The material handling industry has largely avoided the digital transformation. But now that the customers you’ve always known order clothes, buy groceries, and hail rides from their phones, it’s critical that your company makes changes to keep pace with customer expectations.
(This article was originally published on NXTbook as part of the Second Quarter 2018 MHEDA Journal. The article was written in conjunction with Jay Majithia, Google's Global Business Development Lead, Media Partnerships.)
But don’t dread the change: Expanding and transitioning your business into digital does not have to be a burden. Instead, just continue to follow the formula you know for business success. How? By focusing on giving customers the kind of experience and information they need to make their purchase with you.
So, what ARE your customers are looking for? Recent data from McKinsey shows that material handling is just one of many B2B industries who see an average customer satisfaction rating of less than 50%. When compared to the 65%-85% average rating seen in the digitally focused B2C space, it’s easy to see that we all have some catching up to do.
Why? Looking across studies, you’ll find three basic complaints that your business can and should address digitally to improve your customer’s experience.
Complaint #1: I can’t find you
This is every business owner’s worst nightmare. Potential customers who have a need can’t find your company. Back in 2014, Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) asked new heavy equipment customers about how they discovered a dealer and the most popular way reported was online search. At Google, we’ve seen this trend only continue to increase, with year-over-year growth in number of searches for key industry terms every year for 10 years straight.
There are numerous ways to help buyers find your company’s website, and a good digital marketing company with expertise in local, equipment-based search can help. You should be considering both a paid search strategy (so you show up on the top of the search engine results page for key terms), as well as an organic search strategy.
Google has analyzed thousands of search advertising accounts for local, equipment-based companies. And what we’ve seen is that only about 2% of companies are set up to identify, deliver on, and measure moments. Given that there are thousands of marketing companies out there who all claim to be experts at search, make sure the partner you choose is qualified. Make sure that they are talking to you about:
- Smart keyword selection to capture active buyers
- Targeted ads to compel buyers to visit your website
- Strong landing pages that speak to the buyer’s specific interests
- Strategic geo-targeting to maximize penetration in target sales territories
- Measurement that tracks cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale
Complaint #2: You don’t tell me what I need to know
From the data and in-market results we’ve analyzed for equipment dealers all over the country, customers have website expectations that are actually attainable for most businesses. They don’t expect you to be Amazon. The top common elements that annoy buyers and cause them to leave your website?
- Lack of about/company information
- No contact information
- Poor design/navigation
In our experience, many owners and leaders in material handling companies are frustrated about their websites in the same ways! It isn’t about providing all things to all companies all of the time. It’s about accurately reflecting your real-world company on your website and bringing your formula for customer satisfaction to a broader audience.
Modern website solutions are available to equipment-based companies to help you meet these customer expectations and more. With the right website solution, these are issues that can be repaired quickly and improved further. If your material handling business has inventory pages, contact information, and call-to-action buttons, again and again we see dealers finally achieve a steady stream of online leads that convert to sales.
But be mindful, many website solutions only focus on aesthetics and less on functionality—or worse, they aren’t designed to work with equipment-based companies. Don’t get flustered by technology and unfamiliar terms. When considering a new website solution, keep your focus on what customers expect and how your website is helping your sales team close deals.
Ask yourself five questions when reviewing your existing website or a new solution:
- Does your website meet YOUR current expectations for a modern website—especially when looking at the site on your phone?
- Does your website clearly show and tell what you do? Is your business priority front and center?
- Can you tell where you do business—not generally, but specifically? Does it do so for every location?
- Does your website enable people to work with you without guessing or clicking around when they’re ready to buy or contact you?
- Does your website make it easier for your sales team to close business? Does it offer tools that keep your customers coming back?
Complaint #3: I’m not getting what I need to buy
Most purchases in the material handling world are complicated. There are few forklifts, for example, that someone ready to buy after seeing specs and photographs online. They want and need the help of your expert sales team.
But buyers are busy. And sales people don’t always use CRMs. That combination often means that sales pass you by. How often? In 2017, Adpearance tracked 1.9 million phone calls and 88 million website visits through our sales optimization platform, Foureyes®, and we found that in the automotive industry:
- 36% of phone calls never make it in the CRM
- 10.5% of forms never make it in the CRM
- 7.3% of chats never make it in the CRM
Giving sales teams the tools they need—for visibility and accountability—helps improve crucial customer and prospect interactions. Through sales optimization technology, such as Foureyes, dealers can tighten key variables, reanimate lost leads, and improve activity to drive down cost-per-sale with technology that links individual website behavior and phone calls.
In adopting digital strategies that meet your current customer expectations—to be able to find you, get the information they need, and the sales support they expect—we are confident you’ll see your business grow. And, you’ll be better positioned for the next wave of digital innovation that’s yet to come.
Still not sure where to start? There’s help available from a number of reputable digital marketing companies who are also MHEDA members and Google Premier Partners. Give one of us a call to get started with your digital transformation.