BackgroundUnited States Steel Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in the United States, Canada and Central Europe. The oil and gas division, U. S. Steel Tubular Products (USST), has been serving the energy industry since 1901 as North America's largest fully integrated tubular products manufacturer.
Objectives & ChallengesU. S. Steel Tubular was challenged with three main issues:
- Brand erosionOnce the largest steel producer in the world, U. S. Steel has a rich history and has always distinguished itself to investors by virtue of its size, rather than for its efficiency or creativeness. It has suffered from economic and operational challenges, mergers, and spin-offs that eroded the brand, especially in the oil and gas markets, profits and market share.
- Lost sales opportunities, poor client servicesA survey of the market, internal marketing and sales issues identified that USST lacked customer support systems and relied on an inefficient sales support team and call center. There was also a lack of communication regarding new USST technologies and products to a booming oil and gas market, leading to many lost sales opportunities domestically and internationally.
- Completely out-competed in the digital marketplace with one antiquated central websitePrior to the launch of USSTubular.com, USST was only represented on a section of the U. S. Steel corporate website. The website lacked:
- Functionality – No interactive engineering applications, video capabilities, or document library.
- Content – Static product brochure content that lacked visual appeal, usability, and stickiness.
- SEO – The CMS technology was not SEO-friendly with long URLs, limited on page optimization, and limited page/template flexibility.
- Appeal – The survey also demonstrated that current communications were not appealing to an oil and gas audience. The tubular-related content was buried in a larger corporate website, and the core external audiences were not specifically addressed within the current site content and structure.
Based on U. S. Steel Tubular’s four main issues, our objectives were to:
- Improve user experience and traffic
- Decrease lost sales opportunities
- Reduce sales support calls by eliminating manual processes
SolutionHexaGroup’s main strategy was to develop a h4 business case in the favor of a microsite – USSTubular.com – independent of the main website and dedicated to the oil and gas industry.
The website is focused around website best practices:
- Sound information architectureThe sitemap has been specially structured to address the key audiences and answer all requirements of search engine optimization.
- Strong, dynamic content100+ pages of content were developed.
- Unique interface design approachTwo main interfaces were developed following responsive design methodology – the main interface and the virtual Innovation and Technology Center interface. The Innovation and Technology Center interface features the museum exhibit developed by U. S. Steel to promote it as a leader in the oil and gas industry. Highly innovative, it can be used as a website or a responsive interactive touchscreen display at industry events.
- Large set of functionalityThe functionality of the site answers key operational issues, which in turn will greatly lower the number of customer service calls. These functionalities include:
- A set of three interactive tools allowing engineering audiences to generate data sheets and compare performance data for OCTG connections, API Pipe and Connection, and Line Pipe Products. First-of-its-kind, the compare connections functionality along with the ability to generate PDF datasheets are unique in the industry.
- A Licensee Network Application allowing all licensees to access over 1000 design documents. This application is highly secure and is solely available to licensees (IP Specific).
- The interactive Innovation and Technology Center developed as a branding piece to promote the company’s commitment to technology and innovation and position it as a thought leader in the industry. This particular microsite within the site has been optimized for touchscreen displays allowing the USST marketing department to use it as a trade show display.
- Intuitive distributor and licensee directory
- Multiple, but not intrusive, calls to action, such as required registration for first-time users of all interactive tools (no password creation required).
- Content marketing technology and tacticsThe website is developed on the Kentico content management system and all lead generation activities are coordinated through the HubSpot marketing automation platform, allowing an aggressive lead generation strategy to be implemented through inbound marketing tactics.
- Cloud-based hostingMicrosoft Azure was selected as the hosting platform of choice. Special configuration allows for advanced caching capabilities and load balancing. This allows for complete scalability as website hardware requirements are increasing.
Message AlignmentThe microsite creative message was specially adapted to the various audiences identified during the consulting phase of the project. The writing style follows the U. S. Steel brand guidelines, but the graphical interface favors large imagery and an innovative home page design. The Innovation and Technology Center is further proof of the importance of a unique look and feel to resolve the brand erosion issue encountered over the past years. While technical, the content was written to be readable and engaging implementing the SEO best practices with special attention provided to various HTML tags (H1, H2, H3). In addition, simple calls to action are present on each page, prompting users to experience the interactive tools and to contact USST for more information.
ResultsThe website quickly achieved the following successes:
- Improved user experience and trafficShortly after launch, over 900 visitors visited more than 30 pages of the website demonstrating its stickiness. In addition, visitors notified USST of the great ease of use of the site on mobile devices and the significant benefits of the interactive tools. A little over half of all traffic (51.30%) is organic, which means visitors are coming to USSTubular.com from search engines. This h4 number is a positive indication that Search Engine Optimization techniques are successful, as USSTubular.com has highly ranked pages that the user is choosing to visit over competitors. Organic traffic also is more likely to consist of users who are specifically searching for products and services offered by U. S. Steel Tubular and therefore more likely to convert into customers.
- Decrease in lost sales opportunitiesPossible sales opportunities are now optimized through lead capturing, where external users register to inbound marketing forms pertaining to the interactive configuration tools or technology center. Following the launch, more than 280 users registered for the interactive tool. In addition, updated content has improved communication regarding new USST technologies and products to a booming oil and gas market, leading to a decrease in lost sales opportunities domestically and internationally.
- Reduced sales support calls by eliminating manual processesPreviously, all data sheets were supplied manually by the sales force via phone and email, making it a very slow, manual, and non-measurable process. With the new interactive tools, these sheets can be generated by the user, therefore lowering the number of customer service calls. Over 40 callers were initially redirected to the site to generate performance data sheets.
- Website Development
- Inbound Marketing