Content Marketing for Manufacturers: The Ultimate Guide
Discover The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing for manufacturing and industrial companies to learn everything you need to know about content marketing.
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Content Marketing for Manufacturers: The Ultimate Guide
Discover The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing for manufacturing and industrial companies to learn everything you need to know about content marketing.
Published: 15 Nov 2023
19 minutes read
Looking to fine-tune your content expertise but puzzled about where to commence, especially in the manufacturing and industrial sectors?
Worry not, as we present you with this definitive guide designed with your sector in mind. In it, we unravel the intricate details of content marketing.
Move from ambiguity to clarity as we outline how to strategise, develop, and optimise a bespoke content approach, underpinned by insights uniquely relevant to your field. Make the most of our invaluable tips, tried-and-true techniques, and sector-specific guidelines to excel in Manufacturing and Industrial content marketing.
You'll be poised not just to generate impactful leads, but also to convert these into tangible revenue streams for your company.
One of the main issues that organisations face when trying to use content marketing to their advantage is that their B2B content marketing strategy isn’t fully developed, or hasn’t been given adequate time, meaning that they aren’t entirely sure where to begin.
This leads to them jumping in head-first without a real plan in place, resulting in poor quality content that their target audience isn’t viewing or engaging with; even though the content may be well written, it just isn’t performing as expected.
That’s why we’ve created this: our ultimate guide to building a B2B content marketing strategy. We’ll discuss what content marketing is, as well as how to plan, execute and master the perfect strategy. Using our valuable tips, tricks and tactics you can begin to master the skill of B2B content marketing and start generating significant leads and revenue as a result.
Businesses can gain 67% more leads through B2B content marketing
What is B2B Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content with the main goal of attracting and retaining a specific audience. B2B content marketing does exactly this but with content written by businesses, for businesses.
B2B content marketing is a popular and effective strategy and the content being produced ranges from blog posts to instructional videos, infographics and more. These different forms of content can be used by businesses to attract, convert and delight their customers at every stage of their buyer’s journey.
Why are companies using content marketing?
One of the biggest benefits of B2B Content Marketing is that it helps companies reach out to their customers and gain their trust like no other marketing method. With effective B2B content marketing, your customers begin to see you as two things:
Regularly publishing high-quality and consistent content to your target audience positions your business as a thought leader within your industry. The more reliable your content, the more prospects will come to your company for advice
A trusted brand
Content that focuses on niche subjects can help customers find answers or solutions to the problems they may be having within that particular subject area. If your content is able to help a customer solve their issue, they are more likely to return to your business the next time they encounter a similar dilemma - because they trust you.
By investing real time and effort into B2B content marketing, you can establish your business as a go-to above your competitors in the industry. That’s why 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing - it works.
However, if this is the case, why do only 37% of B2B companies have a written content marketing strategy in place?
This is because a lot of companies see the value in sharing content and do it regularly, but because they have no definitive strategy in place, they don’t know how to organise or optimise the way they do it - which means they aren’t seeing measurable results.
The key takeaway? Your B2B content marketing strategy is the blueprint that helps shape your content, the foundation for meeting your business goals and your tool to attract potential customers - so don’t underestimate it.
Planning your Strategy
Think of developing a B2B content marketing strategy as a construction project, like a house - you can’t start building straight away without the foundations in place.
You need to plan.
In order to use content marketing to become a thought leader, you will need to invest the necessary effort, time and resources into producing great content - otherwise, you risk publishing content that serves no purpose, isn’t posted at the correct time and doesn’t reach your target audience.
To avoid this, there are several steps you need to take to begin building your B2B content marketing strategy.
Step 1: Outline your objectives
An essential before the start of any project, make sure to outline your business goals and objectives - think about what you want to achieve from B2B content marketing.
- Do you want to generate new leads?
- Do you want to gain loyal, repeat customers?
- Do you want to become a thought leader in your industry?
If your answer to any of these questions (or all three) is “yes”, then this needs to be at the forefront of each piece of content you create. You should adapt these goals to each stage of your customer’s buyer journey - which leads nicely into the next step.
STEP 2: Identify Your Audience
With so many excellent resources available in abundance across the internet, there is no excuse for publishing bad content. Unlike B2C consumers, B2B customers are highly unlikely to make quick, impulsive decisions - they want to know they’re making an informed decision before they buy.
Because of this, you will need to craft B2B content that addresses your target audience’s issues at each stage of their buyer’s journey - the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and decide to purchase a new product or service. In order to do this, you need to have defined who your target audience is.
After all, if you don't know who your ideal customers are, how can you create content that engages them?
Find out who your ideal customers are by creating buyer personas. These are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
When creating buyer persona(s) you should include key customer demographics, such as behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
A detailed buyer persona will allow you to gain an insight into how your ideal customer wants to be engaged and you can expect to attract more valuable prospects, leads and customers to your business with relevant content.
For more information on how buyer personas can generate business, read our blog.
STEP 3: Conduct a Content Audit
When planning a B2B content marketing strategy, the reflex for many companies is to start rapidly creating and publishing brand-new content. However, once a piece of content is published, it’s forgotten about and the cycle continues.
Don’t make this mistake.
You can use a content audit to your advantage. Instead of rushing to create new content, evaluate what you already have and repurpose it. This way, high-performing content will continue to get engagement no matter how old it is, which increases the chance of generating leads.
However, a content audit can be a lengthy and tedious process without proper organisation, so there are a number of things you need to do to ensure that it is valuable to your business.
Define your goals
Never begin any project without defining what you want to achieve. The goals from a content audit are likely to be improving SEO and conversion rates, as well as increasing audience engagement.
Collect and Analyse Data
This is the stage in which you analyse which pieces are performing well, and which aren’t and address any gaps. Highlight these areas and prepare your team for a content planning session where you can propose ideas for subsidising content.
Gather the content you want to evaluate. This means collecting URLs and cataloguing content. Without proper organisation, this can spiral out of control easily, so be sure to do this in an appropriate and effective way.
Once you have completed the steps above, you are ready to begin creating fresh and relevant B2B content that is in line with your business goals and specific to your buyer personas.
Write Effective B2B Content
When it comes to creating strong B2B content, you need to have three actions in mind: engage, educate, and excite.
With an overwhelming amount of content available to your customers, it’s extremely easy for them to dismiss or ignore your content. Because of this, creating engaging content needs to be a priority - but this is easier said than done.
Buyer personas are a great resource to help you do this. If you feel like you know who your customer is and what they want, it is much easier to write B2B content that you know they will find engaging.
Perhaps the most important of the three actions, education is an essential component of B2B content. Once you are successful in engaging your target audience, you need to provide them with value in the form of education.
There are various ways you can do this, however, we recommend the simple yet effective inbound method of answering a question that has been asked by your target persona. When it comes to educating your prospects or customers, this method is the most effective because it does exactly what they want.
Due to the huge range of content available to today’s consumers, making yours stand out is essential. Making your content exciting is one way to ensure that your prospects will keep coming back for more.
There are numerous ways in which you can generate exciting content, however, one way is to get your customers involved in some way. User-generated content is used to encourage customers to create and generate their own content that can be used by the business. Not only is UGC more authentic because it shows what customers really think of your brand, but it can also have a significant impact on the success of your overall B2B content marketing strategy.
Types of Content
Many B2B companies are currently writing informative, industry-specific blog posts, but they aren’t utilising any other formats. To create great B2B content that can attract, convert and delight, you need variety.
With this in mind, here are a number of other content formats that you can use to create high-performing B2B content:
These act as handy and informative guides that are free for your customers to download and take with them when they leave your website.
This content shouldn’t be a hard sell, but provide prospects with knowledge, followed by an action they need to take if they want to find out more.
Infographics allow a huge amount of information to be condensed in a way that is visually appealing.
Templates & Checklists
These are a great tool for B2B content marketing, because they are actionable, a free resource (which prospects love) and are excellent at lead generation.
Studies show that 53% of consumers engage with a brand after viewing a video on social media, making video one of the best content forms for generating leads.
If your ideal customer is a busy professional who is always on the go, then podcasts could be a great way to engage with them.
Content Marketing Best Practices
Becoming a thought leader in your industry is no easy process. To create winning B2B content, we have some tried and tested tips for you.
Tip 1: Keep it Simple
Our first, most important tip is perhaps the most obvious one - however, it is surprising how many businesses don’t do this, which is why a lot of B2B content is often overloaded with information that isn’t always necessary.
When it comes to creative, effective B2B content, less is always more - no matter what business you’re in. While you may understand complex industry-specific language, there is no guarantee that your customer will, so we recommend making your content as simple to understand as possible.
Tip 2: Target the right people
This sounds easy enough, but the biggest error many companies make is focusing on themselves instead of their customers when it comes to B2B content.
Remember: content is only effective when you target the kind of people you want to sell to. This is where buyer personas are invaluable to your strategy. Because B2B content marketing is based on answering the right question at the right time, your ability to answer this question comes from how detailed your personas are.
Once you have identified the right customers, adapt your language to suit them. For example, a marketing manager may use different language than a finance manager and your content must reflect this.
By using the right language and conveying your business in an appropriate and engaging way, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
This means that people in your industry will be more likely to use your content to educate themselves, and this could result in them purchasing a product or service from you.
Tip 3: Use Keywords - BUt don't go overboard
Creating high-quality, relevant and consistent content not only encourages site visits and helps to provide a good user experience, but it is also the main ranking factor that Google uses to index your site. This is why keywords are an essential part of your B2B content strategy, and you need to know how and when to use them effectively.
Marketers used to get away with using as many keywords as possible on a single page to gain rankings quickly and easily, but after the Panda update of 2011, this method isn’t feasible anymore. Today, marketers have to put a lot of thought and effort into their keywords and make sure they are relevant to the content they are creating.
Your keywords are there to inform your content and to signal what it is about, but they shouldn’t be used as a way to ‘cheat’ your way through the rankings. You can use keyword density as a method of gaining traffic but don’t focus too much on it.
Instead, work on making your B2B content relevant and natural and Google will appreciate you for it.
SEO is a huge, and sometimes confusing part of B2B marketing. Ignore it, and you risk your content never being found. We’ve written a complete guide to SEO for manufacturers to help you get started.
Tip 4: Make your Customers Take Action
If your content isn’t followed by an action, how do you expect to generate leads?
The best content doesn’t just engage, educate and excite people - it asks them to do something. Your prospects want to learn so that they can solve the problem they’re having, so help them towards this goal. Ensure that your content educates people enough so that they want to take your advice and move further along their buyer’s journey. The best and most high-performing B2B content is able to gently nudge its prospects towards a purchase, without pushing the hard sell.
Tip 5: Be Human
This may strike you as extremely obvious, but this tip is here for a reason.
For B2B businesses, this hasn’t always been possible. It’s only within recent years that many of these companies have been able to escape the confines of corporate speak and find their human voice, and most of them haven’t mastered it just yet. There are huge benefits that come from this human voice because it is easier for prospects to form a relationship with a person, rather than a business.
So what does it mean to ‘be human’ in B2B content marketing?
Just because your ideal buyer has a serious job title, doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a well-timed industry-based joke.
Say What you Mean, Mean what you say
Your company probably isn’t perfect, and it shouldn’t pretend to be. Discussing problems your company has had in the past and how it has overcome them could be extremely valuable to your prospects.
Be straight to the point with your customer and they’ll appreciate your honesty.
Good content should show that you understand your prospect’s situation, and the reasons they are struggling. It should reassure them that their problem is common and that there is a solution.
Publishing your B2B Content
Once you have created and curated a range of different content, you need to think about how and where you are going to publish it. This involves a bit of research and decision-making.
Where are the people I want to see my content?
How do I get them to see it?
Figuring out where to publish your content and how you will direct prospects to it is one of the most difficult parts of B2B content marketing. Luckily, there are a number of key strategies you can implement to ensure that people are seeing and engaging with your content.
You need to have a good SEO strategy in place to ensure that your content ranks highly in search engines. A main component of this is keyword research, in which you will create an extensive list of all the keywords you want to rank for. Then, you should look at the search intent (what customers are actually searching for) and create landing pages for each of the keywords.
Getting this strategy right is key. Good SEO will get people to see your content and drive them to your website as a result.
PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, and B2B content marketing are often seen as mutually exclusive. However, there is a very strong case for using both together to optimise your content to its full potential.
After you have created a range of content, it’s a good idea to look at what pieces of content have been performing well and promote them using PPC. This often has positive results because you’re taking content you know performs well and publishing it in a way that means more people will see it.
You can use a number of different tools such as Google AdWords, LinkedIn advertising, Facebook Ads and even promoted tweets on Twitter and Instagram posts. Paid ads can offer great insight into how well a targeted ad performs using certain keywords or phrases and then you can go back to the content you have already written and optimise it for those keywords. This is the best way to drive more traffic and interest in a shorter amount of time, but you need to ensure that it's done properly.
Email has been subjected to unfair scrutiny by marketers in recent years, however, it is still one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal. Therefore, your email strategy is extremely important to your overall B2B content marketing efforts. When writing emails, you need to do it with the intent of making your prospect take action, building a relationship and gaining business as a result.
Here’s how you can do this:
- Short and snappy subject lines - studies show that emails with subject lines of only three to four words received the most responses. You need to grab your prospects’ attention in these few words, so make sure your message is clear and eye-catching.
- Keep copy simple - readability is essential and copy needs to be free-flowing. Informal emails that read well tend to gain the most responses, so be sure to use every word to your advantage.
- Always add a close - whether you're asking for a customer’s time, contact information, or business, you need to be sure you’re asking for something. This will push them to take action, such as downloading a piece of contact or, further down the line, contacting you for a quote.
With over 2.48 billion users of social media worldwide, it is one of the most valuable tools at your disposal. It allows businesses to build brand awareness, connect with prospects at each stage of their buyer's journey, and nurture relationships with existing customers. This makes social media the perfect place to share your content.
By using social media tools you can monitor certain platforms and see what kind of conversations your ideal customers are having. You can create new audiences by sharing your own content with these people and sharing their thoughts and opinions.
On top of this, you should share third-party content pieces frequently across platforms, because it builds up your credibility and authority as a thought leader in your industry. By publishing good content at the right time, you’ll directly encourage more visitors to your website and have a better chance at starting a relationship and nurturing them into quality leads.
Once your content is published, it doesn’t stop there. In order to have a successful B2B content marketing strategy, you need to be constantly monitoring how it is performing.
Your content may be relevant now but what happens in a few months, or a year?
Prospects and customers expect accurate and up-to-date content, it's your responsibility to monitor, update and republish if necessary.
It’s highly unlikely that your B2B content marketing strategy will be perfect from the start. An effective strategy requires time to refine and optimise, and measuring the results of your efforts can be difficult. This makes a good reporting and analysing system a crucial tool in your strategy.
What do you need to measure?
This is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view the content.
Use a tool like Google Analytics to track website traffic on a regular basis, to see which content is getting the most visitors.
Monitor your email subscribers to see which content is responsible for the growth and create further similar content.
Tools such as Moz and AHRefs help you track your content marketing efforts because they inform you of where your content is in a search engine.
Number of Downloads
If your content is being downloaded at a high rate, you could use it to influence the creation of new content.
Average Time Spent
This is the average time that a visitor or prospect spends on a piece of content.
Social Media Shares
You should be tracking overall shares, as well as shares by channel and the web traffic generated as a result.
Being a content marketer is about more than good ideas - you need to improve and grow as your business does.
Measure your results regularly, and optimise content for the best results.
Getting started with B2B content marketing can be a fairly daunting task, but hopefully, we’ve provided you with some of the knowledge you need to get started on your strategy.
B2B content marketing is a complex strategy that requires a lot of effort, but it will ultimately pay off in generating leads, building relationships and gaining customers.
At Axon Garside, we write purposeful content that will engage your target audience in formats that suit their information needs.
Our keyword experts can help maximise the chances of your content being found and shared with your target audience.