content marketing research

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) recently released the results of its annual survey, “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends The results are encouraging in many ways—manufacturers are becoming more strategic as content marketers and many are reporting more success.

However, challenges remain, and manufacturers must continue to up their content marketing game to achieve their goals.

The CMI report, sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec, highlighted these five key findings:

1. Manufacturing marketers are becoming more strategic

Having a documented content marketing strategy in place is a sign of an organization’s commitment to content marketing. Forty-one percent of those surveyed now have a documented content marketing strategy, almost double from 21 percent last year.

Another 37 percent stated they have a content marketing strategy, but it is not documented. If you fall within this group, consider the advantages of documenting your strategy:

  • Everyone involved in content marketing will be aligned around a common mission, helping to increase effectiveness and efficiency.
  • It is easier to determine what types of content to develop, helping to marshal resources and streamline production.
  • A documented strategy, like a business plan, will help to justify and defend budget allocations and expenditures.

2. Many manufacturing marketers create content for different audiences

On average, manufacturers create content for four different audiences, with 45 percent creating content for 2-3 audiences and 26 percent creating content for six or more audiences.

Manufacturers should be lauded for segmenting their audiences and targeting them with different types of content. However, only 40 percent of manufacturers craft content to align with specific stages of the customer buying journey. This is a missed opportunity to be more relevant to your customers.

The content that buyers seek early in their journey is educational in nature, such as articles, white papers, webinars, how-tos and more. As they progress toward making a purchasing decision, content such as customer case studies, product specs, competitive comparisons, and ROI calculators become more valuable. Make sure you create content to support your customers’ entire buy cycle.

3. Communicating complex content and accessing subject matter experts has improved

Only 36 percent of survey respondents reported being challenged with communicating complex content, down from 60 percent last year. In addition, 40 percent reported being challenged with accessing subject matter experts in order to create specialized content, down from 50 percent.

These results indicate that manufacturing marketers are finding ways to access and communicate the deep technical information their audiences are looking for. Building a team of reliable subject matter experts to support your content marketing team is essential to creating content. Marketers by themselves can’t play the role of technical experts.

4. The majority outsource at least one content marketing activity

Sixty-four percent of manufacturing marketers outsource some aspect of their content marketing. Among those who outsource, 87 percent outsource content creation, which may help explain why their ability to communicate complex content has improved. Content distribution is the next closest activity outsourced, by 32 percent of survey respondents.

Writing and designing are the two major skillsets required to create content, and they always seem to be in short supply within the company. You can find outside experts through trade associations, networking, and even through internship programs. If your company lacks internal resources to create content, outsourcing can help save time and money, and free up your internal teams to focus on other pressing needs.

5. Marketers are overlooking several organic (unpaid) opportunities to distribute content

Manufacturing marketers rely on both paid (social media advertising/promoted posts, pay-per-click, sponsorships, banner ads) and unpaid (social media, company website/blog, email) tactics to distribute content.

However, several organic distribution tactics are being overlooked that, if implemented, can help extend the reach of your content. Currently, few are taking advantage of speaking/events (43 percent), media/influencer relations (33 percent), or guest posts/articles in third-party publications (31 percent).

These distribution tactics should become part of your documented content marketing strategy. If you are going to make the investment in content creation, you should do everything you can to promote the content to your target audiences. Expanding your modes of distribution will also help you maintain a consistent message across all channels in the market.

Would you like more insight into the state of content marketing in the manufacturing sector? Download  your complimentary copy of the full report, “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.” This valuable resource will help you jump-start your content marketing efforts for the year and help pave the way for your success.

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