5 Ways to Boost Content Marketing for Manufacturers

While content marketing for manufacturers has always been a challenge, it’s even more complicated in post-pandemic business landscapes where buyers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. As a manufacturer looking to compete you need to develop content that provides value to customers, reaches new prospects, and differentiates your company from others.

In this article, you’ll discover why manufacturers need a content marketing strategy and the top ways to boost your ongoing inbound efforts. After all, 51% of manufacturers say their biggest challenge is creating valuable content instead of sales-orientated materials and overcoming traditional mindsets.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways:

  • Content marketing helps manufacturers establish brand authority and leadership in their industry
  • Since the pandemic, more manufacturers have utilized content marketing to reach their audience instead of relying on traditional marketing techniques
  • Cross-functional leadership alignment and developing key performance indicators is the best way to ensure your curation and distribution plan is successful

Why Content Marketing for Manufacturers is Important

Since the pandemic, manufacturers have shifted their marketing budget from traditional face-to-face tactics like tradeshows and conferences to content creation in the digital world. Content marketing gives manufacturers the opportunity to build trust, improve conversions with potential prospects, and provide meaningful answers to existing customers to strengthen brand loyalty.

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With 80% of marketers making content a priority moving forward, it also lets you educate your audience on why you’re the preferred company and provide thought leadership to your industry at large. Here are a few benefits you can expect from developing content:

  • Longer audience retention with positive experiences that capture their attention
  • Improved traction on channels like email, social media, and organic search engine rankings
  • Increased brand awareness, quality lead generation, and conversion efforts as you build better authority
  • Saved budget overtime with more evergreen content development

What Makes Manufacturing Content Marketing Different?

While content marketing is a universal tactic that any industry can use, manufacturing companies experience added complexities. Not only do 16% of manufacturers rarely differentiate content from their competition, but it’s also a struggle to create content for different audience role functions and funnel stages.

Keep in mind these other differences when developing manufacturing content:

  • Complicated products: Your audience might need professional expertise to understand and use your products
  • Audience expectations: Manufacturing prospects want to learn from experts and trust your company before making a purchase decision
  • Niche industries: Most likely, your business specializes in a highly specific niche with a smaller target audience and limited market data
  • Long buying cycles: Businesses often have lengthy buying cycles and content marketing can be used to help shorten the process with informative resources and guides

Types of Effective Content That Manufacturers Should Develop

When developing your manufacturing content, you need to consider the top, middle, and bottom-funnel stages to deliver relevant material to your audience depending on their unique customer journey. To be successful, create consistent content through every step to meet your prospect’s needs and push them to the next phase.

If you’re stuck in a loop of only creating sales enablement materials, here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Top funnel content: Blog posts, simple ebooks, industry research, white papers, and social media
  • Middle funnel content: Comparison guides, industry-focused material, and case studies or video testimonials
  • Bottom funnel content: Product videos, spec sheets, brochures, and industry calculators or technology

Creating quality content is essential for your overall success. Of course, the content you make also depends on your buyer personas and customer preferences. For example, if you notice more engagement with industry research than ebooks in the top funnel, you’ll want to focus on the content that produces better results.

86% of Manufacturers Use Video in Their Content Marketing Strategy

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5 Tips for Manufacturers to Improve Content Marketing Efforts

If you have a lean marketing team, developing educational content may not be a priority against the endless sales requests. You also might be fighting against a leadership mentality that still believes in traditional marketing like tradeshows, print, or industry publications instead of digital distribution.

However, many manufacturers state that the pandemic forced their teams to focus on content marketing since the sales team could no longer travel. What does this mean for you? Developing content is a competitive differentiator that not only helps elevate your company but also gives the sales organization better touchpoints to their accounts.

Whether you’ve grown traction with B2B content marketing or want to get started, here are a few tips to avoid falling into old habits:

1. Develop a Thought Leadership Strategy with your Executive Team

If you struggle with leadership buy-in, it’s essential to include them in the development and execution process. For starters, share your strategy with them and clearly lay out your objectives and hypothesis to prove performance success. If you meet your goals, it’s a great way to justify future budgets and resources.

Since your leadership is most likely more experienced in your industry, you’ll also want to create a go-to marketing plan to get them involved in thought leadership content distribution. For example, develop copy for executives to post on their LinkedIn or ghostwrite an insider blog post. Not only will this get them involved in customer engagement, but it also helps boost their own brand identity in your industry.

2. Align Sales and Marketing Organizations

About 81% of sales executives agree that content utilization is a top priority to improve within their organization. Sales and marketing alignment is essential to develop relevant content and ensure that your content is valuable to the end-user. After all, your sales organization has the most insight into your customer’s challenges, pain points, and gaps – giving you essential information to customize future materials.

While many sales teams utilized more content during the pandemic, you should consider meeting with them monthly to determine what content is working and what might need a refresh. You can also use this time to pitch new ideas, share performance, learn industry trends, and hear valuable customer feedback to help future content development cycles.

3. Determine an Approved Content Marketing Budget

To remain competitive, you need to request a specific content marketing budget. In fact, 69% of marketers plan on increasing spending on video, 61% in events, 57% in owned media, and 55% in paid media. You especially want to pay attention to videos since more consumers consume and prefer visual content instead of written.

Consider investing 25% to 30% of your budget to content marketing needs as a general rule of thumb. Once you have a budget established, you need to set allocations per channel and campaign to help you stay on track. It’s important to note that different types of content have varying price tags — think videos and infographics vs. blog or social media posts. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine the proper allocations:

  • What are your main objectives?
  • How will you distribute the content, and how often?
  • What tools or resources do you need to execute the campaign?
  • How will you report on the content’s success?

Youtube is the Most Popular Video Platform and Facebook the Second

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4. Create a Strong Content Distribution Plan

Even if you create the most valuable and engaging content, you need a distribution plan for your audience to discover it. Content distribution is the tactic of publishing, sharing, and promoting your content on your key channels. This not only helps your content reach your ideal prospect, but it also gives you the insight to determine where to optimize your strategy to improve results.

A few additional reasons why you need a distribution plan include:

  • The improvement of your content beyond the curation process
  • To help align your cross-functional teams on how to share content and where
  • It sets benchmark goals to determine performance against multiple channels

You can distribute your content on either owned channels, like your blog or social media profiles, or earned content channels, like third-party blogs or forums. While you also need to research your target audience, experts recommend taking a more holistic approach to maximize your reach and conversions.

5. Measure Content Performance Consistently

Your content marketing return-on-investment (ROI) is essential to highlight success and effectively attribute leads back to specific campaigns. If you want to be successful, you need to outline goals leveraging real-time data and set clear expectations for your teams.

Depending on the content type and channel, there are four key metrics categories to track your campaigns:

  • User behavior: Pageviews, users, average time on page, bounce rate, pages per session, and traffic sources
  • Engagement: Likes, shares, comments, mentions, and re-publications
  • SEO: Organic traffic, backlinks, dwell time, and keyword rankings
  • Revenue: Conversions, leads nurtured, new leads, and cost per acquisition

Beyond these metrics, you’ll also want to monitor your channel metrics and insights to learn where you can improve in the future to drive more audience engagement.

Give Your Customers More Value with Content Marketing

Content marketing allows manufacturers to build authority, educate prospects, and grow their active customer base. Whether you’re new to content marketing or ready to kick it up a notch, developing a strategy to plan how you will curate, distribute, and measure your content is essential to your overall success.

Ready to boost your content marketing strategy? Get started with Shanahan Strategy Inc.

How About a Conversation?

You know the results you want. We know how to achieve them. Let’s talk to see if we’re a fit. This is what we help industrial marketers navigate every single day. 

The initial consultation is free.  If you’re thinking, “this is exactly what we need,” then let’s talk. We want to hear about your goals and frustrations. If there’s an opportunity to work together, great. If not, we’ll point you in the right direction. Get in touch or request a consultation.

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