2012 Content Marketing Trends for Manufacturers and Industrial Companies

I just finished reading an excellent research report from the good folks at Content Marketing Institute (CMI). This report is chock full of statistics and graphs about B2B content marketing. In this post, I want to focus on some of their findings that I feel apply to content marketing for manufacturers and industrial companies.

Even though the content marketing adoption rate for these companies is at an impressive 83%, I am surprised that it is even that high; the Manufacturing/ Processing industry (as defined in the report) is dead last among the six industries studied.

What is encouraging though is the fact that 68% of companies with 10 – 99 employees maintain a blog as compared to only 55% for larger companies that employ this content marketing tactic. Many of the manufacturers and industrial companies fall in the smaller size category.

That’s not the only good news for blogs. Even though other marketing tactics like in-person events and webinars are still seen as the most effective tactics, this year blogs registered a 45% increase in “perceived effectiveness” as compared to the study done in 2010. (See chart below).

Perceived effectiveness of content marketing tactics

These results match what I’m finding on the ground. I am working right now on creating a new blog site for a manufacturing client that is scheduled to launch in mid Q1 2012.  I’m also in serious discussions with two other industrial clients who want to set up an integrated blog. And they want it done as soon as possible in 2012.

This year, B2B marketers are measuring the effectiveness of content marketing slightly differently from the past year. More marketers are now applying SEO criteria like ranking and the number of inbound links to evaluate the effectiveness of their content marketing strategies.

An industrial blog can provide a huge boost to your SEO efforts because it is easier to optimize posts for long tail keywords than it is to optimize static Web pages. Link building is easier too and adding links to product pages deep within your site will seem more natural when they are part of the text within your posts. Blog posts written by internal experts establish thought leadership and help to differentiate you from your competition. This is far more effective than making unsubstantiated claims on your Website.

Getting internal experts to write blog posts can be a challenge. You may require the help of a professional copywriter to interview engineers and other subject matter experts to get the core ideas. Then have that person edit the content into compelling blog posts. (See my post “How to Coax Content Out of Engineers”)

When it comes to social media, Twitter trumps all other channels for content distribution. 74% of B2B content marketers reported using Twitter followed closely by LinkedIn (71%), Facebook (70%) and YouTube (56%). I have seen a lot of manufacturing related tweets coming across my timeline, especially from material handling, construction, adhesives and electronics enclosures industries.

The use of videos in content marketing is on the rise and this is reflected in the increase in the use of YouTube as a distribution channel. It scored a 47% increase in usage, the highest growth rate among all other social media channels.

CMI’s report also found that 60% of respondents intent to increase their spending on content marketing in 2012. Over half (62% of respondents) use outsourcing for at least a portion of their content marketing activities, a significant increase over last year’s use of outsourcing (52%).

Video production is one area where I have found more manufacturers opting for DiY videos to avoid the high cost of outsourced production. These videos may lack the slick, studio quality but the informal approach seems to work well with the target audience. The DiY approach allows these companies to produce more videos, launch and repurpose them quicker than outsourced options.

Those are some of the findings from the report that I think manufacturers and industrial companies should pay close attention to in 2012. Download CMI’s report, “The 2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report” from here.

What emerging trends in content marketing for the industrial sector do you see in 2012?

7 replies
  1. Joe Pulizzi
    Joe Pulizzi says:

    Hi Achinta…thank you so much for the great overview and perspective on our findings. Some of the results surprised us as well.

    One thing is for sure with the industrial market…buyers are completely in control of the buying process, and if MFG relevant content is not available, we may be left out of the purchase process. I think more MFG companies are realizing that.

    Thanks much
    Joe Pulizzi
    Content Marketing Institute

    Reply
    • Achinta Mitra
      Achinta Mitra says:

      Hi Joe,

      You are welcome. Thanks a lot for your thoughtful comments and the compliment.

      You are spot on and I agree 100% that industrial buyers are in charge now. To move them forward in their buying process, the content must be relevant to their needs. For content marketing to be effective, it must address the customer’s WIIFM concerns and not focus so much on what is important to the manufacturer.

      Best regards,
      Achinta

      Reply
  2. Brian
    Brian says:

    This is great Achinta. Thank you for sharing the recap. Here at Compendium, we too, are seeing wonderful growth within manufacturing that support these findings. A business blog is an easy way to showcase the thought leadership and provides a more search friendly outlet compared to the manufacturing web sites we see. Our goal is to help these customers understand that a sustainable blog can be easier to manage (much more so than third party interviews and copy writers) when they have the right tools. Many times we help manufacturing customers unlock the email content silo and create a moderation workflow that meets their specific compliance needs. Again, great stuff Ach

    Reply
    • Achinta Mitra
      Achinta Mitra says:

      @Brian,

      Thanks a lot for your comments and the kind words. I’m glad you agree with me and also see the same benefits of using a business blog for thought leadership. I like your idea of unlocking the “email silo” and making the content moderation process easier.

      Regards,
      Achinta

      Reply
  3. Bernie Borges
    Bernie Borges says:

    Achinta,
    I too am a fan of the content from CMI and I agree with your sentiments. I want to elaborate on your point that it can be difficult to get engineers to write blog content. That’s an understatement!

    I’m not a fan of hiring a copy writer for several reasons. First, it’s not authentic. Secondly, it takes more time to conduct an interview, write the draft, get it reviewed, edited, approved.

    The solution is to educate engineers that they can build their personal brand while also contribute to their company’s goals. I strongly believe that engineers that blog consistently should get more pay simply because they contribute to SEO results (as you point out). There are other ways to inspire engineers to contribute to a blog. I’ve blogged about this. See my November 25th blog post on this topic.

    Thanks for sharing your insights. Good luck with all your blog projects in 2012!

    Bernie Borges
    Find and Convert

    Reply
    • Achinta Mitra
      Achinta Mitra says:

      Bernie,

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to post your comments and for agreeing with my point of view.

      You make a terrific point about engineers building their personal brand and they should be recognized (paid?) for their contributions to content marketing.

      I read your Nov. 25 post and liked your suggestion that you should “inspire employees to contribute.” The two companies that you have cited, Indium and Kinaxis are both great examples. I have written about them here in this blog. Another good example is Emerson Process Management Experts where Jim Cahill does a terrific job of digging up compelling content by talking to his engineers.

      Regarding using outside copywriters, I’m with you. It takes time before one can develop that “authentic” voice. I mentioned this problem in an earlier post, “Content – The Biggest Hurdle in Digital Marketing for Manufacturers.”

      Appreciate your good wishes for my blog projects.

      Regards,
      Achinta

      Reply

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