How the Smartest Manufacturers Use Content Marketing

It’s fairly easy to come up with ideas for online content that consumers will love. However, if you’re trying to develop marketing concepts in the B2B world, it may not seem so simple.

When you’re a B2B manufacturer, it can feel like your only options are boring white papers no one will read, Power Point presentations that could cure insomnia, and corporate videos with as much personality as a dead snail.

But smart manufacturers know using content marketing is important. And smart content marketers know how to come up with a strategy that works.

An In-Depth Look at the Numbers

Every year, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) puts out several studies examining how both B2B as well as B2C companies are using content marketing and how well the practice is working for them.

They also specifically survey manufacturers, and the results may surprise you.

For one thing, if you’re a manufacturer who is not using content marketing, there’s a good chance you’re getting left behind, because your competitors probably are using it. The survey found 82% of manufacturers say they’re using content marketing to some extent.

CMI-mfg-using-content-marketing

However, when it comes to the effectiveness of content marketing, the numbers aren’t quite so high. Only about a quarter of marketers working in manufacturing said the practice was “very” or “somewhat effective.” That could be due to a lack of strategy. Just 20% of marketers surveyed claimed to have a documented content marketing strategy.

When clients choose a content marketing program with Element, coming up with a documented strategy is one of the very first things we do for you. Our content marketing team spends time learning your industry, your customers, your competition, and your marketing goals before coming back to you with a clear plan of attack along with our best suggestions for what’s going to work.

When asked about their content marketing goals – branding, sales, and lead generation topped the list of responses.

manufacturer content marketing goals (CMI)

Manufacturers want potential customers to know who they are and what they do. They also want to drum up business. Those are two excellent goals for content marketing, because that’s exactly what it will do if implemented properly.

For measuring the effectiveness of content marketing, more than two-thirds of manufacturers want to see increased traffic to their websites. That metric holds a sizable lead over other options. However, many manufacturers also point to increased sales, quality of leads, better conversion rates, and higher search engine rankings as important metrics.

metrics for content marketing (CMI)

If you want to use content marketing to drive website traffic, you better make sure you’ve got a well-designed, functional website. You need one that’s fast, mobile responsive, and search-engine-friendly. Element launches around 100 websites for our clients every year! Unlike the typical agency, we even have in-house web and app developers who make can it happen. If it’s been five years or more since your company’s last website update, it’s probably time to take a closer look at what you’re putting out there. Check out our services page to learn more about web and interactive opportunities.

Of course, there are many things you can track to see where content marketing is making an impact – including engagement on social media. Yes, with the right strategy, even manufacturers can make social media work. It’s not just for selfies and arguing about politics. It’s the way much of the world connects and communicates.

Not surprisingly, most manufacturers mention LinkedIn as their most-used social media channel. LinkedIn is good a place for your business to have an online presence. It can be used for networking, recruiting, and publishing thought leadership pieces.

manufacturer content marketing social media

YouTube and Facebook came in second and third, with Twitter not too far behind in fourth place. It’s interesting to note that while LinkedIn seems to get the most usage, manufacturing marketers say YouTube gets them the best results.

66% called YouTube most effective while 54% said LinkedIn and just 30% said Facebook was was working for them.

One reason Facebook may not be as effective for manufacturers, is that the organic reach for business pages has dropped dramatically. It can be tough for manufacturing companies to build an organic audience on Facebook without using paid ads.

Keep in mind that while you may only have a small following, Facebook is probably the best online advertising platforms for targeting specific audiences with your content. Having a presence there is necessary for just about any business. More than a billion people are on Facebook, and you can target them with sponsored posts even if they haven’t liked your page. When you’re willing to use Facebook for paid distribution, it can become a much more effective tool.

So what types of content are manufacturing marketers making? The Content Marketing Institute’s study on trends indicates videos are the go-to tactic. Not far behind are email newsletters. But articles on a manufacturer’s website as well as more in-depth content, like case studies and white papers, also make the list.

content marketing tactics CMIIn-person events are often used as well. It’s important to remember that content marketing does not have to be digital. Doing things in the real world, and creating physical pieces of content (like print material) can work too.

As a matter of fact – in-person events ranked as the most effective tactic in the survey, edging out video by 1% (66% to 65%).

The CMI report presents a very clear picture. Content marketing is here to stay and should be a crucial part of your strategy. Keep in mind, this same study shows 47% of manufacturing marketers planned to increase their spend on content marketing in the next 12 months, and the average manufacturer devotes nearly 25% of its entire marketing budget to content.

It’s an investment that’s worth making. And it truly is an investment. Unlike traditional advertising, which disappears when a campaign ends, the content marketing pieces you create keep on working for your company as long as they’re out there.

Failing to implement content leaves you at a disadvantage. But creating the right content for your audience can be a game-changer.

Still wondering how you do that? Want to know how you can make stuff that wont bore people to death? Look for an upcoming posts with tips for B2B content marketing. And if you really want things done right – contact Element. Let’s talk about what we can do to make content marketing work for you.

Need more proof that content marketing is important? Check out the complete report from Content Marketing Institute for more stats, and look for the 2016 version to be released soon.

Director of Content Marketing
Kasey Steinbrinck has been creating content since he was just a little kid, writing stories and making radio shows on his Fisher Price tape recorder. He went on to produce local television and wrote for an area newspaper before discovering the power of telling stories online. Kasey worked as a content marketer, blogger, and copywriter for two ecommerce companies before joining Element in 2015.