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John Hayes
By
August 27, 2015

The Future of Engineers on the Internet in 3 Words: Mobile. Video. Social.

What are the trends for Internet and Engineers?

Here’s a hint: it is toward mobile, video, and social. Mary Meeker at KPCB produces some wonderful research on Internet trends, which I’ll explore in this post in the context of marketing to engineers.

  1. Mobile. 

As your audience of engineers switches their research and consumption habits to mobile, what are the best ways to reach them?

  1. Video. 

Video is one of the best ways to convey complex information, such as how your product works.  In this post well show how fast it’s growing and the biggest challenge engineering marketers face with video.

  1. Social.

Finding places where engineers gather online to talk about engineering challenges can be very rewarding for marketers who use the right metrics.

 

The engineering internet is becoming more mobile. 

Growth from Internet usage has come almost entirely from mobile device usage. This chart, derived from KPCB’s report shows daily Internet usage over the past six years.

Daily internet usage trend from 2010-2015

Source: KPCB

(If you’re interested in learning more about how engineers use their mobile devices for work – we’ll be sharing the results of a recent survey of 580 engineers in our autumn webinar. You can see it here.)

Mobile raises a few challenges:

  1. Are your banners optimized for mobile?
  2. Can engineers easily view your site’s PDF downloads on a mobile device?
  3. Your forms were designed for keyboard entry – do they work for fingers?
20150827_image_2

Mobile now represents 24% of all internet viewing time in the USA, yet it accounts for only 8% of ad spending.

Whilst these ad formats are still in their early stages, the performance of the ads is relatively strong.  Many publishers now accept mobile sized ads, so ask your sales rep. 

As for accessing downloadable PDFs on mobile devices, we suggest that you build them out as web pages behind registration.  You can redirect mobile users to those pages rather than to a download.  And so long as your site is responsive in design, you should be OK. 

This blog post has a bit more depth on mobile marketing for engineers.

 

Video is big and getting bigger as a trend for engineering marketers

Mobile and video go together.  According to KPCB, mobile video traffic grew by 55% in 2014.  

Rise in user-curated content in 2015

Many engineering marketers are well versed in the value of video.  Video can present complex concepts and applications to a technical audience in ways that text and still images cannot. For example, Siemens has created a video here to show how a linear actuator works, better than text could have.  

Example of a software video for engineers

 

The challenge for engineering marketers when it comes to video is not so much about producing the stories. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Manufacturing Report shows that significant investment has been made by marketers into video production. However, the issue now is more about creating audience for your videos.  I see countless business Youtube channels filled with videos, each with less than 100 views. So, if you are considering video, you might want to team up with a publisher to develop a concept, such as a weekly news show for your industry, that will generate the views you need.

One final tip on video – at ENGINEERING.com we include the video transcripts for readers who are not able to stream video at the office.  That has proven helpful to those engineers in cubicles who don’t want to disturb their neighbors while gathering information.

 

The Social Engineering Web

There are lots of jokes about how engineers are not social, but that doesn’t mean they don’t use social media. As a case in point, our Facebook page for ENGINEERING.com has almost 1.5 million fans.

And just as Instagram and Pintrest have demonstrated that people want to create content and share it online, engineers have been using engineer-only social media for years.  They use Facebook and Twitter, Linkedin and but they also use sites like Eng-Tips to talk about work-related challenges, such as how to program robotics.

Forum sites like Eng-Tips can deliver an audience to engineering marketers through banners, emails, webinars, etc.  Although forum sites are notorious for having low click-throughs, marketers who use more sophisticated metrics such as sales pipeline often find that including forum sites in their campaigns can pay off.

So that’s it – Mobile.  Social.  Video.  Let me know if you want to talk about running a campaign on any of these media. 

Thanks for reading and for sharing,

John

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Research Report: How Engineers Find Information
Research Report: How Engineers Find Information
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