More than three-quarters of 3PL businesses see acquiring new customers as their biggest opportunity in 2021, and what an incredible opportunity it is.
3PL is now 25% of the freight industry, more than doubling over the last decade, according to The Council of Supply Chain Management’s 2021 Third-Party Logistics Study – and is expected to keep growing.
To help you stay ahead of your competition in this ever-evolving landscape and attract new clients to your logistics business, you’ll need a solid marketing strategy to grow your bottom line.
Let’s dig in and take a closer look at some best practices for leveling up your digital marketing strategy for your 3PL business.
What are Some General Digital Marketing Best Practices That 3PL Businesses Should Follow?
In order to successfully grow your logistics business, your marketing plan should take a clear look at:
- Who Your Ideal Customer is,
- What You Expect Your Digital Marketing to Accomplish,
- The Right Channels to Reach Your Target Market, and
- How You Can Measure the Results of Your Plan.
An effective digital marketing strategy can positively impact your business by:
1. Creating Awareness of Your Brand With Potential Clients
It’s difficult to sell your logistics services to companies that have never heard of your business, which is why brand awareness is such an important element in your digital marketing strategy.
2. Nurturing Leads via Informative Content
Digital marketing assets such as articles, white papers, eBooks, and case studies help potential clients to better understand your company’s approach and results.
3. Partner With Your Sales Team to Turn Leads Into Customers
Continue to create trust and loyalty with your future customers as your sales team builds
preference for your brand, growing both the client relationship and brand affinity continually fostered by your ongoing digital marketing efforts.
4. Focusing on Return on Investment for Your Customers
Unlike with Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing, your 3PL company’s marketing efforts should focus primarily on how your logistics services will impact your target customers’ revenue and customer service goals – focusing on benefits and ROI.
For example, you might clearly communicate the value of your business to your potential customers by highlighting facts such as how your logistics firm uses the most advanced 3PL Warehouse Management System to lower costs, minimize errors, and improve customer service for their business.
What are Some Inbound Tactics That Can Benefit 3PL Businesses?
Some of the inbound marketing tactics that can have a significant impact on your 3PL business include content marketing, artificial intelligence, video marketing, and podcasts.
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to generate and nurture leads for your business. By creating and distributing digital content such as eBooks, white papers, blog posts, and videos, your 3PL business can improve your search engine rankings, generate brand awareness, and attract potential customers.
After browsing through your website, interested prospects may want to learn more about a specific topic. That’s where content assets like eBooks and white papers can really make an impact. A downloadable eBook allows you to collect the customer’s email and other key information while providing something of value that prospects can use to make their 3PL provider decision. Your white papers and eBooks should be promoted on your blogs as well as throughout your social media to ensure potential customers can find them.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI Chatbots)
AI chatbots on your website can answer basic customer questions and help key decision-makers to find the exact information they need, when they need it, freeing up your customer service and sales to tackle more challenging customer inquiries.
3. Video Marketing
Approximately 70% of B2B customers watch videos as part of their research process before becoming customers. Both short- and long-form videos can engage decision-makers and spark their interest in learning more about your company.
Videos can cover a variety of entertaining and informative topics, including:
- Solutions To Pain Points
- Details About Specific Topics, and
- Interviews Between Industry Leaders
Podcasts have been booming in recent years as they have become more accessible. Your potential customers listen to podcasts to stay up to date on the latest freight industry trends, find solutions to common pain points, and hear insights from business thought leaders.
Another benefit is that podcasts can provide a way for your company leaders to make a personal connection with both prospects and your existing customers.
What are Some Outbound Tactics That Can Benefit 3PL Businesses?
Outbound marketing tactics are any kind of marketing where your company makes the first contact with potential customers. Examples of outbound marketing activities include ads in trade publications and websites, trade shows, cold calling or emails, etc. Many of the tactics you’ll find below are effective tools for both outbound and inbound 3PL marketing.
1. Email Marketing
Email marketing is a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool. Not only is it an efficient way to stay top-of-mind with your leads and existing customers, but it can also easily be automated to deliver highly personalized content and ongoing outreach, even when cold emailing a targeted prospect list.
Personalized email marketing significantly increases engagement between your brand and your potential customer. According to a study by Campaign Monitor, the ROI on email marketing is 4200%, meaning for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you earn $42.
Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing tactics and can be used for both outbound and inbound marketing, including lead generation, sales, lead nurturing, and customer retention.
Additionally, creating triggered, customized emails (such as when a customer downloads a specific eBook or white paper) helps to convert prospects into clients by meeting your customers at the exact time they are most likely to buy.
2. Marketing Automation
Smart marketers are using automation tools to save time and money. Automated email workflows can be used to auto-send:
- Welcome Email Sequences
- Transactional Emails
- Invitations and Reminders
- Blog Updates, and
- Other Key Marketing Communications
Customer journey automation can be used for lead generation, scoring your leads based on behavior and engagement, and lead nurturing.
In addition, social media automation tools can help your business to automate various aspects of your social media marketing strategy, from publishing content to monitoring engagement to analytics.
Live and previously recorded video webinars can be among the most engaging forms of digital marketing content.
Webinars are interactive in nature and provide a venue for prospects to ask questions, get the information they need about your logistics services, and also allow potential customers to become more familiar with your company.
What are Some Paid Tactics That Can Benefit 3PL Businesses?
Depending on your strategy, your marketing mix will likely include some paid tactics to increase brand awareness and introduce your customers to your top-of-funnel content marketing. Here are a few to consider:
Paid Search and Ads
Social media and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising make it faster and more efficient for your prospects to find the information they’re looking for.
Digital ads can be highly targeted by everything from location and job title to keywords and industry. This is why digital ads can be so effective in attracting prospects and delivering them right to your website.
Conferences and Events
People are beginning to travel more regularly again, and in-person events can be powerful ways to engage 3PL customers.
Conferences and events not only give potential customers a chance to learn about your company’s services, but they also provide prospects and your sales team with an opportunity to network.
Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps to maximize the likelihood of prospects finding and clicking on your company’s website when searching for a solution to their pain points, bringing a greater volume of highly-targeted traffic to your site.
An effective SEO strategy will increase the probability that your logistics company will appear in the top search results when potential customers search for keywords such as:
- Logistics Services
- Freight Consolidation
- WMS, and
- Warehousing Facilities
Effective SEO can be deployed without a major investment and can yield significant results when it comes to delivering your target audience directly to your website.
What are Some Social Media Tactics That Can Benefit 3PL Businesses?
Social media plays a vital role in moving your potential customers through the sales funnel.
No matter what social media platforms you utilize for your digital marketing efforts, you’ll want to tailor your strategy for each individual platform to both meet the audience’s expectations and get the best results for your business.
And remember, creative, engaging content always has the potential to go viral, putting your business in front of millions of possible customers.
LinkedIn has more than 700 million users, whose members are primarily employers, business professionals, employees, entrepreneurs, and of course, corporate decision-makers.
Over 50 million companies have LinkedIn profiles, and its extensive reach and user demographic make it a perfect match for 3PL companies wanting to grow their network and generate more sales leads.
This platform is a 3PL goldmine when it comes to helping logistics companies not only recruit top talent but also to network with potential customers.
LinkedIn also provides one of the most effective additional platforms from which to disseminate your content marketing, such as white papers and eBooks. In fact, in early 2020, LinkedIn reported that content received 15 times the number of user impressions over job postings, with a 50% increase in year-over-year user engagement.
TikTok, a social video-sharing website, is a beneficial 3PL marketing tool due to its visual nature and its potential for collaboration with content creators. For example, a collaboration with a popular influencer could feature the TikToker’s branded merchandise (merch) being packaged up for delivery to customers at your warehouse.
Taking advantage of popular song trends by putting trending music under your video can help you reach additional viewers quickly.
Additionally, locally specific hashtags such as #DenverBusiness, or business-specific tags such as #smallbusiness can help your content be seen by your target audience.
Still think TikTok is just dance videos for teens? This simple video from www.shipbob.com on what it’s like to work with a 3PL company has garnered more than 86K views on the platform, and this warehouse tour has received almost 68K views.
Instagram is not just for posting filtered photos of what you had for lunch – it’s also a highly targeted platform to provide your prospects with authentic content that offers an inside glimpse of your company’s culture and services.
Real-time content, including video content (called reels), and live streaming, can add a much-needed human element to your 3PL business, helping you to form a genuine connection with your potential and existing customers.
One more important thing to remember, Instagram isn’t just about pictures and videos. Captions offer an effective opportunity to give additional context and provide a narrative to the images you post, and hashtags such as #SmallBiz and #SupportSmallBusiness help your audience find you.
Utilizing the latest digital marketing practices can grow your business, attract new clients for your logistics business, and put you miles ahead of your competitors.
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