Content marketing for manufacturers: Good. Hastily implemented content marketing with no strategy: Bad.
It’s been shown time and time again that digital marketing for manufacturers should always include a content strategy. But there are too few examples of B2Bs doing it right and many, many examples of them doing it wrong.
Take the time to learn from the content marketing mistakes of your forefathers before you frighten your prospects away.
7 Content Marketing Mistakes for Manufacturers to Beware
These seven bad content marketing examples are the ones most likely to send your visitors running into the arms of your competitors:
- Talking to the wrong audience
- Poor balance of writing for SEO and writing for people
- No next steps provided
- Content isn’t promoted
- No variety in delivery
- Giving up too easily
Mistake #1: They shamelessly self-promote.
Bad Example: “While Company X’s metal thingies are highly resistant to corrosion, they’re not immune. Those that are immune to corrosion are luxury metals that carry big price tags.
Company X is committed to matching you with the best metals for your exterior design. Here are some of the best Company X Metal Thingies® for outdoor use:”
We start many content marketing conversations with clients by politely telling them, “Stop focusing on your damn product so much.” One of the best pieces of content marketing advice I’ve ever received was to make the customer the hero of the story, not your company.
Most readers can smell a sales pitch from a mile away. Which is why you should write more like this:
Good Example: “While most metals are resistant to corrosion, they’re not immune. Those that are immune to corrosion are typically luxury metals that carry big price tags.
Deciding on the best metals for exterior applications can be the difference between a long-lasting tribute to your skill and an ugly, costly failure. Here are some of the best metals for outdoor use:”
In this example, the writer clearly demonstrates her plan to educate in the coming paragraphs rather than sell a product. The writing is generalized, the company name isn’t even brought up, and the topic is based around a recurring pain point for customers.
Mistake #2: They don’t know who they’re talking to.
What is your target audience looking for? Your educated guess isn’t enough to answer that question.
Create a buyer persona that you rely on to guide your content marketing strategy. The more specific your target audience is, the more likely your content is to rank -- and the more relevant your leads will be.
Good Example: Your buyer persona should look like this, for starters:
In this case, the company ID’ed a real-life customer it wished it could clone 1,000 times. Then the company created a fictional persona based around that ideal customer. The persona was given job titles, a personal background, hopes and dreams, etc.
This screenshot is only a portion of a much larger document. You should also research:
- Where your customer hangs out online
- What matters most about your product/service to your customer
- How your customer refers to your product or service (You’ll use these as keywords on your website)
Mistake #3: They don’t write for Google AND humans.
As this irony-filled box tells us, today’s search engines easily pick up on writing that’s human-unfriendly. Not only does it no longer work, it’s also going to get you penalized by Google in the form of a crappy page ranking.
Similarly, you can’t get away with writing a 170-word company description for your About page, then copy/pasting it onto your homepage and Contact Us page. Website pages should contain at least 300 words of copy whenever possible to be considered rankable. Google will flag you for having duplicate content and drop your ranking, so at least paraphrase the important stuff you need on multiple pages.
Bad Example, Part II: We’ve pointed out the challenges of writing for robots, but what about your human readers?
This is a single section of a consulting company’s blog post. This section alone is 1,393 words long. There is zero visual media, there’s nothing broken into subsections, and there’s only one bulleted list. Today, users’ attention spans bounce around 5-10 browser tabs at a time (and their phones, and their co-workers). You need to be the second coming of Stephen King to get someone to read through all of this.
Make it as easy as possible for readers to finish your blog post or click on the social media post you made. To do that:
- Include lists like this one
- Add photos
- Make a chart comparing options or features
- If your writing is long, add a call-to-action no later than halfway through the page to make sure you capture leads who get burned out before reaching the bottom.
Speaking of calls-to-action ...
Mistake #4: They lead readers to dead ends.
You’ve certainly been on a company’s webpage before and said, “... So, what am I supposed to do next?”
Never give your prospects room for doubt. Every webpage on your site should have a clear goal and next steps.
This is much easier to do if you create content that addresses all stages of the buyer’s journey. Then you can lead them gently along until they reach an ultimate destination.
This applies to everything from About Us pages to blog posts. Even your YouTube videos can include a button link to more of your content.
Mistake #5: They don’t promote the content.
You just wrote the greatest blog post of all time. Neat! So you put up your feet, turn on some Whitesnake, and wait for the leads and cash to flow in. Eight months later, you check back in and find that your post has 5 views, and nobody clicked your call-to-action.
Did you think to tell anyone about your blog post?
Don’t forget to develop your social media and email marketing game. Social media works, even for manufacturers (especially LinkedIn.). Email marketing, contrary to what you might have heard, isn’t dead at all.
You can even seek out other websites and publications to share your content. Many manufacturing publications are starved for either content, writers, or both -- they’ll gladly accept your submission.
There are other ways to get your content in front of eyeballs that fall outside content marketing. You can learn about those here.
Mistake #6: They do the same thing over and over.
You don’t need to write a blog post twice a week for the next 10 years. Nor should you pump out videos of product demos and nothing else.
There are lots of ways to educate an audience:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Many others
These can be repurposed so you’re not starting from scratch every time. Your team is busy, and we at the Content Marketing Lovers Coalition understand that.
Figure out what resonates with your buyer persona. Then, decide what works best where. For example, certain kinds of videos are ideal for certain parts of your website. And your LinkedIn page audience may be more interested in your nuts-and-bolts whitepapers than your high-level infographics.
Even if you only write blog posts or only shoot videos, you can still spice them up. Think of formats that deviate from your norm:
- Guest posts/videos
- Commentary on trends/current events
Mistake #7: They say “Screw it” after 2 months.
Blogging for business is a long-term investment with long-term ROI. It is not a get-rich-quick scheme.’
Content marketing for manufacturing requires effort, too. You can’t publish a couple of blog posts and expect to see skyrocketing traffic, tons of newsletter subscribers, and a 1,300% boost in lead generation.
The more time your leads spend interacting with your content, the more educated they become -- all because of you. In time, they’ll begin to see you as a credible resource. That keeps you top of mind when it’s time to finally end that long B2B sales cycle with a purchase.
Your Checklist Going Forward
Digital marketing for manufacturers doesn’t have to be spooky. Just flip those seven horror stories above into positive steps:
- Inform and educate your readers
- Hone in on a specific target audience identified through actual research
- Balance your writing to satisfy both your readers & Google
- Use clear calls-to-action
- Promote your content where your audience is best reached
- Be multifaceted in your approach
- Stick with it!
To get more manufacturing marketing tips, check out this on-demand video on how niche manufacturers succeed at digital marketing today: