Cone Drive Case Study: Digital Innovation
Since acquiring Cone Drive in 2012, Clyde Blowers Capital (CBC) have transformed the traditional industrial gearing company into a globally integrated industrial technology leader with operations on three continents serving a wide range of precision motion control technology markets.
CBC’s focus is to invest in industrial engineering companies and to work closely with them to turn them into global market leaders in their fields. Understanding the increasing importance of a company’s online presence and placing an emphasis on digital change, are viewed as key enablers by CBC when growing companies on a global scale.
In 2012, US-based company Cone Drive was predominantly viewed as an industrial gearing company specialising in high shock load and torque dense double enveloping worm gearing with a commitment to operational and engineering excellence.
As part of an ambitious growth plan, CBC repositioned Cone Drive to become a leader in the industrial technology space, focussing on precision motion control technologies. The main areas of focus were global expansion, broadening their range of products, and moving into new markets, such as robotics.
CBC Partner, Dougie Hawkins, commented on the process:
“We saw a strong opportunity to create a leading global player. Given the strengths we identified at Cone Drive and the latent growth potential within the business, we considered Cone Drive to be a sleeping giant. We just needed to invest in the right development opportunities and follow them through.”
CBC have a proven track record of directly managing and delivering operational improvement in their portfolio of companies, and Cone Drive was no different. All areas of the business were assessed but CBC quickly identified Cone Drive’s online digital presence as an area in need of improvement. Hawkins continued:
“In many instances, industrial engineering companies neglect to utilise their online channels as tools to increase their customer base and reach a global audience. Given CBC’s growth and repositioning plans for Cone Drive as a global leader in the industrial technology field, improving their online digital channels was crucial for us to achieve our objectives.”
To reflect Cone Drive’s repositioning as a technology leader, entering new markets such as robotics and satellite communications, a comprehensive digital marketing strategy was set in motion.
A new, responsive website was launched in 2016 which was shortly followed by a Chinese version to capture the company’s expansion in Asia.
Tom Sutton, Head of Communications at CBC, explained:
“The new Cone Drive website was fundamental to the digital marketing strategy we decided to implement at Cone Drive. Due to the pace of development in digital marketing their previous website was becoming dated, unresponsive to different platforms and consequently offering a poor user-experience. They now have a cutting-edge site, reflecting Cone Drive’s status as an innovative technology leader, but also enabling potential customers to easily navigate the site and find exactly what they need.”
A Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) campaign allowed Cone Drive to capture relevant product searches online, mostly via Google. As a result, the SEO campaign has brought an increased global audience to their website, thus expanding their potential customer base on a global scale.
Lastly, social media was identified as an area of improvement. Sutton continued:
“Cone Drive’s new website allows the company to have an epicentre for all marketing and communications activities, but it is still vital they continue to have conversations online targeting both new and existing key stakeholders. The social channels can then be used to drive online traffic back on the website, increasing the number of potential customers browsing the new website, with the end goal of increasing sales.”
Subsequently, a plan was put in place to create relevant, specific and regular content for each social media channel with the aim of steering their audience back to their new website. Their content was markedly improved with the focus on developing engaging content for the viewers, such as utilising video and improved imagery. As a result, the website traffic has begun to increase with a wider range of countries coming to the website, thus making the site less US-centric as was previously the case.
Cone Drive are still striving to improve and refine their digital channels; however, improvements have already been noticed throughout the company. Jacob Randall, Global Director of Strategic Markets at Cone Drive, commented:
"Developing, implementing, and executing a robust global sales strategy fundamentally requires a well-developed digital strategy. Since our 2016 launch of Harmonic Solutions, Cone Drive's digital channels have been instrumental in connecting to key global market segments and end-users, identifying strategic partnerships, and driving swift sales conversion through our state-of-the-art online Configurator. Our sales conversion and growth has never been stronger and more efficient than it is today."
The digital transformation taken place at Cone Drive has clearly increased their visibly as a business, allowing them to connect instantaneously with an international audience, thus allowing the once US focused business to achieve their global ambitions and continue their exceptional growth.