Industrial blogging is an important and integral part of manufacturing content marketing. Yet, I’ve found that many manufacturers and engineering companies are not willing to invest the time and resources for industrial blogging. I once had the VP of Business Development at a manufacturing company tell me, “This s**t doesn’t work.”
The problem is not with industrial blogging, but in my experience, the fault lies with not having a clear understanding of a blog’s purpose and goals. Let me make it crystal clear—blogging is not a quick fix for not enough sales leads.
Industrial blogging and B2B buyers
You’ve probably read that blogging doesn’t play an active role in the industrial sales process. I look at it differently; let me share some independent research data on how B2B buyers interact with blogs to make my case.
My sources are the 2020 Content Preferences Study published by DemandGen and the 12th Annual B2B Content Marketing Report published by the Content Marketing Institute. The findings are relevant to industrial blogging since both surveys included respondents from the manufacturing sector.
The pandemic forced cancellations of many in-person tradeshows and face-to-face meetings, which meant the use of virtual conferences and Zoom meetings grew exponentially. So it shouldn’t surprise you to read some of the findings from the surveys.
“B2B buyers increasingly look for credible ‘show-and-tell’ experiences to drive buying decisions.”
“The pandemic forced us to start content marketing and add marketing as a focus. We were previously very sales oriented.”
Content Marketing Institute
Key findings from both reports:
- 67% of respondents said they rely even more on content than they did last year to research and make informed purchase decisions (DemandGen)
- 77% read from 3 to more than 7 pieces of content before engaging with a salesperson (DemandGen)
- 56% read blogs during their buying process, which puts it in the #3 spot with video at #1 (65%) and white papers at #2 (60%) (DemandGen)
- 77% reported that their organization has a content marketing strategy. Of those, 58% said their strategy is moderately or slightly different now versus pre-pandemic (CMI)
- 78% of small companies (1 – 99 employees) and 52% of medium companies (100 – 999 employees) have a small or one-person marketing/content marketing team serving the entire organization (CMI)
- 61% of large companies (More than 1,0000 employees) indicated last year that they outsourced marketing activities. This year, the figure was up to 75% (CMI)
- 65% of the respondents who outsourced said their top challenge is finding partners with adequate topical expertise (CMI)
Role of blogs in content distribution and lead generation
Past research reports have found the technical audience to be passive participants in social media. However, they do share blog posts with their peers. 36% share blog posts with their peers and colleagues, with LinkedIn being the most popular channel at 81%, followed by Email at 70% (DemandGen).
A company’s website remains the primary channel for content distribution. However, a blog is the second most popular distribution channel, as seen in this chart from CMI.
While lead generation continues to be the top priority for most industrial companies, manufacturing marketers are using content to achieve various goals. In my opinion, raising brand awareness, earning trust, educating less experienced engineers, winning their mindshare, and increasing subscribers, all play critical roles in generating high-quality leads that need nurturing to turn them into sales opportunities.
Committed individuals launch manufacturing blogs
Don’t assume that an industrial or manufacturing blog requires a big staff to launch and maintain. That is not always the case. Let me give you a real-life example of a blog from a manufacturer that two individuals started and have grown their blog into a highly respected source of technical information in their niche.
Emerson Automation Experts Blog: As the name says, this blog is part of the multi-billion dollar global company, Emerson Electric Co. However, the blog was started by two committed individuals, Jim Cahill and Debra Franke (She has since left the company). The two of them worked tirelessly without any support from the upper management. They had to prove the value of blogging by taking baby steps at first.
I’ve known Jim since 2007 and remember seeing his presentation at an American Marketing Association’s meeting. He shared a story with me, the gist of which went something like this, “…one of my blog posts generated an email about the early stages of a very large greenfield project and gave Emerson an early start in the sales process and an opportunity to help shape the vision for the project.”
Today, a few other Subject Matter Experts from various fields contribute content. The blog now generates several unsolicited RFQs, which Jim routes to the proper sales organizations.
Jim is the Chief Blogger, Surface Dweller, and Head of Social Media for Emerson Automation Solutions and has been blogging since 2006. The Emerson blog was named BtoB magazine’s Best Corporate Blog for 2010.
As you can see, it takes time, dedication, and hard work for an industrial blog to produce results.
I write about all things industrial marketing here and have been blogging since 2008. I now get 3.5x more traffic from this blog as compared to my company’s website. Blogging has boosted my organic SEO rankings and the bulk of my new leads are inbound leads from either this blog or people who find the blog first and then visit the company website. (I’ll be happy to share my story about why I have two sites. Let’s Talk).
I help my clients set up their industrial blogs, develop a blogging strategy, and create/edit their blog posts. The research findings cited here and the example I have shared should convince you that industrial blogging does produce results but it requires a serious commitment of time and resources. Don’t blame the strategy if you are not willing to take a long-term approach and persevere.