It’s frustrating to be an engineering marketer. You create an excellent piece of content, only to see it get no views. This post covers three trends that are impacting the distribution of your content.
These trends are spelled out in the Reuters 2016 Digital News Report. While it does not speak specifically to marketing to engineers, it does highlight broader content trends that we can put into an engineering context.
People are increasingly accessing their news through aggregation platforms like Google and Facebook
Smartphones are used by 53% of news readers
Video news is not as popular as expected
Read on for my take on why this matters to engineering marketers and what you can do about it.
51% of people report getting news through aggregators and social media
There has been an astonishing rise in readers using content aggregators like Facebook and Google to access news, and presumably to access other relevant content like engineering stories. 12% of survey respondents say that news distribution platforms are now their main source of news.
This is a cause for concern for the publishers of the report, because if most readers are going to news distributors rather than to news sources themselves, then nobody will be paying the cost of making news. If you want to see a funny take on the cost to society of losing journalism, here is Jon Oliver’s rant.
As a digital marketer, however, you may not care so much about the decline of journalism as you care about economically building your brand, leads and pipeline. You can leverage a news aggregator strategy by ensuring that you allocate some budget to distributing your content through a distribution platform. [Warning – shameless plug ahead] This is why ENGINEERING.com started building an engineering content distribution platform some years ago that includes things like Google News and a very large social media reach.
You are probably following a strategy to “own” certain search terms through deep editorial content and spec sheets around your core topics. This study affirms the importance of search, stating that 30% of readers find content through search. But for your brand-building, “thought leadership” types of stories, content distribution platforms are becoming increasingly important.
53% of readers get at least some of their news on smartphones
With 53% of users reporting using their smartphones, you can bet that a large number of your engineering readers are reading your stories this way.
At ENGINEERING.com we see about 25% of readers accessing content via smartphones. Why would engineers be less likely to consume stories on a mobile device as compared to regular news readers? We don’t know for certain, but we do know that ENGINEERING.com has the most visitors during 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Eastern time, which is during the standard North American work day. Most engineers are at their desks during the work day and so may be more likely to use their office computers for engineering stories than people who consume news about sports or politics, which may be more of an after-hours activity.
That said, 25% is still a lot of engineers, so what can you do as a marketer to make sure that your content is mobile friendly? First of all, having a responsive web site that adapts to the screen size of the user is key. You can see more tips on writing content for mobile users in this post on mobile tactics for engineering marketers.
There are other things you can do to make your content more mobile friendly, such as writing your headlines and subheadings for mobile, checking to make sure that the images you use work properly on a small screen, and inserting lots of white space.
Video is not as popular as expected, with 78% saying they prefer text based news.
In 2015, 30% of American readers said that they watch at least one video news segment each week. In 2016, that number increased, but only to 33%. It’s still a large number, but given the excitement that surrounded video for storytelling as recently as last year, the slowdown in the trajectory of this statistic had the report writers puzzled.
What they found when they dug a little deeper is that people prefer the convenience and speed of text and they truly despise pre-roll video ads. Those attitudes sound like the sort of things that would bother an engineer. If engineers like to get their work-based information during the day, and if video is perceived as a distraction in the work-place (some even ban Youtube) then you can see why there is value in having text-based storytelling.
One way to serve both preferences is by placing a full story under every video so that readers can be watchers and vice versa.
What to do about changing consumption patterns?
The digital media landscape is changing fast, as this report clearly shows. If you are ready to experiment with content distribution, you may want to download this media guide.
If you have any additional tips to share on how to leverage the changes in the content landscape, please share them here.
This formula reflects our estimation of success based on factors we consider most important today. Please share your modifications—or your own formulas—with our readers in the comments below.