Online and offline, well connected: a multi-year strategy for R+W
A company in the couplings sector knows a lot about connections: that is why R+W Italy, the Italian branch of one of the world’s leading manufacturers of couplings and line shafts wishing to shift its communication to web channels, appreciated the strategy designed by Atlantide, that was able to connect on and offline communication to obtain the best of both worlds. The aim was hard to reach in the short term given the available budget, so it was tackled with a three-year strategy so as to identify realistic intermediate objectives and to obtain the desired results gradually and steadily.
R+W Italia is the Italian branch of R+W GmbH, one of the main global manufacturers of precision couplings for mechanical automation, precision torque limiters and line shafts. The company is present in Italy since 2008 and since the very first years of activity it earned itself a reputation as an ideal partner for supplying standard and tailor-made couplings and torque limiters. In order to keep up a winning image, product quality is mandatory, but as the years go by it may no longer be enough: competitive drive brought the company to feel the need to increase its differentiation through such aspects as online service and support applications. R+W Italia therefore decided to create a more attractive experience for clients by shifting part of its communication onto digital channels. In order to carry out this transition, Davide Fusari, Country Manager, and Marco Benvenuti, Marketing Manager of the Italian branch, turned to Atlantide.
The agency began with a preliminary feasibility analysis, which is always sensible in order to define a successful strategy: the communication tools available and those actually being used were taken into consideration as well as the way in which they were, or could have been, employed, verifying the possibility of repositioning communication in order to finalize it to reaching the given objective with the available budget.
R+W’s starting point included a mix of mainly traditional communication media and tools: an offline media planning with product advertisements (on about ten magazines aimed at the application sectors which are most relevant for the company) and a media coverage supported by press office activity carried out internally by the company; direct communication material produced by the parent company in Germany and participation to some industry trade shows. The use of online media was evolving, with a website undergoing restyling, Google AdWords campaigns – mainly tactical, non inserted in a global strategy – and a presence, not regulated by a specific plan, of banners on the websites corresponding to some printed magazines included in the media plan.
Having defined the state of the art, the agency clarified that the creation of a web identity strong enough to shift the attention of all current and potential contacts towards online media is not an objective that can be reached in a short time and with small budgets, but requires a considerable investment in terms of time and financial resources. In order to meet the client’s expectations while respecting budget limitations, the agency prepared a three-year strategy, without excessively increasing the amounts originally allocated but redistributing them wisely. For this reason, during the first year, a budget reallocation was planned, from some b2b trade shows which had not quite lived up to expectations, to a mix of on-off communication; during the second year, budget allocation further shifted towards online activities with a redefinition of the offline budget, and for the third year new online activities aimed at lead generation have been planned.
The agency pointed out that a strategy must keep in mind the context provided by the available tools, particularly the state of development of online media in the b2b sector. At present, the web versions of many trade magazines are not yet capable of generating the sort of engagement and interactive use typical of online media, since they are not yet adequately positioned. For this reason it was necessary to envisage a strategic mix of on and offline elements, where printed magazines maintained an important role in consideration of the large number of updated and selected target readers they can reach. Particularly, about 40 target offline magazines were identified and planning was redefined to broaden the target without bringing about further costs, by reducing the frequency of ads on single magazines but improving coverage of target media with a presence on a larger number of magazines – using advertisements and, above all, an intense press office activity.
The coordination between online and offline activities was immediately evident during the creation of the press campaign, whose headline is a… hashtag: a typically online form of expression – exploited by Twitter first, then picked up by other social media to underline the importance of a topic – that, with R+W, found its way into offline media too.
With its new message #restaconnesso (#staytuned) R+W conveys with a strong and immediate impact its decision to create and maintain a constant link with its contacts, using all available media – first and foremost, the ones offered by the web.
Regarding online activities, the agency put to good use the favourable timing, due to the simultaneous restyling of the corporate website – taken care of by the parent company – and pointed out a few practical tricks to improve positioning and integration with all other tools. The agency also suggested the creation of an area within the website, for the publication of news items and successful case studies.
The adoption of these suggestions helped the agency in its SEO/SEM activity, which soon began to bring about double-digit increases in unique users and an organic positioning of the website on Google’s first page for all main keywords linked to R+W’s product range.
The activities supporting the website were however those where the agency was best able to deploy the capabilities acquired during many years of experience, right from the beginning of the web, in order to create suitable tools for the improvement of web notoriety. Above all, the agency focused on social media, creating and managing dedicated pages for the company and identifying the most appropriate tools to increase their visibility, using both Like campaigns and online press office activities.
The creation and maintenance of the Facebook page, with advertising activities and post promotion, brought within a short time span to a considerable increase in the number of “friends” (all of whom clicked on the page spontaneously and were selected based upon the profession and interests they declared); after slightly less than a year, likes reached the 5.000 mark (the website has less than 1.000 users per month). Apart from the understandable pride in arousing interest in a considerable audience for such a specific market segment, this success also brings along with it a practical advantage: communicating with the company’s target now has a definitely competitive cost per contact. Results reached by other social pages were just as remarkable: Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube obtained tens of thousands of views.
R+W’s communication strategy not only showed the excellent results that can be derived from a sensible and interconnected use of online and offline media; it also provided an excellent example of communication stream optimization. The same message (following various adaptations) was sent out using different channels and the preparation of press releases (product descriptions, case histories, company profiles, interviews) generated useful material for the publication of posts on Facebook and Twitter, articles on Google+, news on the newsletter and updates on the website’s news area, with circular cross-links that improved the company’s visibility on all media.
By carrying out this strategy the company is therefore obtaining the desired results on schedule and will be able to carry on with lead generation activities, knowingly using such tools as corporate newsletters and landing pages, purposely created to facilitate the conversion of contacts obtained by means of the many ongoing web communication activities.
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