2017 has dissolved into the distance. You've emailed, influenced and promoted your way through a year's worth of newfangled marketing ideas. But how successful were your efforts?
We've already analysed why smart manufacturers are reaping the rewards of Content Marketing. Now we're going to look at the evidence that proves they were right to invest.
Ask yourself these questions. Is Content Marketing part of your strategy? If so, is it effective?
There's room for improvement, whether you've got a knockout ROI or not. Aid your progression by absorbing this industry knowledge.
In 2017 B2B content marketers beat marketing manufacturers on nine factors. Knowing what a successful strategy looks like was one factor (41%:33%).
Should manufacturers follow B2B steps? We'll show you data that'll help you decide.
In part one of this article, we'll look at manufacturing marketing trends and stats. Then we’ll analyse how they could affect future developments.
In part two we'll show you how to make trends in the manufacturing industry part of your strategy.
Usage & Team Structure
Does Your Company Use Content Marketing?
Base this graphic on the Content Marketing Institute's (CMI) definition of Content Marketing;
Content marketing is defined 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.”
As you can see, most manufacturers are committing to Content Marketing. Remember this is superficial. To gain context we need to look closer at the definition.
If you focus on educating and inspiring a targeted group with relevant material, you're likely to generate interest. Two positive actions contribute to a successful outcome.
How Organisations Are Evolving
64% of organisations found themselves at low to mid-levels of evolution. At lower stages of evolution (34%) marketers were struggling to make strategies. At mid-level stages of evolution (30%) marketers were struggling to track their results.
2018 Development: This year will see marketers pushing for more structured content plans. They'll also look for results based software or methods to manage their data
What Type of Teams Do They Have?
57% of companies use a small marketing team/individual to manage their campaigns. 20% had a company marketing group and 7% had a marketing group for each department.
This can create problems with staff workload, time-management and goal completion rates.
57% of companies have 1 person or a small team overseeing their marketing strategy
Outsourcing Content Marketing
As a result, 58% of marketers outsource jobs. 49% admitted to outsourcing content creation whilst 25% outsourced content promotion. 42% of manufacturer marketers didn’t outsource any content.
The study doesn’t specify the size of teams that outsource content. But we can assume larger teams have bigger budgets and more resources. Is it a lack of time or knowledge that causes this?
It could be a bit of both. Content creation is time-consuming and resource hungry, especially if you include video/graphics. Marketing agencies have plenty of expertise so it allows the company to focus on other areas.
Almost 3 out of 5 respondents outsourced at least one Content Marketing activity
Dedication & Success
What Does a Successful Content Marketing 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 know 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 factors to measure your content against provides tangible results.
Dedication to Content Marketing
Dedication levels dropped in the CMI's 2018 Content Marketing Report. The 2017 report said 38% of manufacturing marketers were very committed to Content Marketing. In 2018 that number was 26%, with 51% being somewhat committed.
Only 11% of marketers are either not very committed or not at all committed to Content Marketing
How Successful is Your Strategy?
Most businesses are modest when revealing their success rates. This could involve factors like not knowing what to look for or not having any goals to measure your success.
Tip for 2018: Always have a business goal! It gives you something to aim for and measure success against
Factors Contributing to Success
56% of content marketers say their operations have improved in the past year. But 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.
Compare this with key points in the Content Marketing definition. Strategic, valuable and consistent.
Content Marketing Strategy
How Many Companies Have a Strategy?
Who's guilty of keeping things in their head? 47% of people, that's who.
The trouble with keeping things in your head is that the details get lost. Luckily, 19% of people document their strategies and have information reference points.
Tip for 2018: Your strategy is your hub. It holds supporting information like article approval dates, article goals and keyword strategies. Our advice, create one!
Manufacturing marketers are thinking about strategy when building their marketing campaigns. 71% see marketing as an ongoing project, and 51% understand marketing and sales work in alignment.
32% say their Content Marketing efforts are extremely or very effective at helping the company meet its goals.
Creating & Distributing Content
How Do You Gather Information to Create Content?
The most common way of gathering data for content creation is employee feedback (63%). It's interesting to know only 49% used customer feedback.
Tip for 2018: Although employee feedback is relevant, information can distort when it's passed through a filter. Should we be looking at methods where customers let go and give you undiluted feedback? e.g. TrustPilot
Do You Expect to Create More Content in 2018?
A huge increase shows that manufacturing companies are on board with Content Marketing. The web is saturated with companies trying to out-think each other, that's why original ideas are more vital than ever.
What Type of Content is Most Popular?
92% of manufacturing marketers use social media as a platform for their content. A predictable manufacturing marketing trend considering it's reach and versatility.
Chugging along in second and third are video (80%) and images (69%). According to the Content Marketing Association, many companies are changing staff roles. This could lead to more designers joining organisations, which will increase image and video output.
47% of manufacturers say manufacturing flow is good or very good during the content creation process
What Type of Content is Most Effective?
Interestingly, videos lie at the top of the list when it comes to content effect. The study doesn't state what determines the effect, 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 in 2018.
94% of manufacturing marketers consider their content fact-based and credible
Goals & Metrics
Do You Measure Content Marketing 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?
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.
Tip for 2018: Teach your customers to measure success. Seeing tangible results means they're more likely to work with you
70% of marketers say they can prove increases in engagement and leads. But only 42% say they can show an increase in sales.
Manufacturing marketers need to align their sales and marketing teams to improve sales.
Budgets & Spending
How Will Your Marketing Budget Change in the Next 12 Months?
Marketers spend an average of 22% on their marketing budget, but 38% say they are increasing it in 2018
Build Your Strategy Around Manufacturing Trends
It's important to have an overview of manufacturing marketing trends trends. But it's important to know trends in the manufacturing industry and how you can use them in your strategy. Use this simple formula to create content ideas for new trends.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
What is it? - The Internet of Things is an old idea, but one which is coming into practice now. Devices are able to communicate with each other via the internet and solve complex problems without human interaction.
Smart factories are developing products that tell machines they're incomplete, communicating remotely to solve the problem.
Problems with IoT - How can we protect everything? Laptops phones and houses, fair enough. Protecting every single item in a factory would cost an astonishing amount. Plus, it leaves a lot of room for hackers to work in.
Content ideas - How to Protect Your IoT Items From Hackers; Best IoT Tools to Enhance Your Security
What are they? - It's no secret, we've been using robots for decades. They're precise, safe and offer low margins of error on complex tasks. They're used in many industries from industrial to pharmaceutical. Take a look at how Tesla are reinventing the motor industry with robots. Impressive? Scary? A bit of both?
Problem with robots - Robots are expensive, having too many could increase business overheads. Programmed to perform specific tasks, their intelligence doesn't expand when dealing with complex problems. Humans have more insight into complex or abstract issues.
Content ideas - How Humans and Robots Work Together in the Workplace; How to Increase Your ROI With Robots.
What is it? - If you need prototypes before you manufacture, 3D printing is very useful. Setting it up is expensive, but it will take the cost of production down as it saves time and resources. This video shows how 3D metal printing makes more efficient, complex designs.
Problems with 3D printing - Size is the main issue with 3D printing. It's only possible to print small objects at the minute. Scaling would be expensive and smaller firms would struggle to compete.
Content Ideas - How to Implement 3D printing Into Your Small Business; What Materials Can You Use With a 3D Printer?
You know manufacturing marketing trends and trends in the manufacturing industry. You're ready to get out there and produce amazing content! Go for it!
Visit the Content Marketing Institute's Manufacturing Content Marketing Report 2018 for more information