23 December 2014
Up and up and up. Content marketing is on the rise. And fortunately, B2B companies are taking note. But what about manufacturers specifically?
According to a data from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs as part of their Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research, manufacturers are slightly ahead of the curve.
Manufacturing content marketing had a 94% adoption rate of content marketing compared to the 91% of their general B2B brethren.
The research also showed that the top three goals for this content are brand awareness, lead generation, and customer acquisition. But the question remains: How do you make sure your content is effective and leads to tangible benefits?
The Biggest Challenge
The number one challenge cited by marketers in both manufacturing content marketing and the larger B2B sphere is producing enough content. Content creation is the foundation of content marketing. Obviously, if there’s no content, then customers have nothing to read or to watch or to listen to. And just as important as the initial creation of content is the steady stream of content. If customers fall out of the habit of checking your site for new content or if they don’t find anything enticing in the first place, it may be hard to get them back.
Measuring Content Marketing
One challenge that hit manufacturing content marketing harder than the average B2B marketer is how to measure content effectiveness. The research showed that over half of manufacturers struggle with how to measure their content marketing results, compared to a third of the general B2B sphere. They also had problems selecting the best metrics for measurement. Less than half of manufacturers listed website traffic as an organizational goal, yet they simultaneously listed traffic content effectiveness. But how is website traffic not a goal if you’re embarking on a content marketing strategy and using traffic as your main barometer of success? There’s a huge contradiction here.
The Challenge of Metrics
It’s important to use the right metrics when attempting to measure success. This is true for all B2B endeavors, not just manufacturing content marketing, but there is one big challenge specifically related to content. Unlike many other endeavors, content itself is not usually monetized. The goal of your content strategy may be something much harder to measure, such as brand awareness. The lack of a direct income from content makes it more difficult to determine the exact ROI of your content marketing.
Choosing the Right Metrics
Once you set your larger objective, it’s important to choose the right metrics to reflect that goal. For instance, if your main goal is lead generation, then you want to measure how many people are signing up for your newsletters or registering on your lead forms to access gated content. If your goal is for your content to improve cross-selling, then you want to take a look at how much each customer spends per order and then measure if that improves.
If your goal is strictly customer acquisition, conversion rates and even shopping cart abandonment both make sense as valid measurements for manufacturing content marketing. But while conversion rates are a popular metric, keep in mind that an uptick in conversion rates may lag behind the content creation because of the long B2B buying cycles. On the bright side, by the time your sales go up, you’ll have a nice library of content!
For other objectives, such as brand awareness or thought leadership, you might choose different metrics available to you with your website analytics. Your search engine rankings, the average duration of your site visitors, and your bounce rate all make good metrics to keep tabs on.
There’s no doubt that content marketing has its challenges, from creating enough content to finding the right metrics. Regardless of the hurdles, more and more B2B companies, especially manufacturers, are seeing the benefits of a content strategy. According to the Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study, more than 50% of marketers in manufacturing plan raise their content marketing budgets. By keeping an eye on your goals and measuring your progress with the right metrics, you set yourself up for success, whether your goal is brand awareness, lead gen, or customer acquisition. Or maybe all three.