their fullest potential.

Enter the inventors and innovators. As part of our research, we spoke one-on-one with innovative thought-leaders from companies like Emerson, Lincoln Electric, GE and Siemens who are at the forefront of digital marketing and reinventing their brands and their strategies to reach customers and prospects in creative ways.

Based on these conversations, we learned that there are a number of strategies marketers can take, even with a limited investment and time frame, to move the needle in a favorable direction:

  • Building Alliances

    Align with a business unit seeking increased/new revenue and willing to advocate for your inventive efforts.

  • Finding Internal Influencers

    Find the key people in the organization who have the foresight and influence to get behind the digital vision (such as a business unit leader, sales manager or C-Suite ally).

  • Bringing All Stakeholders Together

    Marketing is not an island; it requires sales, IT, product management and executive agreement on common goals and the means to achieve them.

  • Focusing the Effort

    Create a pilot campaign targeting one particular segment, product, event or geographic area.

Digital marketing is the next big step for manufacturing marketers, but it starts with the small, transitional steps mentioned above to begin moving marketing programs into the digital age.

For more on these strategies, statistics and insights, download the entire Invent to Survive guide for industrial manufacturing marketers.