Editor’s Note: Take it from us, a transportation management solutions provider, who understands the question we’ve all asked: “Who on earth will find manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, shipping, and transportation management content interesting? After all, it’s just making stuff and tedious process-driven operations!” Well, the answer lies in not thinking of yourself as some boring industry (and let’s be real, as you’ve seen emerging tech in both the manufacturing and supply chain industries, it ain’t boring anymore!).
However, many industrial companies have often found that many people are not reading their content. From time to time we like to offer our readers something of value that helps their business. Today we feature a guest blog from Fronetics Strategic Advisors, a digital marketing agency, who specializes in the logistics and supply chain industries. They are offering tips on the reasons why your target audience isn’t reading your content.
We also want to give you some inspiration from some industrial companies who are doing content and social media marketing right with the following links:
20 Manufacturing Blogs You Need to Reading
11 Industrial Companies Worth Your Follow on Twitter
In those two links alone, you will find some of the best of the best to inspire you in creating great and amazing content who are in the boring old manufacturing and supply chain industries! Now, onto the guest blog…..
Twenty-seven million pieces of content are shared every day — and most of it is crap. To attract readers to your content, you must stand out, and I mean really stand out, among the masses. That’s no easy feat.
You may be spending an enormous amount of time and money as part of a content marketing effort, but, if no one is reading what you’re producing, you’re definitely not achieving your ROI. Consider the following points, and ask yourself if any could be negatively impacting your readership.
Here are the top 10 reasons no one is reading your content.
Only 11% of companies without a documented content marketing strategy find their efforts to be successful, compared to 60% of companies with a strategy in place. And that number rises to 86% when the company designates someone to lead the strategy. Having a clear vision for your content and a plan for executing that vision is crucial to earning an audience.
Seventy-seven percent of today’s buyers use Google to research information about products. Search engine optimization (SEO) means writing copy for your digital assets so they will be prioritized by Google in web queries related to your business or products. Three of four people will click on the top five search results. So the further you move from those top five results, the less likely someone is to find, much less read, your content. If your content isn’t SEO-friendly, readers may not even have the chance to see what you’re writing because it is so far down in their search results.
If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, did the tree fall after all? Stop publishing in the empty woods. Who is the target audience for your content, and where are they active? Evaluate your audience (or lack thereof) in each of the channels where you publish, and see if something is amiss. This will vary greatly by business. You can access personalized information on your followers’ social media habits through analytic programs like Google Analytics and sites like Tweriod.
Also to consider: on lightning-fast platforms like Twitter, a miscalculation of timing could be to blame. (See The Best Time to Post on Social Media.)
Inconsistent content is one of the primary reasons readers become disengaged with a particular publisher. Even publishing one more blog post a week can significantly boost your readership. Try a little experiment for a few months by playing with the number of times per week you publish — say, three times per week one month, four times the next, and five the next. You’ll find the sweet spot where you get the most engagement but can also handle the production schedule.
The next reasons have to do with the substance of the content itself.
Imagine you’re looking to buy a car. Researching different options online, Site A, run by Dealership A, offers expert opinions about various makes and models, while Site B talks about how Dealership B offers top-notch customer service and a no-nonsense negotiation policy. You’d probably never come across Site B in the first place because the content is irrelevant (and trite… and annoying), whereas Site A has exactly what you’re looking for.
Content marketing is your opportunity to provide valuable, expert information to people who are seeking it out. Associating your brand with that sort of expertise attracts customers — not to mention, helps them find you via organic search in the first place. No one wants to read your sales pitch over and over again, and they won’t.
I am talking about two different definitions of truth here.
For one, are you being honest? Today’s consumers can smell b.s. from a mile away, largely because the Internet forgets nothing and forgives nothing. The prevalence of user-review sites and platforms like social media means customers will always have an outlet to share their experiences, both good and bad. If your business does not provide what you promise, people will be upset and take to these forums to complain about it. Trust and transparency are two key assets in earning (and keeping) readership.
Secondly, are you being true to who you are as a business? A recent Harvard Business Review article defines successful marketers as mission-focused, not consumer-focused. Don’t produce content based on what you think your customers want to hear. The beauty of content marketing is that when you put your business mission out into the universe through content, people who are seeking that information find you. In other words, build it, and they will come.
DigitalTonto says, “The first step towards engagement is creating value beyond the basic transaction of payment for a product or service.” This is the essence of content marketing: a related offer of value in the form of expertise, entertainment, etc. For example, L’Oreal Paris provides free makeup tutorials on its YouTube channel, Destination Beauty, and, Apple offers free classes, product demonstrations, and tech support from the Genius Bar for product users.
The question to ask is, what is your value to your customers? Can you offer expert advice on a particular topic through a blog? Is there something about your products or your people that would make for entertaining or informative videos? Do you have access to top-of-their-field specialists that could lead a webinar series? Find whatever it is that is unique to your company, and leverage that in your content marketing to attract readers.
Because there is so much content out there, today’s consumers can afford to be partial to publishers who provide information in a way that is pleasing to them. They also have shorter attention spans than goldfish. That means things like format, length, accessibility, and voice can majorly impact whether people read your content or not. Also, be mindful that different platforms should offer different experiences based on reader expectations (e.g., Instagram isn’t the place for lots of text).
The one certain constant in marketing is that things will always change. What works for you one year will certainly be irrelevant the next. Content marketing won’t allow you to rest on your laurels, either. You should stay on top of your analytics to monitor what kind of content is successful in the present moment, and you should tweak how you’re doing things as people, technology, and events change. Keep testing new ideas to see how they are received, and get rid of old standbys that no longer pull their weight.
While this seems obvious, it’s worth repeating. If the quality of your content is bad, no one will read it, regardless of what value it offers. The same goes for if you find yourself saying, “it works,” or “it’s fine!” If there are 27 million options, who would choose “fine?”
Do an honest evaluation of your content, or have a neutral outside party do so for you. Is it original, substantial, and well-written? Make sure that your content is edited, and that it is free from grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and awkward phrasing. And remember that you get what you pay for. Professional writers can be expensive, but there’s a reason for that — theirs is a specialized craft, and very few people can do it well. If you want people to read your content, you should make sure that it’s worth reading.
In our February 15, 2014 podcast, Robert Rose and I highlighted a SlideShare presentation titled, The Manufacturer’s Growth Manifesto, by marketer Bruce McDuffee. In his report, Bruce says:
“Most executives in the manufacturing industry are laggards when it comes to understanding the new buyer’s habits and how they apply to go-to-market strategy and tactics… the window of opportunity is open for modern, bold executives willing to change the way they interact with their target audience… “
Our new report, B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, sponsored by Oracle Marketing Cloud, shows that 86 percent of manufacturing marketers have adopted content marketing. That’s a decent adoption rate; however, it’s also the lowest among the four top vertical industries we gathered data on this year. Does that make manufacturing marketers “laggards” when it comes to content marketing — or are they just taking a slower, more conservative approach? While we can’t know for sure what this data portends for marketers in the manufacturing vertical, let’s take a look at where the segment stands this year, according to the research:
When compared with their B2B peers overall (of whom, 42 percent say they are effective), manufacturing marketers lack confidence in their content marketing effectiveness. This could be due to the fact that they are newer to content marketing, or because they don’t have a documented content marketing strategy in place, or both — or even to some other combination of factors. What is certain, however, is that other CMI research has found a clear link between a documented strategy and overall effectiveness, and only 21 percent of manufacturing marketers have one (compared with 44 percent of B2B marketers overall).
Manufacturing marketers use many of the same tactics as their overall B2B peers, and even use the same average number of tactics (13). They do, however, use print magazines (69 percent vs. 35 percent) and print newsletters (35 percent vs. 22 percent) at higher rates when compared with other B2B marketers. They also use eNewsletters (82 percent vs. 80 percent), in-person events (81 percent vs. 76 percent), and videos (80 percent vs. 73 percent) more frequently. Of all the tactics they use, they rate in-person events and videos as most effective (click to tweet).
Eighty-one percent of manufacturing marketers use YouTube to distribute content, and they also rate it as the most effective social media platform they use (click to tweet). While many manufacturers use video to demonstrate products, video storytelling is on the rise in this sector (see an example here).
While all B2B marketers say brand awareness is their top goal, manufacturing marketers place more emphasis on customer retention and loyalty (68 percent vs. 57 percent) and less on lead generation (67 percent vs. 74 percent). The biggest difference, however, is that manufacturing marketers seem far less concerned with thought leadership (44 percent vs. 68 percent) (click to tweet).
Manufacturing marketers are markedly more challenged than other B2B marketers with producing the kind of content that engages (62 percent vs. 47 percent) and with the inability to measure content effectiveness (48 percent vs. 33 percent) (click to tweet).
Download the report today to learn more about these and other findings, including:
In CMI’s discussions with manufacturing organizations that are getting started with content marketing, we are seeing success in small “pilot” programs. These tend to last at least 6 months, with agreed-upon objectives that, at the very least, are getting different silos within the organization talking about what marketing objectives can be accomplished with consistent content creation and distribution.
Do you think that manufacturing marketers are “laggards”? Why or why not? Are you just getting started with a program? What are your challenges? Or do you already have some successes to share? Let us know in the comments!
To learn more about content marketing for manufacturers, attend a full-day Industry Lab sponsored by Oracle at Content Marketing World on September 11, 2014.
This was a guest post from the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi. The original article appeared on the Content Marketing Institute blog here. This post was republished with permission.
On this day before our Director of Marketing, Adam Robinson, presents his webinar titled “Content May Be King, But Distribution Rules the Land” (Register here) to help industrial companies improve operations by having better content marketing success to increase sales (and thus receive and ship more freight), we also wanted to further help by giving you a way to think about how you go about creating successful and valuable content to better reach your potential customers and also keep customers through educational content.
So, what does this have to do with logistics management at all? Well, great question. There have been some in LinkedIn Groups we engage in who say marketing has nothing to do with logistics management or supply chain management, but we disagree. The fact is this, as a logistics management services provider, our goal at Cerasis is to improve your operations by offering our expertise in logistics offering both logistics technology and integrated logistics freight services so we help businesses stay in business, keep customers, and focus on their core to acquire new customers. In the spirit of that, we also know that many industrial companies (Manufacturers, Distribution companies, material handling, etc.) who have supply chains, are not finding they are very effective at content marketing, and typically don’t have a lot of resources towards what is now one of the most effective ways to market and tell the story of your company: CONTENT MARKETING.
The below is a guest post from Stephanie Chang of Distilled a digital marketing consulting company. The article originally appeared on Moz.
We’ve entered a fortuitous time to be involved in the digital marketing space. Almost half of the global population now has access to the internet, the way consumers consume content is rapidly evolving, and with that comes an exciting array of challenges and opportunities. This post specifically focuses on the trends that lay ahead for content marketers and the role they play within an organization. Having a concrete understanding of upcoming trends is important in laying the foundation for defining the content goals within an organization and deciding where resources should be allocated.
Posting new, unique content regularly on your site is NOT enough. Each day there are around 92,000 new articles posted on the internet. Digital media publishers have created systems to produce the greatest amount of content at the lowest price. For example, The Huffington Post produces at least 1,200 pieces of content a day, and Forbes produces 400 (with 1,000 contributors). It’s not just from publishers; WordPress users produce about 35.8 million new posts each month.
Smaller businesses won’t be able to compete based on sheer volume. So how can a site differentiate itself in this market? This is where the development of a content strategy can come into play. It’s extremely helpful to understand a company’s unique value proposition, and if the company doesn’t have one, to understand where the opportunities are in the space to create one. For B2C companies, it can be identifying the company’s existing target audience and promoting the brand as an advocate for a particular lifestyle. For B2B companies, it is often times about positioning your brand to be the ultimate authority or source of knowledge in a specific industry/niche.
When developing a content strategy, it’s important to evaluate the product that the business sells. Evaluating a product doesn’t mean identifying the features or solely understanding the benefits of the product. It actually meansunderstanding the marketability of the product. For instance, is the product a “think” product or a “feel” product? Does the product require high involvement or low involvement from the consumer? Using the FCB grid developed by Richard Vaughn is a useful tactic.
A “think” product is one where a consumer heavily considers before purchasing. These type of products usually involve a high amount of research and personal effort by the consumer before purchasing.
A “feel” product is one where emotion plays a pivotal role in the buying process.
A “high involvement” product is one where the consumer is heavily involved in the buying decision. These products are generally more expensive, but not from just a fiscal perspective. It can also be something that once purchased, will require a lot more time to change, or it has significantly more impact from a long-term perspective. For instance, opening a retirement account is a “high involvement” purchase. A wallpaper purchase is also a “high involvement” purchase.
“Low involvement” products tend to err on a more impulsive or spur-of-the moment purchase. Once a consumer decides they need this product, not much time will be spent researching because it involves a low margin of error if a decision was incorrectly made. The price of the product is usually low.
If the product the company sells is a “high involvement”/”think” product, the consumer is going to spend significantly more time researching the product, including reading/watching product reviews, identifying product features, assessing if this purchase is worth the cost, etc. As a result, the content strategy for such a product should involve plenty of information on the product features, the benefits of the product, as well as growing the product and brand awareness, so that consumers will both discover and search for the product.
If the product the company sells is a “low involvement”/”feel” product, more time should be invested to connecting with consumers and appealing to their emotions. These products should also focus their efforts on building brand loyalty and retention of customers because these products tend to be repeat purchases.
Julian Cole, the Head of Comms Planning at BBH, breaks down this process in great detail in his “Working Out the Business Problems” slide deck.
Traditionally, traffic and page views have been the longstanding metrics to gauge a piece of content’s success by. Although there are clear value propositions in having increased traffic (such as increased brand awareness and increased/potential revenue for publishers and bloggers), these metrics on their own can be misleading. More importantly, solely focusing on traffic and page views as a metric of success can lead to unintentional behaviors and misguided motivations. These can include an overemphasis of click-worthy headlines, overuse of keywords in a title, and changing the focus from creating content for users (building for the long-term) to creating content for page views (short-term wins).
Ultimately, determining the right metrics for an organization’s content depends on the goals for the content. Is it to maintain an engaged community/develop brand advocates, build brand awareness, and/or to convert users into paying customers? Perhaps it is a combination of all 3? These are all difficult questions to answer.
At Distilled, we’re currently working with clients to help them define these metrics for their content. Sometimes, the best option is to use a combination of metrics that we want to analyze and target. For some clients, a key metric could be combining organic traffic + % returning visitors + tracking changes in bounce rate and time on site. For instance, if a user finds exactly what they’re looking for and bounce, that’s not necessarily bad. Perhaps, they landed on an ideal landing page and found the exact information they were looking for. That’s a fantastic user experience, especially if the users have a long time on site and if they become a returning visitor. Looking at any metric in isolation can lead to tons of wrong assumptions and while there is not a perfect solution, combining metrics can be the next best alternative.
For other businesses, social metrics can be a great conversion metric for content pieces. A Facebook like or a Twitter retweet signals some engagement, whereas a share, a comment, or becoming a “fan” of a Facebook page signals a potential brand advocate. Although a share or a new “fan” on a Facebook page may be worthy more, all these activities demonstrate the ability of a piece to gain a user’s attention and that awareness is worth something.
Content Marketing Institute has a great list of key metrics that B2B and B2C companies use to measure the effectiveness of their content.
Trend 3: Increased interest in content integration (content will be produced for multiple channels)
Some of the biggest challenges involved in content often times have nothing to do with content. For many of my clients, the biggest struggles usually involve decisions regarding proper resource allocation – lack of time to implement all of the goals, lack of budget to implement these strategies in an ideal way, and the constant battle with readjusting priorities. These hard constraints make marketing especially challenging, especially as more and more channels develop and digital innovation advances so quickly. While there is no perfect solution to this problem, the next best alternative to balancing out hard resource constraints with the constant need for innovation is to develop better integration methodologies. A poll of CMOs have put integrated marketing communications ahead of effective advertising when it comes the most important thing they want from an agency.
Why is this so important? It’s because there is a change in the way consumers shop. Accenture conducted global market research on the behaviors of 6,000 consumers in eight countries. One of the top recommendations was the important of providing consumers with a “seamless retail experience.” This means providing an on-brand, personalized, and consistent experience regardless of channel. That seamless experience will require content to be heavily involved in a multitude of channels from online to in-person in order to provide potential and current customers with one consistent conversation.
The chart below shows statistics about the way Millennials shop. Although Millennials tend to be exceptionally digitally-savvy (especially when it comes to social media), studies show they still like to shop in retail/brick-and-more stores. Millennials use the internet to research and review price, products, value, and service and have shown to have an impact on how their parents shop.
The integration of content does not apply to just consumer retail stores. For instance, British Airways has a billboard in London that is programmed to show a kid pointing to a flying British Airways plane every time one passes over the billboard. Here is the video that shows how the billboard works.
Last year, AT&T launched a 10,000 foot digitally enhanced store to showcase an apps wall, as well content dedicated to lifestyle areas, like fitness, family, and art. Start-up food blog, Food52 (who is starting to go into ecommerce) is launching a holiday market pop-up store in NYC.
Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 Report for B2B content marketers indicates that B2B content marketers still view in-person events as their most effective tactic. The seamless transition of content from online marketing channels (via social media conversations, PPC and display ads, and content on the site via case studies and videos) to in-person conversations and consumer experience will only grow in importance.
Technology and digital innovation are experiencing rapid increases in growth. PCs are now a small percentage of connected devices, wearables, and smart TVs are about to go mainstream. As competition for attention increases, companies will be increasingly willing to experiment with content in new mediums to reach their intended audiences.
This graph is just one depiction of how quickly technology evolves. As marketers, having the ability to quickly adapt and scale to new trends/opportunities is critical. This past year, marketing agency, SapientNitro, released a 156-page free guide entitled Insights 2013 that talks in detail about some of these trends, such as in-store digital retail experiences, the future of television, sensors and experience design, and customer experience on the move to name a few.
One of their case studies talks about Sephora. Sephora has developed great content in retail stores, such as several interactive kiosks that allow users to explore different fragrances or gain understanding about skincare. IPads surround the store that provide how to makeup tips and items can be scanned to reveal product information. Sephora’s mobile app has content that speaks to their core customer base and is in line with their other online and social media content. All of the content can be easily shared via email or through social networks.
Other brands, such as Nivea mixed print advertising with mobile innovation. In this case, Nivea’s print ad also doubled as a solar ad charger for phones.
Finally, PopTopia is a mobile game that has a mobile phone attachment, called Pop Dangle that will emit the smell of popcorn as you play the game. The game works because the attachment plugs into the audio jack and at a certain frequency, it will signal to spread the smell of popcorn. These examples all show brands who have embraced new mediums for content.
2014 will be an exciting time for the future of content. As technology evolves and competition for user attention increases, marketers need to be agile and adapt to the growing needs and expectations of their customers. The future of businesses will absolutely be critical upon businesses having a very clear unique value proposition. Why is this so crucial? This is the pivotal foundation from which marketing strategies and execution will grow. Our job as marketers is to use that information to pinpoint the metrics we need to measure and prioritize all future marketing strategies. This task is very difficult, but our role is to continue to embrace these challenges in order to seek solutions. Now is the ideal time to begin.
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