Happy Thanksgiving to our readers in the US!
Considering that marketing does not take breaks (no matter how much we have to feel thankful for), we will be presenting the results of 2021's Manufacturing Content Marketing survey.
Every year, the Content Marketing Institute, along with Marketing Profs and Sitecore, and sponsored by IEEE GlobalSpec, survey a handful of content marketers working in the manufacturing industry to gain insight into the industry's performance in the past year and upcoming trends.
The information presented below is meant to provide manufacturing organizations, other B2B businesses, and marketing agencies that serve this sector's specific needs with critical insights into the industry's ability to continue to lead their marketing efforts in the face of a global pandemic.
Maturity & Strategy
39% of content marketers surveyed (a 10% increase from last year) indicated their organization is in the sophisticated or mature content marketing phase. This is a likely indication that manufacturing companies see the true potential of content marketing and choose to increase their overall investment.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has been a hot topic in 2020. For this reason, adapting to the recent changes in marketing has been a top priority for most marketers in this industry.
45% of marketers report their organizations have made quick and significant changes to their content marketing strategy to avoid future negative impacts on their bottom line.
31% of respondents agree that their organization made significant changes due to the industry's varying needs.
40% of content marketers expect the changes they made will stay in effect in the near future, as long as the pandemic remains a relevant factor.
If we focus on the specific changes made to their content marketing strategy, 70% of marketers say their organization changed their targeting strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
60% adjusted their editorial calendar to fit their target audience's current and pressing needs, and 57% allocated more of their resources toward growing their social media/online communities.
Team Structure & Outsourcing
Determining how manufacturing marketing teams structure their team and outsource marketing services is important to evaluate the industry's current state of content marketing.
The majority of manufacturing marketers (60%) are part of a one-person or small marketing team tasked with serving an entire organization.
61% of respondents report their organization outsources at least one marketing activity.
Of the outsourced marketing activities, 80% of marketers report content creation is the most frequent, followed by content distribution with 41%.
The top challenge content marketers face is finding partners with adequate topic expertise (61%), followed by budget issues (53%) and a lack of clear ROI metrics (51%).
Content Creation & Distribution
Content marketers use a slew of tools to perform their job well.
86% of marketers use analytics tools such as analytics and dashboards to manage the data they use.
82% of marketers used social media publishing and analytics tools, and 77% use email marketing software to perform their responsibilities more efficiently.
A content marketer's job is to create content that generates interest and resonates with their target audience.
In the past year, 81% of the content manufacturing marketers have produced have been email newsletters sent to their email list contacts, followed by 79% of blog posts/short articles.
The creation of infographics increased to 66% from 59% last year, and 55% of content produced was in the form of virtual events, webinars, and online courses, up from 39% last year.
Of the content produced, 93% of marketers used their organization's social media profiles to distribute the content.
86% of marketers used email, and 76% made use of their organization's website or blog.
The top social media platform used to increase traffic organically was LinkedIn, with 87% of marketers preferring this platform over others like Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter.
A whopping 82% of manufacturing organizations used paid media to distribute their content to their target audience.
Of that group, 79% of organizations used social media advertising/promoted posts to increase their overall reach.
Manufacturing marketers said they used search engine marketing (SEM)/pay-per-click 36% of the time.
Metrics, Goals & Overall Success
Metrics are essential indicators that measure overall content performance.
In the past year, 92% of manufacturing organizations have assessed website traffic (including page views and backlinks) over other metrics such as website engagement (87%) and email engagement (82%).
Without exception, content marketers work in tandem to achieve specific goals for their respective organizations. Creating brand awareness continues to be the top priority, as reported by 86% of marketers.
Notable changes include an increase in the importance of building credibility with their audience (up to 74% from 66% last year), building loyalty with existing clients/customers (up to 65% from 51% last year), and building a subscribed audience (up to 45% from 32% last year).
Budgets & Spending
Most manufacturing organizations with an established marketing team allocate a specific budget to their marketing activities for the year ahead.
As reported by 46% of survey respondents, the average pre-pandemic marketing budget for manufacturing organizations was less than $100,000 US dollars.
24% of organizations designated between $100,000-$500,000 US dollars and another 24% did not have an established content marketing budget. This last figure is indicative that some manufacturing organizations are not yet fully prioritizing their in-house marketing.
In response to the pandemic changes elicited from businesses worldwide, 52% of marketing teams did not see a change in their content marketing spending. However, 31% of teams reported a decrease.
If we break down the overall content marketing spend even further into quarters, we can see that spending mostly stayed the same.
Organizations budget their marketing spend into two categories: content (organic) marketing and paid advertising.
In the last 12 months, 45% of manufacturing organizations have shifted a portion of their paid advertising spend to content marketing. This is likely a result of an increase in the industry's overall competitiveness.
Insights for 2021
The majority of manufacturing marketers are optimistic about the long-term impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on their organization's content marketing success.
57% of marketers believe it will have a "moderate" impact, while 12% predict it will have a "major" impact. This is likely a result of the swift changes in content marketing strategy many organizations underwent due to the pandemic.
With 2021 around the corner, manufacturing marketers have begun to assess their marketing priorities and strategies.
By the looks of it, the top area that marketers will invest in is content creation (76%), followed by website enhancements (73%) and social media management/community building (47%).
The first half of 2021 will likely require the continuation of marketing strategies that favor social distance and online communication.
For this reason, the new year presents an excellent opportunity for manufacturing content marketers to assess what worked and did not work in 2020.
Building relationships online versus in-person with other organizations remains a top priority. Analyzing data to determine content performance and integrating a unified content operations system should also be at the top of the list.