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Content marketing has become an essential and effective marketing tactic for many manufacturers. It fits so perfectly with potential customers’ needs for reliable, relevant information through all phases of the buy cycle.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 86 percent of manufacturers now use content marketing, but only 22 percent would say their organizations are mature or sophisticated in their efforts.

The Marketing Maven also recently conducted a brief, five-question survey of its readers to ask how their organizations are handling content marketing. Here are some of the key findings:

The Success of Content Marketing

On average, manufacturers give themselves a success score of 2.95 out of 5 for their content marketing efforts. That’s not bad, but it’s not great, either.

The majority (64 percent) gave themselves a 3 or a 4. If you’re in this group, it means you’re likely finding some success in your efforts and are seeing positive results. There’s plenty of room for improvement, however, most likely in the “big three” areas of efficient content creation, more precise distribution, and improved tracking.

There’s nothing but improvement awaiting the 30 percent who scored themselves at 1 or 2. If you’re one of these low scorers, you likely need to regroup or accelerate your content marketing. Re-state your goals for content marketing. Get caught up on the latest strategy, tips, and tactics by reading “Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers.”

Types of Content Produced

Emails, videos, articles, and case studies are the top types of content that industrial marketers produce. Newsletters, white papers, and infographics are also popular. When producing content, marketers should try to find efficiencies by repurposing content from one format to another. For example, a how-to video that can also be made into an article.

Outsourcing Content Production

Fifty-six percent of marketers don’t outsource any of their content production. This majority is either incredibly self-reliant or they are taking on too much. Think about all of the heavy lifting involved in content production: generating ideas, writing, layout and design, editing and proofreading, landing pages and conversion forms, and more.

It’s hard to be an expert every step of the way. Plus, although you might think you’re saving money, there’s an opportunity cost involved. A good question to ask is whether outsourcing some production aspects could free up time and resources for other marketing responsibilities.

Paid Content Promotion

The majority of marketers (56 percent) use paid promotion methods with the goal of exposing their content to a larger audience. These methods might include newsletter advertisements, banner ads, and sponsored posts, among others.

The key is to only invest in promotional methods that do an effective job of reaching your specific target audience. When you work with media partners, make sure they have deep knowledge of your audience and how to get their attention. For those who aren’t using paid promotion, if you’re not getting the results or reach you expect from content marketing, you could begin experimenting with paid promotional methods through your media partners.

Greatest Content Marketing Challenge

Forty-one percent said that their greatest content marketing challenge is that they have too few resources (budget, time, staffing). That could be one reason that most industrial marketers are trying to do all the work themselves and not outsource content production, although that strategy definitely eats up a lot of time.

Twenty-eight percent said their greatest challenge was being unable to pinpoint how content marketing contributes to sales. Since most prospects will consume multiple pieces of content on their buying journey, it can be difficult to know what content works best and what doesn’t. This Marketing Maven article, “5 Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI,” can be of help.

One aspect of content marketing that industrial marketers have a firm control on is knowing what content resonates with their audience. Only 9 percent said it was their greatest content marketing challenge. Good job. There’s no substitute for having a keen understanding of the needs of your target audience.

Tell us – what challenges do you face when it comes to content marketing, and what do you have a good handle on?

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