This month the Maven will be publishing posts related to content marketing, one of the most important and essential marketing strategies in the industrial sector today. First, we’ll define content marketing and relate its key benefits, then offer guidance on an effective content marketing plan.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

The main benefit is clear in the definition: profitable customer action. When content marketing is done right, you can establish your company as a thought leader, build brand awareness, and generate engagement opportunities for your sales team. You can become a “go-to” resource for technical professionals, improve your results in search, and help to foster a trusted relationship with customers and prospects.

Your audience of industrial professionals is hungry for relevant content that can help them do their jobs and make better buying decisions. According to the IHS Engineering360 Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, 83 percent of buyers review up to three pieces of content before making a decision on purchases under $1,000, while 70 percent of buyers review four or more pieces of content on purchases greater than $10,000. This desire for information on the part of technical professionals means that manufacturers need to step up their content marketing strategy. It all starts with a solid content marketing plan.

Your answers to these five questions will help you build a solid plan:
1. What are your content marketing objectives?
2. What resources will you devote to content marketing?
3. What content will you produce?
4. How will you get content to your audience?
5. How will you measure your results?

1. What are your content marketing objectives?
Your objectives could be short term and specific, such as educating prospects about a new technique or process that your company pioneered, or long term and broader, such as positioning your company as a thought leader and respected information resource in your industry. For either of these objectives, or others—driving web traffic, building a community, generating leads—your overall goal is to be relevant and valuable to your audience. If you aren’t, they won’t pay attention or give you the respect you are trying to earn.

Another important and universal objective is to integrate content marketing efforts with your overall marketing plan. Content marketing intersects and overlaps almost all of your other initiatives: website, social media, newsletters, directory listings, and more. Once you understand your objectives and how your various marketing tactics work together, the next four questions will be much easier to answer.

2. What resources will you devote?
You may not need extensive additional resources to execute an effective content marketing plan. You already are engaged in content marketing, even if you’re not calling it that. Publishing an e-newsletter, promoting a white paper, producing a video, hosting a webinar, writing a blog post or article—these are all content marketing. Now you need to make the next step and integrate the tactics under a set of defined objectives and target them to a specific audience. Depending on your in-house capabilities, you may need to hire professional writers, designers, or other experts to support you or your team.

3. What content will you produce?
If you understand your objectives and audience, the content you need to produce should become readily apparent. Articles, blog posts, and industry research are examples of content that help build thought leadership. Diagrams, product demos, and case studies help potential customers through the early stages of their buy cycle.

You may already have some of the content on hand, so the first step is to audit your current content library, identify gaps, and then fill in missing pieces. You’ll likely be able to re-purpose existing content into other formats, such as writing an article based on webinar content, or creating a written customer testimonial from a video interview.

It’s also important to consider format. All content should be easily downloadable and viewable not only on a desktop or laptop computer, but also on a mobile device. Avoid large files. Use PDF format rather than Word for documents.

4. How will you get content to your audience?
You can push your content out to your audience through tactics such as email, press releases, or e-newsletter advertisements, and you can make your content discoverable by promoting it through banner ads or posting it on your website, online directories, or through digital media platforms such as Engineering360.com. The key is to place your content on the same online resources that technical professionals use to search for and discover information.

5. How will you measure results?
Some basic metrics include traffic to the content on your website or blog and how visitors arrived at your content (social media, e-newsletter advertisement, banner ad, search engines, etc.). You can measure downloads of white papers or registrations for events.

You should also examine how long a visitor spends on a page, watches a video, or participates in a webinar. Length of view helps measure how relevant and engaging your content is. You can track shares, likes, and comments on social media platforms.

Additional Resources
IHS Engineering360 Digital Media Solutions offers integrated content marketing services that can save you time and increase the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts by reaching your specific target audience. From helping to produce content, to getting your content noticed and into the hands of technical professionals, to providing metrics to analyze your results, you can implement a comprehensive content marketing program that aligns with your objectives.

Another valuable resource is the white paper, “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers” from IHS Engineering360. Download your complimentary copy today.

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