Creating Digital Content for Industrial Marketing

“We don’t have the time or the skills to write copy for digital content” is the most common reaction I get from clients when discussing their industrial marketing programs. I can sense the confusion in the room or over the phone when I tell them that creating engaging digital content is much more than copywriting. I have to quickly shift into my explaining mode right after that.

Creating digital content is neither easy nor quick. It is definitely a process that involves much more than copywriting and clever wordsmithing.

Myths and truths about digital content

Myth: Content for digital marketing is the text on your Website or blog.
Truth:
That’s just the tip of the iceberg! It also includes downloadable whitepapers, eBooks, product datasheets, application notes, technical articles, how-to and best practices guides, FAQs, videos, webinars, podcasts, presentation slides, blog posts and content for use in social media.

Myth: Nobody reads all that content.
Truth:
Optimized content is how your target audience finds you when searching for solutions to their problems. Site visitors will quickly scan through your content to determine relevance and if they should spend their time reading more. That’s why headlines, subheads and bullets play such an important role in online content.

Myth: Our customers are only interested in product specs and datasheets.
Truth:
One-size fits all content is the biggest myth out there. Industrial buying decisions are usually made by a committee of different stakeholders and rarely by an individual. Each stakeholder will have his/her own pain points. Your digital content must address these issues, offer content in various formats and optimized for smartphones and tablets.

Myth: We want our site visitors to call our sales team for more information.
Truth:
Don’t wait for the phone to ring, that call may never come. Industrial buyers are in charge these days, not you. They will do their research online and create their shortlist of vendors long before they will engage with your salesperson. You may never get that call if you don’t get on their radar screen in the early stages of the buying cycle.

Okay, now that you have a good idea of what digital content is and what it is not, how do you figure out what you need?

My advice – put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Easy, right? Not exactly.

In order to write for the customer, you must know them well. Just defining your target audience by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) or Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and job functions are not enough. You need to gain a deeper insight into their needs, their roles in the buying process and their online behaviors. Learn to interpret the data from your site analytics and develop customer personas.

Now start writing with each buyer persona in mind. For every claim you make in your digital content, ask yourself, “So what, what does it do for me?” Be brutally honest here if you want to truly address your customers’ “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) concerns. Industrial buyers are skeptical about vendor claims. Validate your claims with data from third-party research studies. Social proof from peers can play an important role here.

Different stakeholders will have their preferred content formats. Offer your digital content in a variety of formats, including content that has been optimized for mobile devices. Match your content to the site visitor’s role and their stage in the buying cycle. Variety of digital content is the key here.

These two charts from GlobalSpec and Frost & Sullivan respectively are very helpful in matching your content to the typical stages of the industrial buy cycle.

It doesn’t matter whether you outsource the task or do it yourself; the process of creating engaging digital content is still the same.

Let me know if I’ve missed something and you have a different approach to creating digital content for industrial and manufacturing marketing.

6 replies
  1. Simon Shah
    Simon Shah says:

    Really nice post. There is one specific challenge that readers may or may not be aware of with regards content driven programs relating to the buying journey of a prospect. Firstly, they are on the basis that you know or can ascertain where along the buying path that a prospect is. That is not always so easy, without some form of meaningful dialogue. The real key to succcess with content driven plans is to ensure you nurture the prospect with content that is both relevant to them and their stage in the buying path and can track and monitor the change in state. This is best done by combining digitally based nurting programs as well as offline campaigns such as telemarketing as well as sales processes that encourage strong discovery questions to ascertain the buying state of prosoects

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