The manufacturing industry is no stranger to change. It thrives on rapid, miniature revolutions to transform how things are made, produced and used worldwide.
But these new industrial revolutions wouldn’t be possible without the digital revolution, which has made rapid design, communication and coordination with customers and partners easy, fast and effective.
However, the break-neck pace of the new digital/industrial revolution has created new pain points, especially for the industrial marketing professionals tasked with creating, collecting and disseminating the latest information on products, services and techniques. The new digital revolution has made it a Sisyphean task to manage and update the content that keeps visitors informed on a digital scale.
Organizing content for digital channels is one of the most essential skills to develop in the new world of online business.
Marketers in the manufacturing industry must design and implement an overall strategy for managing manufacturing content on digital channels. What’s more, they’ll need to create a system to test the efficacy of these techniques to ensure all channels are on point and up to date.
So, how can they organize manufacturing industry content for a digital world? Well, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Organize Your Digital Content Marketing With a Content Pyramid
There is no single technique or strategy to keep digital content up to date comprehensively. But there are foundational elements digital marketers and content strategists in manufacturing can use to create a system for their specific needs. To create this system we need to take a step back and think of content management holistically.
So, let’s think of digital content management as a pyramid, with each essential element stacked on top. Here’s what that pyramid looks like:
At the very top of the pyramid, we have the first stage and the peak goal of organized digital content: the ability to communicate at scale in a digital era that’s informed by an understanding of the customer or prospect and their relationship to your business.
This is often called customer relationship management, or CRM for short. CRM refers to understanding how customers feel about your organization and your marketing outreach, though it’s often associated with solutions like Salesforce and ZoHo.
A CRM strategy is essential to nurturing loyalty and retention, growth, expansion and driving sales and should encompass social media channels, text message marketing, and so on. But CRM depends on three other foundational elements before properly realizing it.
In the second stage, we have optimization. Optimization is making the most efficient use of something as possible. This pillar includes search engine optimization (SEO), social media optimization, and various other channels. Often, optimization is informed by various factors, including data gleaned from the third stage.
The third stage of our content management pyramid is analytics. This stage, informed by tools like Google Analytics and similar tools, enables us to see the results and efficacy of the content we’ve created and how audiences are interacting with that content. It measures quantity, quality and assesses the results of what we made the content for. This is a particularly critical stage as it informs actions at every pyramid stage.
The fourth, final and most critical element of organizing digital marketing is content. This is more than videos, webinars, and blog posts, and everything from ad messages and emails to images, call-to-action banners, and more.
That’s why having a good content marketing plan in place is so critical: every interaction and piece of content you create extends to building relationships, information outreach, and everything in between.
These are the four essential elements of digital content marketing. They are dynamic, talkative stages that inform each other of what works and what doesn’t. And, while they inform each other, they also need to be coordinated, working lockstep with one another to drive real measurable results.
So, what does the pyramid look like when it’s implemented? Simple. Let’s take a look.
Let’s say you produce three blog posts covering topics relevant to your target audiences. With your content (the fourth and foundational stage) created and published you can then turn to analytics (the third stage) to see if your goals have been met.
After you’ve analyzed your content, you’ve discovered you can make slight adjustments to better connect with audiences and meet their needs (stage one, optimization). This can be anything from optimizing for SEO to rehashing your content into a different format, like video or audio, to better connect with your audience.
Finally, you’ve reached stage one, CRM. At this stage, you know which content connects and what your audience needs to take the next step. With your relationships nailed down, you can finally know which content you’ll need to create, update and share to connect to drive the most impact.
Organizing the different stages to suit your organization — and ensuring they’re well-coordinated across teams — is the best way to hit your business goals and understand where you need to focus your content creation.
Provide Content that Matters Where It Matters
Okay, so we’ve taken the time to analyze our content and identify the assets that matter the most. In some cases — especially in manufacturing — we already know the manufacturing content that needs updating, like product portfolios and resource hubs. So, it’s time to systematically set our content up where it’ll drive the most impact on channel marketing.
For marketers in manufacturing, the two most impactful organic content avenues they can use are their website and social. So, we’ll focus there.
First, let’s focus on our manufacturing website content.
Aside from general marketing content (for example, copy on the homepage of your website), we will want to focus on the key areas where our channel partners turn to us for the latest information or the assets that are the most impactful on our customer relationship goals.
The key areas channel partners depend on will often be resource or content hubs and account-specific landing pages, but this will entirely depend on how your website is structured and your operational goals.
So, take these content resources and list them in a spreadsheet. To make life easier, list out the resource type by tabs.
For example, you’ll want a content hub tab to list and link to where all your content hubs live and an accounts tab linking to each account-specific page (should you have them). In these tabs, organize your resources by a category group of your choice.
For example, if you have a group of content hubs dedicated to education, then group them under “Education.” If you have several product portals, then group them under “Product Portals.”
This is also an opportunity to identify content hub gaps. These are the places where you should have content for a specific audience — like an educational hub for distributors or end consumers — but lack.
Organizing this will take some time, but with this spreadsheet created, you’ll be able to quickly find the resources that drive the most impact and will need the most care.
Now, guess what? Most of the hard work is done. All that remains is to take the content you know your audience engages with — like webinars, technical reports and product sheets — and match them with the appropriate resource hub.
If you have a content resource tool, like ON24 Engagement Hub or ON24 Target, you should be able to easily upload all of the relevant assets you need and easily update your hubs with the latest information.
For example, if you have a product you need to upload to several hubs (say, a distributor resource, product portal or a self-service education portal) you can upload your assets on the backend and easily push it to the relevant hubs.
Okay. So you know what content connects and organize it to specific hubs on your site. Now, it’s time to connect your resources with the folks who need to use it.
There are many ways to do this, but if you have a large audience, social media can help you connect.
But first, what do we mean by social media? Social media certainly includes websites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but for specialized industries, social media also includes niche sites where target audiences tend to hang out.
Typically, these can include places like Reddit and other forum-based websites. Know where your audience connects and start to formulate a plan to reach out to them.
- Images (Infographics, Illustrations, Photos, etc.)
- Media (Videos, Webinars, Audio Recordings)
- Text (Blogs, E-books, Reports, White Papers)
Generally speaking, social media content comes in three formats: image, video, or text. When making content for social media, aim to go beyond the surface level.
For instance, consider what message the image sends when posting a picture on social media. Think about how the message connects to the image, how the viewer can interpret it, and its impact on the viewer.
The message will depend upon the content, the context, the audience, and the broader social attitude and consensus regarding the image in question.
A message will be multi-layered. It is essential to understand that you cannot control the entire message. Therefore, you must be aware of the potential implications of your message. In the physical world, the context and space in which a message appears can be controlled and understood to a certain extent.
In the digital realm, you have no control over the space the audience is in – in fact, everyone is in a different space. Their interactions with other messages, images, and personal experiences will guide their interpretation of your message. Therefore, managing a consistent message throughout the overall campaign is vital.
Making an effective social media campaign involves establishing a series of interconnected messages over time. The promotion or product in question may differ, but the brand message should remain more or less aligned.
It is essential to go beyond the surface level when it comes to audience engagement, look to drive views, impressions, likes, shares, replies, etc., depending on the social channel where your audience livesIf your posts and content keep the audience engaged, your social media campaign will be far more effective. Think of your scheduled campaign as an ongoing conversation or discussion.
You must keep track of your success on social media. Determine how and why customers engage with manufacturing content. Then, determine how and why certain content gets more traction than others. Fostering ever more engagement is key to succeeding.
Create content calendars and hubs to organize material
Right. Now is where everything comes together.
Effective marketers organize content with editorial and content calendars. Organizing your posts in advance allows you to develop a schedule and release posts and promotions according to a preordained strategy. This pre-planning allows the marketer to control their marketing campaign, catering it for optimal results.
Social media calendars are ideal for planning, organizing, and releasing content. For the most part, effective campaigners use existing social media calendar software. Other campaigners use spreadsheets to plan and then manually release their posts.
Social media calendars can help marketing teams, content creators, consultants, and managers stay informed about ongoing promotions, posts, and strategies. They can be useful when managing multiple teams, utilizing different media channels, pushing more than one campaign, coordinating departments, or planning future work.
Manufacturers may be in contact with consumers directly. They may also only be in touch with distributors and partners, who may control much of the marketing and campaigning. However, in the digital era, many manufacturers who previously would have allowed distributors to handle outreach have discovered that engaging with consumers can be very beneficial.
Building a Social Media Calendar for Manufacturing
If you’re planning to start working with a social media calendar, there are a few preparatory steps that you should take.
First, take an internal survey to ensure you completely understand your presence on various social media platforms. If you have a presence on multiple channels, compare them. Weigh your largest presence against your smallest and attempt to determine the difference between them.
It is best to start social media calendars with an awareness of the impact you already have across different outlets. This way, you can coordinate campaigns to use your strengths while also attempting to grow your presence on weaker channels.
Then, you will want to create a social media strategy. A social content calendar is beneficial for organizing posts, but the overall content strategy is often disconnected. Calendars are most effective when used to coordinate all aspects of social media strategy in one place.
Create a social media strategy that accounts for the different types of posts outlined above. This strategy should account for the various levels of effectiveness and the platforms corresponding to each content form.
Once you have a solid social media strategy, taking stock of the calendar year is exemplary. Planning your posts and campaigns around upcoming holidays, release dates, and seasons can be helpful.
Deciding how frequently to post is up to the marketing department in question. Generally speaking, it is best to appear consistently on people’s radar without annoying them.
Remember that your company’s manufacturing content is only a small fraction of the social media content consumers see in their feeds. Three or four posts a day may seem entirely reasonable on your end, but it might begin to feel like spam to the consumer.
That said, some platforms feature so much content that your posts might go entirely unrecognized by a large part of your audience unless they appear frequently.
Another question that you’ll have to tackle is how to weigh promotional posts with engagement posts that are not about selling but about establishing a relationship. These are some of those cases where data analysis and research are helpful. Integrating digital analytics into your manufacturing industry content marketing campaigns can be a serious game-changer.
It can also be helpful to create a layered calendar system. Keeping several social media calendars in place, like an editorial calendar, a sales calendar, and a video calendar, helps you figure out proportions and consistency in different outreach methods. Having these integrated into an overall master calendar is a great way to keep things synergized.
Maximize Influence With Digital Marketing Campaigns
So, manufacturers have a lot of content to manage — product portfolios, deep dive events, blogs, e-books, social media and much more. But most manufacturers don’t operate alone in getting content out there. They lean on distributors and resellers to get the word out on products, solutions, materials, techniques, etc.
To communicate with these key partners, manufacturers need to reach out where partners are willing to interact with the brand and open engaging dialogue. Now, there are a lot of strategies for this, but often, this means having a social media marketing strategy in place.
Social media marketing is creating and distributing content on social media platforms to promote your business. A strong social media marketing campaign can bring your business from a minor player to a global leader in your field.
By using just three of the most popular social media platforms, a business can reach over three billion users monthly. This kind of reach is power unseen in communication before this era.
A successful social media strategy includes several essential steps. First, it must conduct extensive research on consumers and audiences that will inform which social media platforms to use to connect with your audience, the tone of the content they like to engage with and overall engage audiences where they already are.
With research out of the way, you’ll need to establish a system that organizes your strategy and social media content.
Smart Insights recommends integrating digital media immediately. Undergoing a digital transformation is necessary for most businesses to survive in the digital era. This transformation extends far beyond social media outreach.
For instance, manufacturers can successfully engage with digital audiences. When working with distributors, digital engagement is paramount. For distributors to successfully move your products, they need an extensive understanding of the products in question. They must also understand market demand and demographic trends.
Many types of digital engagement are helpful with distributors. Different approaches include having accessible customer service professionals, providing FAQs and other supply chain information, and coordinating for the supply chain management. Webinars, training and certification systems, and technical manuals and guides also fit this category. With tools such as Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, it is easy to coordinate and collaborate with distributors. This partnership allows automated processes to handle the heavy lifting and uses data analysis to organize the relationship between you and your distributors.
Why Manufacturing Needs Effective Digital Marketing
Effective digital manufacturing industry content marketing strategies are vital to success in the current business era. Managing manufacturing website content for digital channels doesn’t have to be hard, but some tools make its management much, much easier. With the right tools, processes and structure, you can maintain an edge and stay competitive.
If you organize your business’s digital marketing campaigns from the top down and ensure a consistent and uniform message throughout, maximizing audience outreach and growth becomes nearly an automatic process.
It is a brave new world out there, and it’s essential to keep up and stay relevant to succeed. For manufacturers, this new digital world is an opportunity to solidify their place and ensure consistent and regular growth that adapts to change.