Oil and gas companies that have run the same way from the beginning will have a hard time believing that digital marketing is valuable moving forward. If your business falls into this category, then advertising and promoting the business is not likely to rank as high in priority as drilling, exploration and production, or mitigating the risks associated with developing plays in foreign oil and gas fields.
But in an industry that’s only recovering from years of struggling performance and poor public perception, innovative online marketing may just be the very thing your company needs to expand margins and improve brand image.
A Period of Instability for Upstream Oil and Gas
2015 and 2016 were periods of instability in the oil and gas industry. Last year alone, U.S. oil and gas companies cut expenditure targets by $54 billion. According to Reuters, this is the most severe cut done by North American energy players.
2017 hasn’t gone well either, due to the continued depression in oil prices and interruptions caused by multiple category 4 hurricanes, though experts see a period of stability until the end of the year. While the author was a little low on his end-of-year predictions, his logic could be applied to the existing market conditions and if correct, prices for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices could stabilize above the $60 per barrel level. At these levels, the numbers are good enough to break even, but they are still insufficient to create momentum to raise capital budgets for what’s remaining in 2017 and into early 2018.
Recent events in the industry then prompt the adoption of new technology, including digital marketing, would be a forward-thinking move for oil and gas companies—for your business.
Recovery Through New Technology
After the heavy cuts last year, digitization should make up for lost operational efficiency on and off the field. GE’s Bill Ruh, for example, is pushing the envelope on technology deployed in the industry, implementing devices, databases, and sensors to anticipate equipment failures.
Oil and gas operation requires continuous innovation to maintain growth. What this means today is discovering and implementing social collaboration tools that facilitate distribution of information, and by extension, enhancement of knowledge. Your people will have access to data across different locations and through varying stages of the supply chain.
When your organization knows more, you’re able to make better decisions. Whether it’s an issue of safety for your offshore team or need to ramp up capital investments in key markets, social collaboration tools will allow you to seamlessly share expertise, when you need it most.
This unique insight isn’t just going to improve your processes and workflows; it’s also going to give you a competitive advantage. Your oil and gas business has the potential to achieve market domination when you use collaboration tools with a strategic digital marketing plan.
Reinventing the Business
Digital oilfield marketing is an innovative approach that will improve the way you do business. Establishing digital channels, for starters, will give you access to critical data about your customers. You can easily form an effective strategy if you know critical information about how they found your website, what kind of emails they click and read, or what kind of social media posts they share.
But digital marketing doesn’t just help your business discover important consumer online behavior. The right tactics also allow you to understand your customers better, so much so that you’ll be able to manage supply chains better. A McKinsey report shares that oil and gas companies that have geospatial analytics raise revenue by up to 1.2%, thanks in large part to location planning and route optimization.
It’s unthinkable for these elements to matter in the old days, but today such data can positively impact your business.
The Strengths of Marketing
Perception of the industry has not been kind for years because of the much-publicized disasters in big oil. The Deepwater Horizon fire and Exxon Valdez spill are the most notable incidents, although the latter isn’t the most damaging oil spill in history. Oil and gas operations are inherently hazardous, but some companies experience more risks than others as proved in extreme terms by BP’s lack of action on-field incidents.
Such incidents, understandably, give rise to a negative view of the oil and gas industry. Changing the public’s impression isn’t just the responsibility of one or two entities; this tremendous task rests on the entire industry. Digital marketing is the first step toward rehabilitating an unfavorable impression, especially in this age when information travels fast, and bad publicity travels faster.
Innovative online marketing can mitigate the impact of bad publicity, and potentially turn the public’s negative opinion about a brand.
Aside from brand perception, there’s also the competition to think of, from new players in the natural gas market to shale oil companies. The former is increasingly appealing to a growing market while the latter is enjoying reduced operational costs but better production.
The right digital marketing tactics can provide your business with actionable plans and allow you to gain a competitive edge.
Forming a Digital Marketing Strategy
Digital marketing in the oil and gas industry, much like for every other industry, calls for the integration of several techniques. You’ll need a combination of several methods to produce the best possible results. This consolidated approach aims to build further recognition and sustain a positive perception of your company.
But how exactly will you go about your digital marketing?
Search engine optimization (SEO) – SEO is the most popular form of digital marketing. The omnipresence of search engines, particularly Google, makes it a critical tool in developing a marketing strategy. Through keyword research, site structure optimization, and top search engine ranking, you can leverage your visibility and improve perception to obtain more revenue.
Web development – Your website is your company’s online business card. Poorly made websites create the wrong impression, even if the message and branding are in alignment with your goals. Whether you’re starting from scratch or need to redevelop, your website has to drive valuable traffic to create value for your business.
PPC – Pay-per-click advertising provides a cost-effective advertising strategy for your business. Unlike the uncertainties of traditional advertising (through TV and newspapers), PPC is measurable and targeted. You can also use it as part of your SEO strategy, to boost your online visibility.
Social media marketing – Social media is part of your consumers’ and stakeholders’ daily lives; they use a variety of platforms to communicate and engage. And with the rise of mobile device usage across the world, your brand can’t afford to miss opportunities on social media. It takes expertise and time, though, to get maximum results.
Oil and gas business and online marketing don’t have to be like oil and water. It can and should blend.
Digital marketing can give your business the advantage it needs to gain stability amid volatility in the industry. The right strategies can provide you with lucrative opportunities, from increased exposure in new markets to securing operational efficiencies. And the best marketing partner can identify significant aspects of your business to enhance growth.
Don’t wait for the revenue to run dry and your company to come up short in wooing the public. With digital marketing, you’re transforming your business for the future without the big cost.