In many ways, B2B marketing campaigns can be far more challenging than consumer-facing brands due to the limited number of promotional channels available. And if you are marketing within the chemical industry then you really do need nerves of steel, because marketing in this sector is even tougher as it is governed by strict regulations/legislation, globalization, and an immense amount of product diversity.
In addition, product differentiation and the marketing of USPs can be very hard to achieve. This is because the vast majority of chemicals are made up of identical components which are listed on the product’s packaging. Without innovative marketing, it is very hard for a chemical company to survive and be competitive in both their regional and the global market.
Taking a closer look at the chemical industry it is clear that it is more than just a single industry. It is, in fact, a group of industries producing a wide range of products all doing completely different jobs with different benefits across many segments. In fact, there are very few industries across the world that do not require chemicals within their processes.
Historically, large producers dominated the chemical industry. But today smaller niche players are challenging the marketplace that have reimagined their markets, products, services, and technology. They concentrate upon consumer demand, providing individualized batches to suit specific customers needs, focusing upon the user experience. For example, the paint and coatings sector where the customer base is being sold experiences rather than products. It is no longer about the color of the paint, but how it looks on the wall and sits within the whole home experience. These companies are able to do this using valuable customer data and insights gained through digital marketing campaign strategies, which will give them that additional competitive edge.
Branding is a critical part of the digital marketing strategy for companies within the chemical industry. Customers in this sector historically display limited brand loyalty – they are happy to switch brands if they can get a chemically equivalent product. Therefore chemical companies need to focus heavily upon creating a unique brand name through factors such as consistent delivery of a quality product, competitive pricing, customer support, a positive reputation etc., all of which can be communicated to the target audience through digital marketing techniques such as content marketing. The unique brand name and a positive perception that companies such as Dow Chemicals, DuPont and BASF SE have built up is the reason why many buyers do not hesitate to buy chemicals from these established brands.
Embrace digital marketing
In this digital era, there is a saying that your business does not exist if it’s not there on search – without a doubt this applies to the world of chemicals. Many prospective customers are relying on search engines to identify and research capable suppliers, therefore it is essential that chemical companies have a functional web presence. A website that is:
Compatible with mobile technologies
Has a good search ranking
Is easy to navigate with all the relevant information which may be required by the customer
Has the ability to capture leads to forms directed by a call to action.
Supported by using search engine marketing techniques (SEM) and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.
The Power Of Personalization
Of course, content marketing is not a new concept to the marketing mix within the chemical industry. It has most definitely earned its stripes as a credible and essential communication medium to leverage and generate brand awareness.
In the 2018 digital trends report published by Econsultancy’s in association with Adobe, content marketing was once more ranked as the top strategic priority for marketers in the chemical industry. Interestingly, respondents also saw the most exciting opportunity for 2019 as being the ‘optimization of customer experience’ which aligns with a general move towards customer-focused marketing. This has been driven, in part, by new regulations such as GDPR tightening up the rules around personal data use which has given customers even more say than ever over what marketing content they receive. This makes it vital that companies deliver an optimal customer experience, with the primary focus being on delivering valuable, relevant content, to ensure that people opt-in to see more. Having a personalized customer experience is also realistically the only way that chemical companies can differentiate themselves in a marketplace where, as discussed above, product differentiation is very difficult to achieve.
Pull ‘vs’ Push
The era of digital marketing that used ‘push’ marketing messages i.e. online advertising, sales campaigns, emails etc., promoting products and offering discounts and incentives, has now been overtaken by content marketing that engages its target audience, and cultivates a relationship between brands and its customers/prospects.
Chemical industry marketers are now required to provide content that benefits the consumer i.e. is educational, informative and entertaining, engaging the target audience in subjects such as environmental, ethical and community issues and initiatives. Consumers engage better with this content as the content “pulls them in” to engage with the brand. It also helps the target audience to better understand the added value aspects to the product such as ‘on-trend’ end uses and growth areas of the market and where that market may be.
Nearly a third of respondents in the 2018 Digital Trends Report said that this was their planned strategy and it is amongst the top three priorities for the year – social media marketing and targeted/personalized marketing came in second and third in these priorities. Marketers stated that they will be using tools such as infographics, webinars, video, blog posts, and how-to-guides for their content marketing strategies.
What does the future of digital marketing look like for chemical companies?
The marketing trends that thrive in the chemical industry such as content marketing, personalized customer experience with social media, mobile data analytics and market automation must seamlessly work together to ensure a competitive future for companies in this sector. These tools will not only enhance new business conversion, but will help to leverage a company’s credibility in an industry that is increasingly demanding of this. They can also work to address any issues surrounding product selection by creating platforms that focus on aspects of the product that are important to the specific target audience, however many layers that may include.