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Content marketing has become an important part of industrial marketing over the past few years. And content marketing for manufacturing is no exception. According to IHS GlobalSpec Research Report, 61% of manufacturers have added content marketing to their marketing strategy. The report adds that 54% intend to increase their spending on content creation. If you are yet to establish a content marketing strategy or aspire to join the ranks of top industrial content generators, this guide is for you.
Why Manufacturing Companies Need Content Marketing
If you haven’t been dedicated to producing content, you’re lagging behind on the current trend. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s ‘B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America’, 70% of manufacturing marketers have produced more content than they did one year ago. In addition to keeping up with trends, marketers should rely on this form of inbound marketing to reap the following benefits.
- Humanizing the Brand – The first words that comes to mind with manufacturing is “machines”. This is why members of this industry tend to feel impersonal. However, every company has a story to tell regardless of its industry. Through content marketing, you can get your story across and give customers information which creates a strong personal connection. This can be espescially valuable in B2B businesses since their clients may be choosing between a number of similar products or services. Having a more positive and personal appeal for your brand can win clients over and ultimately increase sales.
- Showing Your Innovative Side – New manufacturers with no history may find it difficult to share their stories. However, they can shine the light on their ideas, innovation, and approach to solving problems. In this scenario, you can use content marketing to spark the imagination of your clientele, igniting their passion and making them believe in you.
- Establishing Trust – In order to buy from you, your clients need to trust you. For that, you need to establish your company’s knowledge and experience. Content marketing can help you with this aspect. For instance, by sharing informative blogs and how-to articles, you can establish yourself as a leader in your industry and become the first source of information (and later products).
- Winning Over Talent – One of the biggest challenges in the industrial sector is attracting and retaining talented employees. When marketers rely on posts and videos highlighting the importance of employees or how attractive the company’s workplace is they can actually help in both regards. Besides, creating more content, flaunting the company’s values is bound to attract like-minded individuals and ensure their loyalty to their employer.
- Building the Brand – Content marketing, especially when combined with social media and search marketing, is one of the best ways to manage the brand’s online reputation. Many companies have a few minor blemishes which cause a PR disaster. For instance, a dissatisfied client may take their complaints to the web, making your existing clients doubt their loyalty to you while pushing potential ones in the arms of competitors. Some may even be paid to do so by the competition as well. So take action by fighting their content with your own.
- Improving Search Engine Ranking – Regardless of your industry, you’ll want to have your company’s website appear on the top of search engine results or at least be featured on the first page. Content generation can help you with this goal, especially after the latest Google algorithms have established content’s supremacy. Fresh content will especially indicate that your website is active, prompting Google to send traffic to it.
Aside from these, you need to shift your focus to content marketing because content is cost-effective. While traditional advertising expires and disappears without a trace, engaging and optimized content isn’t going to go away so easily. As a result, it will generate a lot of traffic via social media and search alike.
How Marketers Use Content Marketing for Manufacturers
The ‘B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America’ report by the Content Marketing Institute showed thatmanufacturing marketers use most of the same tactics for B2B marketing, but rely a little heavily on some. The report states the following to be the most popular content marketing techniques for manufacturers:
- eNewsletters (82%)
- In-Person Events (81%)
- Videos (80%)
- Articles on Clients’ Websites (79%)
- Social Media Content – Excluding Blogs (79%)
- Articles on Other Websites (69%)
- Print Magazines (69%)
- Case Studies (67%)
- Whitepapers (64%)
- Blogs (54%)
- Online Presentations (54%)
- Webinars (52%)
- Content Tools (47%)
- Digital Magazines (42%)
- Microsites (42%)
- Reports (37%)
- Infographics (35%)
- Print Newsletters (35%)
- Mobile Content (34%)
- Annual Reports (27%)
- Books (23%)
- Virtual Conferences (23%)
- Mobile Apps (22%)
- eBooks (18%)
- Syndicated Content (17%)
- Podcasts (14%)
- Games (6%)
Building a Content Marketing Strategy for Manufacturing Companies
Because manufacturing companies held on to their outbound marketing techniques, namely print advertising and newsletters, the Content Marketing Institute reports that only manufacturing 21% of content marketers have documented a strategy to create content online. However, this percentage is expected to grow in 2015, which is why you need to have a strategy which includes the following five elements:
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – To determine the success of your content marketing strategy, you need to know where to begin, i.e. you need to establish KPIs. Ask yourself why you want your content and how you’re going to use it. Only then can you determine your KPIs and ultimately plan your content strategy.
- Personas – Defining your audience is essential to determine how you’ll talk to them and make your content more engaging. However, keep in mind that a good persona isn’t limited to demographics. Create a persona using psychographics, i.e. the behavioral traits of your audience. This includes the lifestyle habits, hobbies and values of your potential and existing clients.
- Overlapping Interest – Create content that will encourage the reader to return to your site. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should only stick to the topics which your brand traditionally covers. This is called “peripheral content.” For instance, if you deal in heavy highway building and paving equipment, you can add a post about upcoming government roadway projects in a certain area, or new regulations on machinery. Adding content that is relevant to your personas, their needs, and interests, but not a sales pitch builds trust and establishes your website as a resource that meets your clients’ needs on many levels.
- Seasonality – You need to know when to post certain topics, how long to keep them up, and when you should introduce something new. However, seasonal content will be published well ahead of the actual event since readers start searching ahead of time. For instance, Christmas shoppers start seeking advice on gifts as early as November.
- Devices and Content Formats – Take into consideration your clients’ devices and what content forms your audience prefers the most. That way, you can cater to their needs and show how much you care about their satisfaction.
Other aspects to consider are the core message of your content marketing strategy and how you measure ROI. Just remember to document your strategy in order to reflect on it and share it with others.
Additional Tips for Effective Content Marketing Campaigns
You probably have already started brainstorming to come up with ideas for your upcoming content marketing campaign. However, you need to know a little more than simply generating content, especially since only 30% of manufacturing marketers have effectively handled content marketing. So, here are some valuable tips which you should consider to fulfill your content marketing goals.
Consider YouTube Your #1 Social Media Platform
You may not have been giving YouTube much thought, but it’s time for you to change that. The Content Marketing Institute states that 81% of manufacturing marketers focus on YouTube as a social media channel to distribute content since they believe it to be the most effective platform they use. Not only can you use videos to demonstrate the effects of your products, video storytelling is making waves in this sector. So you can embrace both to truly enjoy a lot of exposure.
Know Which Social Networks Can Effectively Distribute Your Content
After YouTube, you need to find out which social networks your clients use the most. The ‘B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America’ report indicates that Facebook (76%) and LinkedIn (73%) are ranked second and third respectively. However, you’re welcome to expand your presence beyond the top three to Twitter (63%), Google+ (42%), Pinterest (21%) and SlideShare (20%). Just keep in mind that each of these has its own audience. For instance, 33% of Twitter’s users are aged between 25 and 34 years while 29% are between 12 and 24.
Work Challenges into Your Strategy
Content Marketing Institute has uncovered twelve issues which affect the generation and circulation of content marketers:
- Lack of Time (69%)
- Lack of Engaging Content (62%)
- Lack of Content (56%)
- Inability to Track Content’s Effectiveness (48%)
- Low Budget (43%)
- Inability to Produce a Variety of Content (43%)
- Lack of Knowledge and/or Training (31%)
- Inability to Collect Necessary Information from Manufacturers (30%)
- Lack of Vision (28%)
- Lack of Integration Across HR (24%)
- Lack of Integration Across Market (27%)
- Lack of Trained Content Marketing Professionals (6%)
You need to identify which of these is currently affecting your content marketing efforts to truly maximize your ROI. Detail the solutions for each of your challenges in your strategy for future reference.
Turn Your Website into More than Just a Place Card for the Company’s Contact Information
Unfortunately, many manufacturing company sites are areas for placing contact information. While the company’s phone number and address are information, your website should include so much more, especially since it plays a vital part in lead generation among other activities. You can start by including a highly interactive blog and adding multiple calls to action to direct users to different resources such as your contact form or an informative whitepaper.
You can even combine your web content with conventional marketing methods like trade shows to ensure the company’s visibility offline as well. For instance, you can have a board hung at your corner and put up your website’s articles there. You can also add a link to this post, advertising your website and giving your trade show visitors a chance to learn more from one of the thought leaders in this niche.
Ditch the Sale Pitch Right Away
Rather than focusing on sales with your content, point out how you are the solution to your audience’s issues. And this doesn’t only mean showcasing how the company’s products can help. Rather, provide information which makes people’s lives easier and answers their questions. For that, you can generate surveys or get in touch with your sales team to bridge the knowledge gap. With that information in hand, you can assess whether you’re a good fit for their requirements or generate content which shows how you’re the best solution provider to your clients. Just remember to be honest in the process or else you’ll be considered a cheat and gain a bad reputation both online and offline.
With these tips, you can start creating a robust, highly effective content marketing campaign. However, remember to be honest, direct and informative rather than salesy. Only then can you truly win your potential clients over and generate the large volume of sales you expected when you first started.