Insights and Strategies for Marketers to Better Engage Engineering Professionals
It’s the dog days of August and there’s a lull in most offices, which gives digital marketers an excellent opportunity to prepare for the approaching breakneck hustle that is the End-of-Year Q4 sprint. Luckily for you, and industrial/technology marketers like you, these preparations in our office include gearing up for 2019’s edition of How Engineers Find Information.
For regular readers of Digital Marketing for Engineers, you’re likely already familiar with this annual research report that engineering.com has been running since 2013. However, if you need a refresher or are new (welcome!), the report answers a slew of the most important questions about how engineering prospects search for, consume and act upon marketing content and engage with marketing campaigns.
We’re going to kick-off this week’s blog by looking at the type of insights How Engineers Find Information delivers, starting with last year’s biggest takeaway and its implications for technical product marketers. Before we go on, if you haven’t downloaded a copy yet or misplaced yours, you can access last year’s report for free – here!
We’ll also discuss three new questions we’ll be adding to this year’s survey based on trends we’re seeing in the industry.
Lastly, but most importantly, we’re again opening the survey up to you, the marketers looking to engage and develop engineering prospects. Fill out the form at the bottom of this page and tell us what questions you need answered so that you can create your best possible marketing campaigns for 2019!
Given that engineering is all about solving problems, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these professionals spend an awful lot of time searching out and consuming information. The sheer volume of time spent consuming content is difficult to believe. Last year’s report found that on average, engineering professionals spent 8.3 hours per week accessing engineering information.
Incredibly relevant to marketers planning their budget allocation is where that consumption occurred: 7.1 hours or 86% of all content consumption is digital.
What does this mean for marketers? Well, for starters, if you’re looking to connect with new prospects, you’re going to want to ensure you have a steady flow of great content to connect with all these engineering professionals spending 1 out of 5 working days researching engineering information.
You’re also going to want to think about the knock-on effects. If you’re going to invest in content, then be sure to also invest in distribution – search (SEO), PPC, social and email are all channels you should be thinking about when playing the content game.
Also, as the above graphic shows, mobile is a big part of each engineers’ weekly consumption. This trend will only increase with each year as more millennials enter the profession and older engineers ‘get with it’ to keep up with their younger counterparts.
In fact, when we contrasted 2017 and 2018’s results for mobile adoption by engineers over the age of 45, we saw a noticeable Y-o-Y increase, so that ‘getting with it’ is already happening.
That means you really really need to ensure your site has an adequate if not exceptional mobile experience. Keep in mind, it’s not just the prospects who are visiting your site who care. As we discussed in The Ultimate Guide to B2B SEO for Industrial Technology Marketers, Google values your site’s mobile experience more highly than its desktop experience in generating Search Engine Result Rankings, so if you want to be found, you need to think mobile.
Visiting marketing sites in 2018 has been a trip. Touching down on an unfamiliar website can feel like setting foot on an alien planet thanks to the happy little bots popping up all over the place and greeting you.
(Bots love greeting you...Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!)
There is something to these plucky chat popups. Whether it’s novelty, intellectual curiosity, a catchy line or the promise of quicker access to what you need, prospects across the web are engaging through chat, and often either partly or completely with bots.
There is a ton of research suggesting that chat leads to more leads and superior marketing ROI compared to other tactics. However, most of this research has been created by chat service providers as sales enablement material, making it difficult to trust completely. Furthermore, what I haven’t seen is research on whether prospects – technical or otherwise – enjoy interacting through chat and with bots.
What if chat and chatbots are just a new addition to the pantheon of marketing tactics that “work” but that prospects hate –e.g. autoplay video, un-skippable ads, and full-page popups that are difficult to close?
This year’s How Engineers Find Information will explore how technical audiences feel about chat, if they’ve used it, if their experience was good or bad, and whether they want to see more chat on the sites they visit.
Influencer and word-of-mouth marketing have been topics of great excitement, discussion and investment in B2C marketing. Despite this, the trend hasn’t been repeated in industrial technology marketing.
The crux of both influencer and WoM strategies is social media, and as engineering.com’s own research has shown, engineering professionals are indeed avid users. So, given that engineering professionals are on social media, the question becomes: why haven’t these tactics been adopted?
My suspicion is that marketers haven’t gotten onboard because it isn’t clear who the influencers are. When you contrast manufacturing, design or engineering with a topic area like entrepreneurship, it becomes incredibly obvious that there isn’t anyone in our realm who stands out the way Gary Vaynerchuk does for entrepreneurship.
(A typical GaryVee Post Isn't Something You'd Expect to See from an Engineering Professional)
This year’s report will help separate signal from noise by asking engineering professionals: “Please list off any social media accounts, individuals or organizations you use to source information.”
If my hypothesis is correct, this question will identify a handful of technical thought leaders who indeed have influencer power—just not on the scale of what we see in more developed personality driven fields.
3. Account Based Marketing
Earlier this year, engineering.com asked marketers about their ABM use as they prepared their campaign plans for 2018. At that time, ABM did not stand out compared to other marketing tactics, showing only minimal growth in increased Y-o-Y spending of 4%, ranking 11th out of the 15 tactics we asked marketers about using.
However, since then we have continued to hear from the marketers we work with that ABM is something they’re looking at, and in some cases are favoring over other tactics.
This interest only makes sense given the amount of buzz around ABM. A quick Google Search returns numerous lists of ‘the hottest marketing tactics’ that feature ABM. Add to this, there exist a plethora of case studies from ABM platform providers claiming incredible gains in marketing ROI. With statements like that, is it any wonder marketers are curious about ABM?
Like chat and chatbots, one thing I have yet to see is data on whether engineering professionals, or anyone for that matter, appreciates being targeted with ABM. Given ABM’s leveraging of personalization, there absolutely exists a limit to what is helpful and a line that, when crossed, gives prospects the creeps.
This year, we’ll be asking participants whether they believe they’ve been targeted by an ABM campaign, whether they found it helpful, and what kind of personalization/personalized content they would like to see as part of ABM campaigns.
Below is a form where you can input any number of questions you think are worth our investigation as part of How Engineers Find Information 2019. They can be as broad as the industry or down to a specific tactic, so please add your voice to the investigation to help make this year’s report the best yet!