According to CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57% of the purchase process is complete. What it directly implies is before the first contact is made, the buyer has already formed opinions, learned specifications, narrowed down options without the influence of the manufacturer. That’s where the need to intervene early in the buyer’s journey has become so fervent. And the only way to keep humming in the mind of customers at every stage of buying is content marketing. Hence, the perennial need for content marketing for manufacturers.
It stems from the fact that incisive and persuasive nature of the content makes it a tailor-made tool for manufacturers to assist the buyers throughout their long buying journey. Note that customers are always in a mode of doubting and questioning. They need to be 100% sure about the product they are planning to buy – just to keep the post-purchase guilt at bay. Content is well-suited to qualm all their worries by addressing the pressing issues. It shines with more importance when you consider the undeniable fact that a buyer will not cross the line of conversion unless and until he is surrounded by a positive vibe of your product. It’s, then, hardly a surprise that CoSchedule says that marketers who document their content strategy are 538% more successful than those who don’t.
However, despite such inevitability of content marketing for manufacturers, 75% are still existing without a sound content marketing strategy. At the root of this dismal reality is manufacturers’ inability to churn around a mature and engaging content on a consistent basis. It’s been a common observation that the content creation process slowly and steadily winds down after the passage of a significant time period. Soon, manufacturers grapple with the content crunch.
However, this shouldn’t make you leave the benefits of content marketing on the table. The fundamental of content creation is you should create content that your prospects actually want to read. Understanding the inbound marketing funnel can give you a long rope in making the content creation and marketing process more efficient and result oriented.
If you are well versed with the sales and marketing functionality, you will know that there are traditional sales funnels and acquisition funnels. Inbound marketing has a funnel of its own. Though it varies due to elements such as pricing, your competitive landscape, and business model, it can generally be divided into three distinct phases — education, evaluation and conversion.
These phases are in total alignment with the way modern buyers buy nowadays. First, they try to know as much about the product and explore more (education); then they rummage through multitudes of options (evaluation); and eventually, they decide to buy a product (conversion). A fourth stage (delight) comes after buyers make their purchases, and it’s time for you to keep them happy.
Ideally, therefore, a prudent inbound marketing program should have content that meets the needs of people at all three stages — helping buyers at the top of the funnel move to the middle, shift those in the middle to the bottom, and turn prospects at the bottom into customers.
To assist you in it, here are some examples of ways of using content marketing for manufacturers. You can use them to connect with potential buyers across all stages of the funnel.
At the top funnel, you try to connect with the visitors who have landed on your site due to organic SEO and smart PPC and SEM programs. Most probably, they are looking for authentic and detailed information about specific products and services. They might need answers to questions, or want a possible fix to a problem that they’re experiencing.
This is where you need to provide them the helpful content and entice them to become part of your contact universe by filling out a form. You can harp on the following content ideas:
1) Blog Posts:
Though blog posts are the most common form of content marketing, different posts serve different purposes. For top of the funnel buyers, you should provide educational content that distills complex concepts into useful insight. This post from The Rodon Group about the injection molding process is a case in point here.
If you want to give a more detailed view of the topic, an introductory eBook is always advisable. Test Devices Inc., a rotational testing systems and services provider, has shown how to do it successfully with their Spin Testing for Manufacturing 101 eBook.
If the top of the funnel is the widest, then the middle of the funnel is often the deepest. It’s because of the fact that the evaluation phase takes the longest passage of time – especially for B2B buyers. This is the phase where you should build on your initial relationship, establish trust, and start to substantiate what separates you from your competitors with a variety of content. Through the content, you should provide key information that shouldn’t look like an advertisement. Some of the ways of implementing it in the content marketing for manufacturers are as follow:
1) Comparison Guides:
In an era which is marred with multitudes of products, it’s important to differentiate yourself clearly and squarely from your competitors. The best way to do is to come up with a comparison guide that spells out the pros and cons of different approaches.
CJWinter, a leading thread rolling manufacturer, plunges into the differences between thread rolling and thread cutting in their guide. They have tried to touch upon each method’s impact on costs, lead times, and quality to assist buyers in choosing the right tactic for their specific applications.
2) Buyer’s Guides:
Buyers start formalizing the process for selecting a supplier as soon as they reach closer to the bottom of the funnel. You can earn their trust by optimizing this process and guiding them in the right direction with a step-by-step buying guide.
Its prime example is American Crane’s offering of four buyer’s guides to help prospective buyers of electric overhead cranes select the right equipment for them.
This is the phase where a buyer is more or less convinced with your product. This is by far your most bright chance to convert him/her. You can be more promotional here, but not at the cost of the quality of the content. Here is the way to do it:
1) Product Videos:
As videos now account for about 74% of all online traffic today, videos should be your preferred channel to grab the attention of people. And when tools are mushrooming with each passing day, you don’t need to spend more to create a visual depiction of your product. Companies like Paratherm have created engaging, informative, and helpful product videos.
At this phase, buyers are interested in knowing how you deliver your capabilities. Specification sheets and brochures explaining your products and services can prove critically important here.
Mattei, compressor makers for commercial, industrial, OEM and transit applications, has detailed brochures and specification sheets for their different product lines. It’s all organized in a quick-to-access and easy-to-navigate portfolio on their website.
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