Digital Marketing for Engineers Blog

Engineers on social media: Data dump for marketers

Posted by Andrew McWhaw

Nov 30, 2017 8:47:23 AM


A few months ago, we surveyed just shy of 1200 engineering and design professionals to learn about how they find and consume engineering information (the full research report it now available here).  One area I was extremely curious about was social media. 

My curiosity stemmed from 2 seemingly counter-intuitive facts: 1) Social Media is the most commonly used engineering marketing tactic over the last 4 years & 2) It’s reported to be one of the least effective at generating revenue. This is evidenced by the following two charts:

(If you’d like to learn what the most effective tactics were as reported in January of 2017 you can find all that and more information in this research report)

Today, we’re going to answer some fundamental questions about engineers and social media using data from our recent survey of 1,187 engineers as well as web analytics data from ENGINEERING.com. The answers to the following questions should help us understand why marketers seem to have such difficulty in generating revenue from social media:

  • Do engineers use social media for gathering work related material?
  • Of those who do, what channels do they rely on?
  • What types of content is best suited to reaching them?
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Topics: Social Media for Engineers, Industry trends and research, Marketing to engineers, content strategy

How Marketers Can Reach Automotive Engineers

Posted by John Hayes

Nov 9, 2017 10:32:42 AM

We recently surveyed 1,187 engineers about their information consumption habits. We’ll have the full research report out in the next week or so. Starting today, and extending through the next few weeks, we’ll investigate specific segments of engineers to surface unique insights into those populations.  Our goal is to inform your tactical decisions as marketers when you seek to target a specific engineering niche. 

We’ll be starting with the automotive industry. The survey had a healthy turnout with almost 100 respondents in the automotive industry. They demonstrated that they are not like other engineers in many important ways. For example, the following chart shows you the answer to the question “At what stage of your investigations into a new product or service do you prefer to engage with a vendor representative as opposed to conducting independent research?”

Most Engineers in other industries want to wait until later in their buying process to be contacted by a sales rep from your company, whereas automotive engineers prefer to be contacted earlier. If you are building a campaign that targets automotive engineers, you need to give them the option to be contacted by sales sooner than when you are targeting other engineers. 

I have some theories on why this may be true, but no facts. All I can tell you for sure is that the difference between automotive engineers and other engineers was statistically significant – meaning the difference we are seeing is real, and automotive engineers are unique.   

We also found that automotive engineers:

  • Spend more time each week consuming engineering content than other engineers
  • Consume a lot of short written articles and video
  • Say that new product designs represent the biggest challenges in their industry

In this blog post we’ll share the research about the information consumption habits of automotive engineers, along with a number of charts to help us all make sense of the data.

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

70% of Manufacturing Marketers Can Prove that Content Marketing Drives Leads: CMI Study

Posted by John Hayes

Nov 1, 2017 7:00:00 AM

The 2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing study was released today. One of the headline facts from the study was that 70% of marketers said that their organization has metrics that prove that content marketing has increased their number of leads.

That figure means that a large majority of manufacturing marketers can prove the connection between content marketing and generating more leads. And most manufacturing marketers are using content marketing in some way. In fact, 86% of respondents to this survey said that they use content marketing.

When ENGINEERING.com surveyed engineering marketers earlier this year we found a similar result, with 87% saying that they were doing some form of content marketing. Four out of five respondents to the ENGINEERING.com survey believed that content marketing was helping to drive more leads, but that doesn’t mean that they could prove it. This new survey helps put more meaning around that result.

42% of those same marketers in the CMI study said that they could prove that content marketing increased their organization’s sales. However, they weren’t so bullish on their ability to prove that content marketing had decreased their cost of customer acquisition. In fact, more people disagreed with that statement than agreed.

Is the disagreement down to having a high cost of content marketing or to not having systems in place that can track the results? The report doesn’t answer that question, but it does answer quite a few others.

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

Engineers Read your Marketing Content on their Smartphones

Posted by John Hayes

Oct 19, 2017 10:27:23 AM

Last month we surveyed 1,187 engineers to determine how they source engineering content and information. I’ll be going over the full results of the study in an upcoming webinar on October 25th, but today I’m going to dig into just one of the fascinating trends found in the research. 

More and more engineers are using mobile devices to access engineering content, and in certain segments the penetration has reached 80%!

One of the big takeaways for engineering marketers is that the overall usage of smartphones to consume engineering content has gone up by 15% over last year.

In the chart above the top bar with a total of 53% indicates the percentage of engineers using smartphones to access engineering information in 2016 versus the bottom bar that shows 61% in 2017.

“How is it possible that 61% of engineers are reading dense engineering content on mobile?” you may wonder. You might think that smartphones are too small to consume technical information like spec sheets, or that they won’t fill out forms to access gated content. However, engineers can now use their smartphones to participate in workflows, read technical content, watch engineering videos, and even interrogate CAD models.

Over the past five years, all of the major engineering software vendors have made their products available on the cloud, which means that most engineering data is now available via smartphone. The utility of smartphones has clearly extended to consuming engineering information as well, so marketers need to be mindful of how their content will be presented in that format.

In this post we’ll reveal:

  • How to produce content that is smartphone friendly
  • How smartphone usage varies by age range
  • How much time engineers spend consuming engineering content on smartphones
  • Smartphone usage in North America vs Europe
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Topics: Industry trends and research, Marketing to engineers, content strategy

New Research Shows How to Reach Technology Decision Makers

Posted by John Hayes

Oct 5, 2017 9:34:26 AM

So many engineering marketers want their campaign to reach decision makers. Their thought process goes something like, “If I can just get our product in front of the decision makers, we’ll generate high quality leads and a ton of conversions, because our product is a perfect fit for [insert name of industry/application here].”

But how do you reach those decision makers? Do they prefer:

  • Long articles or short?
  • Print or digital?
  • LinkedIn or Facebook?
  • Sponsored posts or editorial?

I’m happy to report that we can now tell you the answers to these questions. That’s because last month we conducted a survey of 1,187 engineers to learn about how they consume media. We’ll share our findings for all classes of engineers with you in an upcoming webinar and eBook, but today we’re focusing on just the people deciding where their company is going to spend.  

Of those 1187 respondents, 110 said that they were the final authority in the purchasing decision making process for their company. 

In this post, we’ll dig into how those people consume engineering content. 

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

Can Engineering Marketers Create an Effective Word of Mouth Strategy?

Posted by John Hayes

Sep 28, 2017 9:07:47 AM

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association claims that word of mouth (“WOM” from here on) is 100 times more effective than a paid media impression.  This is not a surprise in that of course they would say that. They are a WOM marketing association, after all.

But let’s say for a moment that this claim is at least partly true. If so, then engineering marketers would do well to include a WOM component in their marketing plans.

Here’s a little thought experiment. Imagine that an engineer is using a new software tool that helps to gather and manage requirements for his company’s new product designs.

If the new software is remarkable, that engineer might promote it for use within his company. And if it is really remarkable, he might also tell his friends, some of whom are also engineers that manage requirements.

In that context, I can believe that a recommendation from someone you trust (another engineer) is worth more than banner ads (which I hate to admit because we sell banner ads for a living, but we also care about truth).

The rise of social media has given all customers a voice to more easily recommend products. That makes the reach of WOM greater than ever. But it isn’t any easier to build a strategy for B2B WOM for engineers.

I was in the audience when Jay Baer presented his four key “talk triggers” in support of a WOM strategy at Conex17. Here are a few key takeaways for engineering marketers.

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

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! 

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.

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

What Engineering Marketers Can Learn from an Organic Traffic Superstar

Posted by John Hayes

Aug 31, 2017 10:02:46 AM

Last week I was at Conex2017 and saw an excellent presentation by Amanda Todorovich, the 2016 Content Marketer of the year, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Amanda outlined the formula that helped the Cleveland Clinic’s corporate blog grow to 5 million visitors per month, up from zero a few years ago. The approach she used really resonated with me, because many of the tactics she outlined were similar to what ENGINEERING.com has relied upon since we launched our Advanced Manufacturing vertical in 2014.  We’re not at 5 million monthly manufacturing visitors yet, but as the chart below shows, traffic has been growing at a very respectable pace. 

We built this audience by researching and writing evergreen content that our target audience searches for. And now, month after month, those stories rank in our top 10 most viewed, even though some of them are quite old.

In this blog post, I will review the three most important takeaways from Amanda’s presentation, adapt them to the growth of a technical audience –the target audience for linear actuators is a little smaller than people wanting advice on how to deal with signs of ageing – and finally provide behind-the-curtains evidence from our own experience of growing targeted traffic to our Advanced Manufacturing vertical

But, first a warning. It’s a lot of work.

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Topics: Case studies, Marketing to engineers, content strategy, Content Promotion

Can AI Save Engineers From Bad Marketing Content?

Posted by John Hayes

Aug 24, 2017 12:00:58 PM

Technology has made it too easy to create content. As a result, we have too much marketing content for engineers.

From search engines that make research easy, to ever-present smartphones that take photos, to instant sharing on social media, technology has contributed to an avalanche of content. The engineers we seek to reach are trying their best to filter out the irrelevant messages so that they can get on with their work.

Marketers now complain that it is harder than ever to get their messages in front of technology buyers. They are watching their email open rates decline while they pay ever more to distribute their content on social media.

The Marketing world's recent obsession with content has dug us into this hole, but technology may also provide the way to dig ourselves out.  We just need a little help…

I was at Content Experience 2017 in Toronto this week and heard a lot about AI and how it will work with marketing automation. We have a little experience with it ourselves.  As you’ll see in this post, we’ve learned a lot about how to leverage machine learning to improve the experience of content discovery for our target audience.

This post will cover my take on:

  • Why content clutter is breaking the internet for engineers
  • How machine learning and artificial intelligence works to make better content recommendations
  • What this will mean for engineering marketers
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Topics: Branding and awareness, content strategy, Content Promotion

Banner Ads? Why Would Engineering Marketers Ever Buy Banners?

Posted by John Hayes

Aug 10, 2017 11:43:41 AM

If you measure the success of your campaigns only on how many leads they generate, you probably don’t buy banner ads. And you probably shouldn’t.

But if your company aspires to a leadership position in your industry, there is a reasonably good chance that your company does buy banners.

Why the difference? 

Why do companies in leadership positions buy banner ads, but smaller companies don’t? Is it because larger companies have dollars to waste? Do they have very junior people who don’t know how to allocate their marketing budgets?

More likely, they’ve found a way to make banners work for them through specific targets, more complex attribution models, and a whole lot of testing.  

In this post, we’ll look at why banners get a bad rap, and why much of that is deserved. We’ll reason out why banner ads don’t work for lead generation and hence why many industrial marketers don’t buy them. Next, we’ll put banner advertising in its place, which is not for lead generation, but for awareness. As an added bonus, we’ll explore the attribution problem that plagues banner ROI calculations.

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Topics: Branding and awareness, Display advertising and banners, content strategy, Analytics

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