Pulse of Engineering Takeaways Part 2: Content Marketing

Make sure to also read: Pulse of Engineering – Part 1

IEEE GlobalSpec has recently published the results of its “2019 Pulse of Engineering” survey. The survey collected data about engineers’ work environment, the challenges and pressures they face, how they learn skills and manage knowledge, and more.

One of the key findings of the survey is that engineers are constantly seeking quality content from manufacturers. Good content from vendors helps to educate engineers and increase their confidence in the products and services they purchase or recommend.

But being an effective content marketer is not as simple as producing and publishing content. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Only by laser-focusing on your audience’s needs in this way can you build the trust that will lead to a long-term and fruitful relationship for both you and your engineering customers.

Here’s how:

Put your audience first.

Manufacturers are making strident improvements to their content marketing, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” developed by the Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs and sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec.

However, there are still missteps. While manufacturing companies obviously need to explain how their products or services work, about half of the survey respondents said they always or frequently prioritize their promotional message over their audience’s informational needs when creating content for content marketing purposes.

This approach will likely not work. Engineers are wary of being “sold to.” Furthermore, promotional content is not what they are looking for.

The “Pulse of Engineering Report” found that, for engineers, three of their four leading content tools to complete projects are: technical documentation, product specification data, and datasheets (the fourth is software and development tools). Not surprisingly, none of these are overtly promotional materials.

If you can supply the technical content engineers are looking for, you will likely be in a better position to win business and become an essential ally to your customers.

Focus on their challenges.

Most engineers say that designs are becoming more complex/sophisticated, design cycles are shrinking, and there is more time-to-market pressure. These are serious challenges, and the manufacturer that can help them overcome these challenges can gain a significant advantage.

When creating content, focus on how your products and services can help speed up design cycles or reduce time-to-market pressures. In an era in which designs are more complex, does your content explain difficult concepts clearly, helping engineers grasp what you have to say quickly and easily? When you hit your customers’ pain points, they will respond to your messaging.

Help engineers advance their skills.

To increase their knowledge and skills, engineers most often rely on colleagues, books, online training courses, webinars, training courses offered by vendors, and technical white papers from vendors. Younger engineers are more likely than their older colleagues to rely on video as an information source.

Make sure that your content portfolio includes training, webinars, white papers, and videos that are designed to educate engineers and help them develop and improve their technical skills.

Exchange content for contact information.

The “2019 Pulse of Engineering” report found that 55 percent of engineers are willing to register on a website for access to technical documents. However, less than 20 percent are willing to pay for access to premium content, marking a steady decline over the past few years. More millennial engineers believe that all content should be free and open access.

Before you ask for an engineer to register to access technical content, make sure the content you are offering is of value to them. Only in that way can you entice them to give you their contact information, the first step in developing a mutually beneficial relationship.

The “2019 Pulse of Engineering” report has clear takeaways for manufacturers: Become the vendor that meets your audience’s information needs. Improve your content marketing efforts. Don’t be afraid to take a deep dive into your products and services, offering the technical, in-depth knowledge that engineers and technical professionals are looking for. They will thank you with their business.

Download your complimentary copy of the “2019 Pulse of Engineering” research report to get the complete survey results, along with analysis and recommendations for manufacturers.

Content Marketing Marketing, General

The Five “Bonus Benefits” of Content Marketing

The majority of manufacturing content marketers (52 percent) say that their organizations are extremely/very committed to content marketing, with another 40 percent saying they are somewhat committed, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019”, a research report authored by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs.

The top three goals that manufacturers have achieved using content marketing in the past 12 months are creating brand awareness, educating audiences, and generating demand/leads. These are all worthy goals and justification for engaging in content marketing, which by nature is a long game.

Planning, creating, distributing, and tracking content takes time and resources, and building brand awareness and educating audiences doesn’t happen overnight. Because the investment is significant and the results are not always immediate, content marketers may begin to question their strategy and experience frustration.

But we urge all content marketers to stay the course, not only to stay on track toward achieving their stated benefits, but because content marketing can help your organization realize many additional “bonus benefits.”

These include:

1. Gain greater credibility.

While credibility is related to brand awareness, it is a benefit in its own right. Ninety percent of manufacturing content marketers agree that their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource.

When you’re focused on using content to educate your audience, to provide valuable information to help them through their buying cycle, when you’re seen as being a helpful partner rather than aggressively trying to sell, you build credibility.

And the credibility earned isn’t limited to your target audience. The overall market will discover that your company is known as trustworthy and believable, which leads to the second bonus benefit.

2. Earn a reputation as an expert.

Content marketers work hard to balance their company’s need to promote products and services with their audiences’ needs for objective information that will help them make a better purchasing decision. Create the right balance and your company earns a reputation: That’s the company that does “X.” That’s the “Y” company. They’re experts in “Z.”

Every marketer knows you can’t be everything to everyone, but if you can be something important to your target audience, that is a huge win and a bonus benefit. In business, reputation precedes all else. Customers want to buy from vendors who have reputations as experts.

3. Strengthen relationships with your sales team.

The number one way content marketers research their target audience is through feedback from the sales team. Your salespeople are the ones closest to the customer and have access to inside information about customer needs, challenges, and objections. Content marketing offers opportunities for marketing and sales teams to collaborate, which in turn can strengthen relationships between the two groups.

Sales and marketing teams will be more integrated and will work toward a common goal if they are on the same page in terms of who the organization is trying to target, what type of content will be most effective, and how the content can be used.

4. Create recruitment opportunities.

Content that you create will likely have a prominent place on your website for all to see. It’s not just your potential customers looking at your website, it’s anyone who has an interest in your company, including prospective employees, who always visit a company’s website.

Recruiting talented professionals is a competitive business. If potential employees see that your content is clear, informative, and helpful, they will gain a positive impression and likely be more interested in working for your organization.

5. Spread consistent messaging across the company.

Marketing produces more messaging and positioning content for a company than any other department. If it’s quality content, other departments will use it – not just your sales team. Others may not use your marketing content in its complete form, but lifted paragraphs, sections, key points and other content can be helpful to customer support, finance, the executive team and others. It wouldn’t be unusual for content produced by marketing to appear in an annual report or a letter to investors.

Another benefit is that if various departments are making use of marketing content, workload for others is reduced and the entire company stays on message.

Content Marketing Marketing, General

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit – Part 2

Last month in Part 1 of our 2020 Marketing Planning series, we offered advice on how to assess the performance of your current marketing program, account for industry trends that will affect your strategy moving forward, and align your marketing plan with your company’s overall business goals and objectives. Read Part 1 here.

This month, in Part 2, we are offering tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan that fits your budget, provides measurable results, and targets your audience of engineers and industrial professionals.

Focus on the channels your target audience uses.

When researching a work-related purchase, the top three channels that engineers use are search engines, online catalogs, and supplier websites. These channels are foundational elements in your marketing mix.

E-newsletters, industry websites, social media, email, webinars, and trade shows are all important information sources for your customers and have influence on their buying decisions. At the same time, your audience relies on other channels to keep up with the latest technologies, including industry news, products, and companies.

Of course, you can’t use every possible marketing channel available to you, since resources are always limited, but you also can’t focus solely on only one or two channels. Instead, try to diversify your marketing spend across multiple channels to generate the results you need.

Seek efficiency and integration across channels.

The marketing channels where you allocate budget should work together to reach your audience at every stage of their buy cycle. Early buy-stage resources such as search engines and websites should point the way to useful, educational content that you can distribute through email, social media, webinars, and other channels.

Plan to use multiple channels for important events such as new product launches, updates, or technology announcements. Make sure each channel upholds a consistent brand message and contributes to your stated marketing goals. When your marketing efforts are integrated across channels, you will experience a spike in efficiency and will likely achieve better results.

Plan your cornerstone content.

Engineers and technical professionals are constantly in search of content to help them solve problems, understand new technologies, and make more informed buying decisions. Being a provider of valuable, authoritative content helps position your company as an industry expert, builds trust with prospects, and ultimately makes it easier to sell your products and services to drive revenue.

While impromptu content needs will pop up throughout the year, you should plan several cornerstone pieces of content. What key white papers, webinars, or articles will you need to support your goals in 2020? By planning now, you can avoid the long lead times that producing quality content requires.

In addition, plan what channels you will use for distributing content. Here’s where your multichannel strategy pays off. For example, you can promote a webinar in an e-newsletter advertisement or on social media and drive prospects to your site to register.

Set aside budget for new markets.

Given the almost instant worldwide reach of digital marketing channels, you should plan to explore new, untapped sectors where your products and services may be a good fit. Manufacturers that can display their products and services simultaneously across multiple markets will have the best opportunity to gain new customers.

You may need to tweak your content or messaging in order to appeal to customers across different sectors. Focus on your core value propositions. Ad networks and targeted e-newsletter advertising are effective ways to reach specific customers in new markets.

Determine your measurement strategy.

Everyone knows the saying that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. How will you measure your marketing ROI?

Many manufacturers are allocating a greater percentage of their marketing budget to digital programs, which your audience turns to first for researching work-related purchases and are easily measurable.  Views, opens, clicks, shares, downloads, and conversions are all trackable data points.

Marketing automation is growing in popularity as a way to measure results, as well as to manage campaigns and content distribution. Marketing automation makes it easier to track the multiple touches that a prospect will typically have with your company throughout their buy cycle, helping you understand the contribution of each channel. There are a number of low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market.

Work with media partners.

Preparing an integrated, multichannel marketing plan is challenging, which is why it’s best to start now. But you shouldn’t have to do it alone. As you begin, consult with an experienced media partner that understands and has the attention of the industrial audience you need to reach. Discuss your marketing objectives and have your media partners show you an integrated, multichannel media plan that will help achieve your goals and objectives.

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit

IEEE GlobalSpec created the 2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you develop an effective marketing plan that targets your audience of engineering and technical professionals. Get a jump on 2020 and add this valuable resource to your planning efforts today. Click here to download.

Content Marketing E-Mail Marketing Marketing ROI Marketing, General Multichannel Marketing

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit – Part 1

Many industrial marketers are deep into planning for 2020. If you haven’t started yet, now is the time, and we’ve got resources to help you.

By beginning your planning process now, you can gather evidence to justify your expected expenditures, receive executive endorsement for your budget, and be ready to launch when the calendar changes. Companies getting an early start on their marketing plan can get a jump on competitors and be better positioned to win business going into the new year.

This two-part series (Part 2 is coming in October) will help you create an effective marketing plan for 2020 that aligns with market and customer trends, fits your budget and capabilities, and helps achieve your marketing goals.

Part 1 focuses on evaluating your current program and understanding the industrial marketing trends that will affect your strategy for 2020. Part 2 will offer tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan.

Assess the performance of your current plan

How are your current marketing programs performing? The complimentary IEEE GlobalSpec “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” offers a number of tools to help you measure the performance of your marketing. The kit includes a chart to plot the engagement and branding capabilities of your current programs and to identify gaps, a grid to compare the quality of your leads to your ideal customer profile, and a matrix to help you analyze the effectiveness of your expenditures across various media channels.

Access your complimentary copy of the “2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit” here.

The foundation of any performance assessment of your current marketing is the ability to measure marketing results. Measurability is just one of many reasons why industrial marketers are increasing their use of digital media, along with the engineering audience’s preference to seek information through digital channels.

Digital marketing programs offer the inherent advantage of measurement through page views, clicks, downloads, shares, conversions, and other trackable metrics. If your current channel mix is not mostly digital, then you should consider allocating more budget towards online in 2020.

Account for all channels

Keep in mind when evaluating current programs that your customers typically have multiple interactions with your company and content before they make a final purchasing decision. They might meet you at a trade show, visit your website, click on an e-newsletter advertisement, watch a video, and attend a webinar all as part of their buying journey.

Each of these marketing touches contributes to the eventual sale—not just the first action they took to connect with you or last action they took before making a purchase decision. Be sure to track all of these activities to properly evaluate marketing performance.

Five trends that can influence your plan

Before you begin to plan 2020 marketing programs and choose channels, you should familiarize yourself with industrial marketing trends that will influence your decisions. These include:

  1. According to the most recent IEEE GlobalSpec Industrial Marketing Trends survey, 60 percent of industrial marketers rely on email marketing and 43 percent expect to spend more on email in the year ahead. The trend in 2020 will be toward personalization, from connecting to email recipients by name, to providing email content based on their preferences and behaviors.
  2. More industrial marketers will invest in marketing automation software to help segment audiences more precisely, guide prospects through the buy cycle, and deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.
  3. Industrial marketers will improve ROI measurement by not only counting leads but also tracking all prospect engagement and marketing touches through the sales cycle. In addition, definitions of marketing success will become agreed upon across the organization, particularly with sales and executive teams, to ensure collective buy-in on the metrics that matter most to an organization.
  4. More than half of buyers complete at least 60 percent of their buying process online before speaking to someone at a company. This trend announces an imperative that industrial marketers continue to produce high quality content. In 2020, expect more industrial marketers to create content marketing strategies based on achieving specific, measurable objectives and to produce content designed for specific stages of the customers’ buy cycle. To avoid long lead times, now is the time to audit your content and determine what content you will need to create, refine or re-purpose to support your 2020 marketing plan and goals. Also make sure your marketing collateral and website are up-to-date with current messaging and the latest product versions.
  5. Digital and traditional channels will be more closely integrated. For example, many industrial marketers will continue to include traditional tradeshows in their marketing portfolio. However, now they will rely on digital channels before, during, and after the show to gain momentum, increase engagement, and build relationships.

Study your company’s 2020 business plan

If your company is planning to introduce new products, expand to new markets or customer segments, or launch other strategic initiatives in 2020, you will need to build your marketing plan and create content to account for these initiatives.

Meet with executives to learn about the timing of new plans. You should also meet with sales leaders to understand revenue growth objectives. This will not only give you information you need to create your marketing plan, it will demonstrate that you are proactive about developing a plan that supports your company’s goals and objectives.

2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit

IEEE GlobalSpec created the 2020 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you develop an effective marketing plan that targets your audience of engineering and technical professionals. Add this valuable resource to your 2020 planning efforts today. Click here to download.

Content Marketing Digital Media E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing Strategy Marketing, General

Key Statistics Reveal the State of Content Marketing

Content marketing might be the single most important marketing activity in the industrial sector. Notoriously wary of sales pitches and promotions, engineers and technical professionals seek relevant, educational content to help them make smart, informed buying decisions. They gravitate toward manufacturers and suppliers who can provide this content.

White papers, videos, articles, webinars, case studies, spec sheets—your audience is out there searching for content. Are you connecting with your audience and delivering the content they’re looking for? Could you be doing a better job?

The answers can be found in the results of the recent IEEE GlobalSpec survey, “2019 Trends in Industrial Marketing.”  The online survey addressed the marketing trends, challenges, and expenditures within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities, including specific questions about content marketing.

The results show the state of content marketing in the industrial sector—what manufacturers are doing well, and what they must do better.

Sixty-one Percent Engage in Content Marketing

A definite majority of industrial marketers are using content marketing in their portfolio of tactics. That’s the positive spin. But given the importance of content to the engineering audience, what are the other 39 percent of manufacturers doing? They’re missing out on one of the most effective marketing strategies. The 61 percent should be a lot closer to 100 percent. Get on board, everyone. It’s the content marketing era.

Thirty-seven Percent Have a Content Marketing Strategy

A content marketing strategy should include your mission and objectives, an audience analysis, key performance indicators, measurement strategies, marketing channels, content types and anything else that will help ensure your content marketing efforts stay on track and produce desired results. You also might add in team members and roles, along with your content publishing schedule. If you’re engaged in content marketing, you should have a documented strategy.

Fifty-two Percent are Increasing Spending on Content Creation and Distribution

Most industrial marketing budgets are flat, but a greater percentage of available budget is being funneled to content marketing. Marketers are realizing the importance of content marketing—and also the resources required. Content marketing will be the second biggest area of emphasis for marketing teams over the next five years, after focus on the customer.

Forty-five Percent Repurpose Content

This percentage should be much higher. Repurposing content to use in other formats across other channels helps to save resources and to maintain consistent messaging. Examples include the article that becomes a blog post, the white paper that becomes a webinar, or the case study that becomes a video. Before you create content, consider all the ways you might repurpose it.

Only Twenty-seven Percent are Satisfied with their Content Marketing Efforts

This leaves plenty of room here for marketers to increase their level of satisfaction with their content marketing efforts. Here are some tips that might help move the needle up: document a content marketing strategy, create a content publishing calendar, repurpose content for other formats and channels, and use marketing automation to help schedule, coordinate and track your content.

Twenty-one Percent Produce Content for All Stages of the Buy Cycle

Producing content for all stages of the buy cycle is a significant undertaking, which may be why the percentage of marketers doing it is so low. It requires that you understand your customers’ information needs at each buy cycle stage, from early needs awareness; to research, consideration and comparison; to purchase decision.

It also requires knowing what stage of the cycle a customer is in, based on their behavior. Finally, you must know your customer well. Creating customer personas, which are fictional descriptions of your different buyer types, can help in that regard.

Now that you know where your colleagues and competitors stand, where do you fit in with other industrial marketers as a content marketer? What can you do better in the second half of the year?

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Achieving Success with Long-Form Marketing Content

freddie-marriage-92621-unsplash

Back in 2015, Microsoft issued a famous report stating that a consumer’s attention span is less than that of the average goldfish. Judging by the content we often see circulating – quick-hitting listicles, 240-character social media posts, Snapchats and Instagram stories that vanish – the report seems to ring true.

But while attention spans may be shrinking, longer form content is making a necessary comeback for B2B marketers. You should embrace this trend for three key reasons:

  1. Google loves long form. Ultimately, Google wants to connect searchers with the most relevant and authoritative information that answers a user’s query. It’s no longer about keywords – it’s all about authority. And most of the time, you can’t make an authoritative case in a short piece. Keyword-rich authoritative content can help marketers achieve higher search engine page rankings.
  2. Serious prospects want to dig deeper than a social media post or a list of bullet points. They want to know that you understand and can solve their problem. They want to make sure your company is legit and that you know your industry. So while a small percentage of people will take the time to do a deep read into a topic, those that do are more likely to be very qualified. Serve them well with powerful, deep-dive content.
  3. With long-form content, you can dominate a subject matter in a way that provides value to your audience. You become the expert, the thought leader, and the authority that readers depend on for important information on a key topic.

What Qualifies as Long-Form Content?

There’s no standard definition of what constitutes long form, but a reasonable guideline is that anything over 1,000 words requires engaged effort on the part of the user and would likely provide depth of information. With 85% of web content weighing in at less than 1,000 words, you may think it’s insane to write long form, but don’t try to fit in, stand out. Your audience wants both long form and short form.

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as too long; there’s only too dull. Make your content of interest and value to your reader, and they will stay until they reach the end.

These types of content lend themselves to long form:

  • How-to articles. Go into detail about how to perform a task or solve a problem.
  • Research reports. Compile primary and/or secondary research into a report on market trends, user behavior or other.
  • White papers. Provide your audience with comprehensive education on a topic relevant to them.
  • Solution guides. Compare or classify different approaches to solving a problem.
  • Technical documents. Explain the way a product or process works.
  • Case studies. Some case studies lend themselves to long form.
  • .Longer videos with valuable content can also be valuable for engaged users.

Tips for Effective Long Form Content

  • Always think in terms of telling a story with a beginning, middle and end. Introduce your topic, dive into the details, then come to clear conclusion.
  • Write an executive summary. A one-paragraph summary of the piece can help readers quickly glean the main points and decide if investing additional time is appropriate for them.
  • Use design to guide your reader. Use short paragraphs, subheadings, white space, bullet points and imagery to make your long content easy to read and to encourage readers to keep going.
  • Carefully evaluate topics to identify those that work in long form. Don’t try to stretch out a limited subject and don’t try to condense a book-length issue to a few thousand words.
  • Hire freelance writers, editors and proofreaders if you don’t have the time or resources to create long-form content on your own. Most professional writers should be able to grasp and communicate any topic, no matter how dense or technical.
  • Create a cornerstone long-form piece and then segment the information into smaller, standalone chunks to use in your content marketing efforts and to get more value from your investment in the long-form version.

 

 

 

Content Marketing Marketing, General

Why You Need a Documented Content Marketing Strategy – and How to Get it Done

william-iven-22449-unsplash.jpg

Let’s start with some good news. The majority (52 percent) of manufacturing marketers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, according to “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019—Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends”.

Most marketers understand that their customers seek relevant, educational information from suppliers. This information helps them do their jobs better and make more confident purchasing decisions. Providing this content to their audience is an essential part of winning business.

However, only 21 percent of manufacturing marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. That percentage needs to trend up, because a written content marketing strategy is often a key indicator of content marketing success.

Those B2B marketers that do have a written content marketing strategy say the top benefits of having a strategy are that it “aligns the team around common mission/goals” and “makes it easier to determine which types of content to develop.”

Those with a documented strategy are also more likely to consider themselves effective at content marketing and able to justify a higher percentage of marketing budget to be spent on content marketing.

Documenting Your Content Marketing Strategy

If you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, it’s time to get started on writing one. There’s no single template to use, because every company’s needs are unique. It may be helpful to think of your document as a business plan, especially if you need executive buy-in, and you should include the following key components:

Mission Statement

What pain points and/or challenges are you trying to address through content marketing and what do you hope to accomplish? You might be focused on creating brand awareness, building thought leadership, nurturing leads, lead conversion or some combination of these goals. Write down a mission statement to serve as your content marketing guidepost.

Alternatives

If you don’t engage in content marketing, what will happen? What will you lose out on? On the other hand, if you do devote time, effort and resources to content marketing, what are the opportunity costs? What must sacrifice to be successful at content marketing?

You can’t do everything, so your documented strategy should address why content marketing is the best path to follow over other potential plans of marketing action.

Obstacles

What obstacles need to be overcome to achieve success in content marketing? You might want to segment obstacles into two buckets. Separate factors you can control, such as getting executive buy-in, developing content and choosing channels for content distribution from factors that are beyond your control, such as shifting market dynamics and competition.

Resources

Your documented strategy should outline the resources required to achieve your goals. These include people to create and design content, marketers to manage programs, and budgets. Identify who is on the content marketing team and what secondary people are needed to support a successful content marketing strategy (such as IT or website personnel or your media partners).

Audiences

Who are you trying to reach through your content marketing efforts? The best way to clearly identify audiences is to create buyer personas. This includes detailed descriptions of the different customers you have or want to reach that are much more effective that vague definitions that only include title, industry and demographics. Here’s a helpful article on creating buyer personas.

Message Map

A message map is a grid of what you will say, who you will say it to, and when you will say it. This will be the most detailed component of your document.

On one axis of your grid are the stages of your customers’ buying process: needs awareness, research, consideration and comparison, and purchase. The other axis contains your different buyer personas. The fields within the grid include the content delivered to that person at that stage in the buying process.

For example, a design engineer in her research phase might be targeted with a particular white paper in her research stage and a case study and data sheet in her consideration and comparison stage.

A message map offers a quick reference for the types of content you need to produce and how each piece of content will be used in your marketing efforts. The message map will help you design effective campaigns.

Measurement

Your document should include a section on how you will measure the results of your strategy and if you are achieving your goals. Choose metrics that are meaningful to your efforts and strategy. There are many metrics available to you, depending on the content you are using: downloads, views, clicks, comments, shares, conversions, and more.

There are also more sophisticated measurements such as how content marketing contributes to revenue or customer growth. This article, “Five Tips for Measuring Marketing ROI,” can be helpful in creating your documented content marketing strategy.

 

 

 

Content Marketing Marketing, General

9 Quick Tips for Content Marketing with Limited Resources

rawpixel-741658-unsplash

9 Quick Tips for Content Marketing with Limited Resources

A survey of Marketing Maven readers this summer reported that the biggest content marketing challenge industrial marketers are facing is a lack of resources – time, budget, and people. And yet, content marketing is nothing short of a mandate, with prospects demanding a steady stream of relevant content to help them make a purchasing decision.

If limited resources are putting a squeeze on your content marketing efforts, check out these nine helpful tips.

1. Optimize Two of Three Resources

Operating under scarcity is the reality. No one has all the time, budget or staff they need. But you might be able to optimize two out of three resources in your content marketing efforts. Decide what to prioritize based on your most important goals. For instance:

  • If you need content fast and at a cheap price, you’ll have to be ready to sacrifice some of the content quality that only staff hours can provide.
  • If you need high-quality content fast, be prepared to spend more.
  • If you need high quality content but have limited staff available, you’ll have to wait longer as other staff matters take precedence.

2. Be Smart about Outsourcing

Fifty-six percent of marketers don’t outsource any of their content production, but this can be a great way to save resources. Outsource your weak spots. If you don’t have the time, passion or expertise for writing, hire a freelance writer, and then allocate your time to providing direction and editing. Work with freelance designers if your own design team is backed up with other commitments. Outsource any content marketing services that you don’t use on a regular basis, but only when the need arises.

3. Repurpose Content Whenever Possible

Repurposing content from one format to another can help you gain significant efficiencies. It’s important when first developing a piece of content to consider all the ways in which you can repurpose it. Turning an article into a white paper or webinar is easier to do when you consider each format’s requirements at the beginning. Retrofitting is a more resource-intensive way to repurpose.

4. Use Free Social Media

LinkedIn, the most popular social media channel in the industrial sector, offers many opportunities to start and participate in discussions. Adding comments to relevant discussions started by others is a form of content marketing: you can educate and inform your audience under your brand name. Also, be sure to add content to your company’s profile page for greater exposure. Do the same on all your social media profiles.

5. Free Up Underperforming Resources

Take a close look at the performance of your marketing programs. Consider moving budget or people away from initiatives that are underperforming and into content marketing efforts.

6. Be Targeted When Paying for Content Promotion

Many industrial companies pay to have their content promoted, which can be a good strategy. Optimize your budget and efforts by working with media partners who can guarantee that your content will be seen by your target audience across a variety of channels.

7. Start an Internship Program

Colleges are teeming with talented, motivated, and intelligent young people who are digital-savvy. Take on an intern who can help with social media, design, writing and other production and distribution aspects of your content marketing strategy.

8. Use Marketing Automation

If at all possible, take advantage of the low-cost marketing automation solutions on the market today. They will help you keep much better track of content marketing campaigns, schedules, content distribution, and tracking. You will gain efficiencies and possibly save money.

9. Catch Up on Fundamentals

“Content Marketing for Industrial Marketers” provides solid advice on how you can get more from your content marketing efforts. It offers solutions to common content marketing challenges and recommendations on how you can benefit from content marketing. Download this complimentary report today.

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Marketing, General Polls

How Manufacturers Really Feel About Content Marketing

kaleidico-754517-unsplash

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?

Content Marketing Marketing, General

5 Ways to Give Your Content Marketing A Boost

marten-bjork-623843-unsplash

Content marketing is one of the most effective and essential tactics in industrial marketing. In fact, eighty-six percent of manufacturers  use content marketing.

On average, marketers in the manufacturing sapce use five types of content. The most popular are social media posts, videos, illustrations/photos, case studies and eBooks/white papers.

However, despite the popularity of content marketing, many marketers struggle to continually come up with fresh content to fuel their efforts. That’s why we’ve put together this list of five ideas that could spark your imagination and give a boost to your content marketing.

1. Gather data about what your audience likes

Look through your website, email stats and other data you collect to find out what types of content your audience gravitates toward. What pages do they read the most? Which videos are most popular? What gets clicked on? What keywords do prospects use to find your site?

You might discover that specific posts, pages or white papers are responsible for a lot of your qualified leads. That’s like striking a content marketing goldmine. You’ve found a topic that resonates with your audience. Go broader and deeper into that topic by developing new content around it.

2. Answer five common questions

Work with your sales team to find out the most common questions they get from customers and prospects. Use the answers to create a helpful guide for your target audience.

This can be a valuable piece of content because it is relevant to what your audience is thinking. You can answer the questions as a straightforward Q&A, an article, an infographic or in another content format.

3. Hit the refresh button

Even the best content gets old and stale. Maybe you’ve changed your positioning or upgraded products or embraced new technology. Take a look through older content and refresh what’s out of date to reflect your current situation. Often this will require only minimal resources.

Refreshed content can rise in search engine rankings, helping to extend its useful life.

4. Write and pitch an educational article

Focus on a common customer problem and write an educational article that provides a solution. Target the article toward a specific publication or industry website and pitch the editor with your idea.

An educational article that appears in a respected industry publication or is published on an industry website is an excellent way to build credibility and trust and to demonstrate thought leadership. Include a customer story if possible, with quotes from several sources. Remember to remain objective and focused on the problem-solution approach. Don’t be promotional.

5. Answer the “How to ” question

When your target audience is trying to solve a problem or seek a solution, they are much more likely to begin a search query with “How to . . .” than they are to type your company or product name into a search engine.

You can create a lot of powerful and persuasive content by focusing on the “How to.” For example, each of these topic areas can follow the “How to” model:

  • Problem solving guides
  • Needs assessments
  • Building a solutions budget
  • Analyzing potential pitfalls
  • Vendor selection
  • Readiness assessments
  • ROI calculators

Bonus idea: Create dedicated landing pages

To really measure the effectiveness of your content, you should create dedicated landing pages for each of your content campaigns. The pages should be simple and focused on the action you want your prospect to take, whether it’s to complete a form, download a guide, watch a video, register for a webinar or other action.

You’ll find that a well-designed, dedicated landing page can boost the effectiveness of your content by increasing conversions.

Content marketing is going to remain high on the list of marketing tactics. Thirty-eight percent of manufacturers expect their organization’s content marketing budget to increase over the next 12 months. Get those ideas rolling and make sure your budget is well spent.

Content Marketing Marketing, General