The 5 most common mistakes manufacturers make when marketing online

Most manufacturing businesses are involved with marketing online in some way or another, and it’s often without even realising it....

Most manufacturing businesses are involved with marketing online in some way or another, and it’s often without even realising it.

But, whether it’s via social media, a website, or digital press coverage, there appears to be a handful of common mistakes manufacturers make when marketing online.

If you’re reading this as a marketer involved with the promotion of a manufacturing business, this is a checklist that’s worth reading. On the other hand, if you’re the lucky owner of a manufacturing business, why not let us guide you through the five most common mistakes we’ve identified…and how to rectify them.

Mistake #1 – Forgetting there are manufacturers behind the product

Now, this takes the top spot because it’s a biggy. Post pandemic, customers are taking more notice of the people behind the business, its values and how employees are treated. Often, in the manufacturing industry, old habits prevail, and thus social media feeds are filled with products and salesy messages.

However, if you’re still doing this, you’re missing a trick. The best way to demonstrate the quality of the product and bring to life its components is to share the process it goes through in order to be made and associate it with the person or people making it. This way, the product becomes more than a static object, it becomes part of a story; a journey, and someone’s purpose.

Why not take behind the scenes photos of your team in action? Or create a timelapse video of one of your most popular products being manufactured. There’s a lot you can do!

If you really want to go big, shine a light on the team involved with each stage of the process, publicly declaring their expertise and your appreciation for them. You’ll be surprised at what effect this can have both from a marketing and an employee advocacy perspective.

Mistake #2 – Paying for advertising without considering the journey

It’s an old habit – paying for an advert in the latest issue of your local paper or industry magazine. Now don’t get us wrong, there are many benefits to advertising if done strategically, but there has to be consideration about what happens after someone has seen your advert.

Let’s think of it this way, would you advertise that your house is up for sale if it hadn’t been built yet, or if there weren’t any photos to show what it could look like? Or, if there was no information on where the house was located, local schools, area statistics etc? Probably not. And, if you did, you’d likely not get any viewings. Do you recognise the mistake?

There’s little point in paying to advertise without having the rest of your digital presence perfected. When a new customer becomes aware of your business or product, they’ll want to find out more. They’ll likely head to your social channels, website or even Google Reviews/Trustpilot for example, to see what others think. If there’s nothing really for them to find, they’ll usually drop off.

This is why it’s important to fully understand your customer’s journey and develop your marketing strategy accordingly before investing in adverts.

Mistake #3 – Not understanding why and when people visit websites – and stay there

We’re sorry to be blunt, but people don’t visit or stay on your website because it looks good. Of course, visual branding and user experience are extremely important, but your customers rarely explore your website to check out what colour an image is on your page.

The truth is, content is king. Why? Content is created to attract, engage, and generate leads, and ultimately, to increase sales.

We know from past experience that those in the manufacturing sector often find it difficult to know what type of content to produce. The answer we always give is that they should initially seek to understand what people want to know.

For example, what key phrases are they using to find your products? Conducting keyphrase research can help you figure out which keywords people are using to find your product. And, it doesn’t have to cost the earth for basic research. There are free tools such as Google Search Console, Google’s keyword planner or Answer the Public to help.

If you want to take it a step further, consider the search intent of the user. For information, search intent can be divided into the following categories:

  • Informational – how-tos, tutorials, guides
  • Navigational – name of the brand, product/service
  • Commercial – reviews, best, cheapest
  • Transactional – coupons/vouchers

Using tools such as Google Analytics, you can gain a good understanding of what your popular pages are, user behaviour, and entrance and exit pages.

If you discover your users want product information, make sure that your website includes content such as product guides, technical information or explainer videos. If you discover they want industry education, refer back to their customer personas and identify the most pressing issues they may be facing right now in the industry, and create content accordingly.

Want to go deeper into the technical side? Carry on reading. If not, skip to point 4.

If you’re going to be taking the time and effort to create specific content, you’ll also want to ensure it can be found. There are times when we’ve witnessed manufacturing clients writing a great blog post, but the blog hasn’t been optimised for Google.

So, when you next post a blog, follow some of our on-page SEO tips:

  1. Write attention-grabbing headlines – these are your H1s, which stand for Heading Size 1 in HTML. Search engines use H1s to understand the content on your page and how relevant it is to a user’s search. It’s good practice to incorporate key phrases in your title.
  2. Write meta descriptions – again, search engines use them to summarise your page content. Incorporate key phrases here and add a call to action.  
  3. Use visual content – we are still surprised to see published blogs with no imagery. It is said that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.2 Try to include images, videos or infographics. If you’re really struggling with photos, you could always use stock images. 
  4. Structure your content – format your content so it’s easy to read on different devices. Break up large chunks of text with sub-headings, bullet points and lists. These make it easier for users to read online
  5. Add links – the two main types of links are internal and external. Internal links are links to other pages on your own website. By adding these, it helps search engines to determine the value of that content. The more links you have to a page, the more search engines will value that page. External links, also known as backlinks, are external to your website. They are still regarded as one of the most important metrics for high-position ranking.

Interested in learning more about content creation for your manufacturing website? Check this out.

Mistake #4 – Not understanding who customers really are and how they buy

It’s something we see often. Your business is your baby and to you, your product is the best. In your mind, you can’t possibly see why anyone would want a manufactured product from anyone else. So, you fill your social feeds with pictures of your products, describing them in immense detail and finishing with a link to your ‘buy now’ section. Are we also right in guessing you then copy and paste the same image and text across all channels? 

Ok, maybe we’re being dramatic here, but believe us, it happens. And, as marketers, we are primed to take notice, but customers will, unfortunately, be taking little notice of posts like this and thus, it becomes part of the long list of posts they scroll past on a daily basis.

Now, we’re not trying to say that your product isn’t absolutely amazing, but the reality is, if you don’t know your target customer inside out and ‘speak’ directly to them via your marketing, they will very rarely share the same opinion.

So, what’s the solution?

Audience Personas; are a valuable tool often deployed by marketers. Put simply, they are a ‘representation’ of your ideal customer and are often, based on real-life customers.

It may seem alien if you’ve never created them before, but by going into some real depth, you can make them memorable. Give them a name and even a photo, add demographic data, information about their behaviour, their motivations, their pain points, and then explore how your business can help them. Look into how they consume information and via what device. Explore the channels they prefer to browse and how their emotions fluctuate during the working day – no one wants to be thinking about making a purchase 5 minutes before leaving the office after a hard day.

If you’re new to this, here’s an example that might help.

One of our clients manufactures hose and pipe fittings. These are supplied to the construction sector. The company has two main customer types: buyers (Bob) and site managers (Kevin). 


Bob is 34. He works in the purchasing department in the office. He is IT savvy; Bob prefers to place orders online. He is aware of the main players in the market. Bob’s main concern is price. He wants the best price possible and he’s willing to go elsewhere if he doesn’t get this. He makes quick-fire decisions, but he also follows his gut – if he doesn’t like the sound of a product or is concerned with its quality and the service delivery, he’s not afraid to disregard it. The good thing about Bob being so IT savvy is he knows where to look for recommendations, and he knows how to do price comparisons – and he knows how to do these online. 


Kevin is 45. He’s an experienced site manager and spends most of his time on site. Kevin isn’t IT savvy; he prefers to place orders via telephone. He is highly stressed; he needs the products delivered either same day or next day. Kevin isn’t price-conscious. He values quality. He wants products which meet industry standards. The fittings need to be corrosion, heat and fire-resistant. Kevin’s orders are always placed at the last minute.

Using the two buyer personas above, it’s easy to see that Bob and Kevin exhibit different behaviour and motivations. Content which will appeal to Bob could be discounts and promotions. On the contrary, the content attracting Kevin could be product benefits, if you have it in stock, and how fast you can deliver to him, as well as customer reviews. 

The moral of the story is? Marketing messages should vary accordingly.

Why not have a shot at creating audience personas yourself with our step-by-step guide from Danni Johnson. 

Mistake #5 | Not maximising connections made at trade shows.

Over the last 24 months, trade shows and events have been few and far between, but they’re beginning to slowly return. 

If you’ve ever attended, you’ll know just how many people you chat with on an average day. You’ll also know that most of them, you may never speak to again. The thing is, if a process is put in place to ensure that you remain in regular contact, these connections could very well become customers/suppliers or partners.

‘How?’ you ask? Email marketing. There are certain GDPR rules you need to adhere to of course, but email marketing is an effective way to remain in touch with past connections made.

Next time you’re at an event, if you don’t have a CRM, create a simple spreadsheet where you can take a note of your contact’s name and email address, and their industry/business, and check if they’re happy to be added to your mailing list. What you’ll be left with is a database of contacts that you can create industry-specific content and communicate to them via email.

Take a look at our tips for email marketing here

We understand that digital marketing could feel a little alien. If you want to grow your business and start creating content which generates quality leads, then ask us how.

At Xpand, we specialise in helping manufacturing and construction businesses thrive in the digital world. Let’s chat.