It's here; it's here. The Content Marketing Institute's annual benchmark report on manufacturing was released yesterday. I compared the results from 2017 to 2018, and there are some interesting changes in critical areas.
1. Percentage of manufacturing respondents who use content marketing - This is virtually the same as last year; 86% in 2018 compared to 85% in 2017.
2. How manufacturing marketers rate their content marketing success - Interestingly, this number declined dramatically. In 2017, 20% considered their content marketing programs as 'very successful' or 'extremely successful.' In 2018 that group comprised only 14%. Are they less successful, or is it that they had a better understanding of content marketing as a strategy and graded themselves on a stricter scale?
3. Manufacturing organization's commitment to content marketing - The commitment to content marketing seems to be in decline. Those manufacturers claiming to be very or extremely committed decreased from 49% in 2017 to 38% in 2018. When commitment to anything declines, it usually means that something isn't working as promised or as expected. Manufacturers tend to favor quick results, and we all know that it takes 12 to 24 months to start seeing results from a comprehensive content marketing strategy. It could be that manufacturers don't have the patience for content marketing so commitment is on the decline.
4. Percentage of manufacturing marketers who have a content marketing strategy - Perhaps content marketing is becoming less critical and less useful for manufacturers. Another indicator is the percentage of manufacturers who claim to have a written, documented content marketing strategy. In 2017, 31% had a documented strategy. In 2018, the percentage dropped dramatically to 19%! As with #2 regarding effectiveness, this decline could also be attributed to the fact that marketers have a more thorough understanding of content marketing and what would constitute a documented strategy, therefore, grading themselves more harshly.
5. Content marketing tactics used by manufacturing marketers - This was a bit tough to compare year-to-year because the question was phrased differently this year compared to last. The 2018 survey split the tactics matter into two parts; what types of content are used and what formats are used for distribution. In 2017, the question was straightforward in asking which content marketing tactics were used. Nonetheless, I will attempt to draw some comparative conclusions.
Manufacturers using in-person events is down from 70% to 54%. This is quite remarkable because most manufacturers consider in-person events to be critical to success. Email and social media tactics are both up from 78% to 95% and 93% respectively. The email statistic didn't surprise me, but the fact that 93% of manufacturers are using social media as a tactic did surprise me. It could be that the term 'using social media' is too ambiguous. If a manufacturer puts up a LinkedIn page or a Facebook page and never makes another post, is that using social media? If a tree falls in the forest... you know the rest.
The number of tactics is down from an average of 8 in 2017 to 5 in 2018 perhaps representative of manufacturers losing interest, or maybe they're getting better at knowing what works and what doesn't.
Video production increase from 71% to 80% and webinar use decreased from 44% to 36%.
6. The key result may very well be in this last statistic. In 2017, 53% of manufacturing content marketers said they could demonstrate how content marketing increased sales. That same number dropped to 42% in 2018. Let's face it when the CEO asks you if your content marketing program is increasing sales, and you answer is that you don't know. Either that marketer is gone, or that marketing program is gone.
I believe that content marketing can and does increase a manufacturing organizations credibility, TOMA, and, ultimately the top line. It takes discipline in following a well-crafted strategy, patience in following and believing in that strategy for up to 2 years and being able to show C-suite results along the journey. In other words, it ain't easy folks, but if you can do it well, it will pay off big time!