7 Content Marketing Lessons Manufacturers Learned in 2013

B2B Manufacturers have been slow to adapt content marketing for lead generation. We list 7 lessons industrial marketers have learned this past year and hints on what to do in 2014.

blogging equals more leadsWe have all heard it…content marketing for manufacturers is all the rage. Have B2B manufacturers adapted to this new channel to market?  According to a recent survey from GlobalSpec only about 50% of B2B industrial manufacturers are spending more on content this year.  From my experience in the field the smaller to mid-size B2B manufacturers are not even close to 50% adaption rate. (This is just my guess, but I would say less than 25% have started content marketing) To me, this makes no sense when 93% of B2B buyers use online search to source products and services. (per research from Marketo, a marketing automation company).

I have my own theories why adaption rates are slow. I expanded my thoughts in a recent blog titled, Is This the Invisible Skill Set Industrial Marketers are Missing?

But…for those of us that did EMBRACE content marketing for manufacturing, what did we learn in 2013? As a practicing industrial marketer and content marketer this is a list of the top 7 things I learned about manufacturers who adapted content marketing this past year.

This is experimentation:

Nobody knows where the web and content marketing is headed. However, it is certain the rules have changed for industrial marketing. It is also certain things are changing fast.  Industrial marketing success will come with experimentation and the timid will fall behind.  Smart marketers who find success are the ones that test the new channels to your customer…and still stick to the basic, common sense fundamentals of good marketing.

Quality over quantity:

Google has made it clear with their mission statement, “to make the perfect search engine that returns exactly what the user wants”.  Google wants content that your audience consumes and finds valuable. Not to get technical here…but Google is telling us to not throw crap on the wall. Google hates spam and poor quality content.

A marketing automation platform (MAP) is a must:

Not only is marketing automation required to harness mountains of content (high quality!) you might deploy, such as blog posts, e-books, tip sheets, e-mail blasts, webinars, etc., but a good marketing automation platform can create a rock star out of an average marketer. I know several content marketing professionals that are rock stars within their organizations because they have followed the lead of marketing automation and the training that comes with it.  I wrote a post in December about the intangible benefits of using HubSpot, a leading marketing automation platform.

There is a window of opportunity for manufacturers:

As I said previously, B2B manufacturers have been slow to adapt content marketing, yet the opportunity is significant for those companies that truly embrace content marketing. You see, with keywords such as “special carbide taps” or “double-acting hydraulic cylinder”, getting to the top of Google using focused content is relatively easy…for now.  While you are ramping up your content marketing machine you’re also spreading your thought leadership and top-of-mind brand within your industry. Some of your competitors will be right on your tail.  Some of your competitors will find it hard to catch up.

LinkedIn is a powerful bull horn for B2B manufacturers using content marketing:

OK…you get the idea of blogging to create additional, keyword-specific, content that Google indexes. So how do you get your audience to actually read your amazing content?

Yep…social media.  For industrial marketers LinkedIn can be your bull horn.  Once I finish this post I will “publish”  my masterpiece via my LinkedIn account. I am a “member” of over 40 “Groups” in LinkedIn.  Many are personal interest groups such as Adrian College Alumni, Harley Owners Group, Content Marketing Institute, etc.  However, the real power behind my content are the 15 industrial-related “Groups” I participate in.  Two of these “Groups” I personally started and moderate; B2B Manufacturers using HubSpot and Industrial Internet Marketers. There are over 220,000 members in my industrial “Groups” that will receive a notification when I post this article. LinkedIn members can adjust their personal settings to receive notifications daily, weekly or not at all.

As opposed to interruption marketing that we all are sick of, your audience receives targeted information when and how they want. By the way, we receive more than triple the traffic to our web site via LinkedIn over all other sources, such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, PRweb.com, organic search, etc.  FYI, the second best source of traffic is from our e-mail marketing campaigns.

According to David Meerman Scott, the author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, “Social media sure beats traditional advertising to get the word out.”

Your content must be helpful and focused on your buyer’s journey:

As the art & science of content marketing evolves another fact is clear. Content must be carefully crafted to meet the buyer head on, at the right time with the right message.  You need to think like a buyer and produce content the buyer needs, not what you think she needs.  Some of the content will be tuned to top-of-the-funnel…buyers just snooping around.  Some of the content will be designed to entice middle-of-the-funnel buyers looking for validation such as case studies.  Some buyers, at the bottom-of-the-funnel, will raise their hands and say, “HELP”.  You must have content prepared for all stages of the funnel or the buyer’s journey.

Content is only as good as the conversion it generates:

All sounds great…right?  Hold on buckaroos. The wild west of content marketing is only as good as the leads and sales it generates. Google actually measures the effectiveness of your content by measuring “conversions”.  A conversion can be a customer signing up for an e-book, downloading a white paper or a purchase from a shopping cart.  Many marketing automation platforms also measure effectiveness of the content you create, or what content creates the highest percentage of conversions.

Yes…Google knows all.

Quality content is here to stay. No one is more aware than myself that the days of building a good looking web site, writing mediocre content and ranking for your company’s keywords is over. Good positioning on Google, and others, is less about technical skills and more about creative skills.

Your thoughts?

Want a primer for content marketing for manufacturers ?  DOWNLOAD A Beginner’s Guide to Industrial Content Marketing. (Top-of-the-funnel)

Maybe you are ready to raise your hand and say “Help”.   Click the graphic below for a COMPLIMENTARY 30 minute consultation. (Bottom-of-the-funnel)

“By Tom Repp”

Author: Tom Repp

A traditional industrial marketer…now a passionate evangelist for leveraging the digital channel for lead generation.

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