Marketing to engineers has always been a challenge. Fine-tune your industrial marketing armed with research findings and knowledge about how engineers and technical professionals make buying decisions. I’ve downloaded the 2023 State of Marketing to Engineers report published by TREW Marketing in partnership with GlobalSpec. It is packed with valuable research data and expert opinions.

Understanding the survey audience for marketing to engineers

Before we dive into the data, let’s understand the survey audience. One can find plenty of B2B marketing information online, but it is not easy to find data on engineers and industrial buyers. The survey respondents either make the final buying decision and/or strongly influence it. That’s why I liked the focus of this report instead of relying on answers from marketers.

I’ve combined two charts from the report to give you a quick summary of the engineering audience.

Survey demographics of marketing to engineers

Job Function plays an important role at different stages of the buying journey. The chart below is from an earlier survey report.

Job function in marketing to engineers

Read my post, Industrial Content Marketing that Engages Engineers, to learn more.

What information sources do engineers rely on for work-related decisions?

It shouldn’t surprise you that most engineers (82%) go straight to vendor/supplier websites. However, that doesn’t mean you can ignore other sources that your technical audience uses. Pay attention to the chart below to understand the different channels where you need to maintain a strong presence.

Notice how email newsletters are sort of middle of the pack. Nevertheless, don’t discount their effectiveness in 2023. I say this based on my own experience working with manufacturers and engineering companies. The research data also validate my experiences.

89% of engineers subscribe to at least one newsletter, while 54% subscribe to at least three newsletters.

89% of engineers subscribe to at least one newsletter

If you have a small list or need to expand your market reach, it may be more effective to ride the coattails of highly-respected industry publications or portals. They have a captive audience of engineers and technical professionals who have given their permission to receive newsletters and are eager for helpful information from suppliers.

Content preferences of engineers and industrial buyers

This audience uses a variety of content in their buying journey. The most helpful content is Datasheets, which have consistently remained the #1 source for several years (See chart).

Content preferences of engineers

What was missing earlier were CAD drawings. I refer to this type of content as “sales enablers” because 82% of CAD/BIM downloads turn into actual sales. You can’t argue against those numbers for getting results from industrial content marketing. (Read the post, Using CAD and BIM Files in Manufacturing Content Marketing).

SEO, search rankings, and paid ads

Did you know that 43% of engineers will filter through at least five pages of search results to find the information that is relevant to their search? Getting to page 1 in Google search results is great and takes a lot of hard work and knowledge.

You can see engineers tend to go well beyond the first page of search results to find information that is relevant to them. So don’t obsess over first-page rankings. Instead, focus on creating content that addresses the challenges engineers face in their daily work.

Engineers go beyond the first page of search results

I can hear the frustrations in the voices of my manufacturing clients when discussing Pay Per Click ads (PPC). They’ve spent lots of money on PPC but haven’t really seen the results. They ask me if they should continue. Unfortunately, it is not possible to give a quick and pat answer that is right for everyone. The truth is that one needs to do a complete PPC audit to discover the problems before deciding whether it is the right strategy.

Here’s what the survey found about how engineers use PPC ads.

51% of engineers avoid paid search ads at all costs. However, if a paid link demonstrates a direct connection to a search inquiry or links to a familiar site, 44 percent will click.

How engineers interact with PPC

Getting back to the point about search engine optimization (SEO), I’ve seen too many industrial companies base their entire website redesign and/or content marketing strategy on “being found on page 1 of Google.” You are not using the full power of manufacturing content marketing if SEO is your sole objective. That may sound counterproductive, but it is an area that is often misunderstood.

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, I thank you; you already know SEO is not all there is to it. I’ve written several articles about this problem. Let me point you to two:

  1. Industrial Marketing is Not Just for ToFU
  2. How Industrial Companies are Stuck on SEO for Content Marketing Strategy

Win the mindshare of engineers with technically accurate content and published under the names of your in-house Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Don’t expect your SMEs to write the content because they are busy doing what they do best. Read my post, Industrial Blogging Lessons Learned from Working with Technical SMEs, if you need help.

As a manufacturing content marketer, you must learn to extract the key talking points locked in their heads, Then develop bullet points into cohesive content. Consistently creating such content is not easy. Refer to Technical Content Writing is Challenging for Manufacturing Marketers.

Armed with the research data and my comments with links to additional articles, you should be better prepared for marketing to engineers in 2023.


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