Industrial content marketing is used by an overwhelming majority of manufacturers. It stands at 85% according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 survey. According to ENGINEERING.COM’s 2017 survey, 87% of engineering marketers use content marketing.
The CMI survey also reported that that 80% of manufacturing marketers rated themselves as “Not At All Successful” to “Moderately Successful” with content marketing.
Dissatisfaction with industrial content marketing
C-suite executives at large industrial companies and owners of smaller family-owned manufacturing and engineering companies have plenty to be unhappy about with their lack of success with industrial content marketing. The big reason – MONEY! (or the money spent on content marketing).
As seen in this chart from ENGINEERING.COM’s study, manufacturing and engineering companies have increased their budgets for industrial content marketing in 2017.
So as things stand today, these industrial companies are spending more money on content marketing but most consider themselves not very successful with it as reported by CMI.
Why are so few industrial companies successful with content marketing?
For defining success, let’s stay with CMI’s definition, “The survey defined success as achieving your organization’s desired/ targeted results.” Therein lies the rub (or “ay, there’s the rub” if you want to go all Shakespearean on me).
There is a strong disconnect between goals of industrial content marketing and expectations of results. Often, these companies want to jump right onto content creation instead of spending any time on thinking about how content marketing will drive their sales process. Some of the problems can be attributed to lack of a clear and documented content marketing strategy.
However, that’s old news because according to CMI’s survey, there was a “72% increase over last year in the percentage of manufacturing marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy.”
Here are the problems as I see it in my daily work and conversations with manufacturers and engineering companies.
- Industrial content marketing is not a new form of SEO: Most of these industrial companies develop their entire content marketing strategy with one goal in mind – getting found in Google and other search engines. In other words, the entire focus is on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Assuming they do a bang up job with their SEO and achieve high rankings, their content still fails to convert visitors into qualified leads. There is a big difference between discovery optimization (SEO) and conversion optimization (CRO). For more on this, read How Industrial Companies are Stuck on SEO for Content Marketing Strategy and SEO Must Complement Conversion Optimization for an Effective Industrial Marketing Strategy.
- Unrealistic expectations from content marketing: Here’s a common complaint I hear, “We’ve been publishing optimized blog posts and we have good content on our website but we are not getting too many good quality leads.” Get real here, an engineer or a technical buyer is not going to contact your sales team right after reading one of your blog posts. Your content marketing must earn their trust and differentiate you from the competition for visitors to make that call. See How Industrial Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships Based on Trust and How Manufacturing Content Marketing Sets the Table for Sales.
- Little thought given to content distribution: The fact is there aren’t too many people actively looking to buy a big-ticket custom-engineered equipment on a daily basis. Don’t expect your traffic to increase exponentially just because you’ve done on-page SEO. You are likely to be disappointed if you rely 100% on your own website or blog to get your content discovered. Let’s just call this the “Post & Pray” strategy which in my experience doesn’t work very well.
- Inward focus with product-centric content: Convincing my clients to shift the focus from their products and services to addressing the needs of their audience is probably the hardest part of my job as an industrial marketing consultant. I accept the fact that at the end of the day, they do have to sell their products and services. By leading with product-centric content, you fail to address the “WHY”—why should someone buy from you? Just saying “we have exceptional customer service” is not going to cut it. You need to provide proof of concept and validate your claims. Converting visitors into qualified leads takes a lot of hard work. See Industrial Content Marketing: Awareness to Conversion Takes Time and Hard Work.
My final thought on this, take a long-term approach and be fully committed if you want to achieve your goals. Industrial content marketing is a process that takes time to gel before it can produce measurable and sustainable results. It is not a quick fix for slow sales.