Whether you’re handling it in-house or hiring it done, marketing your website needs to be done strategically, methodically and consistently.
With a wide client base in the oil and gas and petrochemicals sectors, we here at Bizzuka know this is true of the petroleum industry as much as any other.
First of all, it’s a big industry. Oil and gas isn’t just about extraction. The ancillary businesses that support oil and gas are many and diverse. They’re upstream, midstream and downstream. They deliver fuel, they weld undersea pipeline, and they write inventory management software, they create the oilfield tools, plus all kinds of other work many folks probably haven’t even considered.
And when the oil economy is in a slump, it hurts everybody. Yeah, riggers get laid off, but so do steel mill workers and tanker truck drivers.
And a slump is exactly when sales and marketing teams play the most crucial roles in these companies. Good people in key marketing roles can help your operation buck the downward industry trends. They can help you not just ride out the lean times—they can make you thrive.
And what exactly do good oil and gas internet marketers do? A lot. But much of it boils down to two things: Optimizing for conversion rates and improving search engine rankings.
Let’s look at both.
Optimize for Conversion
The action you want your site visitor to take is the “conversion,” whether it’s a sale (if you have an online ecommerce store) or a form completion (“sign up today “or “request a quote,” for example).
To optimize your site for better conversion rates, you should A/B test page elements such as your calls to action, your forms, and your page copy to see what works and what doesn’t. You’d be surprised—sometimes websites that look great perform poorly when it comes to attracting qualified buyers. And sometimes sites that don’t look great are the best at what they do (see Craigslist.com).
Here are some general tips for conversion rate optimization. Every business is different, so only A/B testing will show if any one of these tips is really right for you.
- Place your call to action above the fold. “Above the fold” is newspaper jargon for “near the top,” or visible without scrolling. Your call to action is usually a button.
- Reduce the number of fields in your forms. The more fields someone has to complete, the less likely they are to sign up. Stick with name, email and phone if you can. Ask one or two more things if you have a large company and need to route the inquiry to the appropriate department.
- Have a clear headline. It should have an active verb that tells the user exactly what to do, and it shouldn’t have a lot of words. Bonus points if you can work in one of your focus keywords. “Sign Up for News About Casing and Tubing Services” is a good example.
- Sell solutions, not products. This means answering the “what’s in it for me?” question. Show your visitors what value you’re offering. Example: Don’t ask them to sign up for your newsletter. Instead, say “get our free eBook when you sign up for our newsletter.”
- Don’t use stock photos. Your customers aren’t dumb. They know they’re fake. Besides, they’d probably rather do business with someone who looks like them, not a boardroom full of models clad in business attire. Don’t be afraid to hire a photographer to come shoot operations in your shop or plant. Besides—it’ll give you a good excuse to clean the place up.
- Leverage social proof. If you can include quotes and testimonials from happy customers, it builds trust. You could also accomplish this by linking to your Google+ reviews or by showing the logos of your business partners (especially if they’re well-known brands).
Improve Search Rankings
Apart from conversion optimization, another crucial marketing priority for oil and gas companies is to make sure internet searchers can find you.
This requires a lot, but a big objective with search engine optimization (SEO) is to make sure each page of the site adheres to the best practices that Google and other search engines reward with high placement. To accomplish this:
- Write effective title tags and meta descriptions. They’ll make your site attractive on a search results page and make it more likely searchers will click on you instead of the competition.
- Build user-friendly internal links to and from related pages. Whenever a blog entry or any other part of your site explicitly mentions why customers should rely on your business to meet their needs, take the opportunity to link to your “contact” page, where they’ll find your address, phone number, email address and a form for them to let you know what they need.
- Optimize your images. Pictures sell products. Use them liberally. Include some human faces in those images wherever you can to show the world your company name has real people standing behind it. And (on a more technical side), make sure your images load quickly and have descriptive “alt tags” added to the code to describe to visually-impaired users (and to search engines) what photos depict.
- Create regular content. For most oil and gas sites, this means maintaining a news or blog section. Regularly publishing content to these pages will make your business site a bigger target for internet searchers and build your reputation as an expert in your field.
- Stay active and engaged on social media. LinkedIn may be the most important if you’re in business-to-business sales, but even oil companies can use Twitter and Facebook to stay in their customers’ good graces.