I just received an advance copy of Manufacturing Content Marketing Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends (Thanks, Amanda!) published by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). The timing couldn’t be any better, since many of my manufacturing and engineering clients are putting together their industrial marketing plans and budgets for 2022.
Refer to my post, Industrial Marketing: What Manufacturers Need to Know if you need a quick refresher.
Let’s first look back at 2021 to see what manufacturing marketers did during the year. As the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana). Of course, I’m not talking about history repeating itself, but we do gain valuable insights by looking back.
Post-pandemic manufacturing content marketing
Let me start with a direct quote from CMI’s report because they’ve summed it up very nicely.
“This year’s research suggested that the pandemic awoke a sleeping giant – content marketing, that is. Without in-person events and face-to-face selling, many who had previously paid little attention to content marketing suddenly became aware of its power.”
What kinds of content did manufacturing marketers create in 2021? CMI surveyed manufacturers from a range of industries, functional areas, and company sizes worldwide. They found that 86% of survey respondents used videos for content marketing purposes in the last 12 months.
Using videos as part of manufacturing content marketing aligns very well with the way engineers and technical professionals use content in their daily work. The 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers reported that 96% of engineers watch videos weekly for work. (Work-related videos and not the naughty kind. 😉)
It is not just that videos are popular with engineers; they produced the best results in 2021 using content marketing, with how-to videos leading the way at 52%.
In 2021, manufacturing marketers used content to achieve a variety of goals. Lead generation was not the #1 goal, though I believe everything works together in generating better quality leads.
Budgeting and planning for 2022
Let’s look forward to see what manufacturing content marketers are expecting and planning for the next year. Of course, marketing budgets are always at the top of everyone’s mind. There’s some good news here – 64% expect their 2022 content marketing budget to increase over their 2021 budget. That is a significant change from 2021 when only 36% expected their content marketing budget to increase over the previous year.
Where will manufacturing content marketers spend their marketing dollars? Not surprisingly, a whopping 85% of the manufacturers will invest in videos in 2022. Events (digital, in-person, hybrid) is second place at 68%.
Here’s something you may not have expected, in a post-COVID-vaccine business environment, investment in in-person events is expected to increase by 56%, that’s more than the increases in Digital/virtual events (27%) and Hybrid events (31%). Have we come a full circle?
Manufacturing content marketers will face challenges in 2022. That has been the case for several years now, but the challenges have changed over the years. In the 2021 survey, manufacturing marketers who outsource at least one content marketing activity (Content creation was the activity outsourced most often at 80%) said their biggest challenge was finding partners with adequate topic expertise (61%).
That is an important finding because I’ve had conversations with manufacturers frustrated with the quality of technical content they get back when outsourcing to freelance copywriters. Another source of confusion is a lack of understanding between content creation and content marketing. Just publishing content won’t move the needle for industrial companies.
This is my summary of CMI’s report. Do download it for more statistics. Stay tuned for future posts where I’ll dissect and analyze important sections from the 2022 Manufacturing Content Marketing report.