In a 2013 survey of 1,000 Americans, conducted by market research firm YouGov, 47 percent of respondents indicated they would most likely purchase an item if it had “made in the USA” branding on it. And in 2015, Consumer Reports found that eight out of 10 American consumers said they would rather buy a product made in America than an imported one, while 60 percent said they would pay 10 percent more for it.
Furthermore, according to an August 2016 article by the Made in America Movement:
[Google] searches for “Made in USA” and “Made in America” have climbed sharply from just a few years ago. In May 2016, “Made in USA” hit 94 on a 100-point scale, indicating peak search interest.
I’m one of those consumers who buys US-made goods whenever possible. I made the commitment in 2014 for a number of reasons, but mostly because I wanted to help bring jobs back to the US. According to the Million American Jobs Project, if each of us purchased just one more item (or an additional 5 percent) made in the US, we’d create a million new jobs. Sounds good to me!
Since making that commitment, I’ve learned quite a few things about how to find American-made goods (yep, plenty of them are out there). One thing I’ve learned is to research everything online beforehand.
Given that I’m also a digital marketer, I’ve studied how companies use PPC, SEO and content marketing to promote their Made in the USA products — sometimes effectively and other times not so much.
In this first part of this three-part series, I’ll give five examples of companies marketing their Made in the USA products using PPC and SEO — plus brief analyses of landing and product pages — to illustrate how difficult or easy it is to determine if the product is indeed Made in the US (which is important, as I’ll explain).
Next month, in part two, I’ll cover content marketing, link building, PR and other ways to help build awareness for Made in the USA products. In part three, I’ll cover how B2B vendors can attract manufacturers sourcing US-made materials for their products.
In this article, the examples I’ve used illustrate my perspective as a consumer; none of the companies discussed are clients or affiliates, nor do I have any data on their PPC or SEO campaigns.
I’ll provide five examples across two searches, along with my recommendations for how search marketers can help consumers purchase Made in the USA products with confidence.
My initial search for “made in the USA lamps” (Figure 1) shows the carousel and organic results only; I had to do an incognito search to have ads appear (Figure 2).
Since I’m looking for a table lamp, the items in the carousel aren’t of interest, so I ignore these. The first two text ads don’t have “made in the USA” in their headlines or ad copy, so I ignore these. I’m not looking for LED lighting, so I ignore the third text ad, too.
In both SERPs, however, I do have three good organic listings to choose from: one for LampsUSA and two for Bellacor. Both listings have either “Made in USA lamps” or “American made lamps” in the title tag and snippet, so these companies appear to have what I’m looking for.
Both companies are distributors and sell various brands of lamps — meaning they don’t manufacturer them.
Clicking through to LampsUSA takes me directly to the shopping page for its Made in the USA lamps. Page elements, such as breadcrumb navigation, an American flag and “Made in USA Lighting” messaging confirm I’m in the right place (Figure 3).
However, I’ve learned (through much trial and error) that you have to verify that a product is actually made in the US, as some companies will say “made” when the product might only be designed or assembled in America.
(One company whose products I was quite interested in stated, “All products designed at our US facility and manufactured by our trusted partner.” It took me a good 20 minutes of digging in product reviews and blog discussions to learn the “trusted partner” was a company in another country.)
Country of manufacture is super-important, because in order to state that a product is “Made in the USA,” a company has to comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s Made in USA standard, in that “the product must be ‘all or virtually all’ made in the US.”
To confirm country of manufacture, I spend a lot of time reading product descriptions and company About pages.
Clicking on the first lamp listed on the LampsUSA page, I see the American flag and the “Made in USA” callout (Figure 4), as well as “Made in USA” in the product description. If I wanted to be super-sure, I would need to visit the brand website.
When I click on the Bellacor organic listing, I’m taken to a similar “Made in USA lamps” landing page. It, too, includes helpful navigational elements and copy that let me know I’m in the right place (Figure 5).
Clicking on the first lamp listed, the Allegretto Two-Light Table Lamp, I can’t find “Made in the USA” in the product specifications. The product description only says it’s “hand-crafted” and gives the brand name. So I visit the brand’s company website to confirm its products are made in the US. The brand website has a lot of information, which means some time researching. I go back to Bellacor.
The second lamp listed, the Stacked Horn One-Light Table Lamp, also lacks “Made in the USA” in its product specifications. However, the product description reads, “Lamp shade made in USA” (Figure 6). Does this mean the lamp itself is made somewhere else? Hard to tell.
Not giving up yet, I look at the third lamp listed, the Paddle Table Lamp. Again, the production specs don’t include “Made in the USA,” but a callout in the product description reads, “Proudly made in the USA.” To confirm this, I’d have to check out the manufacturer’s website.
Figure 7 shows the top of first page results for “made in USA roller shades.” As you can see, I have a number of options.
The first text ad for The Shade Store has “Handcrafted in the USA” in its description, and the fourth ad has “Made in the USA” in its headline, so both of these ads look promising. The top two organic results also have “Made in the USA” and/or “Made in America” in their title tags.
The Shade Store
Landing on this page, it’s difficult to tell if the shades are made in the United States; however, the upper navigation includes a US flag. Clicking it shows the highlighted “Handcrafted in the USA” drop-down box, as seen in Figure 8. (A flag in the upper nav can sometimes mean “Choose a language or country,” so I almost didn’t click it.)
I click the “Learn More” box and am taken to a page that tells the story about the company’s manufacturing process. These “signals” help build trust and credibility that this company does indeed make its shades in the US. (As noted, I’ll cover content marketing in more detail in part two.)
Clicking through from the Blinds Chalet organic listing to the company home page, I’m not immediately aware that the company makes blinds or roller shades in the USA. That’s because one, the company is actually a reseller, and two, the home page has a slider.
While scrolling up and down the page looking for anything that said, “Made in the USA,” the slider moved and finally landed on the “Made in USA” message you see in Figure 9.
(It’s for this reason my colleague Rachel Cunliffe of Cre8d Design and I recommend to our clients they not use sliders. If it hadn’t changed, I would have missed the message and left the website.)
The call to action on the slider reads, “View our complete line of products,” along with a quick quote feature. I click to view the “complete line” and am taken to the page you see in Figure 10 — which isn’t a line of products but instead a definition is what is meant by “Made in the USA.”
While the usability part of me wants to fix the home page slider and messaging, the consumer part of me finds this information interesting. (Link if you want to read it.) It’s on this page I learn Blinds Chalet is a reseller of window coverings manufactured in the US. The company’s definition of “Made in the USA” is in line with the FTC standard.
Like Blinds Chalet, BlindSaver is a reseller of various brands of blinds and shades. I visited this website because the keywords in the title tag matched my search query.
The organic search listing takes me to a “Made in America” landing page (Figure 11), which states the company carries a line of “custom blinds and shades assembled right here in America.”
However, after viewing a number of the products listed on the page, I’m not sure if any of them are actually manufactured in the US. Nothing in the product descriptions states, “Made in the USA.”
If you as a consumer were to come into the website via the home page (rather than the above landing page), you wouldn’t know if any of the products are US-made, because the home page copy and navigational elements lack any “Made in the USA” message.
Indeed, doing a search for “made in the usa” using the site search box brings up a results page with the message, “There were no products that contained all of the words you searched for” (Figure 12). So, a little confusing.
Although I used only a few examples, this exercise sums up my experience as a consumer searching for Made in the USA products. Basically, it takes some real work and due diligence!
Not only do consumers have to find the companies that manufacture products in the US, but the onus is on them to confirm country of manufacture is indeed the US, because website messaging can be vague or misleading.
If you’re an agency that works with manufacturers or distributors that sell Made in the USA products (as per the FTC standard), what follows are my recommendations for helping consumers make the decision to purchase your products:
Search ads and listings
The number one way to capture “Made in USA” searches is to add this wording to your PPC ad headlines and landing page title tags. As you can see from the search results I showed, the “Made in USA” message stands out precisely because it matches the search query.
You can also use the “Made in USA” message in the ad description, callout extensions and site links, as well as the html description tag.
I realize the keywords I used were pretty broad, and in fact, I often refine my “made in USA” searches to find what I’m looking for, e.g., “mid-century table lamp, floor lamp, pendant lamp.” So it pays to adjust your keyword matches accordingly.
For small businesses that sell hand-crafted and/or unique items but have micro budgets, I have one word for you: Etsy.
“Made in USA” ads and organic listings should take consumers to dedicated “Made in USA” landing pages. These pages should specifically state the company either manufactures its products in the US or the branded products listed have been verified by the reseller as Made in the US.
To make it easier for consumers looking for Made in the USA products (and to comply with the FTC standard), companies should specifically state “Country of Manufacture” for all the components that comprise a product.
I realize verification is a lot of work, but as a consumer, finding products manufactured in the US, from materials sourced in the US, is like a triple win: for the manufacturer, for the consumer, and for the US economy.
I could give a half-dozen more recommendations regarding search, usability, content, messaging and so on, but this article is already way past its limit. If you’re an experienced search marketer, you’ve probably already noted many of them.
In part two, I’ll cover how companies can build awareness of their “Made in USA” products through content, link building, PR, and social media.
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