In my daily interactions with manufacturing, engineering and industrial companies, inbound marketing or content marketing is a popular topic of discussion. Decision makers in these companies want to jump on the content marketing bandwagon but they really don’t have a strategic plan of action and/or a clear idea of how it will drive sales and generate revenues.
Not that I’m complaining, this gap means more business opportunities for me as an industrial marketing consultant. 😉
The problem as I see it is that many of these industrial companies still think of content marketing as a one-off marketing campaign. Their efforts are limited to spending some money on SEO and PPC to drive traffic to their websites. Some of them are filling the top of their sales funnel but the pipeline of qualified sales opportunities is running dry.
After doing all the heavy lifting of SEO to drive traffic, site visitors reach a dead end because there has been no thought given to converting that traffic into leads. Somehow, they expect their site visitors to pick up the phone and engage with their sales team in an in-depth conversation or fill out a lengthy RFQ form. (See my earlier post, “You’ve Got Traffic. Now What?”)
As a result, there is little to no conversion and the quick verdict is “content marketing is an epic fail.” IMO, this all too common scenario is not a realistic industrial marketing strategy; it is “A Hope and a Prayer.”
What then is the solution for this content marketing problem? Answer – Create higher value content.
That probably made you say “Huh?” Let me illustrate my point with two charts. (Sources: Frost & Sullivan and GlobalSpec)
It should be obvious that effective industrial content marketing is much more than just content for your industrial website or blog posts. For conversion to happen, you have to match your content to the buyer’s journey, each stakeholder’s role and the current stage on their buy cycle. (See my post, “Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle”)
What happens if you are a manufacturer of industrial components or an industrial distributor? You probably don’t see a good fit for higher value content because your sales process is different from someone selling an engineering or technical solution. Your process is more of a direct route, one that requires being “speced in” or “designed in” to generate an RFQ and/or sale. Does that mean content marketing is useless for you?
Au contraire, such companies should use optimized content for SEO and use blog posts for thought leadership to differentiate themselves from the competition. Higher value content for conversion requires creating other forms of content. Read my post “Industrial Marketing Content that Helps Buyers” for more ideas on this.
My suggestion for manufacturing, engineering and industrial companies is that get content before you launch content marketing. Start with an internal discovery and assessment, followed by an in-depth audit to identify the gaps that will require creating new content and ones that can be filled by repurposing existing content. Then develop a plan of action to market the content and optimize conversion. Remember, content marketing is a long journey, not a “Band-aid” fix for lead generation.
How do you use content in your industrial marketing? Has it met your expectations for leads and sales?