Updated March 15, 2023
Effective content marketing for manufacturers is client-centric and targeted to each stage of the buyer’s journey. In this article, we discuss how to write manufacturing content that provides the best returns on your marketing investment.
For decades, B2B (business to business) manufacturing marketing has revolved around the same three concepts — tradeshow lead generation, sales cold calls and networking/relationship selling. While these old-school sales methods still have some merit, they’re no longer effective in and of themselves. And here’s why:
- Millennials now make up to 73% of B2B decisions.1 As a tech-savvy generation, they are practically unreachable via old-school methods. Instead, they expect a personalized and buyer-enabled experience.
- Today’s B2B buyers are doing extensive research outside of their interactions with a salesperson. During their research, buyers consume 3-7 pieces of content before making a buying decision.2
- The number of manufacturing businesses is increasing 3.7% per year but the market size is expected to decline 5.9% in 2023.3 This means the manufacturing market will get even more competitive as legacy brands and new businesses fight to gain and even maintain a foothold in the market.
In short, to reach today’s tech-savvy buyers and compete with startups, manufacturing brands must modernize their marketing efforts with content marketing tactics.
The good news is that content marketing is scalable. It can work on any budget. And it’s effective. In fact, research reveals that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads.4
Source: Demand Metric2
Despite compelling data, manufacturers have historically been hesitant to modernize. Only when COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and social distancing essentially eliminated trade shows and networking events, did most manufacturers switch to content marketing tactics such as blogging, social media and eNewsletters. Today, 71% of manufacturing marketers consider content marketing to be more important than it was in 2022.5
And yet, new research reveals that manufacturing marketers are still struggling to develop effective content. In fact, only 25% of manufacturing markets rate their content marketing efforts as successful.5
- Developing valuable content rather than sales-oriented content
- Overcoming a traditional sales and marketing mindset
- Accessing subject matter experts
- Creating content that appeals to multi-level roles
- Siloed internal communications
- Difficulty reaching target audiences
- Pivoting as necessary
- Differentiating solutions from competition
- Integrating technology
- Developing consistent messaging
Source: Content Marketing Institute5
In this article, we walk you through 6 tactics to help your industrial or manufacturing company take its content marketing to the next level.
Focus manufacturing content marketing on buyer needs – not the sales pitch
For decades, manufacturers won clients by touting product benefits, but today’s buyers are inundated with ads and incessant sales messaging. As a result, they tend to filter out sales chatter. Unfortunately, sales-speak is one of the industry’s biggest battles. Too many industrial companies are creating “we-centric” content that speaks about the company or products instead of the buyer’s needs.
The best way to break out of this rut is to speak to the challenges your products solve. Make the customer the hero of your story.
DemandGen reports that today’s buyers consider the trustworthiness of a source of key importance. As a result, manufacturers need to build trust with helpful, informational content that positions your company as an industry authority. You can do this by writing educational content, tips, tutorials, and ideas. Creating thought leadership content that discusses industry issues, trends and insights is also an effective way to position your organization as an authority.
Aim to produce content that helps buyers do their job. For example, TestDevices put out a free e-book called “Spin Testing for Manufacturing 101” that gives an in-depth look at spin testing. Other companies have found success with webinars and industry reports, such as CGR Products’ Automotive Manufacturing Report.
Align your manufacturing content marketing strategy to the buyer’s journey
In the industrial and manufacturing space, the B2B buyer’s journey is extraordinarily long compared to B2C (business to consumer) sales. Thus, B2B content isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that results in impulse purchases. Instead, manufacturers need to build a relationship with prospective buyers and decision-makers.
This means developing a content strategy and backing it up with the resources to target and nurture leads every step of the way. Yet, 62% of manufacturer marketers say that creating content for different stages of the buyer’s journey is a challenge and 68% don’t have a documented content marketing strategy.5
This presents a huge opportunity for industrial marketers to get a leg up on the competition. For your content marketing efforts to be effective, use market research to uncover the types of content your audience prefers, on which channels and during what points of the sales process. Then develop a content plan. For example:
- For top-of-funnel activities, use infographics, blog posts and eBooks to educate prospects who are researching their challenges and opportunities.
- For mid-funnel activities, use webinars, whitepapers and podcasts to inform prospects who are weighing their options.
- For bottom-of-funnel activities, use whitepapers and case studies to convert prospects who are ready to make a purchase.
- For post-purchase activities, use eNewsletters and how-to guides to delight, engage and retain new and existing clients.
Write keyword-optimized manufacturing content
The best perk of publishing informational posts on your website is that it can help your business pages to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Another effective content marketing tactic is to perform keyword research that identifies what your audience is searching for at different stages of the buying process. Then, write SEO content that aligns to the buyer’s journey, answering their questions and addressing their challenges.
In addition to a keyword strategy, when you publish informational posts that position your business as an industry expert, you boost your authority with search engines like Google. This also helps boost your SERP rank. You can further boost your industry authority by publishing guest blogs and articles on industry websites and in trade magazines. And you can encourage guest blogging from industry experts on your website. Not only will this increase your thought leadership, but it is an effective way to get backlinks from respected and trusted industry websites.
Create video content for manufacturing
According to the Content Marketing Institute, video is the manufacturing industry’s most used and top-performing type of content. That’s not surprising when you consider the fact that in 2022, people consumed 19 hours of online video content each week – almost double what people were consuming in 2018.6 Overall, marketers agree that video helps bolster website traffic, sales, leads and an understanding of their products.
Some of the most common B2B video content that viewers watched in 2022 included:7
- Product reviews
- Product demos
- Livestream and on-demand webinars
- Educational content
- Brand stories
- Industry trends
- Thought leadership
Many manufacturing marketers also find success with video factory tours or behind-the-scenes looks at manufacturing processes. These types of content can speed up the selling cycle by providing buyers a greater understanding of what you have to offer and eliminating the need to fly out and see your facility in person.
Here is an effective behind-the-scenes video of the plant where Miller Welders are manufactured:
Segment and personalize your manufacturing emails
Email marketing might seem like a vintage tactic in an era when B2B businesses are breaking into TikTok. However, they’re still one of the most effective ways to reach buyers. In fact, email ROI has an impressive $36 return on every $1 spent.8 It’s no wonder that email newsletters are one of the most popular content choices in the manufacturing space. Your newsletter could be a direct pathway to sales if you email the right people.
To get the best results from your email strategy, use segmentation, personalization and automation. These tactics use data from your martech stack (your CRM platform, marketing tools and email software) to develop tailored content.
With segmentation, you create content for specific customer groups, such as by:
- Geographic location
- Position in the prospective business (user, buyer, executive, etc.)
Personalization takes segmentation to a whole new level. With personalization, you tailor content to the individual recipient. While personalization may include using the subscriber’s name in the subject line, greeting and/or email copy, it’s more than that too. You can tailor offers, recommendations and informational content to the individual based on their:
- Position in the buyer’s journey
- Customer behaviors
Email automation software allows you to schedule emails to your segmented list. With email automation, you can also set up an email sequence within a campaign workflow. Emails are then triggered by certain interactions with your business. For example:
- Welcome to new subscribers
- Order confirmation
- Shipping confirmation
- Cross-sell and upsell messages
Email automation ensures your business is reaching out to prospects and customers in a timely manner. Doing so helps build your relationship, increase engagement and increase customer retention.
Choose a marketing agency that specializes in B2B manufacturing
Although today’s buyers expect an experience that feels more like B2C, B2B marketing is still very different from B2C. The buying cycle is much longer, and the buyer journey is much more complex. There are many more people involved in the purchase decision – all doing their own research. To get the best return on your content marketing investment, you need the expertise of a B2B marketing agency that specializes in writing content for the industrial and manufacturing sectors.
With over 20 years of marketing experience in the manufacturing industry, Elevation can help target multi-level roles within your unique audience, and develop segmented, personalized and automated email campaigns. We can help you synchronize your sales and marketing technologies to bring the results you expect. Contact us to learn more about how our marketing services can benefit your manufacturing business.