Updated: December 14, 2022
While research and production departments in the chemical industry have adopted and benefited from new digital solutions over the years, digital marketing and chemical e-commerce solutions have lagged woefully behind. The reason: many in the chemical industry are hesitant to implement new business models and adopt new technologies for fear of cannibalizing their organizational and sales routines.
In this article, we discuss how digital transformation must extend from chemical business operations to marketing solutions.
The success of chemical business is contingent on digital transformation
Players in the chemical industry have started to realize that digital transformation of chemical business operations isn’t a hindrance but a necessity. According to InsightAce Analytic, the global digital chemical industry market is expected to reach $61.7B by 2030, a 21.4% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate). In fact, recent events have made digital technology a fundamental part of the B2B value chain, therefore accelerating digital transformation among chemical companies.
Global Digital Chemical Industry Market
Source: Cision PR Newswire
A 2022 EY Digichem Survey reveals that the chemical industry is now prioritizing digital transformation:
- Chemical digitalization has accelerated by 56% since the pandemic
- 65% of CEOs expect digitalization to impact their chemical businesses significantly
Digitalization is central to chemical industry sustainability efforts
The decarbonizing trend has set stringent demands on the chemical sector, which is the third largest producer of CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, the IEA reports, the global chemical industry is not on track with Net Zero initiatives. To accelerate low-emission efforts in the chemical industry, chemical companies need to adopt digital tools that accurately capture and report ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) data.
82% of chemical companies expect to make savings using digitization in sustainability push
Source: EY Digichem Survey
Feast Magazine defines the most pressing considerations for digital ESG as:
- Automate – Automating data collection
- Validate – Capturing evidence to validate processes
- Mitigate – Benchmarking and analysis
- Navigate – Adopting to changes in the future
Forbes Councils Member Leeya Hendricks explains, “As your brand expands to cover goals such as social and environmental responsibility, it is marketing’s role to ensure it does so effectively and authentically.”
Once chemical businesses have made digital inroads in their ESG efforts, they must translate that data into their marketing efforts.
And that moves us to our next topic: the digital revolution must take place in chemical industry marketing. Below we look at how the chemical sector is updating their digital marketing strategies as part of their operational transformation to market chemical products in a digital world.
Digital marketing strategy and sales 4.0 in the chemical industry
Make no mistake, digital marketing has historically been seen as a disruption that threatens the “old economy” of the chemical industry. After all, this is a B2B sector where business is traditionally transacted on a person-to-person basis. Sales reps often contact leads and prospects by phone. Marketing chemical products, generating leads and landing clients involve long sales cycles and many in-person meetings. Moving to a digital marketing process directly threatens this status quo.
For years, the chemical industry has been dominated by larger, established companies that have shored up their market positions. This left little room for competition among smaller startups. With the democratization of choice that results from digital marketing, this dynamic is changing.
Digital chemical make it easier for startups to gain a foothold in the market. With the advancements in e-commerce platforms, B2Bs can post their products online, even if they don’t sell online. A business that aligns their martech stack with an e-commerce solution can streamline product updates and automate digital marketing tactics. This has the direct effect of bringing the entire industry out of the dark ages of marketing and sales. Smart technologies have accelerated and automated digitized processes for chemical businesses, bringing them into the light of marketing and sales 4.0.
Chembid, for example, embodies the spirit of digital disruption in the chemical industry. This organization, founded in 2016, was the first firm to adopt an all-in-one, chemical sales solution in the B2B market. Chembid designed a meta-search engine that bundled price quotes and technical information on chemicals to facilitate quicker processing. The success of Chembid stems in great part from the fact that it is a new company not beholden to an antiquated sales and marketing plan of years past.
The reality is that now entire search engines are being developed to connect chemical suppliers with buyers – and marketers should take notice. It means that SEO isn’t just for B2C companies anymore and every chemical company should now be thinking about optimizing keywords to direct web traffic to their landing pages.
Omnichannel digital marketing results in success for chemical companies
While companies like Chembid are finding remarkable success by creating online chemical search engines, other companies in similar B2B industries are taking that idea in omnichannel directions. Take BASF, a German chemical company. In 2015 it went full-on B2C and created an e-store on Alibaba.
This yielded three beneficial results:
- It allowed the company to reach more Chinese SMEs who were already using Alibaba
- It served customers with minimum complexity
- The platform allowed BASF to keep selling costs low
BASF then relaunched its store two years later, merging with other platforms and partnering with competitors via other channels to sell their industrial products as well as its own. The result is that these multi-channel initiatives led to enormous business growth. The company expects online sales of
Data-driven marketing leads to informed decisions for chemical businesses
Big data is a modern marketing buzzword that seems firmly ensconced in the B2C sector. Harkening back to the earlier points about chemical companies being slow to change, many executives still rely on gut feeling when making decisions.
It’s not nearly enough anymore.
Just as consumer marketers use AI and analytics engines to mine vast amounts of data to glean insight and expand their margins, the same can be done in the B2B world. Machine learning solutions, for example, can tell both marketing and sales teams quite a bit. Marketers who mine meta-data from email, phone records, social signals, etc., can help their sales teams effectively market chemical products.
Big data in B2B also does wonders for productivity. Developing targeted initiatives based on solid meta-data signals frees up sales teams from so many wasted phone calls and meetings chasing bad leads or trying to implement otherwise unwieldy strategies.
Partner with an agency that specializes in digital marketing strategy for the chemical industry
In the end, digital marketing in the chemical industry has incredible value: streamlining the customer journey. Even B2B buyers in the chemical business want an Amazon-like experience, with tailored recommendations, low prices on many options and no hassle. In other words, a simple buyer journey free of pain points.
Those chemical marketers who realize this and adopt a digital plan will lead their industry into the next stage of global commerce.
If you need help digitally transforming your chemical sales and marketing efforts, work with an established data-driven agency that specializes in B2B marketing in the chemical industry. With over 20 years of marketing experience with chemical businesses, Elevation can help you accelerate your digital, omnichannel, and e-commerce marketing and augment your lead-generation efforts. Contact us to learn more about how our chemical marketing services can benefit your company.