Content Marketing

Manufacturers are steadily warming up to the idea of content marketing. CMI’s Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, released last November, found that 85% of manufacturers use content marketing, and 97% of those who use it report some level of success.

In addition, 80% agree that content marketing is an important component of their marketing program, and almost 6 in 10 say their content marketing approach is more successful than it was a year ago.

The survey also found that manufacturing marketers still lag B2B content marketers overall on several measures of content marketing maturity. However, they’re poised to catch up quickly — more than one-third plan to increase the proportion of their marketing budget devoted to content marketing.

Here are some of the other major findings.

Characteristics of top-performing organizations

CMI split the respondents according to the success of their organization’s content marketing approach. The top three factors separating the most successful firms from the least successful were:

  • Content marketing strategy is extremely/very effective. — 74% of top performers agree with this statement, compared to 4% of least successful organizations.
  • Organization is clear on what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like. — 62% vs 4%
  • Agrees that organization values creativity and craft in content creation and production. — 85% vs 26%

Interestingly, the smallest differential between the most and least successful organizations was the percentage of the total marketing budget allocated to content marketing. Top performers spend an average of 26%, while underperformers spend 21%. This suggests that simply spending more money on content marketing doesn’t guarantee results.

Buy-in makes a difference

As with any initiative, buy-in makes a difference. Almost half (49%) of manufacturing marketers describe their organization as extremely or very committed to content marketing. Among top performers, that number is 74%.

More than 4 in 10 say a recent management and/or structural change has had a positive impact on their content marketing approach.

Factors that drive success

Here are the top three factors that contribute to content marketing’s growing success:

  • Content creation (higher quality, more efficient)
  • Strategy (development or adjustment)
  • Content marketing has become a greater priority

And the top three factors holding organizations back:

  • Not enough time devoted to content marketing
  • Content creating challenges
  • Strategy issues (lack of strategy, developing/adjusting strategy)

In terms of strategy, 66% agree of manufacturing marketers agree that their content marketing strategy is more effective than it was a year ago. And the top element of that strategy is “a plan to operate content marketing as an ongoing business process, not simply a campaign.”

Content marketing tactics

On average, manufacturers use eight content marketing tactics. The two most popular are email newsletters and social media content (both of which are used by 78% of manufacturing marketers), followed by video and in-person events. These four tactics are also rated as the most critical to success.

Goals and success metrics

Finally, the top goals organizations have for their content marketing are:

  • Brand awareness (82%)
  • Lead generation (71%)
  • Engagement (70%)

And the metrics they find provide truly measurable results:

  • Website traffic (46%)
  • Sales (38%)
  • Sales lead quality (31%)

Overall, the survey results show how much of an impact content marketing is having in manufacturing. With business (and life) becoming ever more digital, this impact will only grow.

For more insights about the state of content marketing in manufacturing, read the full report.

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