Now or Never: Why Manufacturers are Moving Dollars to Digital Engagement It's time to put your money where your customers are.

By Andrew Walker

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Busakorn Pongparnit | Getty Images

A tumultuous first half of 2020 has impacted industries across the globe and manufacturing is no exception. Like every industry right now, manufacturers must maximize their digital footprint to connect with current and prospective customers in more seamless and meaningful ways — and it's never been more important to do so than now.

Many shops are being forced to modernize on the fly, putting things like digital marketing front and center in their budgets after previously relegating them to a secondary role. Manufacturers aren't typically thought of as leaders in the digital space the same way, say, the software industry is, but the global pandemic has made digital, and specifically ecommerce channels, impossible for them to ignore.

Related: The Pandemic Economy Has Made Ecommerce More Indispensable Than Ever

Recently, our agency, Shift7 Digital, surveyed hundreds of business decision-makers for manufacturers to find out how they are doing in the midst of the 2020 chaos. Although the current economy is by no means strong, the results were not what you might expect. The survey revealed that while four in 10 manufacturers say they've furloughed and laid off employees this year, over half (56 percent) have not taken any form of government financial aid, including the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Manufacturers are trying to make it work on their own.

While many have not turned to governmental aid for assistance, some are shifting their budgets internally to adapt to the new landscape. The survey shows a shifting focus among manufacturers to optimize their digital presence during a time when traditional marketing methods — trade shows, field sales meetings, mailers — may be less available. Survey results showed that more than two-thirds of these companies have moved marketing dollars from traditional to digital channels this year, and 80 percent are investing most of their marketing spend on their own website. This trend correlates directly with where manufacturers are seeing sales — 52 percent say the majority of their sales have come from online channels in 2020 — showing these moves really are paying off and will continue to do so.

Related: Online Shopping: Evolving Consumer Behavior Amid the Pandemic

Manufacturers are beginning to understand that the time is now to make these changes, or they may be left behind forever.

This is a trend that won't be going away, even after the pandemic is deemed over. Every manufacturer can benefit from a more robust digital footprint, and the pandemic has given many the push they needed to make it happen. Integrating the brand experience across platforms and streamlining a company's consistent online presence is a significant but vital marketing approach. This shift is paramount as brands need a stronger direct relationship with consumers, retailers and resellers alike. Manufacturers that are addressing this revolution are the ones that will survive and thrive in this environment and beyond.

Andrew Walker

CEO of Shift7 Digital

Andrew Walker, Shift7 Digital CEO, pairs expertise in experiential design and marketing technology with extensive experience in digital communications specializing in manufacturing. He implements B2B companies’ digital transformation needs so they can connect with their customers on a deeper level.

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