GM Business week, 18 April 2013A printed circuit boards manufacturer is reaping the benefits of implementing a long-term web marketing strategy, with the help of another Greater Manchester firm.

Hi5 Electronics had previously focused on “offline” activities such as trade shows and exhibitions – but finding new business presented more of a challenge.

It engaged Old Trafford-based agency The Artlab in 2011 to oversee its digital strategy which included creating a new website and an organic search engine optimisation strategy.

It also placed new, regular content on its website via a blog to drive online traffic.

Richard Houghton, Director at Hi5 Electronics, said: “We wanted to reach new markets and the potential customers we weren’t aware of.

“The internet seemed to offer the ideal means to achieve this. We’d tried traditional advertising but we didn’t see much of a return for our investment.

“The website needed more active management and we also wanted to offer an online sales facility.

“We decided to invest in a new website, with an e-commerce platform.

We wanted to communicate a professional, credible brand and although we are a technology company, felt we didn’t have the nouse in marketing or design to deliver, so we engaged specialists to help us achieve this.”

Over the past two years, Hi5 has witnessed a consistent increase in traffic to its website and has raised its profile online, steadily climbing up the search engine rankings for their target key phrases.

The company has gone from number 34 to number one on Google UK for the key phrase “pcb manufacturer”.

Houghton added: “We operate in a tricky and competitive market. Before we would dip into online activities, not appreciating the time and effort needed to make a significant and sustainable difference in our web traffic and rankings.

“We’re definitely starting to see the benefits now.”

With support from The Artlab, Hi5 Electronics is now using a wider range of digital channels to drive enquiries and sales, with online PR, social media, PPC and email marketing planned for the coming months.

The Artlab received an early break in its business development by partnering with the Manufacturing Advisory Service to deliver funded e-commerce and digital audits for the north west’s manufacturers.

This has helped the company build strong sectoral expertise and robust links within the manufacturing community.

The Artlab’s managing director Rick Lees said: “”Manufacturing growth is critical to economic recovery and it has been very satisfying to help companies improve their online visibility and generate online sales.

“Many companies, not just in the manufacturing sector, have small sales and marketing operations.

“It is, therefore, critical that their website, that digital activity, works effectively – generating leads and building relationships – to extend the efforts of their sales teams.

“Digital is touching every business, regardless of size or sector. An effective web marketing strategy offers a key competitive advantage”.

This article is taken from Greater Manchester Business Week, a MEN Media publication, Thursday 18 April 2013 edition.