2D Sales Drawings
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Image credit and source: MSCDirect.com.
A recent CDS client problem prompted this blog post topic. Without revealing their identity, we can say they were doing very well with their CAD downloads and lead generation, then they decided to update their product detail pages by introducing three tabs for the different types of information. The third tab was for CAD and contained the 3D Viewer and CAD downloads. Upon making this change the client experienced a significant decrease in CAD downloads and associated sales leads.
The Solution and a Lesson Learned
The client switched back to their original design (which looks like MSC Direct’s product detail page above including the CAD viewer and download buttons in a prime location). Their CAD downloads and sales leads recovered immediately.
Helping resolve this client’s problem prompted us to share what happened, so others can avoid the same problem. We also offer this list of 10 best practices with respect to industrial product detail pages.
The Importance of Product Detail Pages
The Baymard Institute report on product pages summarized it succinctly, “Nearly all users go through a product page before making any purchase, and it’s often on the product page where users make up their mind on whether or not they want to purchase the item. This makes the product page the centerpiece of your users’ eCommerce experience.”
That alone should be enough persuasion for us all to pay close attention to our product detail pages and BTW, the Baymard report has many insights into typical product page mistakes so please read it for yourself.
The Purposes of B2B Industrial Product Detail Pages
B2B product page layout and features often rely on the same template re-used across all products on a website. Attempting to be all things to all products is difficult and often causes problems like the one at the start of this blog so great care needs to be taken with that template. Start from the recognition that industrial product detail pages need to serve three purposes:
1. Like any product page, they must provide accurate, up-to-date information on the product in an excellent, intuitive user experience (UX) to generate sales
2. Provide industrial product specific information to generate sales or sales leads
3. Present great search engine optimization (SEO) so your products get found
1.1 Structured Data
Your product data needs to be accurate, up-to-date and complete. Then it is vital that it be organized in a normalized product data classification (also called a schema with global attributes for faceted search and side-by-side product comparison). BTW your schema should also help your products be highlighted in rich snippets on search engines. Talk to us if you want help achieving this.
Link: What Content Does an Industrial Supplier Website Need?
1.2 Pricing, Availability and Shipping Data
Product detail pages should also include pricing, availability and shipping options and costs. B2B Users may need to login to see their negotiated pricing. Yes these capabilities require integration of your eCommerce and ERP systems – perhaps use the eCommerce maturity assessment tool linked below to help plan your eCommerce development.
Link: B2B Industrial eCommerce Update and Maturity Assessment.
1.3 Competitive Data
On a competitive level your product detail pages first need to be found when that product is searched for. Your part numbers need to be prominent but what about competitors part numbers for which your product is an equivalent? Are your products found in a search for those competitive part numbers? Pricing is obviously a key point of competition – if you haven’t yet considered pricing optimization see the link below.
Link: Pricing Optimization, Another Way to Grow your Business.
1.4 Include Reviews
Getting someone to buy something on your site first involves building trust. Unless your brand is already proven trustworthy, real reviews are a way of building trust not only with users but with search engines too. BTW you’ll likely find that your About Us page is one of your most popular pages precisely because visitors are deciding whether to trust you.
Link: Do Customer Reviews Increase B2B eCommerce Revenue?
1.5 Lightning Fast Page Loads
Research shows that more than half of mobile website visitors will leave if a page doesn’t load within three seconds. A user experience (UX) like that damages your brand not only from the user’s perspective but from search engines too. Slow page loads likely will lower your rankings.
Links: Google’s PageSpeed advice and Lighthouse Tool
2.1 Facetted Search Specific to Industrial Products
Let’s just illustrate with an example: If you make bearings, and I need a bearing with ID (inner diameter) of 1”, OD (outer diameter) of 1.8”, in stainless steel with twin seals – can I easily search and find all the options you have, then further refine my search within those results?
Link: 10 Questions to Ask Before Selecting an Online Catalog Solution
2.2 3D CAD Model Viewing and Downloads (for lead generation)
If your industrial products are either components (e.g. a bearing or gear) or complete engineered products (e.g. a motor or gearbox) that are ‘designed-in’ to other products (e.g a car, a fridge, an industrial machine) then it’s likely that those who design, specify or purchase your products need 3D CAD models. The quickest way to model something is to download it. Therefore CAD is a type of content industrial suppliers can utilize on their websites and syndicate to other websites (e.g. to distributors or OEMs or CAD Search Portals like 3DModelSpace.com). Just as 3D CAD models save designers and engineers time, so 2D product drawings save time for buyers and others preparing specification documents.
Link: How to Use Product CAD Models to Radically Increase Manufacturing Sales – Part 1
If your industrial products are configurable or made-to-measure you should consider using simple configurators or full CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) systems to enable designers and buyers to self-help themselves in selecting or customizing your products to their exact needs. This may be the most helpful industrial marketing you can do.
Link: 10 Questions To Ask Before Selecting An Online Product Configurator Solution.
3.1 Industrial Product Page SEO
A product page like any other page is evaluated and ranked on its merits. All the usual tenets of SEO (keyword research, site structure, technical SEO (see link below) including a page title focusing on the product name, unique product and meta descriptions, high quality images) apply plus there are some uniquely industrial ones. We’ll leave general SEO to SEO-specialists and focus on the industrial product specific SEO. Start by searching online for your own products including CAD models of your own products to understand where you are today. Are you satisfied with how the search engines present your products (and where they rank them)? If not, review the links below:
3.2 Page Testing and Monitoring
Obviously you should use analytical tools to continuously monitor how your product pages are found and perform. One of the best things about digital marketing is that you can rely on data, not intuition or guesswork, and use those insights to improve the performance of your product pages. When you change them do A/B testing to understand the likely impact of your changes – that could have avoided the problem that prompted this blog post. On another level perhaps you’re not sure whether CAD on your product detail pages will help you, here’s a fun quiz to find out.
Link: Do You Know When and How to Use CAD to Grow Business?
1. Pay careful attention to the performance of your product detail pages because your online orders will likely depend on them…
2. If any of the above points apply to your industrial product detail pages consider using our recommendations above.
3. Monitor for yourself how leading industrial suppliers are improving their product detail pages. For example, how Grainger and MSC Industrial are investing in their eCcommerce product detail pages – MSC is a newer CDS client that recently launched CAD downloads and visualization for the majority of their fastener products – this article describes how CAD became a key deliverable to meet their CX needs.
As always, if you have comments or suggestions please make them below, click to ask us a question or call for a discussion. For CAD questions see: Digital Marketing with CAD – Get the FAQs! In the meantime we’ll continue to keep you up-to-date on eCommerce and new technologies impacting industrial suppliers.