Are you a manufacturing or technical content marketer struggling to create good content that is seen and used by your target audience (Engineers and industrial buyers)? If so, you’re not alone.
Many manufacturers face hurdles when it comes to content marketing, from gaps in knowledge and skillset to challenges with budgets and organizational buy-in. However, there are ways to overcome these challenges.
In this blog post, we’ll explore five common manufacturing content marketing hurdles and suggest solutions for each one. By the end, you’ll have a plan of action for moving forward with your own content marketing efforts. So let’s get started!
Before diving into the details, let’s examine what independent research shows about where engineers and industrial professionals seek information for work-related purposes.
“82 percent of engineers go right to the source: supplier/vendor websites.” (Source: 2023 State of Marketing to Engineers)
Let’s first talk about the elephant in the room—the lack of resources and/or budget. It is no secret that most manufacturing content marketers are asked to do more with the same resources. However, the good news is that a larger portion of the budget is now going to digital marketing.
Okay, now that you know you are not alone in facing these challenges, let’s identify the major hurdles and how to overcome them.
Understanding your audience and their needs is crucial to manufacturing content marketing success. As manufacturing companies increasingly turn to this industrial marketing strategy to reach potential customers, it is essential to develop a good understanding of the target audience. This requires going beyond the basics—industry, company size, and job function. Digging deeper to get a better understanding of the audience you are trying to engage will give you a clear direction on the type of content you should create and how it should be presented.
Taking the time to survey current and potential customers can help manufacturers determine the messaging that resonates with their core audience. That will solidify their understanding of who they are trying to reach, craft relevant content to engage them, and motivate them to take action. That’s how manufacturers can achieve their marketing and sales goals with content marketing.
Developing a content marketing strategy is no easy feat. First, industrial companies must identify topics for the content they wish to create, how often they plan to publish it, and what they expect their readers to do after reading it. This requires careful consideration of the target audience’s preferences and the company’s business goals.
“66% of manufacturing marketers reported that their organization has a content marketing strategy. Of those, 60% said their strategy is moderately or slightly different now versus pre-pandemic.” (Source: Manufacturing Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends with Insights for 2022)
While it might be tempting to anticipate trends to remain relevant, manufacturing brands should ensure that their content aligns with their core values and remains consistent over time. They may run into hurdles when launching their content marketing program, but proper research and understanding of the target audience will help them refine their content marketing strategy and improve their chances of success significantly. It is time well spent and undoubtedly worthwhile.
Crafting technical content regularly can be challenging. However, quality content is essential for engaging your engineering audience, who likely have expertise in the areas you want to write about. In addition, your audience expects to take away accurate information based on current trends and technologies they can apply in their daily work.
Manufacturing marketers said their top three content marketing challenges were:
(Source: The same 2022 Benchmark Report cited earlier).
To overcome the hurdle of creating quality manufacturing content, it’s essential to spend time researching the technical aspects of the topic, use trusted and reliable sources to cite, create detailed checklists, and establish a review process with in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can provide feedback and identify errors before publishing. Just don’t expect your SMEs to write the content for you.
With the right level of preparation, accuracy, and compelling content, most manufacturers should be able to engage with their target audience effectively.
Once you’ve created high-quality content, the next step is to put it in front of your intended audience. A successful content promotion campaign should involve social media, industry portals, email campaigns, and more.
It can be difficult for businesses to manage all these promotion channels on their own–social media alone can take up a lot of time and attention. For example, scheduling posts on social media should generally occur 2–3 times per day for at least a week after publishing new content. This will ensure that your followers in different time zones and in various parts of the world see your message when they are online.
Despite the challenges posed by content promotion, there are ways to help manage the workload. Automation tools can save time and effort—these free-up resources to focus on the most important aspect: creating highly engaging, relevant content designed with their target audiences in mind.
“Among the respondents who used paid social media platforms, the majority chose Facebook (76%) and LinkedIn (62%). Respondents said LinkedIn produced the best results.” (Source: The 2022 Benchmark Report).
When it comes to manufacturing content marketing, one of the essential steps in achieving success is having well-defined KPIs and metrics. It’s critical to take the time to define these clearly to accurately track and measure which elements are contributing to your business goals and identify those that need refining or eliminating.
Track items such as page views, click-throughs, and conversion rates. While you need a minimum number of leads in the pipeline, the quality of leads is far more important than just quantity.
Additionally, it helps to have realistic goals when measuring success; otherwise, you may be setting yourself up to fail even before your manufacturing content marketing gets off the ground. Measurable KPIs and realistic goals allow you to track the progress of your content marketing initiatives so you can refine them over time and increase your ROI.
Regarding lead generation, I’ve seen too many manufacturers focus all their attention and efforts on generating top-of-the-funnel leads (Getting found in major search engines). You won’t use the full power of content marketing if that is only the goal. (See 3 Content Marketing for Manufacturers Myths Busted).
Overall, manufacturing content marketing is a powerful way to reach potential customers in the manufacturing industry. The key is to create an effective strategy that can help you define your target audience, develop relevant content that meets their needs and interests, promote it effectively, and then measure the success of those efforts. Refine, rinse, and repeat!
If you’d like to learn more about successful manufacturing content marketing practices and how to create a unique strategy for your business, I encourage you to explore this blog or contact me for a consultation.
A real-world overview of industrial content marketing based on our 35+ years of hands-on experience working with manufacturers and engineering companies.
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Industrial Marketing Today is an integral part of Tiecas, Inc., a Houston-based industrial marketing agency. We’ve been in business since 1987, serving the marketing needs of manufacturers, distributors, and engineering companies from various industries.