By Lisa Murton Beets published January 29, 2013

How Manufacturers are Managing Content Marketing: 7 B2B Insights

content marketing researchThe Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs recently published research on B2B and B2C Content Marketing in our 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends reports. While the findings give us insight into how B2B and B2C marketers are managing content marketing, we were still curious about the state of content marketing in specific key industries, and how content efforts in vertical markets were differing from those of their peers in other industries.

We decided to first look at marketers who work for B2B manufacturing organizations in North America. This group has adopted content marketing at a slightly higher rate (94 percent) than their North American B2B peers across all industries (91 percent).

Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences:

Manufacturing marketers have similar goals for content marketing

Marketers in the manufacturing industry have the same top three objectives for content marketing as their peers across all B2B industries: brand awareness, lead generation, and customer acquisition. However, manufacturing marketers place less emphasis on thought leadership (47 percent versus 64 percent) and website traffic (47 percent versus 60 percent) as organizational goals, which indicates a disconnect, as they also cite website traffic as the primary way they measure content effectiveness. This fundamental disconnect between goals and measurement was present with B2B manufacturers when CMI surveyed them two years ago, but it has shown some improvement.

Manufacturing marketers use video and print magazines more often

Manufacturing marketers cite video as their top content marketing tactic (it was ranked seventh by this group two years ago). Their overall use of tactics is fairly similar to that of the overall population of marketers; however, they place far less emphasis on blogs (54 percent versus 77 percent), which makes sense considering that this industry does not put strong emphasis on web traffic and thought leadership as objectives for content marketing, two areas where blogs can have significant impact.

managing content marketing

Manufacturing marketers use print magazines at nearly twice the rate of their peers (60 percent versus 31 percent). However, only 11 percent of self-reported “best-in-class” B2B manufacturing marketers rank print magazines as “effective” or “very effective,” indicating that traditional media companies still have a stronghold on B2B manufacturers, who have traditionally used paid advertising in trade magazines to reach their audiences.

Manufacturing marketers prefer Facebook and YouTube

While their B2B content marketing peers use an average of five social media platforms, manufacturing industry B2B marketers report an average use of three.

managing social media

Yet, manufacturing industry marketers use YouTube more frequently than the general population of marketers do. This makes sense, considering they rank video as their top content marketing tactic. Their use of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter has risen over the last two years, yet they are somewhat behind in their adoption of Google+, Pinterest, SlideShare, and other “newer” social media options, so it will be interesting to see if they grow in these areas over the next year.

Manufacturing marketers outsource content more often

Compared with the overall content marketing population, manufacturing marketers outsource content more often:  57 percent versus 43 percent. This could be because they rely more heavily on printed material, which often requires outside assistance. Given their increased usage of video, compared to other marketers, it is likely that they are outsourcing video creation as well.

Manufacturing marketers spend less

When compared with their peers across all B2B industries, marketers in manufacturing dedicate significantly less of their total marketing budgets to content marketing (22 percent versus 33 percent). However, 53 percent of manufacturing marketers say they are going to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months (31 percent say they will keep spending at the same level).

Manufacturing marketers struggle with effectiveness

Like their peers, marketers for the manufacturing industry report that producing enough content is their biggest challenge. One challenge they cite more often than their B2B peers is the inability to measure content effectiveness (55 percent versus 33 percent). And they’re not only challenged with measuring content effectiveness, many are not even sure if their overall efforts are effective. We know this because only 21 percent of B2B manufacturers rank their organization as “effective” or “very effective.” On the other hand, 36 percent of B2B marketers across all industries rank themselves as “effective” or “very effective.”

manufacturers rate effectiveness

On the flip side, 32 percent of manufacturing marketers rank their organizations as “not very” or “not at all” effective, compared with 17 percent of their B2B peers. This shows a need for content marketing education and improvement in the manufacturing vertical.

A brief look at the manufacturing demographic

While it is noteworthy to understand how marketers in the manufacturing industry are managing content marketing tools and tactics, it’s also important to understand how demographics may play a role in these research findings. Here are a few notes about the demographics of this research:

  • Out of a total 1,416 B2B North America respondents, 88 respondents identified themselves as working in the B2B manufacturing industry.
  • About 40 percent of the B2B manufacturing respondents work for companies with 1,000 or more employees (16 percent of that figure is for companies employing more than 10,000, so these results could also reflect what larger companies are doing).

Do you work in manufacturing? Are these trends consistent with what you are seeing?

For more insight on the state of content marketing in the manufacturing industry, register to attend the Manufacturing Summit at Content Marketing World in September 2013. And if you are looking for more content marketing research? Check out our third annual B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends and first annual B2C Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends studies.

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Lisa Murton Beets

Lisa Murton Beets is Content Marketing Institute's research director. She oversees all aspects of our annual content marketing survey, as well as the reports we publish based on the findings. Lisa also works with CMI’s consulting/advisory and sales teams to develop and report on custom research surveys. Follow her @LisaBeets.

Other posts by Lisa Murton Beets

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  • JDamico

    I’ve had a similar experience with B2B industrial clients as Ian mentions. Video is more useful in B2B industrial settings because often industrial applications represent an integrated, but single component of a much larger product. For example RFID chips and scanners are part of a much larger system, which can differ within the verticals these B2B industrial marketers serve.

    A video, shot on location, makes it easier to get your message across and with greater clarity. Video also complements other media such as a written white paper or trade journal article. For one client, an investment of about US 8K- 10K yielded several leads and led to two sales both of which far exceeded the cost to produce the video. Social media makes video sharing much easier.

  • John Hayes

    Our experience at is that manufacturers have been slower to adopt digital marketing in general and a content marketing in particular.
    Manufacturing has had a tough decade in North America, so their marketing budgets have suffered. As a result, they haven’t had the resources to keep up with the trends. Now a VP Sales or the company President has to take the marketing strategy role.
    These folks quickly grasp the benefits of a video that shows their product in context, like on a factory floor. And they can repurpose that video when they go to a trade show. But a content marketing strategy takes more time and effort. So they take a point-solution approach and say “yes” to video, but “not yet” to blogs and other content marketing efforts.

    • JDamico

      Hi John… here’s good link to an infographic on how engineers use social media. Shared by @achintamitra on a LinkedIn B2B Video Group

    • Lisa Murton Beets

      Thanks for sharing, John. I completely agree. We will be addressing some of these issues at our Manufacturing Summit at Content Marketing World in September. We look forward to supporting the manufacturing and engineering communities as they become more educated in the principles and practices of content marketing.

  • Mark Twain

    thanks for sharing this post. youtube is a great source for traffic.socialbakers, hootsuite and socialkik are great sites for social media where you can increase to your followers and fans.

  • mttorley

    I am guessing that effectiveness estimates shown above probably correlate with effort, or lack there of.

  • Patrick Garmoe

    I agree with Ian that the Facebook figure probably has more to do with companies that are simply on Facebook just to be on Facebook because everyone else is, rather than that it really working out as a great lead source.

  • Dekker Fraser

    Content marketing is extremely effective. One manufacturer I know of was able to go from 6 leads per month to 6 per day by offering their catalogue as a lead-generation device on their homepage. This has always been an effective B2B strategy, even before the Internet. Direct mail to promote offers like “Guide to choosing a ______ supplier” or “request our catalogue” have just been replaced with cheaper digital offers.I’m surprised content marketing only received a 3/5 on effectiveness.

  • Dekker Fraser

    Yeah, I’m a bit surprised that Facebook is even on the list for industrial manufacturers. From my tests, conversions are much, much higher with Google or even LinkedIn. But I suppose Facebook helps with SEO.