This post was authored by Joel Don, a consultant specializing in digital marketing, social media and public relations services for the technology, industrial and biomedical sectors. Joel has served as ISA's contract social media community manager.
By a sizeable majority, manufacturers continue to say they want to produce more marketing content for social media and websites. But despite the stated commitment to greater productivity, they also say it’s a struggle to produce content consistently and a near equal number fear the content they do produce just doesn’t resonate with target audiences.
Do you find that producing a blog post or newsletter for your industrial business once a week or even once a month is a seemingly insurmountable task? You’re not alone. Even professional marketers struggle to produce, according to the Content Marketing Institute, a global education and training organization. That’s not really much of surprise, because the No. 1 challenge in digital marketing in any industry is producing enough content and producing it on a continuing basis — that is without gaps that send followers and search engine crawlers elsewhere. Sure it needs to be engaging content, but you need to create something, anything, before you can determine if the content ranks with Google and gets the nod from customers, prospects and stakeholders. Engagement is actually more important than you think, since studies show most people spend less than 15 seconds on a page. Finally, after you have managed to keep the attention of your content consumers, you can then tackle the third major challenge in content marketing: grinding down on the metrics to assess measurable results in the form of traffic analytics and business outcomes.
There’s no quick fix or easy solution. Content has to be written (blog posts, newsletters, web pages, email updates) or produced (live action video, animation, infographics, podcasts). But there are ways to make the process a lot easier, just toss out a few of the content creation myths.
The passion myth
A popular suggestion is to create blog posts and other content on topics that you are passionate about or have special knowledge. That works well for a content marketing pep talk, but may not necessarily be very practical for achieving your industrial marketing objectives. Here’s the issue: The things you are passionate about also have to be viewed as must-have content that is unique and not generally available elsewhere. In other words, your passion has to be compelling enough to hold the increasingly distracted consumer for more than that 15 seconds (that’s basically the headline and a few sentences). Video has the same challenge. Did you know that 20 percent of your YouTube viewers will click away from your video in less than 10 seconds, nearly half will be done in a minute? If you don’t hook the viewer with a compelling reason to watch, your video is effectively a digital paperweight.
If you don’t hook the viewer with a compelling reason to watch, your video is effectively a digital paperweight.
People will be interested in your passion and your subject matter expertise only if they also assign a high value to your content. You are competing again millions of other pages. Instead of sharing what gets you excited, find out what moves the needle for your followers and subscribers; what do they want? It’s actually easier than you think, and you don’t need to spend huge sums on SEO experts and market consultants. Survey the content you share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Anything that delivers relatively higher numbers of likes, shares and comments is bound to be good material for your next blog post or newsletter. New parents are often told that the baby will teach them everything they need to know. Similarly, monitor the behavior of your followers and let them guide you to create the content that makes your audience return for more and recommend your business to their friends and colleagues. That’s a great way to build an industrial marketing program that drives traffic and conversions.
Forget about artistic headlines and titles
You might spend hours or days creating a blog post. Then cook up an artistic headline that tells the potential reader nothing about the topic. This is not the time to be cute or obtuse. One successful online marketer says he sometimes spends as much time crafting the headline as the post itself. So make sure the headline or title creates a must-read scenario. How do you know if the headline works? Share it with a friend or colleague, don’t say what the post is about — watch for the reaction. The same advice applies to headlines or titles for Twitter, LinkedIn group posts and YouTube videos. People don’t have time to guess what your tweet or your article is about. Don’t sabotage your content with a weak headline because you think it’s humorous or pithy. Forget creative, think maximum clicks and aim for a reader who goes past the headline and the first paragraph.
Create an editorial calendar, and stick to it
An editorial calendar is simply a means of planning and scheduling the publication and distribution of your content. If newsletters and blog posts don’t appear on a regular or expected schedule, you’ve gone dark and you will quickly lose subscribers and followers. Google Analytics will detail the decline. If your content marketing falls by the wayside, don’t be surprised if you see a proportional drop in business.
Lack resource, then outsource
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to an effective content marketing production line is getting people to create new content. The common complaint: Not enough time to write. If your industrial business doesn’t have newsletter and blog writing as part of the job description of your engineers and subject matter experts, it may be time to revise your digital marketing plan or revamp the job requirements of the key employee resources that are essential to its success. Industrial automation and manufacturing topics can be highly technical. But it’s that technical content which more than likely is highly valued. Your in-house experts are golden.
Content marketing is an element of the sales process. If the metrics show positive benefits and a potential for more sales growth, it’s time to consider contracting with outside technical writers and content creators to help you increase the volume of blogs, newsletters and videos. Your options include brick-and-mortar agencies or cloud-based services offering content creation by technical specialists.
What are your biggest challenges when it comes to creating content for your industrial marketing program?