Digital Marketing for Engineers Blog

Research Shows that Engineers Spend 8.1 Hours Per Week Consuming Engineering Content

Posted by John Hayes

Sep 14, 2017 10:03:21 AM

We just wrapped up the data collection for our annual survey on the media consumption habits of engineers. The 2017 survey was our largest yet with 1,187 respondents. 

Our marketing customers and industry partners alike tell us how valuable the results of our annual survey are in helping them plan their campaigns for the coming year.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be pouring over all that data and surfacing insights which we’ll reveal in an upcoming webinar

One of our earliest results should be very encouraging to every engineering marketer who has slaved over producing top notch content and worried that engineers won’t read it – They will!  We found that the total time the average engineer spends consuming work-related content was 8.1 hours per week. That’s an entire day per week! 

20170914 An Engineers work week.jpg

As marketers, we know that we need to create great content to cut through the clutter and earn our audience's attention.  This research affirms that if you create great content, engineers have the time to consume it.  

In this post, we'll analyze how engineers spend those 8.1 hours per week, including what devices they use.

So how much engineering content do you really consume?

To get this information we asked engineers, “In an average week, approximately how many hours do you spend accessing engineering information (e.g. articles, white papers, case studies, etc.) via the following?” We then listed four formats for consuming information. The question looked like this:

20170914 Survey Questions.png

We estimated the average time spent per engineer based on the mid-point of the time ranges that the engineers said they spent with each type of device. From that calculation, we were able to estimate that the average engineer spends 8.1 hours per week consuming engineering-related media content.

One statistic jumped out at us right away, and that was that 7 of the 8.1 hours were spent on digital consumption rather than on print. That’s 86% of their time! So the first takeaway for engineering marketers is that you need to ensure that you have a digital-first strategy.

Engineers spend over 8 hours per week

consuming content.

86% of that time is spent in digital media.

When we surveyed engineering marketers earlier this year, most marketers confirmed that they do have a digital-first strategy.  Only 31% of the marketers surveyed said that they dedicated a significant (10%+) portion of their budget to print.

You may be thinking that this battle has already been fought and won by digital, so why bring it up again?  The reason is that there are still many marketers who need ammunition to wrest budget away from less successful legacy campaigns. Just last week a senior marketer told me that his team’s successful digital-first strategy is not being adopted by other product marketers in his organization who continue to rely on buying patterns that have been in place for a decade or more.  He found this to be very frustrating.

Engineers media consumption by format

The data showed that many engineers selected “do not use” for print publications, meaning that they do not read them at all. As you can see from the chart below, 98% of engineers reported using a computer/laptop to access engineering information, but only 59% said that they read print trade publications. 69% of engineers reported using their smartphones and 34% said that they use a tablet, at least some of the time.

20170914 Consumption by Device.jpg

Engineers told us that their 8.1 hours per week were spent as follows:

  • Computer/Laptop 4.3 hours
  • Smartphone 1.9 hours
  • Print trade publication 1.1 hours
  • Tablet 0.8 hours

20170914 Hours Spent Consuming.jpg

This data shows that engineers are consuming engineering-related content primarily on their laptop and desktop computers, with an average of 4.3 hours per week. If we consider the computer to be more of an “at work” device rather than at “at home” device, this could indicate that a little over half of all consumption occurs while at the office. 

To see whether we had more data to support that conclusion, I looked at one of the content sections on ENGINEERING.com - the Advanced Manufacturing Section two days ago, on Tuesday, Sep 12. This pattern you see below confirms that engineers are consuming this information during their work day, with a peak in interest at 9:00 am EDT. There is still a significant amount of traffic at other times of the day due to the many time zones where engineers reside.

20170914 Google Analytics Sept 12 Data.png

For marketers, this means that it is worthwhile to allocate some budget to advertising outlets that engineers visit during the day.

The next most important finding is that there is a significant amount of time spent consuming information on smartphones and tablets, which together totaled 2.7 hours per week.   I’ve written about responsive design and making sure that your campaigns are mobile-friendly many times. Still, when we surveyed engineering marketers earlier this year, few reported  embracing mobile as an ad platform.

As an industry, we publishers need to come up with a good way for engineering marketers to deliver their campaigns on mobile devices. Facebook and Google ads are OK for mobile, but an offering tuned more specifically to B2B mobile and engineers would be welcome news for engineering marketers.

This blog post is the tip of the information iceberg that we will reveal in a webinar that comes out in a few weeks.  Be sure to sign up for the webinar and add it to your calendar.  I promise, you won’t want to miss it.

Thanks for reading,

John

Topics: Industry trends and research, Marketing to engineers, content strategy

    
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