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12 min read

Research Series | 2023 CMI Manufacturing Content Marketing Report

Gain insights into where manufacturing marketers are seeing success and how they are investing their marketing budgets in 2023.


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For part two of my two-part research series, Lisa Beets, Research Director for the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), joins me to walk through key findings from the 2023 Manufacturing Content Marketing Research Report. The report studies where content marketers working in manufacturing invest time and budget dollars, and the outcomes they are experiencing.

This year's study spans a broad range of marketing topics, from content creation and management, distribution, metrics and goals, and budget allocation.

There were three particularly interesting discussions we had during the interview:

  1. Manufacturing marketers are outpacing B2B marketers in video investment in both the number of videos produced and the use of YouTube as a distribution channel.
  2. Manufacturing marketers cited web visits and social followers as the most important metrics as opposed to conversion metrics for B2B marketers; hearing this makes me ponder the final point....
  3. There were struggles cited with creating a content marketing strategy (which may be the reason for bullet #2 - relying on easy-to-grab vanity metrics over substantial conversion metrics)

This report is an excellent companion to part one of my research series, where we walked through the 2023 State of Marketing to Engineers.




Today you'll hear from the Research Director at the Content Marketing Institute, and we'll be reviewing the findings from her Manufacturing Content Marketing Research study. And it's really interesting to take the findings of this study and put them against our own State of Marketing to Engineers Report to see where content marketers and manufacturing are investing, budget, and what they're finding effective and stand that against where technical buyers say they go to find information and make purchase decisions. Let's do this.


Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey.


Hi, and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend, challenge or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll meet colleagues, friends, and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories, and I hope that you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency, TREW Marketing. TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit And now on with our podcast. Hey, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Content Marketing Engineered. I'm joined today by Lisa beats. She is the research director at the Content Marketing Institute and a two time guest on this podcast. So welcome back, Lisa.


Thank you, Wendy. Good to be here.


Yeah, nice to have you. And let's see, the last time I saw you was at Content Marketing World and you were up on stage presenting about research. So let's just sidebar real fast and tell me a little bit about that event and your presentation and how was it received?


Oh, thank you. Yes. Content Marketing World, our annual event, takes place every year in September. We've been in Cleveland, but this year we will be in Washington, DC.


What a neat move.


Yeah. Research is always a popular topic at the event. A lot of marketers today are into original research and of course, learning more about the importance of just even gathering data within their own companies to create research reports to put out there as a form of content marketing.


Nice. Well, I know you had a packed house for that session, so I think more than a few marketers interested in using that tactic just like we've done and you've done.


Thank you. And we've appreciated you were at the event presenting this year, too, the Industrial Marketing Summit.


It was so neat because many of us over the pandemic developed relationships and hadn't ever met in person. So kind of like you and I, actually. And so that was nice to be able to gather everybody together and feel this sense of community. So I'm looking forward to DC. We'll be there.


Yes. Great.


Well, today we'll be discussing findings from your Manufacturing Content Marketing Research study. So let's start off by just give me high level overview. What were the goals of the research, and who were the profile of the respondents that answered your call? Okay.


Yeah, sure. So today we're talking about the results of our 13th annual Content Marketing Survey. The goal of the survey is to learn how content marketers are going about their business, about the practice of content marketing, how they organize their internal resources. For content marketing, we want to learn about the types of content they're creating and what types are resonating the most among their audiences. We ask questions about where they distribute content, how they measure performance, the challenges they're facing, areas of content marketing investment, where they'll be investing this year, et cetera. So we then share the results so content marketers can learn from one another. And we publish several reports based on the survey findings. So today we're talking about our manufacturing cut. This report represents the manufacturing marketing marketer respondents primarily B2B and based in the United States.


Okay. All right. Very specific. That's great. I love to put your report next to our report on the state of marketing to engineers, because in ours, we're asking the engineers how they see can consume content to make purchase decisions. And so you look at where marketers are placing bets, so to speak, with their content investments against where engineers say they're going. So this is always fun to put the two together. So I'm excited to do that during this podcast today.


Yes, definitely.


So let's start out by talking about okay, so we had the Pandemic, which obviously changed everyone's behaviors when seeking information for a good couple of years, right. And now we've come out of it face to face. Events are in full swing. So with this in mind, what do marketers think about content marketing these days?


Well, content marketing has become more important to organizations. I think that during the Pandemic, a lot of organizations realized the power of content marketing. I mean, face to face didn't exist. Everything was digital. So content marketing kind of started to take center stage in a lot of organizations. And in fact, on the survey this year, nearly three out of four respondents told us that content marketing has become more important to their organization over the last year.


Wow. Three out of four?




Okay, so it's important, but then I think you had a data point maybe right after that. It was really interesting. Regarding strategy yes.


Only 32% of our manufacturing respondents have a documented content marketing strategy, and that's something that we've seen year over year. So we're kind of stuck right around that 30% mark. And we'd love to see more manufacturing marketers get that strategy down in writing. Our research has consistently shown that marketers who have that strategy in writing are more successful with their overall content marketing approach.


I think I just figured out what I need to speak about at the next content marketing world, which is how to build a content strategy. Okay.




Good. Well, when it comes to building that strategy, what were some of the biggest goals that manufacturing marketers achieved by using content marketing? And has that changed over time? So it's one thing to set out and say, here's what we hope to achieve, but what do they say they're actually achieving with content marketing?


85% of manufacturing marketers say that they've succeeded in creating brand awareness with content marketing and that's something we see year over year. That's always the top goal achieved. It's just creating that brand awareness. So that hasn't changed much. And some of the other goals are educating audiences, building credibility and trust, building loyalty with clients and generating demand and leads. And those have stayed pretty consistent year over year over the last three years. But we have seen an uptick in those who are using it to build loyalty with existing customers. So three years ago, 51% said they were succeeding in that area with content marketing and now it's up to 65%. Great, that's encouraging.


So marketers thinking more. It used to be just leads, leads, leads. Like how do we get new contact, new acquisition and so now really focus on loyalty. I love to see that full lifecycle approach. Good. Well, diving into other data points here, what were some of the research findings that stood out most to you?


Well, we talked about strategy, so that was the first one. I think video really stood out for me. With 90% of manufacturing marketers saying they're using Video, making it the top content type, they're using just above blog posts at 86. So those were almost tied. They also said that by a long shot, video was producing the best content marketing results for their organizations.




Yeah. An 80% plan to invest or continue to invest in Video in 2023, making it their top area of predicted content marketing investment. So video is huge.


Great. On our end of things, we routinely ask about Video and whether or not technical buyers utilize Video. And 96% look at video weekly for work purposes. And YouTube was really popular and I know that gets a little into social strategy, but they're jumping straight to YouTube, not just vendor websites to find those videos.


Yeah, and that's great because 80% of our manufacturing marketers are on YouTube, so yeah, making it their number two organic social platform, just followed by LinkedIn is number one. But YouTube was number two, right?


Yeah. And on the engineering report, those are the top two as well. They were just flipped, but very close. So I think there's some nice alignment there.




What about paid content? So are you seeing any changes in where people are placing ad or are they placing paid ads for content these days?


They still are. We did see a dip this year. Let's see, let me pull up the exact stats.


Let's see.


It did drop, but we noticed this with B2B, too.


Let's see.


Where did it go? I think it dipped about excuse me for one moment. Let me pull it up.




Okay. So it decreased it was to 73% are using paid social from 85% the previous year. So that's a big drop, but it suggests they're moving money away from these paid awareness activities that they were engaged with during the Pandemic. I think ad space was cheap during the pandemic. People were placing ads on social more often and what have you, but they're still 73% using paid paid distribution, and amongst those, 83% are using paid social. And again, it's LinkedIn again where they're spending that money. 75% said they were spending money on.


LinkedIn as opposed to things like Facebook, Instagram. I'm sure those are well below.




Yeah. I was actually surprised to see Facebook as high as it was in your survey because certainly in ours, it's very unpopular for work purposes for engineers to turn to.


I know, I was surprised by that too.


Yeah. How about in person events? Are we bullish on that for 2023 or cautious or what did marketers say about that investment?


We'll see. I mean, 60% are back to using in person events, and they say they're producing good results coming in third after video and short articles. 55% said they expected to increase their spend on in person events for 2023. So we shall see. I think they're back into in person.


Yeah. When we asked, we were trying to compare to pre Pandemic times, and the majority of respondents in our study said that engineers said that, yes, they are returning to the pre Pandemic levels of attending conferences, and they're prioritizing those that have a strong technical conference, which is nothing new for that audience. Good. So another piece of alignment, I think, between marketers and this audience.




Okay, well, let's talk about Martech. So are content marketers investing in technology to help them do their jobs? And if so, where are they putting that money?


Most report that they're using analytics. I mean, 78% use things like web analytics, 72% are using social media analytics. More than half are using email marketing software, 54% are using content creation and workflow tools, and 49% are using CRM systems. So it's a good mix. We don't ask specifically about investment for 2023. That would be a great question.




Predicting technology investment.


Right. And I have a suggestion for you on this one. So when I was at Content Marketing World walking the show floor, there were a lot of tools to aid with content creation and of course, with Chat GPT. There's been a lot of focus on that just broadly worldwide. And so I noticed in your report that content creation was lumped with things like scheduling and some of the logistics around creating content. And I would love to see how many marketers are actually using technology just to aid in creation alone, because, boy, it's got to be on everybody's radars, I hope. It certainly is on ours. And we're doing lots of pilots and figuring out how to augment our own internal resources to help do things like derivative content and just lighten the lift a bit.


Yeah. Thanks, Wendy. Yes, definitely. I know. I've been thinking about that same thing myself. I mean, we have all these new tools just exploding on the scene.


It's moving fast.


It is.


And then did you say utilizing a CRM was only 40 something percent? Did I hear that right?


Yeah. What?


I can't wrap my head around that one.


I know.


Okay. Yeah. So you mentioned measurement number one. Everybody's measuring and using tools to do so, which is really what we have to right. And then you asked two very interesting questions about metrics. One was about the type of metrics, and then you said, okay, here's all the metrics that you're looking at, but what do you find most reliable? And I thought that was really interesting that you broke those two out. So what did you find?


I know what we find year over year, that website traffic is this top metric, and it's a vanity metric, and we all know that. So that kind of brings up this well, let's ask the follow up question.




It was a little bit interesting to me that manufacturers said they rely most on social media analytics. I'm not quite sure why that is.


I don't get that.


I don't either. In our broader research, it's conversions and manufacturing marketers mentioned conversions, too, but it was further down the list. They were very focused on social media analytics.


I think there's some sort of disconnect, and maybe that goes back to your strategy piece up top. When you lack a strategy and you're just looking for, what can I get my hands on to measure? I don't know. I don't get that. Because one would think that would be a sliver of your focus as a whole with your content marketing program. The social piece.




Okay. And a lot of companies were bit by all of the changes that Google made in their algorithm. TREW marketing is one of them. We had to really rethink. Okay. Again, web visits and new contacts, those are great, but how do we get to quality? How can we ascertain, what does this actually do to our business? And is this okay? Maybe it's okay. So getting those right metrics and that really matter to the business are so important.




Good. Well, were there any other notable differences between the Overarching content marketing report and this manufacturing sector?


Well, one notable difference was in video. Like I had mentioned, manufacturing marketers are using video more often, 90% reporting versus 75% of all B2B marketers surveyed, and they rate them the highest performing, whereas the B2B audience rates in person events the highest performing. And in fact, videos are 7th on their list. So video is huge amongst manufacturers and as I mentioned earlier, more manufacturers using organic YouTube at 80% versus 65% of the broader B2B audience.


Yeah, I wonder how much of that we can attribute to large systems and processes and things that are difficult to show in person, let's say, for a salesperson to take on to a client visit or whatever it is. And so video does a better job showing off that product and its capabilities.


Definitely. Another area I noticed a difference in was with providing customers with a consistent experience across their journey, which that's tough for all B2B marketers a little bit higher amongst manufacturing marketers and they reported a little bit more of challenge with measuring content performance accurately. And well, if they're only looking at.


Social media analytics and they don't have a CRM in place, I think we just diagnosed something here.


Let's see. Yeah, I was just going to mention that social media analytics piece kind of in line with that social media piece. We see that manufacturers expect more investment in social media and community building in 2023 than the broader B2B audience. 67% of the manufacturers see investment in that versus 57 of the broader audience.


I wonder when they define community, are they thinking about the end user community or are they also thinking about a lot of manufacturers have distributors and there's this whole supply chain that they're working with to get their product out to market. So I wonder if that's part of their community efforts that would make a.


Lot of sense, a lot of audiences.


Yeah, buyers reps, that sort of thing. Good. Well, Lisa, you are such a busy woman. You just released another report that is pretty market adjacent to the manufacturing report. Tell me a little bit about it.


Well, we're going to be releasing an enterprise cut from this research this month and then we'll also be releasing a technology cut. And in April we will be releasing the results of our fifth annual content Marketing for Demand Generation survey.


Oh, wow. Okay.


Yeah, so we have that coming up. And in late summer we'll be releasing our second annual content Marketing Careers and Salary Outlook survey, which we're very excited about. So, new video research coming out. Yeah, busy year.


Yes, no moss growing. Wow. Well, good. Well, where can people go to connect with you and download not only this report but get on the radar for all these other reports that you'll be releasing throughout the year?


Thank you. People can find all of our research at our website, along with all kinds of other resources, training, webcasts and so forth. And then we talked about our yearly event, content Marketing World


Are there dates for that?


I know you said DC last week of September.


Last week of September. Okay, very good. Well, Lisa, thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate your time.


Thank you. Thanks so much.


Wendy, thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing, engineered for show notes, including links to resources, visit




While there, you can subscribe to our blog and our newsletter and order a copy of my book Content Marketingengineered. Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast, so please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me your review on your favorite podcast subscription platform. Thanks and have a great day.


Wendy Covey

Wendy Covey is a CEO, a technical marketing leader, author of Content Marketing, Engineered, one of The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Most Innovative Entrepreneurs in America, and she holds a Texas fishing record. She resides in a small Hill Country town southwest of Austin, Texas, where she enjoys outdoor adventures with her family.

About TREW Marketing

TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.