Unique Challenges in Manufacturing Content Marketing

Unique challenges in manufacturing content marketing

Manufacturing content marketing has its own challenges and frustrations as many industrial marketers have experienced. I touched on some of them in my last post about writing technical blog posts.

While the age-old problem of “What should we write about?” still exists, new research findings show a myriad of other challenges. Some of these may not be unique or specific to manufacturing content marketing, but most do apply in my experience.

I’ll come back to the problem of finding relevant content topics a little later in this post.

Long vs short posts in industrial blogging

Industrial blogging is usually a central part of any manufacturing content marketing strategy. I came across a new research report published by Orbit Media Studios. It is called [New Research] How has Blogging Changed? 5 Years of Blogging Statistics, Data and Trends.

It is chock-full of data and useful information about the state of blogging today. A few of the findings are contrary to some long-standing beliefs. For example, keep posts easy to read and help with quick scanning by using bullet points.

The new research found that the average blog post in 2019 was 1,236 words long. That’s 53% longer than six years ago!

post length in industrial blogging

It is not surprising then that bloggers are now spending more time writing blog posts than in the past. The average blog post takes 3 hours and 57 minutes to write which is 30 minutes more than 2018 posts and is up 65% since 2014.

Average time spent writing posts

It probably doesn’t include the time to do research, interview Subject Matter Experts, find or create appropriate images, editing and distribution—steps that you have to repeat for each new post. Yes, that is a lot of work.

You may want to seriously consider outsourcing technical blog post writing if you already have a lot on your marketing plate.

Manufacturing content marketing is too focused on top of the funnel (ToFU)

Many manufacturing content marketers have learned some hard lessons about the ineffectiveness of the “One-size-fits-all” industrial content marketing strategy. Yet, according to the Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020 report published by the Content Marketing Institute, only 40% of manufacturing marketers always or frequently create content for specific stages of the customer journey.

Manufacturing content marketing for buyer's journey

Related to this problem is the fact that 50% of the content created by manufacturing marketers is for the early stages of the buyer’s journey. Most of the effort is for the ToFU results, the low hanging fruit if you will.

Only 36% of the content created is for mid-funnel (consideration/intent) and late-stage (evaluation/purchase) of the buying decision.

Manufacturing content marketing for ToFU

I had written another post that addressed this issue of putting too much focus on ToFU. See Content Marketing for Manufacturers: Are You Using its Full Power?

The other big challenge is the lack of ROI or proving it. It is complicated to correctly attribute industrial marketing’s contribution to sales and revenues when sales cycles are long and complex with multiple stakeholders involved. Correct attribution is a big problem in manufacturing content marketing. Follow the link in this paragraph to read my post about this issue.

Content consumption by key decision makers in industrial sales

Conventional wisdom says key decision makers don’t have time to read content. That simply isn’t true when targeting an engineering audience.

Here’s a chart from the 2019 study, How Engineers Find Information 2019 published by engineering.com.

The study found that the more authority a respondent has in the decision-making process, the more total information they consumed.

Content consuption of decision makers in industrial sales

While engineers tend to consume more short form articles, long form articles and recorded videos are at #3 and #4 respectively, so they aren’t too far behind.

Content formats preferred by engineers

How to find relevant topic ideas for industrial blogging and content creation

Unlike the world of B2C marketing, there isn’t a lot of data available on industrial customer behavior and their content consumption.

You do keyword research and build your list of focus keyword phrases, secondary and tertiary keywords, that’s the bare minimum these days. However, I have seen some industrial marketers just skip this step because they are so focused on writing about their latest solution or the greatest product since sliced bread.

How do you get a pulse of your technical audience? What content are they consuming? Those are important questions when it comes to creating relevant content for engaging with technical professionals.

I want to give a shoutout to David Fortino, SVP Audience and Product at NetLine Corporation. He and his team have created an incredibly valuable tool, the Audience Explorer. They call it the only real-time interactive buyer engagement tool that helps B2B content marketers outsmart the competition. Best of all, it is FREE.

You can pick and choose your exact target audience and geographic markets. The results update in real time as you make your selections and returns a wealth of useful information to help you personalize your content and make it engaging for your target audience.

For example, I started with the broad category of engineering as the type of buyer. Then drilled down and refined my audience with these selections:

  • Job Function > Design Engineering and Mechanical Engineering
  • Industry > Aerospace/Aviation, Automotive, Manufacturing, and Utility/Energy
  • Job Level > C-Level, VP, Director, Manager, and Consultant
  • Region > Canada, Latin America, Mexico, UK, and US
  • Employee Size > 100 – 249, 250 – 499, and 500 – 999

Results: Total Buyer Content Recommendations (last 180 days): 4,861 (Based on content consumption associated to available NetLine client content.)

I think this screenshot is self-explanatory for the rest of the results.

Audience Explorer for technical content marketing

Give Audience Explorer a try. Note how you can get information on not just high-value content such as white papers and case studies, but it could also spark some ideas about blog post topics in support of those content assets for lead generation.

My company Tiecas, has partnered with NetLine to offer industrial marketers a service called Content-Centric Lead Gen. See if it might help you.

Yes, there are some challenges that are unique to manufacturing content marketing and industrial blogging. I hope this post will set you on the right track knowing some of the pitfalls to avoid.

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