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Online Engineering Communities Provide Useful Insights for Marketers


Developing a comprehensive and accurate persona of your target market of engineers is a critical step to developing a marketing strategy.  There are many ways to conduct this research:

  1. Interview your customers
  2. Speak with your sales engineers
  3. See what they are saying in online communities

In this post we’ll explore what you can learn in online communities.

Eng-Tips is an online engineering community that has 1.7 million visits per month.  Here is what it looks like:

20160406_image_1.jpg Engineering Forums

Your first reaction is probably along the lines of, “Wow, that’s an ugly interface.”  And that’s an excellent clue about building an engineering persona.  Those 1.7 million engineers using Eng-Tips each month don’t care about the interface.  They are interested in the content.  That content is why the audience has grown 30% over the past 12 months.

If you want to learn about engineers who might be prospects for you, it’s worthwhile to dive into the forums where they talk about products like yours.  Here’s an example of some engineers talking about a 3D printer:




You can see that they talk first about applications, then about features.  And the features are only mentioned insofar as they are relevant to the application at hand.

Let’s say you are a marketer at Makerbot. A thread like this can help you understand what prospects are saying about your product.  That can help you focus on which enhancements to emphasize in your campaigns for your new model. 

This is a simple, yet powerful message.  Cruising around online communities will probably convince you to spend less on making your marketing materials beautiful, and more on describing applications where your solution stands out from the competition.

If you are wondering whether Eng-Tips has a forum that covers your product, here is a list of the forum topics.

But I caution you, don’t try to pump your product or pretend that you are an engineer in the forums – they will out you in a heartbeat.  A better strategy is to assign a sales engineer to respond to questions or comments about products like yours. 

If you are interested in running a campaign to reach engineers on Eng-Tips, be forewarned that the CTRs in almost all communities are notoriously low.  That doesn’t mean that your campaigns won’t be effective – just that you should speak with a digital account strategist first.   



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