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Manufacturing Marketers See Content Marketing Breakthrough [Research]


Editor’s note: We’ve updated our annual Manufacturing research study for 2023.

Last year, the results of our annual content marketing survey indicated that manufacturing marketers were stuck when it came to content marketing. Fewer than 20% said their organization was effective at content marketing or that they had a documented content marketing strategy. What a difference a year makes!

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why manufacturers have made progress over the last year with content marketing, as reported in today’s release of Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, sponsored by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions.

1. They’re getting better at content creation

Fifty-nine percent of manufacturing marketers say their organization has become much more or somewhat more successful at content marketing compared with one year ago. Of that group, 82% say their increased success is because they are doing a better job at content creation (producing higher-quality content, getting more efficient at content).

82% of marketing manufacturers say increased success is because of better content creation via @cmicontent. Share on X


TIP: Do you want tips to improve your content? Check out our Content Marketing Playbook that includes tips and examples for 24 common tactics.

2. They’re documenting their content marketing strategy

In my blog post announcing last year’s (somewhat dismal) manufacturing research results, I asked manufacturing marketers who were merely “doing” content marketing – with no strategy to guide them – to please stop. “You’re wasting precious time and resources,” I said.

Apparently, a lot of manufacturing marketers listened. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to report a 72% increase over last year in the percentage of manufacturing marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy (31% this year vs. 18% last year). Our research consistently shows that documenting your content marketing strategy is a key to success.

Documenting your #contentmarketing strategy is a key to success says @joepulizzi. Share on X


TIP: If you want to document your strategy, you need to answer these 36 questions.

3. They’re making content marketing a greater priority

Sixty-two percent of manufacturing marketers who report increased success over the last year attribute it to making content marketing a greater priority. And among the top performers (those who said their organization is extremely or very successful at content marketing), 76% agree that their leadership team gives them ample time to produce content marketing results (compared with 49% of the total manufacturing sample).

76% top mfg content marketers say leadership gives time to produce #contentmarketing results via @cmicontent. Share on X

On a side note, when we compare manufacturing marketers against the total survey sample of B2B marketers, we see many areas where manufacturing marketers lag; however, that’s not the case with the “leadership gives us ample time” finding. In that area, manufacturing marketers appear to be getting as much support from the top as their peers in other industries. This leads us to conclude that many manufacturing executives are now buying into content marketing and are beginning to empower their teams to do the work necessary to lay the foundation for future content marketing success.


TIP: Looking for more buy-in so you can get time for your content marketing? These 50+ stats will help.

4. They’re growing in their content marketing maturity

This year’s data indicates that some manufacturing organizations are growing out of the young/first-steps phase of content marketing and into the adolescent phase (37% of this year’s manufacturing respondents say their organizations are in the adolescent phase of content marketing maturity vs. 29% last year).

At the same time, manufacturing marketers identifying themselves in the young/first-steps phase went down this year (42% this year vs. 50% last year).

As more manufacturing marketers grow in their content marketing maturity, they gain experience with what works and what doesn’t. Like we’ve found with those who have a documented content marketing strategy, those with higher levels of content marketing maturity often are more successful with their content marketing.


Where should manufacturing marketers go from here?

Granted, manufacturing marketers still have work to do if they’re going to get optimal results from their content marketing. For example:

  • They need to become more committed (only 49% say their organizations are extremely or very committed to content marketing). How can they get optimal results if they’re not all in?
49% mfg marketers say their orgs are extremely or very committed to #contentmarketing via @cmicontent. Share on X
  • They need greater clarity around content marketing success (only 33% say it’s clear in their organization what an effective or successful content marketing program looks like). Teams need to work more diligently to define and communicate their vision.

That said, manufacturing marketers have come a long way with their content marketing. When we released our last manufacturing research report, I said:

Our hope is that this report (this one moment in time) is what we could call a “bottom,” and that those who are committed to a content marketing approach over time will begin to document, plan, resource, and make the hard choices necessary.

View the report to see these and other interesting findings – including a chart on how the top performers (those who rated their organizations most highly in terms of overall content marketing success) stand apart from their peers.

It appears that many manufacturing marketers have indeed begun to make those tough choices and are moving in an upward direction. Are you one of them? If you’re stuck, why? Let us know in the comments.

We are so excited about all of the data coming out of this research as well as our upcoming reports. If you are as well, please sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute