Posts

Making Email the Cornerstone of Industrial Content Marketing

You may think email marketing is dead or passé with all the talk about social media. However, that is far from the reality that I see every day, working with manufacturers and engineering companies, especially when it comes to industrial content marketing.

Engineers and industrial professionals do read emails, provided you’ve earned their trust with valuable content and can get through their spam filters. According to the research report “How Engineers Find Information 2018” published by engineering.com, 95% of engineers will consider an email in their inbox.

You can read about this in my earlier post, Industrial Email Marketing for Engaging Engineers and Technical Professionals.

Email should be an important component of industrial content marketing

Given the above findings, it makes a lot of sense in making email marketing a key component of your overall industrial content marketing strategy. My opinion is corroborated by independent research findings.

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Industrial Content Marketing that Engages Engineers

When it comes to effective industrial content marketing, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “One-size-fits-all content” just doesn’t cut it. How do you make your content more relevant to time-challenged engineers, deal with the age gap within your target audience, earn their trust and build stronger relationships? Those are some major challenges in industrial content marketing that can’t be overcome by just pumping out more content.

You are not alone if you are having difficulties with manufacturing content marketing meeting all your goals. According to the findings from the research report, 2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America published by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 55% of manufacturers in North America reported that they were only moderately successful in achieving their organization’s desired/targeted results.

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Industrial Content Marketing for Engineers to Make a Buy Decision

Manufacturers want their industrial content marketing for engineers to generate Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and not just Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) from content downloads. There is a big challenge faced by manufacturers of components targeting Design Engineers. These Design Engineers often don’t have the final buying authority but unless the industrial parts are “designed in” by these engineers (Specifiers), the Purchasing Department (Functional Buyers) can’t or won’t issue a Purchase Order or contact you with an RFQ.

Search this blog for my earlier posts on MQL vs SQL and understanding the differences between a specifier and a functional buyer. In this post, I’ll focus on a specific industrial marketing strategy that is an effective sales enabler when targeting engineers.

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Use industrial content marketing to enable sales

Industrial content marketing plays an important role in driving sales for manufacturers and engineering companies. Of course, going from publishing content to growing sales is not as easy as going from point A to point B.

If you are a manufacturer of custom-engineered systems, you know that it is nearly impossible to generate Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) without first having one or more conversations with the right people. To get to that point requires more than publishing a few blog posts and/or sending out emails.

Many of these industrial companies already know their limited pool of prospects who are qualified to buy their equipment and services. They don’t want to wait for these people to find them; they want to reach out to them proactively.

The fact is your target audience of engineers and technical professionals are in self-select and self-serve mode. They want to learn as much about you and your solutions before they’ll engage with your sales team. Industrial content marketing aligns perfectly with how today’s self-educating buyers want to interact with their suppliers.

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Why Industrial Content Must Be More Customer-Centric

Industrial content on websites of most manufacturers and industrial companies tends to be heavy on product specifications. Of course, it is important to have technically accurate and up-to-date product information because that’s the first step in an engineer’s evaluation of your product or solution, especially if you manufacture a component that must be designed in.

However, product specifications alone are not enough to differentiate you from the competition. There are shortcomings to being overly reliant on product-centric content as an industrial content marketing strategy.

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Proving ROI of Industrial Content Marketing is Still a Big Challenge

Congratulations if your 2018 industrial content marketing budget increased or at least didn’t get cut. You are in good company. 38% of respondents from the 2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America survey expect their manufacturing content marketing spending to increase this year and another 46% expect it to remain the same as last year.

budgets for industrial content marketing

I’ve read other research reports that have reported a similar trend in larger budgets for industrial content marketing.

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Industrial Content Marketing: Product Centric vs. Customer Centric Content

Product centric vs customer centric industrial content marketing

Recently, I had an interesting conversation about industrial content marketing with the President and the Marketing Manager of a manufacturing company. They design and make engineered systems used in the Metalworking and the Pulp & Paper industries.

Our conversation happened in the early stages (Thank God!) of developing a content marketing strategy. This company has been in business for over 20 years and had done plenty of conventional outbound marketing over the years. They contacted me to help them effectively use industrial content marketing to generate qualified inbound leads and convert them into sales opportunities.

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Industrial Content Marketing — Goals are Misunderstood and Misaligned

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.

Success with industrial 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).

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Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends and Challenges

For the past four years, I have downloaded and read research reports on Manufacturing Content Marketing in North America published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). I believe 2014 was the first year that CMI published its annual Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report specifically for B2B manufacturing content marketing.

I’ve noticed some interesting trends emerge over the years. In this post, I’ll compare some of the key findings from these research reports. Whether you are a manufacturer, a distributor or an engineering company, there are good takeaways for all industrial content marketers.

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How Industrial Marketing Influences Buyers

Industrial marketing precedes industrial sales. That is the reality today.

I understand manufacturers, distributors and engineering service providers may find it hard to accept that fact. That’s because these industrial companies have traditionally depended on sales teams to drive their lead generation efforts from start to finish. Marketing has always provided sales support and not expected to play an active role.

Today’s industrial buyers have flipped that sales and marketing paradigm upside down. Even though the industrial buy cycle has not changed, buyers go through their buying journey very differently now. They prefer to operate in a self-serve and self-select mode by using a variety of digital sources of information.

If you are in industrial sales, hold off on your “salespeople are not dead” comments until you’ve read through to the end of my post.

I’m sure you’ve heard this digital marketing mantra ad nauseam. As an owner or a business development professional at one of these industrial companies, you are probably skeptical about that message, especially when it comes from industrial marketing consultants with vested interests.

Let me reassure you with some key research findings from unbiased, independent third parties.

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