Manufacturing marketing has its own unique blend of deliverables and initiatives that can spell success for B2B industrial firms. The marketing landscape is ever-evolving and no one is safe from the continual pendulum swing of updates, new platforms, and changing buyer preferences. How can you be sure you’re not a digital laggard in the years to come, without a crystal ball to gaze into the future?
In 2015, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, and Fathom released a compelling report, B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America. Utilizing this data, you can pinpoint the marketing tactics that will continue to grow or shrink in 2016 and beyond. However, in the words of Shakespeare in The Two Noble Kinsmen, “Our reasons are not prophets, When oft our fancies are.” At Precision Marketing Group, you won’t find any fortune tellers or tarot cards. But I’ve managed to put down the Magic 8 Ball long enough to come up with 5 manufacturing industry trends that are sure to play a pivotal role in the year to come.
Trend #1: Marketing strategies will become more defined, and in turn, marketing budgets will steadily grow.
Content Marketing Institute found that only 8% of manufacturers have a dedicated marketing team. However, 19% of manufactures plan to have one. If you’re already researching marketing agencies or interviewing for an in-house position, you’re still ahead of the curve. But if you’re burdening your staff with marketing on top of their usual job functions, you may see your efforts outpaced by competitors in the coming years.
As the number of dedicated manufacturing marketers continues to increase, so will the budget and resources allocated to marketing functions. If your business is deciding between in-house or outsourced marketing (or a combination of both), each option presents their own unique set of benefits and challenges. However, outsourcing your marketing can solve a variety of problems ranging from time constraints to lack of internal expertise. If you’re spreading your team too thin and your ability to execute content marketing initiatives are inconsistent at best, you may be ready to hire an outsourced marketing department.
Trend #2: YouTube and other video sharing platforms will continue their rise in popularity and effectiveness.
In 2015, LinkedIn was the most widely used social media platform, but many manufacturers are now finding that YouTube may be more effective. In fact, 89% of manufactures utilize LinkedIn but only 54% find it to be an effective marketing platform versus YouTube’s 66% effectiveness rating. These findings won’t surprise many marketers. 2015 was a huge year for video across the board. However, with this data, it’s easy to predict that YouTube and other video sharing platforms will see substantial growth in 2016.
If you’re brand new to video, YouTube is one of many platforms for video hosting and sharing. Many social networks are also designed to share video and you’ve probably seen videos circulating on your personal social profiles. Some social networks like Facebook are even prioritizing video in their algorithms. Without a doubt, YouTube is the heaviest hitter for video marketing – accentuated by the fact that it’s the second largest search engine on the Web! However, It’s important to experiment with other video sharing platforms beyond YouTube to find the right network(s) for your target audience. Here are a few different sites to consider in your strategy:
- Periscope: Periscope is unique in the video sharing world, because all videos are recorded live. Periscope was acquired by Twitter in January or 2015, and now there are over 100 million live broadcasts. Just last month, Twitter announced tweets will now have the ability to autoplay both live videos and replays, directly within a tweet – meaning users can now view your videos without having to create their own Periscope account, broadening your potential audience. Want to show off your booth or talk an industry event? Live stream your team with Periscope to give your prospects a taste of your expertise!
- Vimeo: Over 45 million people make use of Vimeo to host, post and view videos, and with a variety of pricing options ranging from free to $200/year, it’s an affordable choice for many businesses.
- Snapchat: Snapchat is slowly growing in popularity among marketers. Though a number of manufacturing companies would naturally scoff at the idea of deploying “snaps” as a marketing tool, it’s not entirely unheard of in the industrial world. Check out this article on Toyota’s use of SnapChat. It’s important to note that in 2015, 60% of America’s smartphone users between the ages of 13-34 utilized Snapchat. A younger age range may not be your target demographic, but remember even Facebook began as a tool only for college students. By jumping on Snapchat early in the game, you may find yourself better positioned than competitors if it begins to take off among a broader range of age demographics down the line.
Trend #3: Use of traditional marketing will decrease in favor of digital paid advertising.
Every company struggles with budget constraints and the manufacturing industry is no different. Determining the optimal marketing mix will be critical for any company’s success. We’ll likely see a shift away from traditional marketing in favor of paid digital advertisements. 85% of manufacturers utilized some form of print or offline promotion in 2015, while only 34% found this tactic effective. Search engine marketing ranked highest among paid marketing options in terms of efficacy, at a solid 52%. This year, manufacturers will start to divert funds from traditional offline promotion in order to experiment with various paid options, from promoted tweets to native advertising.
Trend #4: Your competitor’s website may soon be outperforming yours as a lead generation tool.
Websites have always been a crucial lead generation tool for businesses of all sizes. This trend is less directed at the manufacturing industry as a whole, more so to those few stragglers who continue to deny the importance of modern website design. CMI found that 66% of manufacturers want improve their visit-to-lead conversions. (You, too? Check out these tips for boosting your landing page conversion rates!)
There are myriad factors that have a hand in website conversions, but in my book the primary deterrent for lead generation is an outdated design. Websites are the digital version of your business’s brochure, but even more importantly, when appropriately designed they often act as your top salesperson, leading potential clients down the sales funnel. If your website is not designed with the end user in mind, 2016 may be the year this will become a huge problem (if it wasn’t already). Keep your eyes on potential clients who end up deciding on competitors – you may find that your website’s design is to blame.
Trend #5: Content marketing “buy-in” will increase among executives.
The graph above illustrates the top challenges manufacturing marketing faced in 2015. These challenges are common among all marketers from B2B to B2C, but you’ll find that these issues are especially pronounced in the manufacturing industry. Top issues include content effectiveness, production of engaging content, and consistent content creation.
2016 will undoubtedly be the year of upper management buy-in, where a combination of factors may lead to higher content marketing strategy adoption. Laggards may see an increase in lost business to competitors engaging in digital strategy and inbound marketing, especially when it comes to maximizing lead generation potential. 82% of manufactures already utilize content marketing, and 65% plan to create more content in 2016. The stakes are simply becoming too high to deny the power of content marketing. Therefore, this year will be the most important year yet for manufacturers looking to gain a foothold among businesses engaging in digital content production.
You Don’t Need a Crystal Ball to Get Started!
Put down the phone – your local psychic can’t help you here, but PMG can. My 2016 predictions could have various repercussions for manufacturing businesses looking to up their content marketing game. Everything from your website to your social channels may need tweaking, but we’ve got you covered. Check out a couple of our favorite resources below for more information:
- B2B Content Marketing Best Practices for 2016
- The Website Redesign Checklist: What Is Your Site Aesthetic Missing?
- 4 Essential Content Marketing Tips for Industrial Manufacturers
As always, don’t be a stranger, reach out to us if there’s anything we can do to help!