The 2024 Definitive Manufacturing Marketing Guide

Table of Contents

What Is Manufacturing Marketing?

Manufacturing marketing is a process that enhances the visibility of a manufacturer in their marketplace, builds their credibility, and generates ROI through measurable increases in lead generation and sales.  This process includes activities like:

  • Building a professional website that demonstrates credibility
  • Utilizing SEO, Pay-Per-Click advertising, and other digital marketing techniques
  • Utilizing brand messaging that positions your company accurately and attracts the right audience. 

Forget everything you thought you knew about marketing for manufacturing companies in 2024. It’s time to acknowledge that the game has changed. You are here because you want progress, to give your business a new lease on life. Today, we live in a world of digital connectivity, and companies have two choices: to embrace the change, or to fall victim to it.

Meet the Author

Nate Wheeler

Nate Wheeler - Manufacturing Marketing Expert and SpeakerNate Wheeler is the Co-Owner and Marketing Lead at weCreate Website Design and Marketing, is a manufacturing marketing expert and brings a diverse skill set to the weCreate team. Nate spent four years of honorable service in the United States Marine Corps Infantry from 2004-2008, where he gained valuable leadership skills as an infantry advisor to the Iraqi Army and as a Non-Commissioned Officer leading other Marines. He received distinguished commendations and medals for his participation in combat operations. In the years following the end of his active duty, he participated extensively in stock and currency trading, gained a master’s degree in international business and started 7 businesses, including the Tristate Manufacturers Marketplace. Over the past 10 years Nate has created and implemented integrated marketing plans for companies across the country and provided online marketing consulting to hundreds of businesses. His expertise includes search engine optimization, copywriting and content strategy, marketing consulting, and brand development. He’s provided consulting for hundreds of manufacturers and organizations like the National Tooling and Machining Association, The U.S. Trade Commission, and many more.

weCreate Website Design and Marketing is a full-service marketing agency that works with companies that are serious about growth. At weCreate, we pride ourselves on exceptional website designs that is finely tuned for conversion of visitors into customers, and in using customized digital marketing strategies to generate leads for our clients.

Everything that’s wrong with the world (or at least the industry)

It’s 3:00 on a Wednesday afternoon and I’m walking into my third manufacturing operation of the day.

I’m here to tell the clients why their profits have been down for seven consecutive quarters. On my way to the meeting, I drive past the establishment several times because there is no visible signage. As I walk through the door, I notice two broken windows and flaking paint on the outside of the building.

Now, I’m inside the office, talking to a secretary who seems really inconvenienced by the fact that I’m there for my scheduled meeting with Tom. I notice her computer has a very large box sticking out of the back of it (oh, right… maybe that’s how they used to make computers). I do like the retro vibe I am getting from the furniture– which was most likely purchased prior to 1970.

Finally I’m sitting down with the salesperson, who instantly complains that things “just aren’t the way they used to be.” He tells me, “Everything is going to China! There’s just no loyalty toward U.S. manufacturers anymore.”

I ask him for a tour of the facility, so he hands me a pair of safety goggles and a hard-hat and leads me
to the dingy, dirty shop floor. The machines are at least 50 years old, and I don’t see any technology being used to track production or robotics integration.

Back in Tom’s office, we discuss the real reason why I’m there: the company’s website was built in 1998. “We don’t want to spend too much on a new site, we really don’t get a lot of business from the internet,” Tom says cautiously.

Admittedly, at this point, I am close to losing my mind, instead, I patiently explain the importance of lead generation on the web. The advice I gave him is precisely what I’m going to tell you, with the addition of a small section titled: “FIX YOUR S***,” (Don’t worry, I didn’t use that language with Tom) which will give you an explanation of why my seemingly random complaints above actually matter.

Why You Need a Great Website

Plainly stated, you need a website because the internet is where you will get new business, and your website is the gateway to that internet market. We’ve all heard of the global economy—well, the internet is the tool that makes it possible. If your argument is that you get most of your business locally, I’d like to stop you right there. In 2024 manufacturers report that on average, 69% of their new leads come from the web – and that’s with most of them not putting the necessary resources towards digital lead acquisition. Competition is incredibly fierce in the modern global market, and a business that neglects growth opportunities will inevitably fail. You need to find new leads around the region, nationally, and even internationally if you truly want a sustainable business in the coming years.

Sourcing personnel are getting younger and younger, and young people use Google to find everything. Minewhat (pg. 33) reported that 81% of consumers research products and companies online before making a purchasing decision, and 60% of consumers use search engines as their starting point. In another five years, there will be no more Thomasnet book or Yellow-page turners. Googlers are empowered consumers; they have millions of options at their fingertips. They will only choose your business if your website sells them. If your website does not sell them, or if they cannot find your website, they have nearly unlimited alternative options available to them.

It is also important to note that your website is the centerpiece of your marketing efforts. Your marketing efforts should be driving traffic to your site using organic search results, paid ads, video, and whitepapers. Building a strong, marketing-focused website is imperative when driving sales in the digital age.

If you do not want to grow your manufacturing business, then I give you permission to stop reading now. Otherwise, I hope this explanation motivates you to start working on your online lead generation.

The Difference Between Manufacturing & Service Lead Generation

In 2024, providing online marketing for a fabrication shop versus, say, a pizza shop requires a much different approach, because it is easier to know who the target market is for a pizza shop. It’s also easier with a pizza shop to guess what someone is going to be searching for on Google or other search engines (i.e., “pizza shops in NYC”). In contrast, marketing a fabrication shop requires the knowledge to anticipate the types of questions that the searcher will need answered, for example:

  • What type of metal fabrication do you provide? Ferrous? Non-Ferrous?
  • What is your capability? Can you provide me with a custom engineered 40’ steel beam, or do you machine small parts for internal combustion engines?
  • How big is your facility and crew? Can you provide me with 1000 parts per day, or per month?
  • How do you price your services? Will it take a month’s worth of discussion before I know you are not going to be able to provide the bulk pricing I need?

So, how do we address these questions and use them to your advantage?

Manufacturing lead generation is a game of niches. Most successful companies I have dealt with state very clearly that the service they provide is not for everyone. Niches are extremely important when it comes to driving the right traffic to your website.

Correctly identifying what popular and effective search terms your target market uses will mean the difference between a great, functional website or a total bust. Some shops I have worked with say they will take any type of business. This is fine, but from an internet marketing standpoint, this type of statement does nothing to properly identify your core competencies.

A couple niche refining key phrases that may be missing on your services page include:

  • High volume
  • High capacity
  • Small runs
  • ISO Certified
  • Design, engineering, and manufacturing

In short, what you write needs to match words and phrases searchers type into the search engine when looking for you. We’ll dive into how to discover these key phrases and words further down in the article.

The Bullet Proof Lead Generation Plan

Online marketing is the 80,000lb hydraulic press that squeezes leads out of the marketplace. I use this analogy because I see so many manufacturers who are willing to spend several million dollars on one piece of machinery that does 100k jobs, and then choke when they have to spend 10k on marketing efforts that will keep that same machine cranking. The wonderful feature about online marketing is that it is proven to be effective, so the investment is a no-brainer. Let’s get into how it works.

Basic Assumptions of Internet Marketing for Manufacturers:

  • Sourcing and purchasing personnel are searching for new suppliers and resources online
  • These sourcing and purchasing personnel use Google and other search engines to find new suppliers.
  • Searchers find the right supplier based upon the content on the supplier’s website.
  • These searchers make judgments about a company based on the website’s information and user experience.

Picture your website as the hub in the center of a wheel. Outside of that hub, the spokes are composed of your main lead generation avenues, including:

  • Content marketing
  • SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Email marketing
  • Video
  • Social Media (yes, I said it– even you need social media!)
  • Direct Sales
  • Event marketing

Website Centric Manufacturing Marketing Model

Manufacturing Website Best Practices: The 6 Commandments

We have our model for lead generation, now let’s break it down into individual parts, beginning with the important items on your manufacturing website:

1. Thou Shalt Have Clear Service Offerings

The homepage is the most commonly viewed page on most websites. When designing a homepage for a client, we always ensure that the visitor can quickly identify the shop’s most broad-stroke categories of services being offered before scrolling or navigating elsewhere. According to data collected and interpreted by Nielsen Norman Group, consumers typically leave a website within 10-20 seconds, unless that webpage contains clear value propositions.

Often, instead of simple service offerings, we identify the top industries a client may serve and we then categorize products based on those industries. This allows the visitor to filter through to the area on the site that applies to their specific needs. The decision whether to use service offerings as a feature above the fold, categories, or industries is dependent on two factors: the number of services performed, and whether or not there is a need to consolidate for design and user experience.

2. Thou Shalt Have Strong Calls to Action

This is the part where we must read the visitor’s mind and tell them to do what he or she already wants to do. A strong call to action stands out from the rest of the content both visually and through the message presented. An example of a strong call to action might be:

“Contact Our Die Casting Specialist!”

What is so special about this call to action? It tells the visitor that there is an expert in the service they are looking for, and that this expert is readily available to help. The visitor’s time is not wasted. Keep in mind that the calls to action will change based on your target market. CTAs should be split tested (testing different versions) for effectiveness.

3. Thou Shalt Prove Credibility

There are a number of ways to show your trustworthiness and value on the website‘s homepage and throughout the site. A few ways to validate your services could include:

  • Mentioning companies you have worked with
  • Providing testimonials
  • Providing case studies


4. Thou Shalt Have Fantastic Photography

Beautiful website design can be tragically ruined by lousy photographs. Blurry photography has no place on a webpage. Stock photography has very little place there as well! Always hire a professional photographer to take pictures that show the breadth of your company’s capabilities, your staff, and your operation. Using quality photography ensures that your company will be seen as professional, authentic, and accessible.

5. Thou Shalt Write Great Content (Google likes to read)

Video of Nate Wheeler, the owner of weCreate, teaching manufacturing marketers about on-page SEO and content Generation

Written content is hands down the most important part of your website. The words that are written on your site will allow search engines to match your site to those who are searching. Hire a professional content developer who understands how search engines interact with content in order to get the best results.

In addition to being useful to search engines, the content must thoroughly explain your offerings and be easily readable to the site visitor. Content must be clear, organized, and detailed. Use bullet points, headings, and other elements to break up text and make it more readable.

On a final note, many company websites lack a detailed block of content on the homepage. Having keyword-rich content directly on the homepage is vital for search engine optimization.

6. Thou Shalt Do Testing to Optimize the Performance of Your Website

“Conversion” is a term that is used to describe getting a website visitor to take a desired action. Web surfers have short attention spans, and as previously discussed, there is not much time to make an impression. A/B testing (or “split testing”) involves switching layouts, pictures, content, and calls to action, while simultaneously tracking how many people are filling out your RFQ form or taking another desired action (such as downloading a whitepaper).

As marketers, we run tests that can track a visitor from the time they type a search query into Google, all the way to when they fill out a site’s RFQ form. This process is exciting because it allows us to identify the exact words or phrases your ideal customer uses to find you. We can then use these words to improve your on-site content and target those words or phrases in organic search engine optimization (more on SEO later.)

A Couple More Notes on Your Website

  • Make sure the domain name is in the name of someone at the company who plans on staying there. I’ve seen many cases where the web development company purchases the domain name under their own name, which is roughly equivalent to you buying a house and the realtor putting their own name on the title.
  • Put your site on higher quality hosting (we usually recommend a VPS). This is important because it will help your site load faster and will be more secure than if it were on shared hosting (think Godaddy and Bluehost). Not only will your site’s visitors be happier, but Google will also reward you with higher ranking for your keywords.
  • Make sure your domain name is concise. I have seen many domain names that look like a sentence. These long names make it difficult for people to find your site from memory, and also make it a pain to give out your email address. Nate@ Not cool.
  • Your website must ALWAYS be mobile responsive, and this does not mean having a separate “m.” mobile site. Mobile responsiveness is your site’s ability to respond to the device it is being viewed on and how it configures to that device.


SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Your Most Important Manufacturing Marketing Tool!

SEO—The process of increasing your ranking for target keywords and phrases

Example of a target keyword(s): “ISO certified copper component manufacturer”

How this keyword or key phrase is used: The target keyword is a word or phrase your ideal customer will use in Google (a query) to find your company and procure your services.

How Google and other search engines rank websites

A search engine is a program that sorts and indexes websites according to various factors. In essence, if the search engine sees that the content on your site is relevant to what a user typed into the search engine, and also sees that your site is a credible source of information, then you will rank well for that search phrase.

Beyond content relevance and site credibility, the third factor involved in ranking is competition. In a matter of seconds, you can see why competition online is a huge factor. If you were to type “heat treating” into Google, you would see page after page of search results. Google needs a way to sort through the competing websites. Obviously, the more competition that exists, the more difficult it will be to rank on the first page of search results for that search phrase. Here’s a more detailed explanation of these three major ranking factors:

Relevance or “on-page SEO”

Search engines “crawl” through pages of your website and put all of the data on the site into their index. By indexing all the content on your site, the search engine then has the ability to match your site up with relevant search queries.

Credibility or “off-page SEO”

Since there may be thousands of sites that have the same keyword or phrase, search engines rank sites according to hundreds of factors. While no one knows exactly which factors might be involved in ranking your site, there are a couple of important ones that have a significant and obvious influence on ranking. One of the leading organizations on ranking factor analysis is Every year, Moz publishes a list of these ranking factors for websites to use a resource. The most current list can be viewed here:

Video of Nate Wheeler – Owner of weCreate LLC describing backlinks and their role in SEO

Based on both Moz’s report and my own experience implementing search engine optimization, one of the most important factors in ranking are things called “backlinks”. A backlink is simply a link back to your site (also referred to as an inbound link). An example of an inbound link might be a profile for your company on a manufacturer’s association website that contains a clickable link that leads back to your website. I could spend hours discussing link building best practices, but if you are the marketing person in your company and want to give it a shot on your own, here are a few points to remember:

Links from credible sources like:

  • Industry associations, partners, and industry publications) will generally help your ranking.
  • Links from spammy directories and sites that are not relevant to your industry will generally not help your ranking, and may even cause harm.
  • Generating great content (*Content Marketing) that people in your industry will find informative is one of the most generally accepted ways to obtain backlinks. In theory, the way this strategy works is that when you produce an article titled “Using Additives to Improve Material Strength,” and engineers read and share this article, different websites will pick it up as a resource and link back to that article on your website. I recently published an article titled: “Manufacturing SEO – Search Engine Optimization for Manufacturers” on my company’s blog. Several websites have found this article and linked back to it, which helps my site’s ranking. In short, links to your website tell Google that your site has valuable information on it because other websites want to link to it.

For More In-depth Information about SEO Implementation, The Role Of AI in SEO, and What to Do if You’re Struggling to Rank for Your Main Services, Check Out This Recent Article:

SEO Consulting & SEO Troubleshooting for Common Issues


Competition in organic search results is more or less based on the first two factors already mentioned—the on-page and off-page SEO value of the sites in question. For two websites in the same niche, the one that has better on-page SEO for the search query and better off-page authority will likely rank higher in search results. The greater number of authoritative websites that exist and compete for the same keywords and phrases, the more difficult it will be to rank a new website entering the competition.

When considering the three points above (relevance, credibility, and competition), the section below most closely pertains to “relevance” and creating content that tells Google your site is relevant to a search phrase. This is what we call “on-page SEO.” Credibility and competition are judged based on other marketing efforts, like off-page SEO, which will be discussed later in this eBook.

Content Marketing

Content creation is often one of the most dreaded tasks in manufacturing marketing, but is also one of the most important from a marketing perspective. People generally despise content writing because it takes great expertise to create great content, and if you have that ability, it’s likely you would rather be doing something else than sharing it with other people pro bono. So, why share it? Here are the top four reasons why taking information from the brains of your team members and getting it on paper positively influences your lead generation:

  • Your online content proves that your company knows what it’s doing.
  • Search engines use your content to match queries with websites.
  • Generating and sharing content on a regular basis is the best way to keep your company relevant to your clients.
  • Great content gets shared and builds your site’s authority.

On not wasting your content writing efforts

Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of actually creating written web content, we need to take a step back and view the bigger picture. I have seen too many companies pushing out worthless monthly blog articles that will do nothing to bring valuable traffic to their website. In order to write good content, we must understand who your market is, and what channels and keywords they use to search for your services. We will cover:

  • How to analyze the characteristics of your target market that are relevant to web content
  • How to use the information gathered through web analytics
  • How to write your content based on the information you’ve gained

Market Analysis — Knowing and Writing for Your Ideal Audience

Who They Are

As an industrial manufacturer, the individual that needs your services will vary based on what it is that you produce. If your company mostly retrofits components, it is likely that individuals such as maintenance supervisors or floor managers will be looking for your services. If your company manufactures high-dollar, new equipment like presses, furnaces, or CNC machines, it is likely that a procurement specialist will be looking for you. These two examples are not hard and fast rules, but they do illustrate the importance of understanding who is making the purchasing decisions so that we can reach them where they are looking. Effective manufacturing marketing is about knowing who is searching which allows us to tailor our message toward that individual. If a large portion of my target audience is composed of engineers, I want to understand what technical data they are analyzing when making purchases to ensure I am providing that data. A great way to find out what information you should be providing is by listening in on sales calls and recording what questions are being asked by customers. If you can answer these questions early in the sales cycle, then you may be able to influence the purchase decision in your favor.

How They Search

The chart below comes from Google Analytics which is an important free tool that allows you to place a tracking code on your website and provides you with a dashboard showing you valuable data regarding how visitors are finding and interacting with your website.

Market Analysis Chart

The information provided on this chart perfectly aligns with much of my other research and personal experience in the industry. The chart below comes from Google Analytics and shows how traffic is reaching one of our die casting manufacturing client’s website. Corroborating the Engineering 360 study, the chart shows that the vast majority of visitors to their website arrived the by way of keyword searches in search engines (organic). The referral portion of the pie chart represents visitors to the website that came from directory sites like and, as well as links from other websites.

This chart demonstrates the fact that a large amount of our focus in manufacturing marketing should be placed on writing content for our site that contains the keywords for which we want to be found. Additionally, the chart signifies that our organic search ranking will likely be responsible for the majority of our online leads.

Refining Keywords Through Web Analytics

Keyword analysis is an ongoing process that involves tracking your website’s ranking in search engines and analyzing search data and conversion rates. This ensures you are using the right keywords to maximize the number of visitors to your site. These keywords are then used to create greater relevance in content writing.

Tracking Keywords

Though tracking keywords is a very simple process, it does require a good program to accomplish. First, you will need to brainstorm a list of keywords for which you would like to rank higher (or that you would like to start ranking in). Examples of these keywords (or phrases) could include: “Heavy steel fabrication,” “contract machining companies,” and “high pressure tank manufacturers.” These keywords will provide leads for your company when a purchasing individual types them into Google and then clicks on your site in the search results. A tool I often use to help keep track of high-ranking keywords is called Serpfox allows you to create a free account to track a set number of keywords and URLs, but if you need to track a larger number of keywords, you will want to sign up for their paid account. Another great tool is SEMrush.

After you are tracking your keywords, you can easily see increases and decreases in ranking and can analyze the impact of various search engine optimization measures you are taking. Now lets take a harder look at the individual keywords and maximize their value.

Analyzing Keyword Data

We can assume that the keywords you first began tracking are a fairly decent representation of the keywords your customers might be searching for, but they may not be the best ones to use. Once again, when choosing valuable keywords, we analyze relevance, search volume, and competition.


You may be wondering, “If I’m an expert in my company, how could I pick irrelevant keywords?” Surprisingly, this is not uncommon and usually happens when a manufacturer refers to a product or service using a general term that could apply to many different areas. For example, we once provided marketing for a manufacturing client who provides hydrostatic pressure testing for gas pipelines and who wanted to rank for the keyword “hydrostatic testing.” Hydrostatic testing is done on many types of pressure systems including scuba tanks, boilers, and other plumbing systems. Because their product was related specifically to gas pipelines, we needed to add additional keywords to the phrase “hydrostatic testing” to make the phrase relevant.

Keyword Search Volume

Tracking software like SEMrush generally provides traffic estimates for the keywords that are being tracked, but gives no information about competition and alternative keywords. Google Keyword Planner is a tool available in your Google Adwords Account that allows you to type in a general search phrase and it will generate a list of complementary keywords with search volumes.

For this example, the test keyword “hydrostatic testing for gas pipelines” showed zero search volume (not shown), so we can now use the list below, from Keyword Planner, to identify alternate keywords.

Keyword Search Volume as shown in Google Ads keyword planner

How to Analyze Keyword Competition

If your company sells Nike shoes, it is important to understand that using “Nike Shoes” will most likely not be a viable keyword choice for an SEO campaign—that is, unless your website has a significant amount of authority already built up over many years. Highly competitive keywords are ones being vied for in search engines by a larger number of websites. As seen in the image above, Google Keyword Planner gives you a competition rating. This rating relates to pay-per-click bidding competition, as opposed to organic search engine competition. While there is a loose relationship between the two this competition in Adwords is certainly not a foolproof gauge of SEO competition. Later in this article (in the SEO section labeled “Domain Level Link Authority Features”), I will discuss a way to determine how competitive the market for a given keyword is using Trust Flow and Citation Flow.

Note: Google recently changed the function of their Google keyword tool and users are no longer able to view specific numbers of searches while researching keywords without a paid Adwords account. Alternatively, as a supplement to your manufacturing marketing metrics I recommend using an additional tool like Jaaxy to get access to more specific numbers.

We have now discussed how to identify the keywords to use in your content based on relevance, competition, and volume. Now we can look at the actual writing of content for search engine optimization.

Writing Optimized Manufacturing Web Content Based on Keyword Choices

Here are the major elements that go into a page of web content, from top to bottom. The first three listed here are what appear in search engines:

Diagram of listing information shown in search results. 1. SEO title 2. URL with slug 3. Meta description

1. Page Title

The page title is the text displayed on the tab at the top of your browser that you see when you are viewing a web page. It is the second piece of information a search engine refers to when matching a search query to relevant content. The page title must include the major keywords that have been identified to target your audience most effectively. It is in your best interest to use a keyword research tool to determine better keywords and phrases to rank for.

Say, for example, you are selling a marketing program and your research indicates that “effective marketing techniques in 2024” has a large number of searches. To get your page of content to show up in search engines when someone types that phrase into the search bar, your page title must read something like “Most Effective Marketing Techniques in 2019”.

2. Page URL

Page or Post URLs (permalinks) should be set to the “Post Name” option. If this is done, visitors who are viewing the page or post relating to “best marketing practices” will see:

The URL is one way Google matches a search query with content on the web. However, it is not the most important aspect to consider when trying to boost your content and ranking.

3. Meta Descriptions

Along with the page title and page URL, search engines match queries to search results by referring heavily to the meta description. Be sure to use variations of the keywords you want to rank well for in the description to get the best visibility. If you use WordPress for your site, there is a download available, called Yoast SEO, that allows you to make a custom meta description. Without specifying the meta description yourself, search engines generally pull the first 150 characters from the page to describe it better to searchers. This meta description will appear in search results under your page title and page URL.

4. Page Headings

Headings are not quite as important in search engine algorithms as they have been in the past. It’s still a great idea to include one, but there is no need to overdo it by inputting 10 different headings and 10 different keywords. For ease of reading and organization, feel free to include your H1, H2, and H3.

5. Page Content (The Meat & Potatoes)

Try to visualize the content on your page as an advertisement for the product you are writing about. It may be difficult to accept, but the reality is that 90% of the people who will visit your page never read anything below the first paragraph. What does this mean for you? Your goal should be to communicate your top five (not necessarily five) points as quickly as possible. These top five points should be researched using the Google Keyword Planner (or a similar program) to ensure your potential clients use them while searching the internet for content like yours. Continuing with our previous example, here is a list of the top five subjects I may wish to communicate about the page titled “effective marketing techniques:”

  • Marketing for Small Businesses
  • Social Media Marketing for the Tech Industry
  • Email Marketing Best Practices
  • How to Use LinkedIn for Marketing your Business
  • Does Twitter and Facebook Really Work For Manufacturing Businesses?


Normally, I start the page off using a short attention-grabbing sentence or two, which then leads to a bullet-point list based on the top five concepts identified above. Immediately after this segment, I provide my “call to action.”

In this example, my call to action might be a link titled “Get Instant Access to Our 2024 Manufacturing Marketing Guide.” For a manufacturer, the call to action might be “Download the Case Study.” When viewers click the link, they would be directed to an auto-response email that would add them to my list and send them a link to the eBook.

Above The Fold – A Very Important Concept

Above The Fold – Manufacturing Website

“Above the fold” refers to the area of a web page someone can read before having to scroll down to view more. It is extremely important to communicate your most important points in this area in order to avoid visitors having to exert any extra effort to determine what your company does.

Many of the manufacturing companies I work with have fairly complex product lines. My conversations about content writing usually start with two questions: “What is the main profit producing component of your business?” and “What do you consider the biggest area of growth or opportunity for your company?” The general goal of these questions is to identify the primary, secondary, and tertiary areas of specialization for the company. The products and services that are established are then leveraged for online searches. The point of writing the content is to ensure that search engines will be able to match searchers with the content they are looking for. Here’s a brief example:

A company that manufactures injection molds would first identify the largest components of their business. This company provides molds for the automobile industry, signage, and for children’s toys. Clearly, they want to show up in searches for keywords like “automotive injection molders”, so the main pages of the website must involve these keywords. Subcategories of these industries (perhaps the specific types of molds relating to the individual industry) would also have pages, usually available in a drop-down menu. The number of pages I write generally depends on the size of the business. Usually, that falls somewhere between four and six for small manufacturers, 10 for medium, and 15-30 for large manufacturers (assuming they do not sell products directly to the consumer, in which case many more pages may need to be written).

Content Pages for Other Industries

The example outlined above is general and can be expanded or simplified depending on more or less complex business models and product lines. The goal when generating content for your site is to ensure that your company can be found online for the most important aspects of your business.

*Over Optimization and Keyword Concentration

In the past, the best-case scenario for content writing was to stuff as many keywords and phrases into a page of content as possible—repetition encouraged. Even two or three years ago, professionals recommended having up to 3% keyword concentration in a piece of content. Personally, I think this is way too much, and I have seen evidence to suggest that, beyond strategically placing the keyword in a couple of major spots (heading, url, meta description, etc.,) you shouldn’t focus on just one keyword. Search engines are now smart enough to understand the topic of a piece of content, and can match searches with content that may not even contain the exact words typed in. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the phrase you want to optimize for, just that there is no need to use it more than a couple of times.

What should you write pages of content for, and how many pages is the right amount?

In the previous section we covered who your customer is and how to write content that they can find. The next section begins to address actual marketing methods for generating leads. It also explores the value of a lead and the various channels you will need to use to obtain one.

Finding Your Marketing Budget

A very common thread I’ve seen among manufacturers is the lack of an established manufacturing marketing budget. Why is it so important to have a marketing budget? Because utilizing the right kind of marketing will produce exceptional value for your company. You may be asking “How much value?” or “How much does digital marketing cost?” However, I think a better question to ask is this: “How much is it worth?” Let’s answer this question with an analysis of cost per lead, and average the value of a lead.  According to Hubspot – a leading digital CRM, an average company’s marketing accounts for about 13 percent of their total budget.  Remember, this is referring to the average company.  In my experience, manufacturers spend less than 1% of their total budget on marketing.

What Your Leads Are Worth

Electrical Components Incorporated produces precision copper components for the inside of commercial electrical panels. Their average order size is 10,000 units at $10/unit. The average customer is retained for 5 years and reorders once per quarter, but for simplicity’s sake we can ignore this added revenue and focus only on the short-term budget. Average profit margins for manufacturers are around 10%, so we are looking at a net profit of $10,000 for this customer, assuming they order only once. So what is the value of a lead for the example company “Electrical Components Incorporated”?

Let’s assume that the common lead to customer rate (close rate) of 5% applies to this company. This means that one out of every 20 inquiries results in an order. Here is an equation to help us determine a lead value.

(1/close rate) * (lead value) = ([cost per unit] * [average units sold per order]) * profit margin

In this example, solving for lead value yields an amount of $500. This is the maximum they can spend to get one lead or inquiry and still break even on their marketing. To apply this to your company, plug in your own information (or use what is provided) and solve for the variable (lead value).

Google Ads/PPC Advertising as a Manufacturing Marketing Technique

Now that we have a rough idea of what a lead is worth to your company, let’s look at what it actually costs to get those leads.

Cost of Lead Acquisition Through Google Ads and Search Engine Optimization

With pay-per-click advertising, it is possible to split-test (test different versions of an ad at the same time) ads until you come up with the perfect one that generates leads at a low cost. For this reason, the conversion rate has the potential to be much higher than that of leads coming from other avenues. To evaluate pay-per-click as an marketing method for your manufacturing company, we will first need to look at what it costs when someone clicks on your ad. According to a recent study by Wordstream, the average cost-per-click for industrial services is $2.69.

Adwords keyword planner – Cost of Lead Acquisition

According to the same study, the average conversion rate for a PPC ad (the number of individuals who took a desired action like filling out your RFQ form) is 2.58%. Given these numbers, in order to receive 20 inquiries and one sale, we need 78 clicks. Now, these may be optimistic numbers on very highly-optimized landing pages using well tested ads, but you can easily see that even if the conversion rate was cut in half and cost-per-click doubled, your company would still be looking at a cost of only $615 per sale (not per lead). Note that it can take many months of A/B testing and optimizing your campaigns to achieve this level of effectiveness, but it is certainly worth it!

Cost of Manufacturing SEO

According to, “For every one click on a paid search result, the organic results generate 8.5 clicks.” While pay-per-click advertising can have immediate benefits, I highly recommend investing in organic search engine optimization because it produces more sustained results and consistent leads for your company. The cost of SEO is slightly difficult to pin down due to the fact that different companies start from different places. It is relatively simple to establish a budget for on-page search engine optimization because the market and keyword research costs as well as the content writing costs are more or less fixed. Off-page SEO can be complex to price because hundreds of factors go into ranking on Google. Below is a list of a few off-page factors that relate to ranking, posted on, with a brief summary of what they mean:

Page-Level Link-Based Features

Google sometimes views a website that has backlinks that only direct to the main homepage as unnatural.  When Google looks at your backlink profile, the would expect to see a variety of different types of links pointing to various pages of your website.  Any unnatural patterns will present as a red flag.  Here are just a few types of links an established website would likely receive:

  • Industry associations linking to the site from listings
  • Images links that look like advertisements
  • Anchor text links like you’d see in a blog article
  • Anchor text links that only contain the company name
  • Exact url links
  • Some reciprocal links (links in which the company linking to you also receives a link from you)
  • Non-reciprocal links
  • Directory links

If you have any of these categories of links pointing to your website that strongly outweigh the other categories, then you should look for ways to diversify your backlink profile.

Generally, a legitimate website has valuable content distributed among different pages that are then linked to by other sites. These backlinks should always be from sites that are relevant to your industry and have high authority online (discussed further below). The internal linking structure of your website is important as well. You do not want a page with valuable content to become an “island” (a link from an outside source) on your site, and neglect to reference that great content on your own website. You may resolve such a situation by linking to that internal page from your home page.

Domain-Level Link-Authority Features

The homepage is nearly always the most authoritative page of a website (in simple terms, it is the most likely to rank). Why is this? Most of the time, when other websites reference your site, they refer to the homepage. Because most of the links to your site point to the homepage (and thus it has the highest authority), the homepage keyword focus will normally be your most highly ranked keyword in search engines. We have already discussed where these links should come from, but to reiterate for emphasis: links to your homepage must not be random links. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for a manufacturer to get the majority of their backlinks coming from sports blogs. Google assigns each backlink its own niche, so most of them should be coming from business or manufacturing niches. With a paid account, allows you to view the niche of a backlink which it factors into its “Trust Flow” metric.

Here’s an example of Majestic’s trust flow/citation flow for the Washington Post. Notice the very high numbers for both. Most manufacturing companies will have a Trust flow between 0 and 30 (though 30 is pretty rare). Citation flow is a rough measure of the number of backlinks. Commonly, the trust flow and citation flow numbers are very close to one another. A huge disparity in the two numbers can be a negative ranking factor for various reasons.

Image from Majestic SEO tool showing Trust Flow and Citation Flow Metrics

Notice the Trust Flow chart has a color assigned to it which correlates to the niche of its most powerful backlinks. The general idea is that Google likes to see most of your backlinks coming from a niche that makes sense and that is based on the product or service you advertise. Below, you can see a snapshot of Washington Post’s most powerful news-niched backlinks. Majestic indicates on the right-hand side that a couple of them have been deleted, which may or may not be true. To make sure, you can go to the website referenced and check to see if the backlink still exists.

Cost of Manufacturing SEO

The top backlink on this list from has a TF/CF of 85/70 on the page the link came from, and a TF/CF of 86/84 on the whole domain (which is why we like homepage backlinks). The only way Washington Post’s website could ever attain the high TF/CF numbers it currently has is by obtaining backlinks that have similar properties. Washington Post could get 10,000 backlinks with TF/CF numbers like 15/15 and would never attain an 80 trust flow.

So what sort of trust flow and citation flow should you be aiming to attain for your company’s website? That really depends on who you are trying to beat in search engines for a particular search phrase. Go ahead and type a keyword or phrase into Google that relates to your company and analyze the first page of search results that pops up. Choose a couple of your competitors and type them into the search bar on You won’t be able to see the niche of the backlinks in the Majestic dashboard without a paid account, but you are able to see the useful TF/CF numbers. Most of the time, if your website has proper on-page SEO, and has higher TF/CF numbers than your competitor, your site will rank higher on Google. If these numbers check out and you’re still not ranking as highly as you’d like, it may be due to one of the factors listed below.

Additional Important Factors in Search Engine Ranking

Anchor Text Features

Anchor text refers to the words being used to replace a hyperlink (the full address of a website) within a backlink. In order to have an anchor text backlink, we would hyperlink a set of words to a domain or internal page on that domain. Here’s an example:

My company website is https://www.wecreate. com. Let’s pretend that I partnered with a marketing company to provide all of their search engine optimization services, and that they wanted to reference weCreate on their website. Since I want weCreate’s website to rank in searches for the phrase “Search Engine Optimization Company,” I would have my partner company link back to my site using the anchor text “Search Engine Optimization Company.” When Google sees this backlink, it gains very specific information about the type of service I provide, and it gives a huge boost in credibility for that search phrase.

Social and Brand Features

Over the past 5 years, search engine optimization has become increasingly complex. Google has developed their algorithm to hinder unnatural SEO efforts – in an effort to make search results more valuable to the consumer. Google observed that most successful companies have some form of social media presence, have some reviews on different sites, and have their brand mentioned in different publications and articles. While no specific social media activity has been conclusively linked to ranking, it has been shown that sites with “social signals” tend to rank higher, so manufacturers should work social into their marketing efforts.

Traffic and Engagement 

Another result of algorithm development has been Google’s use of traffic and engagement statistics in ranking. Many years ago, when I was first getting involved with SEO, I remember customers asking “So, if I have a bunch of people click on my website in search results, I will rank higher?” And I would explain, “If you rank higher, you will get clicked on more.” However, these days, it actually does matter if you get clicked on. If you rank number one in Google for “copper transformer connectors” but the second and third listings get more clicks and more traffic, Google will eventually realize that those other companies are doing something right that you are not, and could possibly shuffle them to the top. Beyond simple click-through and traffic rates, how long a visitor stays on your site (a measure by a metric called “Bounce Rate”) can have an influence on your rank as well. Bounce rate tells Google how valuable your website’s content is to your visitors by measuring how much they interact with your site before leaving it. Every SEO project must include measuring and optimizing engagement statistics over time to get the best and most sustainable results.

Really Though, What Does It Cost?

Most search engine optimization efforts can be customized to your needs. The more you put into the budget, the more you get out of it, and the faster you see results. Generally, the lower your SEO budget is, the longer it will take to get results. To start, I generally recommend devoting at least 10 hrs per month of SEO management, which could cost anywhere from $1500-2500/month depending on the shop rate of the SEO company. Also, it’s important that additional funds are allocated for joining organizations that will provide backlinks, as well as for publishing content. With all of these factors considered, SEO budgets typically average around $2,500/month and up depending on the competition and geographic market you’re looking to target. At weCreate, we’ve developed geographically limited plans for very small shops that start at $759/month.  This lower budget would not be appropriate for a manufacturer looking for nationwide or international exposure.

The bulk of time spent on SEO management consists of the following tasks:

  • Identifying opportunities to build authority
  • Building low or no-cost backlinks through sharing content that has already been generated
  • Putting in place profiles and listings on relevant social sites
  • Planning and implementing on-page keyword strategy.

And a good monthly SEO budget includes additional time for:

  • Content creation
  • Posting on social media to increase traffic
  • Creating graphical design elements to build more effective landing pages and increase conversion rate.

Addressing many of these issues at the same time may require a budget of $5,000 or greater per month for up to a year before significant improvements in traffic and ranking occur. The huge difference between this investment and an advertising investment is that the improvement in traffic levels and sales is sustainable long after the work is complete.

Is It Worth It?

SEO is valuable because you are not only increasing the right traffic to your site, but you are also simultaneously branding your company and improving the conversion rate of your visitors. On top of this, SEO has an impressive residual value.  Whereas most marketing techniques only offer results during the period in which you’re investing (For example pay-per-click ads show up while you’re paying), increases in ranking due to SEO efforts will maintain even if the SEO service is discontinued. There are very few businesses that won’t notice significant ROI from this type of digital manufacturing marketing. Even in worst-case scenarios, most companies recoup their investment in the year following the first year of (good) SEO service, and the majority of companies notice an almost immediate increase in business. As David Waterman, guest author on Search Engine Land, put it: “SEO is not a marketing channel, it is a requisite.

Social Media Marketing for Manufacturers

“I run a manufacturing company, I am not tweeting about it.” – Actual quote from a manufacturer

Ok, we can all agree that Twitter (X) might be a little further down the priority chain in your manufacturing marketing efforts, but that doesn’t mean we should write off social media as a whole for manufacturers. Engineering 360 recently published a study that surveyed 850 top industrial decision makers on their use of social media in a professional capacity. A few of the highlights from this study include:

  • 54% of engineers and technical professionals use social media to find product reviews.
  • How-to videos/tutorials, product demos and training videos are the top three most popular types of content to watch on video-sharing websites such as YouTube.
  • Social media is highly used for job searchers in the industrial sector
  • Most of the individuals surveyed have: researched a company on social media; read content or industry news; watched video

While the highlights listed above may not make you want to drop what you’re doing immediately and start posting on Facebook, they should convey the importance of maintaining a presence on social media. Need more reasons? Here are a few more to consider:

  • Often, social media listings show up in search results
  • Video very frequently appears in search engines
  • Whitepapers (and other content you generate) often appear in search engines
  • Google gives sites more credibility if they see higher social activity
  • Posting on social media spreads a wider net to gain new leads and creates more brand awareness
  • Social media marketing is a good investment when viewed from a cost/benefit standpoint. At a reasonable budget of $500/month, most manufacturers could use an agency for social media marketing for several years before making a sale (direct or indirect) and still recoup their investment.

What Exactly Should You Do on Social Media? Where Do You Start?

The Bare Minimum

  • Create a Linkedin profile for your company: Provide a link to your company website, fill it out as much as possible with a company description (using all the keywords you use for SEO), upload photographs, and include contact information.
  • Create a Facebook business page for your company: Provide a link to your company website, fill in the description (using all the keywords you use for SEO), upload photographs, and include contact information.
  • Create a Google+ business page and a Google My Business local page for your company, completely filling it out with text, photos, and contact information.
  • Publish new articles or posts at least once every month on all of your social pages.


Go The Extra Mile

  • Once every couple of months, generate a well thought out whitepaper targeting individuals who would be searching for your product. Use this content to gain email signups through your website and to share on social media.
  • Videos make great, sharable content—and Google loves ranking pages higher that contain rich content. Create short videos, like tutorials or promotions, about your products or services. Post them on your website and Youtube channel. These videos should have keyword optimized content and titles,(just like a page of content on your website) so they show up in Google.
  • Comment, like, and share posts relating to your industry. Getting involved in discussions shows engagement and interest in your industry’s news and growth, while allowing you to promote your brand.
  • Boost posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites that allow it, and specifically target appropriate demographics. Boosting posts means spending advertising dollars in order to increase a post’s appearance on walls of individuals inside your target market.
  • Tweet.


Email Marketing

Email marketing is normally used to supplement social media. Generally, the goals of social media marketing are to:

  • Create awareness of your products and services
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Gain email signups

Email marketing is an important agent for manufacturers and other businesses because it is a cheap and effective way of staying in contact with your customers. It is the single most efficient way of getting repeat business aside from having a great product and service. We’ve all been in this position: we buy a product that we need to buy again later. Inevitably, we either forget where we bought it or just decide to shop around a little more before buying again. Email marketing makes it very difficult for past customers to forget about you. When a customer gets ready to make a purchase, your emails will have been in front of him for months and he will associate you with the product/service he needs to purchase. So why don’t all companies use email marketing? Some of the concerns I’ve heard regarding email marketing are:

  • We don’t want to annoy our customers…
  • What should we write about?
  • We don’t have time to write emails!

Let’s address each one of these issues:

Not Annoying Your Customers

The key to keeping your contact list happy is to avoid sending emails too often and to provide value in the emails. Utilizing email marketing once every couple weeks, or even every couple of months, can be a very effective means of letting your customers know you are still relevant.

What to Write About

The most common mistake with email is sending relentless or repetitive promotions of a limited number of products or services. Your emails should be less focused on what you sell and who you are, and be more focused on your customer’s interests. Possible article topics might include:

  • Solve a problem for your customer, based on a solution (your product or service)
  • Helping your customer use your product more effectively (How-to lists and Step-by-step guides)
  • Any information about saving them time or money

A Few Great Email Marketing Tools With Free Versions:


Finding Time To Write

I know very few companies who have the necessary time available to generate content on their own. I recommend hiring a marketing company that understands your general industry, and then allocating time to share knowledge with the company’s content writer. These conversations can take as little as half an hour. At weCreate, we ask a lot of questions designed to draw out valuable information, and we record the conversation to ensure no words are lost. We then go back and review the recording, write a sample article, and present it to the customer for approval.

Fix Your S***

Remember Tom– the sales guy from the intro story? Well, unfortunately, Tom is on the fast track to being let go from the company because he accepted failure, as victims often do (I found out later that Tom had indeed been fired). Tom didn’t spend any time Googling competitors to see how they were generating new business. He didn’t send follow-up emails when he had not seen an order from a customer in a couple of months. He didn’t actively look on Google and Linkedin for new potential customers. He didn’t use a Customer Relationship Management system to keep track of new leads and current customers. And what about the disgruntled secretary that greeted me? She ended up costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business because she often didn’t feel like answering the phone, or was such displeasure to talk to that customers went elsewhere. The company tried to save money by using their ancient equipment, even though investing in new equipment would have doubled their productivity and increased revenue through new efficiencies. When the company had potential customers visit their facility, many of them got lost on the way there because they were unable to find the sign and the building looked abandoned–leaving a lasting bad impression. What can manufacturers do about business going to China? In my research and experience, two of the most important reasons a U.S. manufacturer is chosen over an overseas company are quality and attention to detail. “Fixing your s###” isn’t just about looking better, it’s about being better.

Maybe Tom was in denial, maybe it was just pure neglect—either way, if that company’s story sounds like yours, there is still hope. Just by reading this article, you have shown a willingness to make necessary changes in order to generate more business for your company. After touring scores of manufacturing facilities, I’ve noticed some commonalities among the ultra-successful companies that I’d like to share. Using this list as a guide will help you create a more prosperous company as a whole, and a more sustainable future. Let’s get started!

Successful Manufacturing Companies

  • Have extremely clean and well-maintained shop floors and buildings. Yes, it takes time and money to maintain the facility, but clean facilities lead to higher quality products, safer work environments, happier employees, and much better productivity.
  • Utilize robotics and other high-tech manufacturing solutions. Recently, I talked to a CNC machine shop owner who spent big bucks on a robotic arm, but this arm increased part output by 400%. It did not take long to recoup his investment. Often times we believe we are saving money by maintaining that old piece-of-crap machine, but it’s actually costing the company enormously.
  • Hire happy people. Successful manufacturing companies contain happy, enthusiastic employees who have room for growth. Conversely, successful companies will not hesitate to fire an employee who is rude to customers on the phone, or who is generally negative.
  • Have role clarity with employees. Employees who have undergone a well-constructed training program prior to starting work, who are offered continuing education opportunities, and who are not spread too thinly among too many roles, tend to be more productive, and report higher rates of job satisfaction. Attempting to make your 1st shift supervisor administer a social media program will lead to bad supervision and bad social media.
  • Pride themselves on problem solving and continuous improvement of processes. ISO certification, Six Sigma training programs, and technology investment are absolute must-haves for manufacturing companies.
  • Understand and implement digital manufacturing marketing! The global economy demands that manufacturing companies expand their markets geographically through digital means. Your company doesn’t have to scrape by using only the local market or word of mouth to get found. Companies that want sustained growth and long-term success must find ways to generate business online. Your company is not expected to manage a marketing department, but can find a dedicated marketing company that can help it grow.


Conclusion & Sources

For too many companies, online marketing for manufacturers is a mystical money pit, and it shouldn’t be. I was inspired to write this article because I noticed a lack of substantive, research-based content on what it really takes to market businesses online. Is digital manufacturing marketing complicated? Yes, it can be—but my hope is that this article de-mystified the online world and motivated you to get up and do something about it. Every business that wants to grow in the coming years needs to understand online marketing, at least to the point where they can hire the right company to do the work for them. This article has armed you with the tools you need find a marketing company to help you generate leads online. Now, you can make a solid decision about what tools and outlets your company should use to market itself. At weCreate, we want to help your company grow.

Talk to a Manufacturing Marketing Expert

Sources Used

  • Minewhat (2014, November 21). 27 Ways to MOTIVATE shoppers who research online to BUY. Retrieved from motivate-shoppers-who-research-online-to-buy/
  • Nielson Norman Group (2011, September 12) How Long to Users Stay on Webpages? Retrieved from
  • Engineering360 Media Solutions (2016, October 20). 2016 Industrial Buy Cycle Study. Retrieved from wp/2016_industrialbuycyclestudy.pdf
  • Google Analytics (2016, October). Google Analytics Chart [Image]. Retrieved from https://
  • Google Keyword Planner (2016, November). Keyword Ideas [Image]. Retrieved from https://
  • Serpfox (2016, November) Retrieved from https://
  • Wordstream (2016, November 20). Google AdWords Benchmarks for YOUR Industry. Retrieved from blog/ws/2016/02/29/google-adwords-industry-benchmarks
  • Google Keyword Planner (2016, November). Searching keywords and volume data [Image]. Retrieved from home/tools/keyword-planner/
  • Yoast SEO (2016, October) Retrieved from https://
  • Moz (2015, August 11). Search Engine Ranking Factors 2015. Retrieved from blog/ranking-factors-2015
  • Majestic (2016, October). Trust Flow/Citation Flow chart [Image]. Retrieved from
  • Engineering360 Media Solutions (2016, October 20). 2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector. Retrieved from https://www.globalspec. com/advertising/trends-wp/2016_SocialMediaUse

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