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Your Guide to Content Marketing Trends in the Manufacturing Industry

It's your job as a marketer to get your superiors to realise that manufacturing sales and customer retention come from high-quality marketing. And the best way to perform high-quality marketing is by creating content.

Are You Already Content Marketing?

If you're already content marketing, this article is perfect for you. You can analyse what you're doing right, and what you need to improve. If you aren't content marketing, you can get an idea of where to start, and what steps to take to achieve success.

We've been analysing five reports produced by the Content Marketing Institute about content marketing and manufacturing, here are our findings!


  1. Usage & Team Organisation
  2. Dedication & Overall Success
  3. Content Marketing Strategy
  4. Creating & Distributing Content
  5. Goals & Metrics
  6. Budgets & Spending
  7. Issues of Importance & Unique Challenges

Note: Scroll to the bottom of the article to access all five reports.

1. Usage & Team Organisation

Percentage of Manufacturing Respondents Who Use Content Marketing

using content marketing

In 2018, 86% of respondents already used content marketing, but 57% per cent had one person or a small team in control of all content activity. That's quite a lot of work if you've got PPC, website updates, press releases and design work to get through!

manufacturing marketing organizational structure

It's difficult to get the results you want when you have one person in charge, that's why 49% of manufacturers outsource content creation. There needs to be a buy-in from the business that it's the right tactic to use, and unless you have a large or several marketing teams, you'll often need help from a marketing agency.

57% of companies have one person or a small team overseeing their marketing strategy

Content Marketing Activities Manufacturing Marketers Outsource

content outsourcing

The study doesn’t specify the size of teams that outsource content. But we can assume large organisations have bigger budgets and more resources.

Small to midsize teams have fewer resources so prefer to keep higher level jobs like strategy in-house, and lower-level jobs like promotion (we're sure you've sent a few emails and social media updates out in your time!) in-house as well.

Content creation is time-consuming and resource hungry, especially if you include SEO optimisation, videos and images. Marketing agencies and professional writers have plenty of expertise, so it allows the marketing teams to focus on other areas. Unless the company decides to employ 1-2 new members of staff, outsourcing is necessary, it's working out what you outsource.

manufacturing content template

2. Dedication & Overall Success

There Are No Questions About Commitment

In 2019, 52% of manufacturing companies are either extremely or very committed to content marketing, with 40% being somewhat committed.

content outsourcing

Compare this to the 2017 report, and the results are very similar, so commitment levels have been relatively stable in the past few years. While manufacturers aren't ignoring content marketing, there's room for improvement. Being 'somewhat committed' to content isn't going to yield the best results, so it's about developing a mindset where content is the focal point of everything you're doing.

content outsourcing

But What About Success?

In 2019, 12% saw themselves as much more successful compared to 2018, and 52% saw themselves as somewhat successful.

content outsourcing

Compare the results to 2017, and the results are almost identical. With more commitment and resources, this figure should rise. It's difficult to get the best results when you only have one person or a small team working on the project, especially if they're only 'somewhat committed' to the project.

content outsourcing

key Point

Although there is a dip when comparing success to the amount of effort put in, manufacturers are seeing results, and how you determine success depends on whether you know what success looks like.

Factors Contributing to Success

factors contributing to content success

What contributed to their success? A whopping 76% cited higher quality content creation as the main contributing factor. 66% say building or adjusting a strategy helps, and 57% spend more time on content marketing.

Percentage of Manufacturing Marketers Whose Organisations Have Clarity on Content Marketing Success

what does a content strategy look like

If someone put a content strategy in front of you, would you know if it was successful? If you said no, you're not alone. Only 33% of marketers understand what a successful content strategy looks like.

33% were unsure, and 34% said no, this shows clear room for improvement. Using content planning strategies with SMART goals and buyer personas will help. Having goals to measure your content marketing against provides tangible results.

further reading

Want to learn more about manufacturing marketing? Read our Ultimate Guide!

How Organisations Are Evolving

If we compare the CMI 2019 report to the 2016 report, it's clear that manufacturing companies maturity levels are growing each year.

Content Marketing Maturity Levels 2016

content maturity in manufacturers

Content Marketing Maturity Levels 2019

content maturity in manufacturers

In 2016, 50% described themselves as having a first steps/young mentality compared to 36% in 2019. In 2016, 20% described themselves as mature/sophisticated compared to 28% in 2019.

It makes sense, experience develops maturity and understanding; meaning you understand what success looks like, what resources you need and what you need to do to achieve success.

key development

This year will see manufacturing marketers pushing for more structured, robust content plans. They'll also look for results based software to manage their data and show better results.

3. Content Marketing Strategy

Percentage of Companies Who Have A Content Marketing Strategy

percentage of manufacturers who have a content strategy

Who's guilty of keeping things in their head? 45% manufacturing marketers, that's who.

The trouble with keeping things in your head is that the details become murky. Luckily, 21% of marketers have a documented strategy.

This is still only a fifth of marketers who are documenting their strategy, which is a huge mistake. A marketing strategy makes it easier to know what types of content to develop, how to do it and when to do it.

top tip

Your strategy is your hub. It holds supporting information like article approval dates, article goals and keyword strategies. Our advice, create one!

Proportion of Manufacturing Marketers That Use Buyer Personas for Content Marketing Purposes

manufacturer buyer persona development

As we always say, buyer personas are the building blocks of any content marketing strategy. You can't build a strategy if you don't know who you're writing it for. Buyer personas can help you target new markets and get a better understanding of how an industry or company operates.

Luckily, 73% of manufacturers either use personas or plan to in 2019. As for the other 27%, why aren't you using buyer personas?

4. Creating & Distributing Content

Manufacturing Content Marketers' Use or Development of Select Type of Content in the Last 12 Months

what content manufacturers develop

Content length is a hotly debated topic in the world of content marketing. Some data says articles between 3000-10,000 words get the most shares, others say 2500 words is the sweet spot.

What we agree on is that long-form content is always going to perform better than short-form content in a search engine. You're going to find it difficult to rank for anything if you write anything under 1500-2000 words.

If we were advising a manufacturer, we would always encourage them to create long-form content and video content, it'll improve your rankings and make you more engaging.

What Type of Content is Most Effective?

which content is most effective

Videos lie at the top of the list when it comes to content effect. The study doesn't state what the positive effect is, but we'd presume it's achieving a goal.

Videos can be short or long, serious or fun. There are plenty of formulas for videos and a lot of room to be creative. It's a great area to explore and will be a focus for a lot of businesses. Note: long-form content production wasn't included in the 2018 report.

How Manufacturing Marketers Have Changed Their Use of Content Types/Formats Compared With One Year Ago

how manufacturers have changed content types in the past year

Video. Everyone's doing it, that's why manufacturers are increasing the amount of video they produce. Relating to the manufacturing industry, a video can explain your product better than a product description, it removes the mental gymnastics of trying to work out how something works.

97% of marketers claim that videos help customers understand products.

We can also see a switch from physical, written copy like brochures to digital content like ebooks and blogs, are manufacturers realising that their audience is online?

Concepts Marketing Manufacturers Take Into Account While Creating Content For Their Organisation

concepts manufacturing marketers take into account when creating content

Manufacturers need to break the habit of delivering a sales message rather than trying to help the prospect. Nobody wants to hear how great your product is, they want you to listen to their troubles.

Proportion of Manufacturing MarketersThat Have Used Paid Methods to Distribute Content in the Last 12 Months

proportion of manufacturers that have used paid ads to distribute content in the past 12 months

Reasons Why Manufacturing Marketers Use Paid Methods to Distribute Content

why manufacturers use paid ads to distribute content

We think paid advertising should be part of an inbound marketing campaign, but we also believe it shouldn't be your primary strategy. Yes, it's easy, gets immediate results and gives you consistent traffic; but it's also expensive!

If you aren't generating traffic with organic results, why is that? Are you doing it wrong? If you deliver content in the right way, you should only need to boost it with a small paid budget. You may not even need to do that if it's popularity soars.

5. Goals & Metrics

Proportion of Manufacturing Marketers That Measure Content Marketing ROI

proportion of manufacturing marketers that measure ROI

How will you know how effective your campaigns are if you don't measure their success? But more importantly, why aren't you measuring success?

why don't content marketers measure roi

42% say it’s too difficult and 37% say they don’t know how. It isn't down to laziness then, people don't know how to measure success. Because companies don't know how to analyse their content, they don't do it.

top tip

Show your customers how you’ve measured success. Seeing tangible results means they're more likely to work with you.

Goals Manufacturing Marketers Have Achieved by Using Content Marketing Successfully in Last 12 Months

proportion of manufacturing marketers that measure ROI

Generating leads, educating your customers and prospects, building credibility and trust; these are all signs of effective content marketing. So well done manufacturers!

6. Budgets & Spending

Manufacturing Marketers’ Expected Change in 2019 Content Marketing Budget Compared With 2018

issues of importance for manufacturing content marketers

44% of manufacturing marketers are increasing their content marketing budget in 2019, which is a testament to how effective it is! Companies don't tend to increase budgets when something doesn't work.

Areas Where Manufacturing Content Marketers Increased Spending in the Last 12 Months

issues of importance for manufacturing content marketers

This is an encouraging statistic for anyone involved in inbound marketing. The philosophy is that your organic advertising should outweigh your paid advertising, and this stat reflects that philosophy.

Paid will always have a place in advertising, but it should be used to promote your valuable content.

7. Issues of Importance & Unique Challenges

Top 5 Content Marketing Issues of Importance to Manufacturing Organizations in 2018

issues of importance for manufacturing content marketers

Manufacturing organisations share the same worries as every other company it seems! While we can educate ourselves on social media and search engine algorithm changes, there's always some guesswork involved.

One thing that will remain true is that if you create high-quality content, search engines will like you a lot more than if you don't!

Unique Challenges Manufacturing Content Marketers Face

challenges facing manufacturing content marketers

If you're struggling to write for different people in different organisations, you need to study your personas and ask yourself whether they give you all the information you need If they don't reassess. Try to schedule some interviews or create a survey you can distribute on social media.

Evaluating the key points:

  • In the past 5 years, content marketers are more mature, which has led to the development of more advanced long-form and video content.

  • In the past 5 years, commitment levels are still the same; however, 44% of manufacturers are set to increase content budgets in 2019.

  • 49% of manufacturing marketers are prioritising a sales message over the audience's needs — this mindset has to change if you want to educate prospects with content and build trust.

  • Manufacturers are finding it difficult to create content for multiple decision makers. The creation of buyer personas will help those who create them.

  • Those that don't document their strategy are missing out on benefits like knowing what content to create and aligning a team around a common goal.

List of Accessible Reports:

manufacturing content template

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