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Digital Marketing for Engineers Blog

Proving that Content Marketing Works for Manufacturers

Posted by John Hayes

Jun 1, 2016 8:41:11 AM

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Marketers often ask us, “Do you have a new way to reach our audience?” They want to ensure that they aren’t missing any new weapons from a publisher’s arsenal.

Marketers need to gain more traction within their specific target markets. That has them wondering whether more emphasis on content marketing will pay off.  The reason they ask us is because publishers know how to tell stories that will resonate with their audience and provide value to their readers. 

One valuable way to answer their question is with an experiment.  A well designed experiment can prove the value of content marketing to reach a targeted audience.  In this post I’ll outline a way to do that.

Almost all industrial marketers are experienced in digital marketing.  They already have functional web sites and at least the fundamentals of their SEO strategies. They have run banner, email and lead generation campaigns and they have typically dabbled in content marketing for manufacturers. 

One of the problems with taking the next step is that content marketing isn’t simple or cheap (see Four Myths about content marketing to engineers) so committing to a content strategy can be daunting.  That problem drives marketers to seek out some proof that it will work for them. 

The good news is that getting some proof is possible with a simple experiment. The experiment should tell you:

  1. Your cost per page view
  2. Your cost per lead
  3. Your conversions to customers

One of the first steps in executing any content marketing program is generating the content.  Sadly, many projects get stalled right there. The sales engineers who are your best source of information simply aren’t available to write for you. 

To avoid the challenges that come from getting one of your subject matter experts to write a story, you can outsource that task to one of many industrial publications.  They can interview your subject matter expert, identify the likely keywords for your audience and then draft a story for your review.  The other bonus that comes from this approach is that they can also publish your story so that it reaches your target audience.

Here are a few examples of stories that we have seen work well:

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Strong industrial content meets three criteria:

  1. The stories are specific to a particular application or product. These targeted topics solve the information needs of a target audience, so the people who read it are more likely to convert into customers.
  2. The language is sufficiently technical to answer application questions that an engineer might have.
  3. The calls to action fit within the context so that the story remains informative rather than promotional. This is most easily accomplished by linking relevant anchor text to calls to action on your landing pages.

Technical Stories Will Find Your Target Audience

One thing that we have learned in producing these stories is that you don’t necessarily have to find a digital publication that has exactly the audience you are seeking.  On the Internet of 2016, stories find their own audience. 

For example, the first story referenced above has over 100 shares on Linkedin.  This is the result of the target audience finding the story and then recommending it to their networks of similar people.  When your target audience shares your story among their peers, that is a strong indicator that your content marketing experiment is working well.

Evaluating the results of your content marketing experiment

After your story has been published (you have tracking strings in place, right?) for 4 – 8 weeks, check your statistics.  How many:

  • Page views of the story are there
  • Shares of the story
  • Visits to your landing page driven by that story
  • Conversions on your landing page
  • New prospects in your pipeline

You can then compare the cost of this test to the cost of achieving the same results elsewhere. The answers to these questions should provide the proof you need to make a more substantial commitment to content marketing.  

Thanks for reading,

John

Topics: Content marketing for engineers, Sponsored posts and content amplification, content strategy

    
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