I’ve heard some people refer to them as white papers. IMO, there’s a difference but that’s a topic for another post. My point is that these content assets are powerful tools of industrial content marketing for lead generation.
Application Notes focus on a particular process or application of a manufacturer’s product. They provide general guidance on the product’s usage under certain operating conditions. Sometimes these documents may highlight unusual or challenging applications of the part. App Notes put the spotlight on the manufacturer and are part of its marketing materials, albeit technical in nature. Here are two examples of industrial App Notes:
- IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n Manufacturing Test with the Agilent N8300A (Agilent Technologies)
- Applications of fiber lasers for solar cell manufacturing (IPG Photonics Corporation)
Case Studies on the other hand are customer success stories. These content assets are also produced by the manufacturer and used in its content marketing. However, here the focus is squarely on the customer and how the manufacturer helped solve a customer’s problem. Case Studies usually follow a Challenge, Solution and Results format. They are specific to a customer and its application.
Examples of industrial case studies:
- Emery Oleochemicals Reduces its Energy Bills With a Condensing Economizer (Enbridge Gas Distribution)
- Volvo Construction Equipment uses Siemens PLM Software tools and customer support to address NVH issues (SIEMENS)
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that most manufacturers have to sign pose a big challenge when it comes to creating case studies. Often customers are unwilling to give permission to use their names and/or allow you to publish results achieved because of legal and competitive reasons.
I have seen many examples of industrial case studies were the specificity was watered down as a compromise and have at times been forced to do so myself because it was impossible to get permission from my client’s customer.
Here’s an actual example of such a compromise, “A major olefin plant was experiencing valve failures caused by leakage and chatter on their boiler safety valves.” No names or locations are mentioned and the results published as “…the plant operation has been smooth and free of trouble.” Not particularly helpful and these kinds of generalizations do take away a lot of the credibility and effectiveness from case studies.
Application Notes are not constrained by these restrictions and are very effective in industrial content marketing. Here are four different strategies that I have used successfully for my manufacturing and industrial clients. Some had existing Application Notes and in some cases, I helped to create them.
- Write a synopsis of the App Note and publish it as a blog post. Each post should have a Call to Action which drives readers to a landing page for downloading the full App Note. Works great for top of the funnel (ToFU) content
- Use App Notes as part of a lead nurturing campaign with drip marketing (Email marketing). This is more of a middle of the funnel (MoFU) content marketing strategy
- Compile a series of App Notes on a related topic and turn it into a longer eBook or best practices guide. This can be used for both ToFU and MoFU content
- Build an online library of App Notes. This offers great SEO benefits and can be either set free or gated (Registration required). Two of my clients, one is a manufacturer and the other is an industrial distributor use a free literature club membership approach where a one-time registration grants lifetime access to all existing and future App Notes
I know from my own experience that Applications Notes are very effective in industrial content marketing, particularly when Case Studies pose some challenges. Stay tuned for a future post where I’ll talk about another industrial content marketing strategy that is specifically for component manufacturers. Independent research shows 77% of the downloads lead to sales.
Do you use Application Notes as part of your own industrial content marketing?