Manufacturing Marketing in 2020: Trends to Consider

Foremost Media recently surveyed over a thousand marketing professionals in the manufacturing industry to gain their marketing insights. Participants were asked to provide information on marketing efforts that had the highest return on investment (ROI) in 2019, efforts they feel are overrated and what they plan to allocate budget for in 2020.


When it comes to effective marketing for manufacturing companies, 73.91% of participants felt that their efforts were yielding positive results. This leaves 26.09% of marketers still searching for answers.


In 2019, roughly 74% of manufacturing marketers felt that their marketing efforts were effective. Tactics like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), tradeshow marketing, online paid advertising and video marketing were cited as approaches with the highest return on investment or ROI. With a 2020 marketing budget that is roughly the same as last year’s and in many cases higher, it appears that many marketers plan to double down on this approach.

In today’s marketing landscape, SEO isn’t the exception. It’s the rule. While keyword research and optimization practices help your company rank for high performance keywords organically instead of paying for them in AdWords, website audit platforms have become more effective in providing insight into the health of your website. Approximately 19% of manufacturing marketers cited this approach as the one tactic that provided the highest ROI. This is likely due to the fact that SEO has a low cost to benefit ratio. Consider this the blue-collar approach to online marketing. While many SEO tools may have monthly fees, they pale in comparison to the big budget campaigns that you may see in a pay-per-click or tradeshow marketing campaign. The thought here is that if you are willing to do the research and put the work in, you will see results. So, it is no surprise that over 77% of marketers plan to budget for SEO in 2020.

Approximately 19% of marketers also reported that they saw the highest ROI from tradeshow marketing. Tradeshow marketing, often known for its robust budget, usually involves a campaign leading up to or following the show, exhibit costs and travel expenses. The benefit is that you are meeting with customers and potential leads face to face. Where most marketers who are not seeing a return miss the mark is having an effective follow-up strategy in place for their sales team. Shaking hands is simply the first step in an ongoing business relationship. Make sure to capture contact information, get it to the appropriate salesperson and have a strategy in place to get in touch, whether that be through email campaigns, phone calls, etc.


When asked how their 2020 marketing budget will compare to 2019, 45.45% of participants responded that it will be approximately the same, while 40.91% replied that it will be higher. Only 13.64% of participants reported a lower marketing budget in 2019. Marketers also detailed which marketing tactics they will allocate budget for in 2020.


Online paid advertising is a popular marketing method that 63.64% of participants plan to continue using in 2020. However, only 14.29% of marketers reported this tactic as the most effective part of their 2019 budget and another 14.29% considered it the most overrated approach. While online paid advertising is a great way to get in front of those who are searching for more competitive keywords, it is important to remember that you shouldn’t just set up a campaign and let it run on autopilot. This almost guarantees that you will lose money. Instead, continue to curate your campaign based on where the traffic is going. In the case of Google AdWords, look for the keyword that is getting the most clicks and allocate some budget to “double down” on that keyword instead of continuing to focus on low-traffic keywords.

Whether marketers are paying for ads on social media or simply posting regularly to make their account look active, one thing is clear: In today’s marketing landscape, social media is seen as a necessary evil. While nearly 55% of marketers plan to use social as part of their marketing strategy in 2020, zero reported it as the one channel that brought in the most ROI. If you would like to see more return on your social media efforts, consider tactics like encouraging user engagement, using more hashtags or drawing from organic data to inform your paid social ads. You can even run split-testing or A/B testing on your Facebook ads to get a better idea of who your audience is.

Video marketing is also beginning to emerge as a popular approach to not only engaging website users, but social media traffic as well. Tied with online paid advertising at 14.29%, video marketing was the third most effective tactic of 2019, according to marketers. In fact, 54.55% of marketers reported that they plan to incorporate video work into their 2020 strategy. To get the most out of your video strategy, be sure to target segmented audiences and optimize your videos for each social platform. Additionally, consider video marketing in Google ads, linking to products to make your videos shoppable and brainstorming ways to make your videos interactive. For example, using virtual reality to guide users through an application solution may provide real insight into your product benefits.


Participants also had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the most overrated marketing tactics; those that may not have provided them with great ROI. Email advertising, organic social media marketing and paid advertising (print and outdoor) were the top three results.

Email marketing is often seen as one of the most popular ways to curate a lead and get them through the funnel to becoming a customer. This is mostly due to marketing automation programs. However, 23.81% of marketers saw email marketing as the most overrated tactic and only 4.76% saw a high ROI in 2019. Interestingly enough, close to 64% of marketers will still use this approach in 2020. So how do you get the most out of your email marketing? First, start by making an effort to truly connect with your audience. If your email campaign is geared towards HVAC, you should not be sending it to potential customers in the industrial washdown market. Make sure to customize your emails, create attention-grabbing subject lines, include a clear call-to-action and limit the amount of email blasts you are sending out. Users have already expressed interest in your brand by signing up or opting in. Limit your messages to once a week to avoid ending up in the spam folder and hurting your deliverability.

What are your company’s top marketing challenges? We’d love to discuss some potential solutions with you. Contact us today to take your 2020 marketing initiatives to the next level.

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