Eighty-six percent of B2B marketers are using content marketing as a tactic, according to the Content Marketing Institute. However, in the industrial sector, some marketers are still struggling with content marketing.

The 2014 Trends in Industrial Marketing survey reported that just:

  • 29 percent of industrial marketers have a content marketing strategy
  • 15 percent of industrial marketers align their content with the different phases of their customers’ buy cycle.
  • Nine percent can demonstrate how content marketing contributes to sales.

These results reveal valuable opportunities for industrial companies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their content marketing efforts.

To boost your content marketing efforts, here are five guidelines you can follow:

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1. Develop a strategy
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the need to create content when your audience is hungry to consume your good content. You need white papers, webinars, videos, articles, blog posts and so on. But first you need a content strategy. If you put time and resources into planning, developing, delivering and managing relevant content for your target audience, you’ll get better results.

Determine your objectives for content marketing. Is it to raise brand awareness? Educate prospects? Position your company as thought leaders? Generate engagement opportunities? Once you know your objectives, you can plan what type of content will work best to achieve those objectives. You can also make sure your content strategy fits your available budget and resources for the year.

2. Use an editorial calendar
Develop a content calendar at the beginning of the year, so you won’t be panicking later when trying to come up with content ideas. Start at a high level of planning by coming up with 12 monthly topics for the upcoming year. Choose broad themes that are aligned with your content marketing objectives and are relevant to your audience. Add any major milestones to the calendar that may require intensive content, such as online events or webinars or key announcements. Then, once a quarter, flesh out each week with specific ideas, such as how-to videos, blog posts or white paper ideas.

Also be flexible enough to adjust as situations arise. There could be a new trend or major news impacting your industry and you may want to respond with an article, press release or blog post.

3. Re-purpose content
Re-purposing content not only saves time it helps you deliver a consistent message to your audience of technical professionals. As you plan a piece of content, consider all the formats and channels you can use. For example, a blog post is a great way to test new ideas or points of view on industry issues. Some of these posts might lend themselves to longer, more detailed articles on solving problems or explaining technical processes. Or the content of a white paper can be re-purposed into a webinar. A video interview with a customer could become a case study.

4. Align content to the buy cycle
The industrial buy cycle can be long and complex, and include distinct stages from needs awareness to evaluation and consideration, and finally to a purchase decision. Your audience needs different types of content at different stages.

For example, in the early stages, engineers may be searching to find out what suppliers and products in the marketplace have a good reputation and can meet their needs. Articles, white papers, e-newsletters, webinars and online events are all sources of information for technical professionals in these early stages. In the later stages, when customers are close to a buying decision, they may want content such as detailed specification sheets, ROI calculators, specific case studies and service and support information.

Because prospects often don’t contact a supplier until they are close to making a buying decision, you need to publish robust, relevant content for the early buy cycle stages in order to get known and get on a potential customer’s short list for when they do decide to make contact.

5. Demonstrate results
With digital media, many metrics are available to track the effectiveness of your content marketing. Page views, clicks, shares, downloads, conversions and more can all be counted. These types of metrics will tell you about the popularity of any given piece of content, but this is only part of the equation when it comes to demonstrating results. You probably need to take a more holistic view.

Technical professionals will likely interact with your content a number of times before reaching the point where they are ready to make purchase decision. Each one of those interactions and each piece of content they access contribute to the sale. Therefore, tracking your customers through their journey by capturing their interactions with your content is a smart way to demonstrate results. You’ll be able to see how your broader content strategy is working and spot trends showing what types of content most often contribute to a sale.

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What have you found successful in your content marketing efforts? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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