Digital marketing for industrial companies: current situation and best practices
We would like to thank the following people for their participation and contributions to the preparation of this article (in order of appearance):
GENERAL MANAGER AT WEROI
URKO DE LA TORRE
OPERATIONS MANAGER AT WEROI
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS,
JOSÉ LUIS GIL
DIRECTOR OF THE CORPORATE SERVICES AREA
AT THE BILBAO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
JAVIER GONZÁLEZ BARAJAS
GENERAL MANAGER AT ONA
GENERAL MANAGER AT SAFETECH
LEIRE DE OLABARRIA
SALES MANAGER AT INGETEAM
CARLOS MUNILLA DE MIGUEL
HUBSPOT CHANNEL CONSULTANT
VICE DEAN OF PROFESSIONAL INSERTION
Though many industrial and B2B companies already carry out specific online marketing actions (website, social networks, advertising, etc.), few have defined a proper digital strategy, and even fewer have integrated this strategy into their traditional sales processes, which is key to achieving new business opportunities.
The firm WEROI, which works for companies in the Velatia, Ingeteam and Mondragon groups, considers that ‘there is still a lot of mindset shifting work to be done’. ‘We are talking about implementing a new sales channel, a digital one’.
Important players in the Basque industrial environment that are applying this new digital philosophy to their organisations explain the ‘great’ possibilities it offers to swiftly reach a relevant number of potential clients, through controlled investment.
In Spain there are 204,377 industrial companies
According to the latest e-Pyme report, which tracks the evolution of the main indicators of the digital transformation impact on the different sectors of the economy.
Most of these industrial companies, many of which are B2B (which sell exclusively to other companies), are micro- enterprises, with between 0 and 9 employees (84.6%). Next in number are small businesses, 10 to 49 employees (12.5%); medium-sized businesses, 50 to 199 employees (2.2%); and finally large businesses of 200 or more employees (1%).
As e-Pyme reveals, most of these industrial firms have access to the Internet, a corporate website and use some kind of social network. However, apart from this type of specific digital marketing actions, are these companies making a real effort to define digital strategies? And then, are they integrating those strategies into their traditional sales processes, to capture new business opportunities that will enable them to increase turnover and, in addition, improve their competitiveness?
Or to put it another way: have they set off along the road of commercial-digital transformation , which, according to the experts, is so crucial when it comes to adapting to the new times and avoid jeopardising their survival?
WEROI argues that ‘we are moving forward’, though there still is ‘a lot of mindset shifting work to be done’. The Basque company, which specialises in industrial digital marketing, knows the drill: over the last 10 years it has worked for over 50 industrial and B2B companies, from both Spain and abroad, which it has helped to focus their digital investments on generating new business opportunities.
MAITANE HERNÁNDEZ, GENERAL MANAGER AT WEROI, and URKO DE LA TORRE, HEAD OF OPERATIONS, both graduates of the EMBA (Executive Master in Business Administration) at ESIC, highlight that good industrial digital marketing requires ‘very clear procedures and well-defined responsibilities within the companies’. ‘Only in this way can they achieve the objectives previously set’, DE LA TORRE points out. ‘It is much more than having a website or being on a social network and doing a little advertising. We are talking about implementing a new sales channel, the digital channel, which leads to new approaches. This is done by promoting close collaboration between the digital provider and the different leadership positions in the company, which are usually Management, Marketing and Sales’, HERNÁNDEZ adds.
BILL GATES once said: ‘In the 21st century there will be two kinds of businesses: those that are online, and those that no longer exist’. It is all about being online, of course, ‘not just anyhow, but rather in a way that ensures results’, explains DE LA TORRE.
Authoritative voices in the industrial sector
WEROI started the year working for important industrial companies, several of which are integrated in the three large Basque business groups: Mondragon, Velatia and Ingeteam.
Directors at several of these firms, authoritative voices in the industrial sector who have already become the benchmark when it comes to the implementation of digital services, wanted to share their opinions and views in this article.
One example is IGONE PÉREZ, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS AT AAF INTERNATIONAL, a multinational manufacturer of equipment for filtering and capturing dust, smoke or particles in the industrial environment. PÉREZ recalls the impact of becoming involved with a methodology like the one applied by WEROI.
‘I was struck by the way in which projects were launched, with a thorough analysis of the potential of the digital market in the target markets. This provides valuable information on interest in those markets and also on client behaviour’, she describes, then reflects: ‘And if you think about it a little, it makes perfect sense, because in the offline world, the non-virtual world, would a company risk going international without a solid previous market study, or clear evidence of the existing sales potential in the target country?’.
Esta base científica debe sustentar toda la estrategia posterior que se despliegue en los proyectos, activando las herramientas digitales necesarias y sirviéndose de la capilaridad, velocidad y posibilidades de segmentación que ofrece la red para captar nuevas oportunidades de negocio. Un enfoque cien por cien a resultados que valoran las empresas, tal y como confirma DIRECTOR OF THE CORPORATE SERVICES AREA AT THE BILBAO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
‘B2B companies are starting to understand that digital marketing is much more than what they had heard or been told. They understand that it is something more serious than having a website or attractive catalogues; it is about incorporating the internet into the day-to-day sales strategy’, explains this professional with deep knowledge of the Basque industry.
Integrating the digital channel into the traditional sales process requires an effort on the side of the companies that translates into providing the project with financial and human resources. Digital suppliers such as WEROI provide the technical and methodological knowledge to get leads, i.e. new business opportunities. Turning those into quotes and sales, however, will depend on the ability of the sales manager of each organisation, market saturation, and the technical characteristics of the product or service involved.
‘The key is teamwork, to be able to combine our traditional sales processes with the full potential of the digital channel. It is about taking advantage of this new commercial muscle to complement and improve everything what has been done up to now, and ensure that those efforts show in turnover. We are discussing the addition of new processes to our sales methods and it is clear to us that this requires a long-term approach’, explains JAVIER GONZÁLEZ BARAJAS, GENERAL MANAGER AT ONA, the world leader in the manufacture of die-sink and wire EDM machines.
This is a thought shared by PEDRO BASTERRECHEA, GENERAL MANAGER AT SAFETECH. The company specialises in rubber, metal and textile expansion joints, with clients in over 50 countries. He adds another conviction: ‘the importance’ that the management of the company highlight ‘emphatically’ to the rest of the team involved, and in particular the Sales and Marketing Departments, the strategic relevance of the digital project.
‘If this is not clear as of day one, the risk of tension between the various players will increase and the success of the project will be seriously jeopardised’, he warns.
This situation has been managed very effectively by LEIRE DE OLABARRIA, MANAGER AT INGETEAM AUTOMATION DEVICES, whose work has been ‘key’, according to the WEROI team, to ensure that all the leads obtained through the digital channel advance in the sales process towards the quote and sale stages.
‘We have discovered the potential of the channel: how it allows us to rapidly reach a considerable number of clients all over the world, through controlled investment. Then it is up to us, at the Sales Department, to manage those contacts and close the sale’, sums up DE OLABARRIA.
Industrial digital marketing —just as almost everything else related to the Internet—is evolving very quickly, therefore all professionals within this sector are constantly updating their knowledge.
The near future will see marketing automation tools such as HubSpot, WEROI’s strategic partner, become more and more necessary. ‘It is the logical growth process for any B2B company that wants to further professionalise its results-oriented digital business activity’, argues CARLOS MUNILLA DE MIGUEL, CHANNEL CONSULTANT AT HUBSPOT.
One of the greatest difficulties faced by industrial companies is the lack of specialised digital profiles in this sector. WEROI has spent years providing training at the Universidad del País Vasco (UPV/ EHU) and Chambers of Commerce, among others, bringing future professionals—and many others who are already active—closer to the new job opportunities emerging at the dawn of these new digital times.
Profiles such as Digital Marketing Manager, Content Manager, SEO Specialist and UX Designer are increasingly in demand. In this regard, there has been remarkable work done by professionals such as PATXI DOBLAS, VICE-DEAN OF PROFESSIONAL INSERTION AT UPV-EHU, who is deeply involved in working closely with companies to determine their real needs, and in training students to meet the new demands of the market.
List of best practices in industrial digital marketing
DIGITAL MARKET RESEARCH.
Exhaustive analysis of the digital potential of the company’s target market(s) and products, client online behaviour and market saturation, prior to the rollout or activation of any digital plan or tool.
DEFINITION OF THE DIGITAL STRATEGY
Designing the specific digital sales action plan: tools to be activated, objectives for each action, deadlines, etc. Always supported and argued in the analysis mentioned in the previous point.
INTEGRATION OF THE DIGITAL STRATEGY INTO THE TRADITIONAL SALES CHANNEL
All the internal profiles involved in the project—generally Management, Marketing and Sales—must be aligned with the digital strategy outlined. Much of the success of the project will depend on the degree of involvement of these key figures.
ESTABLISHING RESPONSIBILITIES AND WORKFLOWS
Clarifying the responsibilities of each player involved through training, creating manuals on how to proceed in each phase of the project, and other documentation that have been developed on the basis of past experiences with other companies.
Highly relevant in the initial stage of the project. In addition to allocating the necessary financial and human resources, the strategic importance of the digital channel must be communicated effectively to the rest of the internal team involved in the project.
Regular contact between the company and the digital supplier. It is the main support for the successful rollout of operations.
Responsible for managing the leads captured through the digital strategy, as well as reporting their status: calls, visits, quotes and sales closed. This will make it possible to accurately assess the status of the project. Essential for ROI (Return On Investment) analysis.
Ensures that each party fulfils their share of responsibility in due time and manner, manages the various digital tools the strategy entails, clarifies methodological doubts among all parties involved, and accurately measures the return generated by the project.
Impact of each digital tool on capturing new business opportunities. How much is being invested and the effect of this expenditure on the company’s income statement.
Identification of weak points and boosting of actions generating the higher returns.