Twice as many manufacturing marketers now have a documented content strategy in place compared to a year ago, but two-thirds believe that their overall efforts are only “moderately successful”, according to a new study released by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).
The ‘Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends’ report found that manufacturers have taken on content wholesale during the last 12 months with a huge increase in adoption rates and attempts to overhaul strategies to improve returns.
The enthusiasm for content marketing is also translating into better campaigns as 65% of respondents said that they would rate their organisation’s efforts as either “somewhat more” or “much more” successful compared to 12 months ago.
In contrast, just 3% said that they had achieved less success.
“With regard to content marketing, manufacturers have arrived,” CMI’s research director Lisa Murton Beets said in a statement. “No longer do we view them as late adopters.”
Overall, manufacturing marketers believe that their content marketing is “moderately successful”, which is a sign that there is still room for improvement across the board.
Currently, only 1% believe that their efforts are “extremely successful”.
However, the use of documented strategies is laying the groundwork for better outcomes, and there has been a notable improvement in this area year-over-year.
In 2018, 21% said that they had a strategy written down, but this jumped to 41% in the latest study, which shows that there is now a greater onus placed on strategic thinking.
Murton Beets added: “We saw a big increase this year in those who are approaching content marketing strategically. In addition, they’re having an easier time accessing subject matter experts and communicating complex content. Overall, manufacturers are reporting healthy levels of content marketing success, which is exciting to see.”
Manufacturing marketers face a range of challenges in 2020, but the most cited unique issue for them at the moment is “overcoming traditional marketing and sales mindset”.
Attempts to blur the lines between these two groups is a challenge for 55% of respondents.
The need to deliver content that can engage audiences across the sales pipeline (53%) and attempts to differentiate products and services from the competition (48%) are also hot topics in the industry.
A previous study by CMI found that outsourcing now plays a major role in content marketing for B2B companies, and the same is true for manufacturers where the expertise of agencies has gone some way to helping them deliver more engaging and higher-quality materials.
Two-thirds of manufacturing marketers are now outsourcing one or more of their activities to third parties, but it is content creation that leads the way by some distance.
87% of respondents said that creation is now outsourced, and the study noted that this may be the reason why manufacturers have been able to communicate more complex topics in 2019.
Perhaps most importantly, improvements in content marketing have helped manufacturers to position themselves as a “credible and trusted resource” for audiences, to value the craft and creativity central to content creation and production, and to serve the needs of customers in a timely manner.