For many digital marketers, the ongoing pandemic acted as an accelerant for digitization. Most famously embraced by the World Economic Forum, this view holds that it didn’t disrupt per se; it pushed forward. Content marketers across industries, seeing increasingly fragmented customer journeys, agreed – and ones in the manufacturing industry corroborated it. As customers exhibited online event fatigue, they too needed to face this change along with the industry’s inherent ones. However, content marketing ideas for manufacturing companies don’t come easily in such a demanding market, let alone effective ones.
Content marketing challenges for manufacturing companies
As an introductory note, here we may first highlight said challenges. The manufacturing industry does face distinct ones of its own, which inexperienced or broader-scope content marketers may miss or underestimate. In turn, it becomes nigh impossible to produce effective content for it, let alone beat the competition with it.
To consolidate them, the primary ones include:
- Offer complexity. A manufacturing company typically does not sell simple products accessible to a wide market. Framing such specialized offers properly for their niche audiences requires considerable industry expertise.
- Decision-makers’ scrutiny. Moreover, manufacturing content marketers need to entice decision-makers who seek expertise and offer tangible value. As with B2C marketing, eliciting emotional responses will very rarely bear results with this audience.
- A less visually exciting industry. Finally, the manufacturing industry offers comparatively fewer thrills for compelling visual content to thrive on. This has been changing in recent years, however.
In addition, the typical customer’s purchase decision process spans a much longer journey. Strategyn breaks down the individual steps into 6; need, research, design, evaluation, shortlist, and purchase.
A chart of the industrial buyer’s buying process by Strategyn.
Evidently, then, content marketers cannot afford to overlook this unique set of factors. The industrial buyer is cautious and knowledgeable, and requires stage-specific content across the buyer journey to court effectively.
For that matter, Content Marketing Institute offers some notable insights. It finds that half (49%) of manufacturing marketers rate their company’s efforts as “moderately successful,” and only 18% rate them as more successful than that. Among what they often lack, they find, are:
- Prioritizing optimal content delivery times
- Crafting stage-specific content
- Using storytelling in their content
It is these factors that content marketers may need to address, alongside picking the optimal marketing mediums and channels.
Top content marketing ideas for manufacturing companies across the sales funnel
However, despite this complexity, this process too can be made simple – a skillset the industry requires of marketers as well. Fundamentally, every sales funnel may be broken down into 3 essential parts:
- The initial lead generation stage, where the buyer becomes aware of the company and its offers
- The lead acquisition stage, where the buyer researches their options and evaluates the offer presented
- The conversion stage, where the buyer is ultimately compelled into converting into a customer
Within this context, we may pinpoint 3 content marketing ideas for each stage that can yield demonstrable benefits.
#1 Blog posts
The fundamental building block for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blog posts can earn visitors’ initial attention. Long, insightful posts offer demonstrable value which can serve to start a buyer’s journey, trailed by other forms of content.
In regards to SEO, too, optimized, valuable blog posts are among the best ways to earn search engines’ favor. Through higher Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) rankings, content marketers can amplify their lead generation strategies.
#2 Social media posts
Similarly, social media activity offers another excellent way to fine-tune one’s content marketing strategy. LinkedIn marketing, in particular, bears noting for the industry, as we’ve covered before. The aforementioned research shows manufacturing marketers are rightfully embracing it in recent years, as it can substantially enhance brand awareness.
Granted, social media does not directly enhance SEO, according to Google’s own John Mueller. It does, however, allow for influencer marketing and cause marketing, both emerging trends with their own merits. It also facilitates storytelling through vivid visual content and helps humanize organizations, as Intel showcases:
An Instagram post by Intel, commemorating the work of Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum.
Finally, in regards to top-of-the-funnel content, content marketing ideas for manufacturing companies should undoubtedly include infographics. Such content offers a wealth of benefits and potential uses, including:
- Working as standalone content for social media activities
- Enriching blog or other text-based content for SEO
- Ranking in Google Images for additional exposure
Should marketers afford some additional work, they may consider guestographics – as renowned marketer Neil Patel suggests. Through this practice, they may offer industry-specific webmasters their infographics alongside content in return for backlinks, which in turn enhances their own website’s authoritativeness, yields traffic, and fosters professional relationships.
#4 Instructional videos
Progressing to the middle of the funnel, marketers may now begin to showcase their offers’ value more strongly. For this purpose, instructional videos offer a consistently effective type of content for this stage.
Such videos may complement more conversion-focused pages, as they offer prospects a tangible look into the marketers’ offers. Being instructional keeps them informative instead of “salesy,” helping foster further trust and interest. Moreover, such videos might also see use in SEO and social media contexts within appropriate contexts.
#5 Case studies
On the subject of trust, case studies too can offer an excellent form of content for this stage. This content type also enhances brand awareness and authoritativeness through backlinks that its value to the industry earns. Moreover, case studies offer undecided prospects further reassurance of the company’s expertise and ability to meet their own needs.
Finally, case studies serve as very effective social proof. They can thus augment product pages, expand one’s portfolio, or even inspire eBooks for more content with minimal effort.
#6 Industry research, insights and videos
The final among content marketing ideas for manufacturing companies for this stage should be industry-specific material that offers unique insights. Such material can be industry research, which itself can fuel infographics and blogs, first-hand videos, and more.
For a notable example of the latter, we may cite Honda’s famous factory tour videos. Such videos provide a fascinating look into an industrial setting, which can impress both industry professionals and the general public. Their videos, like the one that follows, seem to signify a trend of the industry shedding its “unexciting” identity:
#7 Custom tools
Past the interest stage, all prior material should now have brought prospects to the decision step. It is here where marketers can ensure conversions through effective Calls to Action (CTAs) and sales-oriented material.
As a gateway to this stage, they may consider custom offer-specific tools such as cost calculators. Those both cement a company’s professionalism and inform a prospect’s decision through hard data, making for a compelling resource. Companies themselves may use such data for future sales and marketing, the way such businesses as Compressed Air Systems do.
#8 Product videos
On the subject of visible value, here marketers may finally consider product videos. This type of content might have alienated prospects in prior stages, but here it may add value and secure conversions.
Should marketers have delved into instructional, promotional, or insider-type videos, product videos should present no notable challenge. The human element should persist, of course, but product videos now address invested, eager buyers. As such, they should frame their offer in data-rich terms and finally opt for more direct sales pitches.
#9 Brochures and spec lists
Finally, in tandem with video for pure visual power, manufacturing marketers may now produce and distribute brochures and specification lists. Such material may be less enticing, but is also more digestible and, arguably, shareable.
For such content, too, it is crucial to showcase strict, demonstrable value before all else. There is little room for flair and fluff; if anything, those may drive buyers away. Here, marketers need to fully cater to their audience of decision-makers and present them with deep, accurate, valuable data.
In brief, there are ample content marketing ideas for manufacturing companies that marketers may entertain. Of course, executing many such ideas will depend on their creativity, resources, and other unique factors. Nonetheless, the takeaway marketers may put to use lies in spreading appropriate content across all stages of the buyer’s journey. Research shows the industry’s marketers still struggle in this regard – and the current digital marketing landscape makes remedying it imperative.
Guest blog post from Benjamin Hughes, a freelance writer specializing in SEO, PPC, and all things digital marketing, with the hopes of starting his own business in the near future.