What You Should Know Before Developing Industrial Blog Sites

At this time of the year, many industrial companies are getting ready for their annual budget planning meetings. If you are one of them, a redesign of your industrial website may also be part of those discussions.

Blog sites have become a very popular choice with many manufacturers and industrial companies since content plays such an important role in today’s digital marketing programs. These dynamic sites combine static webpages with a blog to give you the best of both worlds – fresh content and functionality. See my post, “Build Industrial Websites as Dynamic Blog Sites” for advantages of blog sites.

The thing that worries me though is that in my conversations with some of these industrial companies, I find that they want to discuss their choice of Content Management System (CMS) with me. In my opinion, that is not what you should be focusing on.

As the Owner/President/CEO, your input should be in shaping the content marketing strategy. Focus on the kind of content you need that will attract the most qualified traffic to your site and convert those visitors into customers. Help the site designer build the functionalities that your site visitors want. Leave the choice of the CMS to the web developer, be it in-house or outsourced.

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Is Blogging Right for Every Industrial Company?

The fact that you found this industrial marketing blog and are reading my post, tells me that you have asked yourself that very question and are curious about the answer. There are literally millions of articles written on why you should be blogging and they are easy to find in Google. I see no point in rehashing the same ideas here.

Instead, let me share my experiences in helping manufacturers, engineering and industrial companies launch successful blogs, produce results from them and in some instances, flat out advised them not to start one.

In this post, I’ll talk about some of the more difficult questions you should be asking yourself before jumping on the blogging bandwagon. Otherwise, you may be joining the ranks of countless other industrial blogs that were launched with a great deal of enthusiasm and expectations but were abandoned after only a few months.

Let’s dig a little deeper to understand what it really takes to achieve the four major benefits of blogging.

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Industrial Marketing Company Celebrates 25 Years in Business

April 2012 marks a milestone for my industrial marketing company Tiecas, Inc. We are celebrating 25 years in business! It has been an incredible journey so far. Come along with me as I take a trip down memory lane…

I remember registering my DBA as “Tiecas Type & Graphics” on April 14, 1987 with the Harris County Clerk’s Office in Houston, Texas. I had read an article in Inc. Magazine about a coming revolution called “desktop publishing.” That was the impetus for me to quit my management job with an oil country tubular goods (OCTG) manufacturer and take the plunge into starting my own business.

I owe a big debt of gratitude to the late, great Steve Jobs and his innovative products. I could not have launched my company without the Apple Macintosh Plus, Apple LaserWriter Plus with a PostScript interpreter from Adobe and PageMaker from Aldus Corp.

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Blogs and Social Marketing in the Upstream Oil & Gas Industry

The Upstream Oil & Gas industry, also referred to as the exploration and production (E&P) sector, has a reputation of being very conservative and conventional. Even though the companies that operate in this sector are well-known global brands, they are not exactly forward thinking online marketers who use business blogs and social media regularly.

However, these companies are no slouches when it comes to using the power of blogging and social media to talk about a politically and emotionally charged topic like hydraulic fracturing. Google the search phrase hydraulic fracturing blogs and it will return 2 million results!

Sure, there are plenty of blogs written by die-hard tree huggers and other environmentalists with their own agendas but the list of blogs on hydraulic fracturing from companies and organizations reads like the “who’s who” of the E&P industry.

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Manufacturers Need Lead Management to Close the RFQ Gap

Talking to manufacturers and industrial companies on a daily basis has convinced me that when they say they need help with their lead generation, they really want more RFQ (Request For Quote) opportunities.

Generating new leads, qualifying and nurturing them until they turn into a RFQ is too much work for them. For a real-life example of this lead generation disconnect, read my post, Manufacturers: Don’t Start a Lead Generation Campaign without Sales.

During my internal discovery process, in nine out of ten cases, I’ll hear the President/CEO/Owner of manufacturing or industrial companies tell me one of their goals is to double the volume of RFQs they generate. To most of these decision makers winning new business is strictly a numbers game. They are convinced that the more they quote, better are their chances of scoring more deals.

I have to politely disagree with them because “activity is not the same as productivity.” It is not an easy sell for me to change this mindset. I have to make a strong business case before I can even get their attention.

Here are the steps I go through to change their minds and have worked well for me:

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Industrial Companies Underuse the One Social Media Tactic with Proven ROI

Social media usage by industrial companies has received some coverage lately. I’ve read two different survey studies about how companies within the industrial sector use or plan to use social media. Depending on which study you read, the results can be confusing. Here’s one example of the confusion that I’m referring to.

The study done by GlobalSpec reported, “Only 22 percent of industrial companies use Twitter, which reflects its low value among engineers as a social media resource.”

Whereas the study (2011 Social Media in Industry Survey) conducted by Semplice Industry Marketing states, “Of those who used Twitter in 2011, 78% found it somewhat to very useful.”

The one statistic that stood out for me and is consistent in both these studies is that company blogs rated low for usage across the board. Blogging is a proven social media channel and yet, industrial companies seem to severely under utilize this proven social media tactic.

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Industrial Blogs and Their Benefits-Challenge Duality

Blogging is proving to be just as as paradoxical for industrial companies as the wave–particle duality in quantum physics. Manufacturers, industrial distributors and engineering companies that I talk to do understand the benefits of using a blog as the hub of their inbound marketing strategy for SEO, lead generation, thought leadership and branding. However, they are struggling with the challenge of creating engaging content for their industrial blogs.

It is difficult for these companies to shift their mindset to think like “publishers” when their entire library of content is strictly product-focused. Industrial distributors find it even more challenging to come up with their own content when traditionally they have depended on the manufacturers they represent to supply them with all the marketing content.

The problem of creating content and blogging is not limited to industrial companies. General B2B marketers are struggling too. This chart published by MeraketingSherpa illustrates my point.

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Top 10 Industrial Marketing Posts of 2011

As we wind down 2011, this is a good time to review all the industrial marketing posts that I have published here and been viewed by you, my readers, during the year. Not all the posts were written in 2011, one was way back from 2008.

If there is one important takeaway from this exercise, it is that blog posts live forever and continue to attract traffic long after they have been posted. That’s the power of inbound marketing with content.

I looked at my Google Analytics for the entire year and have selected the top ten blog posts using a combination of Pageviews, Engagement and Social Sharing data to determine the ranking.

Unlike David Letterman’s Top Ten list; my industrial marketing blog posts are listed in decreasing order of popularity.

And now for the drum roll please…

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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).

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Retrofitting Blogs and Converting Industrial Websites into Blog Sites

I am seeing more manufacturers and industrial companies willing to try inbound marketing with content. A sure sign of that is the number of conversations that I have had recently with my current clients and new leads. They all want to either add a blog to their static industrial websites or convert them into dynamic blog sites.

Retrofitting a blog into an existing site is quicker and less expensive than recreating the site on a blogging platform. However, a blog site with a fully integrated blog has many advantages over the retrofit option. For a full list of benefits, refer to my earlier post, “Build Industrial Websites as Dynamic Blog Sites.”

Some companies need help setting up their business blogs but for most, the biggest obstacle is creating content. One way to get over this hurdle is to repurpose some of your existing content into blog posts.

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