The oil & gas industry isn’t generally known for its forward-thinking marketing tactics. Oil & gas companies have long attracted new customers through more traditional marketing methods like networking, client recommendations, responding to bid requests or by simply being the only provider in a certain niche market. But, as time has gone on and technology has advanced, traditional marketing techniques have become insufficient as the industry’s only lead-generating strategy.
Shifting from a Traditional Marketing Mindset
When it comes to digital or online marketing, the oil & gas industry lags behind other industries. Just a quick search on Google about the industry will tell you that not much has been written about it online and almost no technical information is available outside of the various trade publications. It is because most people in the oilfield tend to have a highly traditional mindset. They prefer, for instance, to meet potential customers in person to build relationships and grow their business; but little do they know that they can build equally strong client relationships online, as well. In fact, marketing through search engines and social media is a cost-effective way to reach – as well to develop – relationships with, a large target group. Today, many oil and gas professionals, including engineers, procurement specialists, and business owners are on a constant hunt for oilfield products and services online.
Going Where Today’s Consumers Are
There’s a classic business lesson that says, “Go where your customers are.” If your business operates in the oil and gas industry and you want to follow this advice, then the next step you should take is to go where energy consumers are—and that’s online.
In several energy digital summits, in the recent past, experts mentioned that a digital marketing strategy is a vital part of customer acquisition and retention. Many of today’s oil and gas businesses search online before making a buying decision. But how, exactly, can you use digital marketing to your advantage? Is it enough that you have a website?
Of course, you need a website to be visible online. But, the work doesn’t stop there. In fact, Lean Oilfield shares two key tips when it comes to tapping oil and gas clients online:
- Become the expert in your niche
You don’t need to do a hard sell to attract consumers online. By simply developing your position as a thought leader in your sector of the industry, you strengthen the connection between your brand and the audience or businesses you serve. You can start by creating relevant content, such as blogs and videos about the latest news and updates in the industry. This technique doesn’t only put your brand in a good light, but it also drives quality traffic and leads to your website.
The important aspect of this strategy is that you provide value to your audience. If your only goal when you create content is to talk about your product or service, your message will come off as a sales pitch. The way you develop trust as a thought leader in your sector is to solve problems, answer questions and genuinely try to help your audience. While it does take time to establish yourself as the expert in your industry your efforts compound over time, so the more content you produce the better you position yourself in the long run.
- Engage with your audience
Once you’ve acquired clients, the next challenge will be keeping them. Digital marketing, especially through social media channels, can help you build relationships with your clients—even if you’re in an industrial B2B industry. Take multinational energy corporation Chevron, for example. Chevron uses their YouTube channel to show their audience what they do, what they stand for, and how their employees represent their brand and values. By using this platform in the right context, Chevron has formed strong connections with an online community of businesses and individuals, alike – something which it might not have been able to do had it clung to traditional marketing techniques, exclusively.
With a combination of traditional and digital techniques, however, you not only get to go to where your prospects are, but you also get to introduce your brand to them. And as an added bonus, you get to interact with consumers to create relationships that generate sales.
Delivering Benefits in More Ways Than One
Apart from helping you attract more clients, digital marketing comes with many other benefits, as well. A few of these include:
- Lower Costs
Most businesses in the oil & gas industry spend their marketing budget on traditional marketing techniques, such as trade shows, events and print publications. They, after all, can meet clients face-to-face and acquire new leads at exhibitions, conferences, and trade shows. While these events are important, they also cost a small fortune. The trade space, alone, is usually priced at a range of $500-$1500 per square feet. By contrast, you can hold webinars online at a much lower cost, and still have face-to-face engagement with your existing and potential customers. Plus, as mentioned, you can generate leads by simply keeping your website and social media accounts relevant using industry-proven strategies. These techniques, of course, don’t cost as much as your budget for a single trade show, but they still deliver long-term results.
Being in the oil & gas industry, you know that you cannot control the market price of the product you sell. So, when you invest in digital marketing, you no longer have to worry about one of your major expenses, as you can maintain and even grow your market share at a substantially lower cost.
- Readily Available Consumer Data
Often, digital and social media marketing campaigns come with market research and analytics. You can generate these reports on a regular basis and focus on any number of digital marketing metrics. With this readily available data, you get to know your clients a bit better. You can even use that information to realign your marketing goals to appeal more effectively to your target market.
- Measurable Success Metrics
When you hand out business cards to possible clients at a trade show, you will only know that it worked if someone calls you and you can actually remember where you met. On the other hand, digital marketing companies use measurable success metrics to let you know whether the strategies you are using are effective. This will help you clearly link your digital marketing efforts to measurable financial gains. With digital marketing, you no longer have to wait for several months, wondering if you employed the right marketing tactics.
The United States is one of the world’s largest consumers of oil and gas. In 2016, the entire country consumed 7.21 billion barrels of petroleum products, an increase from the 7.08 billion barrels in 2015. Of course, this high demand poses great growth opportunities for companies in the oil & gas industry—but only a handful of companies have pushed the industry’s marketing boundaries and tried their hand at digital marketing to reach the available pool of consumers online.
With the industry in the early stages of a rebound, now is the perfect time to jump on the digital marketing bandwagon and enjoy the benefits of this revolutionary shift. The lack of attention our industry has paid to this marketing discipline has created a void in the market that your potential customers are anxious for someone to fill. The earlier you start down the digital marketing path the further ahead of your competition you will be as the upstream oilfield returns to the forefront of the world economy.