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How to Use Product CAD Models to Radically Increase Manufacturing Sales – Part 3

Executive Summary

In this 6 part series of blog posts we’ll present an up-to-date overview of how to use product CAD models to radically increase manufacturing sales.

The 6 parts are:

  • Part 1: Changing Sales and Marketing Trends Create High Impact Opportunity for Industrial Suppliers
  • Part 2: Who Should Use this Opportunity & What Benefits Should You Expect
  • Part 3: How to DO IT RIGHT – The Role of Search (Catalogs, SEO, SEM)
  • Part 4: How to DO IT RIGHT – The CAD Models (Obtain, Maintain, Present, Syndicate)
  • Part 5: How to DO IT RIGHT – The Business Model (including Partners and eCommerce)
  • Part 6: How to DO IT RIGHT – Common Mistakes to avoid

Below is Part 3 – the other parts will follow sequentially in the coming weeks.

Part 3: How to DO IT RIGHT – The Role of Search

The industrial buying process has changed and to remain in contention industrial suppliers MUST at minimum ADAPT to it. If they not only ADAPT but go a step further, they can GAIN BUSINESS ADVANTAGE and radically increase their industrial sales. The role of SEARCH is key for these two reasons:

  • ADAPT– As we showed in Part 2, use of online search is now ubiquitous. Most of us now search online for what we need, instead of, or long before talking to potential suppliers. Designers, engineers and buyers do the same, including when they search for the components and parts they need for new product designs. How easy it is to search for, learn about and choose your products is key to how often they are found, selected and purchased.
  • GAIN NEW BUSINESS ADVANTAGE – Engineers typically don’t like the hard sell and that’s partly why they avoid salespeople. Instead of pushing products down customers’ throats, help them solve their issues themselves. When they search for topics or products ensure they find genuinely useful product information (data sheets including product 3D CAD models) and tools (such as product configurators). That’s the best way to win their trust and radically increase sales in the long run. To do that, you must have the right content available and customers must find it! Great content that isn’t found serves little purpose – so getting search right is essential!

Once a required product is found it must be selected or configured before it can be ‘designed in’ or otherwise specified (we’ll cover the detail of that in part 4) but only after that is it likely to be purchased (we’ll cover the detail of that in Part 5). The remainder of this Part 3 will cover Search in more detail.

1. SEARCH ENGINES – Industrial searches usually start with a search engine. That leads to specific industrial website pages. Think about the search process your target customers (those who spec-in or order your industrial parts) follow and what content you need to offer to be genuinely helpful at each stage. What search text do they type in to search engines? What results do they see? How do they then refine their search text based on the initial results? What results do they see? Where does you content rank? Obviously you need to rank highly, especially for ‘long tail’ terms such as the part numbers of your products. Search engines make money when paid ads are clicked so over time they have increased how much exposure they give to paid ads while still trying to ensure a good user experience. However, as the heat maps of eye focus points and clicks show, user behavior continues to favor natural or organic search results over paid ads. At least three things contribute to how your pages rank in search engine results:

  • Search engines’ perceived fit of the search query to your page content. This is a key objective of your Content Marketing and is the process of supplying genuinely useful information to your target customers online. What is USEFUL content is judged by your audience. Search engines track what users click on and ‘learn’ what they like in relation to the search terms used.
  • Search engines’ ranking comparison to other similar pages. Optimizing your ranking is often called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In the past, SEO and Content Marketing have been separate activities with the same goal of getting ranked as highly as possible. In recent years those two activities have converged as search engine algorithms have changed. For example Google’s 2011 Panda release, 2012 Penguin release and 2013 Hummingbird releases dramatically changed how to maximize SEO. In many ways these advances have made SEO easier. As a result, today, you just need to develop great content on the topics your customers search for and present them on search engine optimized pages.
  • Search engine marketing (SEM). You can rely on SEO based on good content marketing for ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ search ranking. Or you can augment your SEO by additionally paying for clicks via SEM. We recommend that you first maximize the traffic you can get ‘free’, then test to see if SEM adds additional traffic and conversions cost effectively.

For a good intro to SEO go here but please be aware that there are various technical issues to watch out for, for example, don’t get this issue wrong.

2. LOCAL SITE SEARCH. People reach a website page via a search engine or by clicking on a link or typing in your website URL. They may reach exactly the right product page, your home page or some other page of your website. That’s when local website search and suggestions become useful to help them refine their product search to be more or less specific. The point is that you’ve attracted them to your site and you want to keep them there. You need to maximize the value of the visitors by ensuring it is easy and intuitive to find what they are looking for. This is a broad site usability issue but here we’re focusing on the local search component of usability. Having got the visitor to your website offering good local search is preferable to having them return to a search engine where your pages have to compete with those of other suppliers. You can use search engines locally by setting them us to just provide keyword search results found on your website but that is a primitive approach. Today B2B users expect a variety of local search capabilities including Keyword, Parametric, Graphical and Faceted Search.

The easiest way to provide local search capabilities and SEO is via an industrial specific website catalog that optimizes SEO. The catalog must also offer an excellent user experience like that of B2C sites users are accustomed to. Whether you use paid search or just organic search, every product should have a product detail page in the search engine indexes. SEO optimizing, dynamic page generating catalogs, like CDS Catalog are easily cost effective once you need more than 50 product pages. Below 50 pages it can be cheaper to build and maintain HTML pages manually, beyond 50 individual product pages it becomes cheaper to automate page creation from a product database. (By the way, 50 pages may be just 50 different sizes or variants of the same product because you want SEO on each size or variant). The usability/user experience depends on the functionality and how easy it is to use. In contrast, POOR functionality and/or POOR content richness won’t work. For example, read this GTS case study to see the radically increased sales by improving the user experience.

PROOF IT WORKS and other references:

  • This blog post links to two industrial catalog case studies that illustrate particularly rapid 3D Catalog ROI. 

“The site launched last November and I can say that it paid for itself in new business within 3 months. This has yielded the fastest and best ROI of any marketing investment I have ever made!” – Karl Ganshirt, President, GTS

“In just the first 4 months we’ve received enough online orders to pay for the cost of the site. The assistance of the site has also helped our salespeople close other offline orders so we are on track to achieve the ROI we hoped for.” – Sal Garbarino, Sales and Marketing Manager, RTS Cutting Tools

  • Other case studies are here, or review this industrial sales engine blog post or spend 3 minutes watching this compilation video of several industrial suppliers that use CDS Catalog and/or CAD ModelServer
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