Content Marketing for Manufacturers: The Ultimate Guide

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

Content marketing is all about creating and sharing useful, engaging content to connect with your audience. For manufacturing companies, a solid content strategy can completely change the game in how you attract and keep buyers. It brings the client experience into the modern era.

But what should an awesome content marketing plan look like for a manufacturer? And can you even start the journey without a strategy in place? Let’s dive in and transform how your manufacturing company connects with buyers through content. 

Content marketing for manufacturers

Overview 

Understanding Content Marketing for Manufacturers

8 Benefits of Content Marketing in the Manufacturing Industry

Why Manufacturers Need a Tailored Approach

Defining Your Manufacturing Audience

5 Steps in Developing Your Content Marketing Strategy in Manufacturing

Distribution and Promotion of Content Marketing in the Manufacturing Industry

Tracking Key Performance Indicators

Real-World Manufacturing Content Marketing Success Stories

Conquering Common Content Marketing Challenges in Manufacturing

Strategies to Overcome Manufacturing Content Marketing Obstacles

The Future of Content Marketing in Manufacturing

Understanding Content Marketing for Manufacturers

One of the main challenges companies face while trying to utilize content marketing to their advantage is that their B2B content marketing strategy isn’t fully developed. It could also be that the strategy hasn’t been given enough time, as the company isn’t entirely sure where to start. This causes them to jump in head-first without a real plan in place, leading to failure.

When it comes to the manufacturing industry, content marketing involves complex processes in terms of creation and execution, technologies and solutions. It allows manufacturers to educate and inform their prospects about their products and services. By creating informative and educative content, they can address the common pain points of potential clients.

It also helps to answer questions and provide solutions to the target audience. This enables potential clients to make informed decisions and build trust in the industry’s or company’s capabilities.

8 Benefits of Content Marketing in the Manufacturing Industry 

So why should a manufacturing company invest in quality content marketing? Like all other things, you get what you pay for. Relevant and useful content benefits your brand and influences decision-makers. It also creates interest in your business and products, which leads to sales.

Quality content also allows adapting and reusing messages and ideas across different channels. The creation of thoughtful and engaging content can be very beneficial to the industry. Below are some of the benefits: 

1. It Drives Website Engagement and Traffic

Content marketing enables manufacturing industries to understand what their prospects want. It shows you what they’re downloading and reading on your website.

So, be sure to lead your target audience to relevant content on your company’s website. This will help increase your business’s visibility in search engines like Google. The outcome will be more traffic to your website, more interest in your products, inquiries and solid leads. 

2. Buyer Engagement and Open Dialogue

Engaging with your buyers helps develop long-term relationships. Social media, emails and blog posts are great platforms for encouraging your audience to correspond with you.

Through these channels, you can ask questions, solicit responses, receive feedback and be open to answering. 

3. Gathering Ideas for Future Content

Coming up with new ideas for content every other time can be difficult. So, listen to your audience’s questions and comments about what you share. Recurring inquiries can be a great way to develop future content.

They can also be how you source your raw materials in terms of how much of something you should be producing in a specific timeframe. Would a short video about a product line be of interest? Any topic can come up through the inquiries from which you can create engaging pieces to reiterate your position as an industry leader.

Benefits of content marketing in the manufacturing imagery (infographic)

4. Shine With Video

Website and social media users expect short and informative videos highlighting new products or services and a company’s expertise. With a mobile phone in almost everyone’s possession, you can easily create a video and have it online, sometimes immediately.

The trick is to keep the video short and straight to the point. Ideally, your video should be at most three minutes or less than a minute. You should also share only one main concept. Nevertheless, you can create a video series if your content is much longer. 

Here’s one example of how GE has used video to elevate their content marketing game. Putting a video directly within the hero image makes it easy to consume and understand their message:

GE uses video in their hero area

5. Building Contact Lists

Remember that the whole idea of content marketing is to drive conversions. Therefore, every piece of content should be able to drive prospects to download content and sign up for a newsletter. It should also convince them to leave a comment or share your content with possible clients.

Since the pandemic, the manufacturing industry should have learned one lesson: Change will remain constant for the foreseeable future, and flexibility will remain key. Creating quality content is an important part of B2B marketing, so it should be prioritized. 

6. Higher Search Engine Rankings 

Improving your manufacturing website’s search engine rankings is another major benefit of investing in quality content. Search engines like Google want to give users the most relevant and engaging content. And the more relevant its algorithm finds your content, the higher your rankings will be in Google searches.

The following are best practices to help you improve your SEO:

  • Use relevant keywords
  • Use external links to authoritative resources
  • Use internal links to related content on your site
  • Optimize images by including descriptive alt text
  • Have the target keyword in the page title, URL, meta description and one of the headings

7. Establishing Your Reputation as an Authority

You can make your manufacturing blog a trustworthy resource for answering questions and solving industry problems. Note that the more authoritative a reputation your website has, the higher it will rank in Google searches.

You’ll need an effective content marketing strategy to build a better relationship with existing partners and buyers and increase your word-of-mouth leads. Note that meaningful content is proof you know exactly what you’re doing. That helps to inspire confidence that results in recommendations.

8. Increased Brand Awareness

Increased brand awareness results from boosting your search engine rankings and building trustworthy relationships. The more recognizable and appealing your brand is, the more likely people will click on it.

Higher Google rankings provide your brand with a wider audience and more exposure. Consistently publishing high-quality content also helps to make your brand more familiar. 

Benefit End Result Applicability Example
Drives website engagement and traffic Increased website visits and time on site Companies of all sizes A small manufacturer produces an eBook on CNC programming best practices that drive many first-time visitors to their site.
Encourages buyers engagement More buyer feedback and product ideas Primarily B2C companies A large auto manufacturer asks Facebook followers questions to get ideas for new standard features.
Provides ideas for future content A better understanding of buyers content needs Companies with B2B and B2C A mid-sized manufacturer sees buyers asking for cost analysis info and creates pricing sheet assets.
Allows video content creation Visual demonstration of products/services Companies targeting younger buyers A small manufacturing services firm produces product demo videos viewable on their website and YouTube channel.
Builds contact lists Increased subscriber base and sales leads Companies selling to other businesses A large industrial parts supplier offers free 3D model downloads in exchange for sales contact info.
Improves SEO rankings Higher search engine rankings All companies with an online presence A mid-sized machine shop targeting local buyers creates blog posts about their specialties to rank higher in searches.
Establishes industry authority Increased referrals and credibility Companies selling complex products/services A small aerospace parts maker becomes known for detailed buyer service manuals, leading buyers to refer others.
Increases brand awareness More widespread brand recognition Primarily B2C companies, newer brands A large manufacturer launching a new brand develops unique content to spread awareness rapidly.
How manufacturers can improve search engine rankings with content marketing (infographic)

Why Manufacturers Need a Tailored Approach

Manufacturers need a customized content marketing strategy that is tailored to their unique needs and challenges. As an industry that deals with complex products, longer sales cycles, and providing in-depth technical information, a one-size-fits-all approach will not be effective.

A tailored strategy analyzes a manufacturer’s target audience and buyer personas to develop optimized campaigns that drive higher engagement. It also helps enhance their digital presence and brand loyalty by ensuring messaging resonates with buyers.

The key benefit of tailored marketing is reaching the right people at the right time with the right message. There’s no value in advertising to middle-aged men if your product is women’s makeup. A tailored approach focuses your efforts on your true target market – those most likely to buy from you.

Creating that relevant messaging requires thoroughly understanding your audience. Their demographics, interests, location, buying habits and more allow you to craft content that aligns with their wants and needs. This alignment happens across:

  • The actual message content
  • The platforms used to reach them
  • The presentation style and medium for communication

Defining Your Manufacturing Audience

  1. Identifying Your Target Audience

Pinpointing your ideal buyer is a vital first step for manufacturing marketers. Through research, buyer interviews, and analyzing your website analytics, you can gather valuable data on demographics, interests, and pain points. These insights allow you to create content that truly resonates with your audience.

  1. Understanding the Manufacturing Buyer’s Journey

Being aware of the buyer’s journey in manufacturing is critical to connect with buyers at each stage. As potential buyers move from initial awareness to consideration and finally decision-making, their needs change. Creating content that addresses those needs helps establish trust and thought leadership.

  1. Persona Development for Manufacturers

Detailed buyer personas are crucial for tailoring content. These fictional profiles of your perfect prospects capture goals, challenges and pain points. Manufacturers can then target specific groups based on their distinct needs and create messaging that speaks directly to those needs. The result is an audience-focused marketing program.

5 Steps in Developing Your Content Marketing Strategy in Manufacturing

In the ever-evolving marketing landscape, no industry is safe from the continual pendulum swing of SEO updates, not even the manufacturing industry.  Apart from SEO, we also have new platforms and ever-changing buyer preferences coming up every other time.

Manufacturing marketing has its unique blend of deliverables and initiatives that can spell success for the industry. You need the right content marketing strategy specific to your industry. But how do you go about it?

Setting Goals and Objectives

Creating a solid content marketing strategy starts with defining your goals and objectives. Identify your target audience and determine the purpose behind your content. Set specific, measurable goals like increasing awareness, generating leads, or boosting sales. Keep objectives focused, quantifiable, achievable, relevant and timely.

Building a Strategy for the Manufacturing Sector

Tailor your strategy to speak directly to the unique needs and challenges of the manufacturing sector. Figure out what content will connect with your audiences (think videos, whitepapers and case studies). Build an editorial calendar that maps out topics, formats, and distribution channels aligned to your goals.

Creating an Editorial Calendar

A content calendar is a must for consistent content creation. Plan and schedule your content pieces in advance across topics, formats and platforms. Make sure to include target publication and promotion dates to stay organized. This streamlines efforts and keeps content creation in sync with marketing objectives.

Crafting Quality Manufacturing Content

Creating compelling content comes down to a few key ingredients:

  • Tap into subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and demonstrate expertise. Have them simplify complex topics into digestible content.
  • Present information in an educational, informative way – not a sales pitch. Focus on providing value.
  • Incorporate visual content like videos, infographics and images to explain concepts clearly and engagingly.
  • Share across social platforms to increase brand awareness and drive site traffic.

Optimizing Content for Search Engines

SEO is crucial for manufacturing content marketing. It improves visibility in search results, driving more qualified traffic to your site. An effective SEO strategy can significantly increase leads and sales.

  • Research relevant keywords and strategically incorporate them across titles, headers, meta descriptions, and body content.
  • Build internal links between related content to boost page authority.
  • Create shareable content that lends itself to viral distribution across social media.
  • Secure high-quality backlinks from industry websites to improve domain authority.

With the right goals, tailored strategy, editorial planning, captivating content and SEO, manufacturers can make content marketing work for their brand. The key is taking an audience-focused approach at every step.

Distribution and Promotion of Content Marketing in the Manufacturing Industry

Leveraging Social Media for Content Distribution

Social platforms offer a huge opportunity to get your content in front of audiences and build engagement. Share valuable, relevant content across the right platforms for your target buyers to expand brand visibility. Tailor your content style and topics to resonate with each audience and drive traffic back to your site.

Email Marketing Tactics for Manufacturing Firms

Email is still a powerhouse for reaching buyers directly. Create informative, interesting emails that promote your offerings while providing value.

For manufacturers, focus on addressing your audience’s pain points and needs in emails to drive opens and clicks. Offer educational resources that position your firm as an industry authority.

Getting Content in Front of Industry Peers and Prospects

As a manufacturing expert, take advantage of industry-specific platforms and communities to share content. These sites allow you to distribute information, network with peers, and organically promote products and services by establishing thought leadership.

Measuring Content Marketing Success with Analytics

Tracking Key Performance Indicators

Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to benchmark how your content marketing is performing. Relevant metrics for manufacturers include lead generation volumes, conversion rates, buyer retention and content marketing return on investment.

KPI Measurement Target Frequency
Lead generation volume Track the number of downloads, form submissions, and sales inquiries. X leads per month Monthly
Conversion rate Calculate the ratio of site visitors to conversions. X% conversion rate Weekly
Buyer retention Analyze buyer repurchase patterns over time. X% buyer retention rate Quarterly
Content marketing ROI Divide content marketing investment by revenue generated. X:1 ROI Annually
Social media engagement Track interactions and reach metrics for social posts. X likes/shares per post Per post
Backlinks Use SEO tools to monitor backlinks gained. X backlinks per month Monthly

Tools to Gauge Content Marketing ROI

Leverage platforms like Google Analytics to measure traffic, engagement and conversion data. Social media analytics provide insights into audience growth and interaction. Email marketing tools track open and click rates. Specialized content analytics solutions also exist to glean data.

These tools help manufacturers make smart decisions by revealing content performance across channels. They provide the data to refine strategies.

Making Data-Driven Decisions

Analyzing performance data is crucial for optimizing your approach over time. Identify high-performing content and channels as well as areas needing improvement. Use these insights to allocate resources to what works while phasing out ineffective tactics.

With the right KPIs, analytics tools and data-driven process, manufacturers can hone their content marketing to drive results. The key is regularly evaluating the numbers to evolve the strategy.

Real-World Manufacturing Content Marketing Success Stories

There are some great examples of content marketing campaigns that knocked it out of the park for manufacturing companies. Take Lenovo’s “Goodweird” campaign. It tapped into millennials’ and Gen Z’s love of indie culture to make the brand seem cool and different.

Recover Brands also ran a series of campaigns that increased their organic traffic by a whopping 1,100% in one year, leading to over 4 million pageviews. The campaigns scored 12,500 featured stories and 1.2 million shares across platforms.

Other big wins include Caterpillar’s “Built for It” campaign, which let their products shine by showing them in action. And GE’s “The Message” sci-fi podcast explored the intersection of science and fiction in a captivating way.

Conquering Common Content Marketing Challenges in Manufacturing

Content marketing challenges in manufacturing organizations (infographic)

Manufacturers need to create content tailored to buyers in different stages of the buyer’s journey – from initial awareness to final purchase decisions. Mapping content to the distinct informational needs at each stage is crucial but difficult with complex B2B sales.

Alignment between sales and marketing is also a major challenge. Sales teams are focused on shorter-term results while content marketing takes more time to build audience relationships. Bridging this gap requires processes showing how content supports sales. Siloed communication between different internal teams like engineering, production and marketing makes consistent messaging harder. All teams must feed expertise into content but organizational barriers often exist. Measuring content performance over time is another hurdle. With long sales cycles, tying revenue directly to content is difficult. Brand awareness and perception metrics along the buyer’s journey must supplement sales data.

Maintaining a consistent brand voice and messaging across all content assets is equally crucial but grows more complex at scale. Content governance frameworks help but still require cross-team collaboration. Differentiating product/service benefits in content is also vital in competitive industrial markets. However, it demands deep buyer empathy and clarity on core differentiators versus manufactures with similar offerings.

Making the steady, long-term business case for content marketing investment to key stakeholders contrasts with the fast results typically expected in manufacturing. Strong executive buy-in and patient capital is key.

Strategies to Overcome Manufacturing Content Marketing Obstacles

Building credibility with potential buyers is critical in B2B marketing. Create and distribute valuable content like blogs, ebooks, and videos that directly help your audience solve problems and address pain points. Position your company as a thought leader by educating audiences on industry topics. This content marketing helps establish trust and rapport with prospects.

Encourage greater collaboration between sales and marketing teams by setting shared goals and aligning strategies. Schedule regular meetings to review performance and identify areas for integration. Improved communication across departments breaks down organizational silos. When sales and marketing work hand-in-hand, messaging and outreach become more consistent and effective.

Implement key performance indicators (KPIs) and track return on investment (ROI) to develop consistent measurement. Analyze the data to optimize activities and demonstrate marketing’s impact on pipeline and revenue. Digital marketing provides quantifiable metrics, so invest in platforms like social media, SEO, and paid advertising. The numbers prove content marketing’s long-term value in generating sales.

Content marketing challenges in manufacturing organizations (infographic)

The Future of Content Marketing in Manufacturing

Businesses want to give buyers very personalized experiences. Marketers make content, offers, and messages tailored to each individual prospect. They use AI to help with personalization at a large scale. Many B2B companies are using inbound marketing to attract and engage audiences. They create valuable content like blogs, videos, podcasts. This content helps buyers with pain points. SEO and social media reach audiences looking for solutions online. Lead nurturing builds relationships through helpful content at each stage.

Investment is growing in search optimization and link building. This helps get content and websites to rank higher in Google and Bing. Paid search ads connect with prospects looking for information. More website traffic and leads happen when buyers easily find relevant content.

Account-based marketing focuses on converting specific target accounts rather than a broad audience. Marketers research and profile companies. Then they create customized content and messaging for each account’s needs. 

This personalized approach builds stronger connections with high-value accounts. Exploring immersive content through new technologies like AR and VR presents engagement opportunities. As these technologies become more accessible, marketers use them for tradeshow booths, 3D product experiences, virtual tours. The wow-factor captures buyers’ imagination and interest.

Marketers rely heavily on data analytics for insights. Campaign performance, audience segmentation, metrics inform content strategies. Testing content, analyzing engagement, attribution modeling help optimize decisions. A data-driven approach means continual improvement based on what’s working.

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.
Adam graduated from Northeastern University in Boston in 2007. He grew up in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, just miles down the road from Altitude's headquarters in Emmaus, Pennsylvania.