Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2018 and updated with the latest statistics, insights and best practices in 2022.
Do you use content marketing for your manufacturing company? If you answered “no,” you’re in the minority.
A 2022 Benchmarks report found that 66% of manufacturing marketers said that their organization has a content marketing strategy, up from only 41% in 2020 – indicating manufacturing companies are focusing more on being strategic.
What Does “Content” Mean, Anyway?
Well, for starters, this blog that you’re reading right now is considered content.
Content marketing for manufacturing can be blogs, videos, whitepapers, infographics, how-to guides, emails, social media posts and more. This online content is the information that shows up when people Google a problem, question or solution they are seeking.
Content marketing puts that content to work for your company. As Corey Wainwright writing for HubSpot explains, “content marketing is a marketing program that centers on creating, publishing and distributing content for your target audience — usually online — the goal of which is to attract new customers.”
Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, content marketing is a major part of digital marketing and sales. To give you a quick summary, the methodology is all about providing informative, useful online content to pull targeted prospects to you and entice them to take a closer look at your company.
It’s different from traditional marketing, where you throw ads in front of lots of people while they read the news or drive to work — and hope they pay attention.
Content Marketing for B2B Manufacturers
It makes a lot of sense for B2C companies to use content marketing — people are online shopping and reading, so brands want to be in front of those potential customers, and they want to connect and show their human side with Facebook ads and Instagram posts, etc.
But can it work for manufacturers?
Yes. Because your audience is online too. They are following leaders on LinkedIn. They are reading top industry trade publications online. And when they need a solution, they Google it.
This is where your opportunity exists. B2B companies must produce quality content to connect with prospects, show industry expertise and provide the helpful, informative content they seek online.
You may not be creating fun quizzes on Facebook, but you could be the one providing a foreman with a case study that shows real-world proof of your solution. Or, your e-newsletter could be the one a plant manager reads on lean manufacturing efficiencies. Your video could be the proof executives and purchasing managers need to sign the deal on your solution.
In fact, the 2022 report found that the top three types of content created in the last 12 months by manufacturing companies were:
- Videos – 86%
- Short articles/blog posts – 83%
- Virtual events/ webinars/online courses – 70%
Videos for marketing and sales also were the content type manufacturing marketers said produced the best results. It makes sense then that 85% expected their organization to invest more in video in 2022.
Is Online Content Marketing Worth It?
Yes. Content marketing helps you build your online presence, so you’re easier to find. It sets you apart from your competitors, positions you as an expert in your field and wins you new customers.
But what’s the ROI? Let’s dive into some of the reasons why online content is worth the investment of both time and money.
1. Content Drives People to Your Site
It does this in a variety of ways. To name a few, content drives web traffic to your site organically (people search and find your information), through e-newsletters you send out, the information you post on social channels and referrals from other sites.
In terms of organic traffic, well-written content helps you rank higher in search results via SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. If you’re creating quality content optimized for search engines, you’re increasing your chances of customers finding your content before they find your competitors.
Want more on SEO? See what our expert has to say about our SEO services.
Content also helps with referrals. If you become a reliable resource in your industry, other websites may start linking back to you in their content. If you create a killer piece of content, existing customers may share it with other buyers.
Another way content helps drive people to your site is through email. You can send out newsletters, personalized email campaigns and more to nurture prospects and upsell current customers by driving them back to your site.
2. Content Shows Thought Leadership
How are you different from your competitors? What sets you apart?
Whatever your answer to that question is, that’s what should guide your content strategy. Write authoritatively about your areas of expertise and let them get to know your experts.
Is there a new trend facing your industry? Write a blog with your company’s take on it. Do you have suggestions for how to solve a common problem? Empower your engineers to create a how-to guide or how-to video.
Your company knows its stuff. Become a thought leader in your industry by creating content that shows that.
3. Content Keeps Your Site Up-To-Date
Fresh content helps your SEO, but it also helps keep your website feeling fresh and up-to-date for the user. If someone is on your site and sees that you haven’t posted since 2012, it may raise some flags for that potential customer.
It can also help you appear technologically savvy. For example, video continues to grow in popularity online. By incorporating video and other emerging technology in your content strategy, you’re showing customers that you’re a modern, forward-thinking company while also engaging with them in their newest favorite format.
4. Content Strengthens Your Social Strategy
Social media marketing and content marketing are two different beasts (although they have a lot of overlap).
You should think of your company's social media channels almost as separate websites. They’re a way for you to connect with customers.
You should have your own social media marketing strategy, but your online content can help fill out that strategy. You can promote your online content on social media or break it down into standalone posts on the channel. Your sales team can use that content and connect with prospects on LinkedIn.
The great thing about content marketing is that it lets you build up a library of resources you can borrow from for use on other platforms. What does that look like in practice?
If you have a high-performing blog or webpage, take snippets of it and create posts on LinkedIn to reach buyers who may not have seen it yet. Do you have product videos? Enable your sales team to share them with prospects via LinkedIn or Facebook messaging.
5. Content Tells Your Brand Story
Content is about more than selling your product. It’s about telling your story.
People may think they choose a company because of its prices or customer service. But that isn’t really true.
Research has shown that consumers use emotions rather than information when evaluating brands. We want to feel good about the companies we choose to work with — whether that’s subconscious or not, it affects our choices.
Use content to create a clear brand identity and show people your human side. Highlight your products and tout your customer service when necessary, but make sure you tell a story about your company and what you stand for.
DIY Content Marketing vs. Outsourcing
In the 2022 Benchmarks report, the research also found almost three out of five (58%) manufacturers outsource at least one of their content marketing activities. Most of these organizations (59%) have small or one-person marketing/content marketing teams serving the entire organization.
Many companies have someone internally cranking out content. The problem is, that person usually has other duties. They have to wear many hats. They may be great at producing thought leadership white papers but not-so-great at creating how-to videos and promoting through social channels.
Most companies succeeding in content marketing today partner with a digital marketing agency that can bring a team of professional writers, editors, digital strategists, web developers, SEO specialists and more.
Learn more about what to expect with content marketing from a digital marketing agency.
Start Collaborating on Content Today
Marketing Essentials is a full-service digital marketing and sales agency based in Ohio, one of the country’s top manufacturing states. Whether you’re looking for a one-time project or a vendor partnership, our team will work with your team to set up a strategic content program that achieves your goals and drives revenue.
Request a free consultation with our experts today.