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John Hayes
July 16, 2015

Engineers going digital in information search – survey results

A 2015 survey of CAD users by Business Advantage points out a big trend for engineering marketers. 

The survey asked questions mostly about how engineers use software.  However, the following question will be of particular interest to engineering marketers:

Which sources of information do you use to keep up to date with regards to the latest developments in the CAD industry?

If you are not in the CAD industry, you may still be interested in the answer, since engineers searching for CAD may also be searching for shop floor equipment or electronics components, for example. 

The top response for the last two years has been Internet Search Engines.  That’s no surprise.  It’s the second top response that may surprise engineering marketers.  Last year it was “Industry Magazines / Journals”, but no more.

CAD engineers and design engineers respond that they use digital for information search


When design engineers were asked how they look for information, the top three responses were all digital sources of information, and four of the top five are digital.  Here is the list in descending order in case you can’t easily read the graphic:

  1. Internet search engines
  2. On-line blogs/CAD forums / other forums
  3. Websites related to software solutions
  4. Industry magazines / journals
  5. Webinars

Note that web sites and digital publishers are now ranked ahead of print for the first time.  They have moved up 17 percentage points compared to the prior year’s survey.  In fact, all of the top search sources have improved in their usage, but the growth in digital has far outstripped the growth in off-line research. 

At we have been the fortunate beneficiaries of this move to online research by the engineering audience.  This shift in the audience has allowed us to grow our coverage in the CAD/CAM/CAE/PLM industry by adding lots more stories.  It has also allowed us to expand coverage into other engineering areas as well, particularly in manufacturing.

Forums are included in the group of the second most referenced sources.  That isn’t so surprising given how freely engineers share tips and tricks with their peers on forum sites.  As we have seen from the 1 million+ engineers who visit every month, engineers are open to sharing advice on how to solve tough application challenges.

It is interesting to see webinars in the number five slot and up 13% over the prior year.  We run a lot of webinars and find that the audience is almost insatiable provided that the topics are relevant and presented by experts.  The audience particularly appreciates live presentations so that they can ask questions about their unique applications. 

This survey is one worth paying attention to.  It has been run by Business Advantage for several years and has a large sample base. Last year there were 409 responses and this year 635.  If you are in the CAD/CAE marketing business, you will find it an interesting read.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments,


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Research Report: How Engineers Find Information
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