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Andrew McWhaw
By
July 13, 2017

What Survey Questions Would You Want to Ask Engineers About How They Consume Information?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  At least, that’s how I feel, since we’re ramping up to launch the 2017 version of How Engineers Stay Informed, our annual survey that answers engineering marketers’ critical questions. 

This year, we’re expanding our survey to include additional questions to enhance our understanding of how engineers access information.    In this blog post, I’ll discuss some of the questions we plan on asking, why they need to be asked, and then give you the opportunity to vote on which new questions will go into this year’s survey. 

Before we get started, if you’re unfamiliar with the annual How Engineers Stay Informed research study you can download a copy of last year’s eBook HERE, or watch our webinar discussing the results HERE.  It’s not necessary to know last year’s results to understand what we’re doing this year, but there is a lot of great information that’s still relevant.

For reference, here are the questions we asked last year:

  1. How do engineers source information?
  2. How frequently do engineers access engineering news/information?
  3. What devices do engineers use to access engineering news/information?
  4. Do they use news apps? If so, what kind of news do they access via apps?
  5. What is their preferred medium to access engineering news/information? (Search vs. Email vs. Social Media, etc.)
  6. Do they use adblocking software?
  7. Do engineers trust vendor sponsored stories?
  8. How do they interact with email in their inbox?
  9. What do engineers consider as the most important attributes of a publisher?
  10. At what point in their sales journey do they want to engage with a sales/marketing rep?
  11. ++ Demographic questions ++

If you were to group these questions into 3 major groups they would be: i) How are engineers staying informed? ii) What are they consuming? and iii) Other consumption information.  We plan on keeping the same format this year, but we’ll be dropping some questions while improving others to provide even more meaningful information.

How are Engineers Staying Informed?

A prime example of a question that we’ll be tweaking is question 3, which last year asked engineers to select all the different devices they used to access engineering news and information. 

Last year, question 3 provided some incredibly important results as it showed younger engineers engaged with engineering content on their mobile phones while older engineers did not.  That meant, if you’re an engineering marketer looking to maximize your exposure to those younger engineers who are providing critical recommendations on what software packages and products to purchase, then your content really needs to be optimized for mobile. 

20170713 Blog Image Age and Device Usage.jpg

In this year’s version of the study, we’ll be asking engineers to approximate on a weekly basis how many hours they spend accessing engineering news and information on the following devices:

  • Computer (desktop or laptop)
  • Mobile phone
  • Tablet

The results of this new modified question should give a much clearer answer to the importance of having a mobile strategy.  Furthermore, when we cross reference this with the types of media that engineers want access to, then we’ll know what to prioritize across different platforms. 

What are Engineers Consuming?

Over the last couple years, we’ve seen an explosion in the variety of content that is produced by engineering marketers.  Knowing what types of content engineers want is critically important, especially since not all content is friendly for all devices and platforms.  To that end, we’ll add the following question to the survey:

For each type of content below, indicate how likely you are to access engineering news and information in that format if it were readily available to you?

SCALE:  Would not access, would access on a monthly basis, would access on a weekly basis, would access multiple times a week, would access daily. 

  1. Short written articles
  2. Long-form written articles
  3. Video
  4. White Papers
  5. eBooks
  6. Webinars
  7. Case Studies
  8. Podcasts
  9. Print Trade Publication

This question has the potential to answer a plethora of questions engineering marketers are interested in.  Just knowing what content is the most popular in and of itself is telling, but when we break this down further by device usage, age, industry etc. we’re going to find the kind of answers necessary to really whip your content and marketing strategies for the coming year into shape.  

Other Questions of Import to Publishers and Engineering Marketers

Each year we throw a bunch of questions into this catch-all bucket that we’re really curious about.  These questions are usually in response to concerns we’re hearing from marketers.

Last year, a question (fear?) that we kept hearing was that people were concerned whether sponsored articles were considered somehow untrustworthy, so we just outright asked engineers about it.  We were pretty pleased to learn that 93% of engineers read sponsored articles, and that 58% consider them to be the same as regular editorial stories. 

20170713 Blog Image Sponsored Article Trust.jpg

This year we’re curious about how engineers are engaging with and sharing content, so we plan to ask the following question:

Do you recommend engineering news/information to your colleagues and peers through the following activities? If so, how often?

SCALE: Almost never, every 2-3 months, monthly, weekly, daily

  1. Email them a link or PDF copy of the content
  2. Sharing on your personal social media page (e.g. LinkedIn Profile, Facebook wall, etc.)
  3. Tweeting and/or retweeting content
  4. Posting the content in a group chat (e.g. Slack, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.)

Your Turn

So, now I’d really like to know what questions you have for engineers about their information consumption habits.  Below I’ve compiled a list of other potential questions we could ask.  Feel free to select one or more — as many as you think are important.  If we missed a question you think we should be asking, then please feel free to add it in the comments.   

 

Thanks for reading and sharing, 

Andrew

 

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