Content Marketing Answers for B2B Manufacturers

ThingThe seminal B2B manufacturing marketing report from Content Marketing Institute is out, and the verdict is in: B2B manufacturers are into content marketing, but could use some help.* Where’s the concern?

  • General effectiveness (26% rate it effective).
  • Quality vs. quantity:  65% produced more content in 2014 despite low effectiveness ratings. 62% are currently creating more engaging/higher-quality content.
  • Documenting a strategy (20% have documentation, a chief indicator of success).
  • Tracking ROI (12% are successful).
  • Organizing website content and improving conversions (66% currently working on it).

What’s truly exciting is the answers to manufacturers’ self-reported challenges with current marketing initiatives are readily available. Let’s take these issues one-by-one …

Concern #1: Effectiveness

One measure of content’s effectiveness is sales leads. Is your content doing everything possible to appeal to both new and existing leads? How about current customers you’d like to retain or do even bigger business with? Remember that the journey of today’s buyer is often long and complex, so having a manufacturing-specific blueprint for online lead-generation can help.

Another note on effectiveness: Search-engine marketing was rated as the most effective form of paid advertising, yet only 68% of manufacturers are doing it, behind print/offline and banner ads. Yes, traditional banner ads. If you want to crank up the paid-search engine or turbocharge your current campaigns, read about different ways manufacturers can use paid search for maximum return.

Concern #2: Quality vs. quantity

Chances are, you produced more content last year, but was this content any better than what you’ve produced previously? More importantly, is it truly engaging your customers? Read about how manufacturing companies can use storytelling to captivate their audiences. (Pro tip: Video, cited overwhelmingly as the #1 most popular content marketing tactic, can play a big role here, especially in the form of testimonials.)

Concern #3: Documenting a strategy

42% of manufacturing marketers plan on developing a documented content marketing strategy within 12 months, while 61% are currently looking for a better understanding of their audience. Well, you can’t have a good strategy without a clear understanding of your audience. Before attempting to document your strategy, first follow these 5 steps to identifying a target audience for manufacturers.

Concern #4: Tracking ROI

As Joe Pulizzi stated, 85% of manufacturing marketers cite sales as a goal for content marketing, yet fewer than half use sales to measure its success. One way to track marketing content all the way to a closed sale is by implementing automated lead-nurturing that ties directly to a customer relationship management system (e.g., Salesforce).

Concern #5 (and 6): Organizing website content; improving conversions

One of the best ways to increase website conversions is to start with structural essentials. We call these building blocks of the customer experience foundation pages—products, services, FAQs, certifications, materials, locations, etc. Foundation pages contain the basic information about your company that users seek (and expect to find quickly) in order to build enough trust to facilitate a purchase. Getting a handle on yours makes buying from you that much easier.

And sometimes the actual foundation of your website needs to be destroyed and rebuilt in order to improve conversions. Consider: If your website a.) looks like it was created in 2001, b.) is generally a complete failure at converting, c.) is fundamentally disorganized/confusing or d.) is impossible to update, then it may be time for an overhaul. If you’re uncertain about the company website’s viability as an extension of your business, check out “9 Signs It’s Time for a New Manufacturing Website.”

*Full disclosure: Fathom is a proud sponsor of the report.

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Photo courtesy of JD Hancock via Flickr.

Paul Richlovsky

About Paul Richlovsky

Paul brings a writing and teaching background to his decade-long marketing career. He advises clients on content strategy and editorial direction. He is an enthusiastic marketing automation practitioner and active member of the Cleveland Marketo User Group. He has written/edited multiple marketing guides, including those aimed at healthcare, higher education, financial services, B2C brands and manufacturing audiences. With a BA in English from the College of Wooster, he is also the author of a collection of poetry, "Under the Lunar Neon."He is particularly interested in usability, digital governance, ballroom dancing, bachata, racquet sports, and romping with his niece and nephews.

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