In a recent post, we noted how search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) was taking center stage in the strategies of those B2B manufacturers selling industrial products. A recent article by Adam Heitzman on Inc.com speaks to how SEO is evolving— and how companies need to change their SEO practice in light of that change.
The bottom line for B2B marketers according to Heitzman: “It’s important to make sure you’re evolving along with search engines and constantly thinking about these changes as you create your strategy.” SEO methods should be fluid, not static.
Of all the questions set forth by the Bard, there’s no doubt that the most recollected is that posed in the Nunnery Scene of Hamlet:
To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them?
For today’s manufacturers, the question seems to be to integrate or not to integrate, for as heightened competition ramps up the pace of product development—and supply and value chains are increasingly extended, nuanced, and critical to competitive vigor—the integration of new product development and launch (NPDL) and supply chain practices appears to be essential for successfully navigating the sea of challenges the global business environment poses.
A recent SCM World research report speaks to this concern:
Early involvement of supply chain in product development has long been known to improve key metrics of innovation success, including cost, speed, and the ultimate profitability of newly introduced products. SCM World survey data shows that most supply chain organizations believe new product development and launch (NPDL) is now an essential capability.
The survey breaks down companies into two categories: innovation integrators, who consider NPDL an essential part of supply chain, and innovation isolators, who say that NPDL is not a part of supply chain. Compare the two:
The study found three key principles that work to improve design for profitability, all of which depend on integration of NPDL with supply chain: platforming (i.e., managing complexity with base designs and add-on modules to offer variety without entailing completely new development projects), supplier engagement in innovation (i.e., reducing the total number of suppliers while investing more deeply in relationship management and trust building to facilitate joint technology or capacity development), and NPDL orchestration (i.e., coordinating all involved to deliver on schedule every piece of the new product launch). These will be foundational elements for successful innovation going forward.
Expect solution providers to devise tools to help the implementation of these integration practices. A good example is E2open’s Design for Manufacturing module.
Most of our content marketing clients are B2B manufacturers or sell to manufacturers. They buy things. How do they go about it?
Logistics giant UPS gives us a window into that question, with the results of a study they conducted with global research firm TNS. UPS B2B Purchasing Insights looks into the behaviors, preferences, and perceptions of industrial supplier performance, and what they find is more than a little interesting. For the study, TNS conducted an online survey of 1,501 industrial supplies purchasers. Respondents included sole/joint decision makers or strong influencers of sourcing and purchasing decisions. Here are some of the findings that caught our eye:
While the vast majority of buyers rank product-related features as important when selecting a supplier, more notable is that delivery and returns capabilities, along with the ability to buy on a supplier’s website, are important to more buyers than having a sales representative and having a printed catalog.
So much for industrial concerns being slow to adopt digital behavior.
The top ten criteria ranked as extremely important attributes to consider when choosing which industrial vendors to purchase from:
These were the top seven methods used to research products:
Interestingly, most purchases were found to be a combination of repeat and one-off orders:
The majority of buyers across all spending levels report making a combination of repeat and one-off purchases, indicating that suppliers may have ample opportunity to acquire new customers. Since buyers expect to increase their online purchases in the future, and a clear majority prefer to research supplies online, having robust e-commerce and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies are essential for suppliers seeking to add or potentially retain customers.
This rings true to us, as we’ve been preaching the importance of SEO and SEM to our customers for years, as well as providing practical advice on how to improve these disciplines to their advantage.
Social media marketing has left long behind the idea that it’s the exclusive domain of the younger generation. What it is is central to today’s B2B marketing strategy.
An article on TechWeek Europe puts this into breathtaking focus, stating that social marketing technology will be the number one priority for chief marketing officers (CMOs) until the end of the decade. They cite a recent report from The Economist, which says the next three to five years will see a surge in investment by CMOs in technology, and social is where a good part of that investment will be made: “More than 80 percent of marketers plan on using technology to engage customers over the next five years – and it’s social marketing where they’re going to invest most heavily.”
This may reflect unhappiness with the current situation, as only 30% of the study’s respondents “strongly agree” with the statement that they are currently using technology to engage customers.
Expect that to change.
Following investment in social marketing, CMOs cited mobile marketing, analytics, and then email marketing to follow as priorities. Predictive analytics is a particularly hot area, as evidenced by Microsoft’s recent purchase of Revolution Analytics.
In the meantime, expect Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other sundry social networks to take a more prominent place in the B2B marketing boardroom. Nothing is more indicative of the times.
SCM World’s “Chief Supply Chain Officer Report 2014” points decidedly to changes in how supply chain operations are unfolding. The report’s main message: “Supply chain strategists need to raise their sights from traditional cost-cutting, process-standardizing principles and prepare for a new era.” What is driving this?
The inclination to outsource supply chain activities as a means of cutting costs is giving way as the above drivers take hold. As the authors note, “Manufacturing is growing more vertically integrated, route to market is now a two-way street, and suppliers are increasingly consolidated and powerful with capacity and technology that customers cannot find elsewhere. Efficiency alone no longer wins the game.”
What does win the game is agility. While operating cost reduction remains top of mind among supply chain practitioners, agility in meeting customers’ needs is fast rising to rival it. The top three areas SCOs find high-performing supply chains impacting business:
All these areas can be seen as key contributors to an agile supply chain. The report notes:
Agility appeals now because it means winning many different battles. Process standardization will wane in importance as a new generation of opportunistic supply chain professionals masters the deeply interdependent networks they are building to consistently say “yes” to profitable orders and “no” to the impossible.
Since the survey’s data shows an explosion in the complexity, volume, and urgency of demand, it’s understandable that big data analytics has emerged as the most disruptive technology for supply chain strategy. The importance of volatile demand—coupled with the hope that better visibility may come from drilling into huge new data sources—makes big data a big winner in the new era of supply chain operations.
This is an important study, the substance of which goes far beyond the brief points above. You can download it here.