Manufacturing Content Marketing—What’s Ahead in 2021

Manufacturing Content Marketing Insights for 2021

No, I don’t have a crystal ball. What I do have is the brand-new report, Manufacturing Content Marketing, Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—Insights for 2021 published by the Content Marketing Institute.

I was given an advanced copy thanks to Amanda Subler of Informa Connect/CMI, so I got to see some of the new findings before it was released to the public. You can download the final report from here.

As usual, it is chock full of useful information that manufacturing content marketers can put to good use while making their plans for 2021.

Manufacturing content marketers have grown up

Content marketing among industrial companies have come of age. That is very encouraging indeed.

It makes it easier for industrial marketing consultants like me who otherwise have to spend significant amount of time convincing clients on the benefits of content marketing. Not that I expect this responsibility to go away completely.

There are still some growing pains as you can see from the chart below.

39% of respondents indicate their manufacturing organization is in the sophisticated/mature phase of content marketing maturity, compared with 29% last year.

manufacturing content marketing maturity

Manufacturers have been responsive to the pandemic

Many manufacturers have had to make serious changes to their operations because of the pandemic. Some were protective and responded quickly to meet the increased demands for certain safety related products. Others retooled their production lines to manufacture new products to meet the needs of the hour.

Early on in the pandemic, most of the content was about how manufacturers were following all guidelines from the CDC and local authorities to keep their employees, customers and partners safe.

Over time, I have seen a gradual shift to publishing content that has to do more with how companies have repositioned themselves to meet the demands of their customers as their businesses have changed.

Take a look at these two charts that tell the story of the changes brought about by the pandemic.

Note that nearly all (91%) expect some of the changes to stay in effect for the foreseeable future.

70% of manufacturing respondents changed their messaging/targeting strategy in response to the pandemic.

Manufacturers changing due to the pandemic

manufacturing marketers changed their content marketing strategy

Content marketing tactics used by manufacturers

Just like in the past year, manufacturers continue to use a variety of content marketing tactics. I’m not saying you need to use all of them, instead use this as a guideline to figure out what makes most sense in your situation and realistically, what you can do regularly.

Not surprisingly, the use of virtual events/webinars/online courses increased to 55% from 39% last year and conversely, in-person events decreased to 38% from 65%.

Tactics used by manufacturing content marketers

Manufacturing content marketing team sizes and outsourcing

The question I get asked a lot is, “How can we get all this done when we have a very small marketing team?”

You are not alone if you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in creating technical content. Take heart though, more than half (55%) of the manufacturers surveyed said that they have one or no full-time person dedicated to content marketing.

Content marketing team size for manufacturing marketers

Outsourcing continues to be popular with manufacturers—61% of manufacturing marketers indicate their organization outsources at least one content marketing activity. Content creation is the activity outsourced most often at 80%.

Manufacturing marketers outsource

It’s not just a matter of visiting a freelance site and finding an affordable copywriter. The biggest challenge is finding the right partner with the subject matter knowledge and expertise. If and when you do find someone, hang on to him or her because they are worth their weight in gold.

Subject matter expertise for industrial content marketing

I’ve been paying attention to this outsourcing trend and offer a technical blog post writing and other content creation service. Have a look to see if it will fit your needs. 😉

Manufacturing content marketing goals and KPIs

The importance of generating leads has remained pretty steady over the past few years. However, manufacturers are using content marketing to achieve many more goals as you can see from the first chart below.

Notice how “Build credibility/trust” has climbed up to 74% from 60% two years ago. Earning trust is the cornerstone of content marketing. It sets the table for generating better qualified leads that turn into sales opportunities and wins.

How are manufacturing marketers measuring their success? Take a look at the second chart below.

Goals achieved by manufacturing marketers

Success metrics for manufacturing content marketing

That wraps up this post on manufacturing content marketing, but stay tuned as I plan on publishing more posts where I’ll dissect the latest findings and share my thoughts.

Wishing all my readers in the U.S. a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving Holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving from IMT

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