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Webinars Draw More Engineers than Tradeshows

are webinars better than tradeshows?

If you are an industrial marketer with a tradeshow budget, a new research report by IHS Globalspec could have implications for how you spend that budget.

2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector, a survey of technical professionals shows that trade shows are on the decline.  This chart below shows the number of events these people chose to attend in 2014 with the first column being “None”.

Engineers' tradeshow attendance vs webinar attendance

The number of technical professionals who attended no trade shows at all increased from 49% in the previous year to 53%. 

This doesn’t mean that engineers are no longer interested in learning what’s new.  It does indicate that their information gathering habits are changing.

Engineers are attending webinars

So if engineers are going to fewer tradeshows, where are they gathering in-depth product information?  In our experience, one answer is that they are attending more webinars.  These online events capture a large and engaged audience.  Most often, they stick around for the Q&A and ask lots of questions. 

The survey by IHS Globalspec confirms this pattern.  They found that two thirds of their respondents reported attending at least one webinar last year.

Number of webinars attended by engineers

This survey was pretty large, garnering responses from over 1,400 technical professionals, so the results are likely to be relevant to many of you.

And engineers are reading digital media

The second main source reported in the survey is an increase in the number of subscriptions to work-related digital media.  The survey report notes that technical professionals are almost 4X as likely to subscribe to a digital media feed than to a printed trade magazine.

do engineers prefer digital publications or printed trade magazines?

In the recently released research study of engineer’s media habits, we found support for this result.  While 93% of engineers surveyed reported using digital media for work, only 58% reported attending trade shows.

most valuable content sources to engineers

The IHS report closed with the following recommendations for marketers:

  1. Allocate the majority of your budget to digital channels
  2. Diversify your digital marketing investments
  3. Develop a content marketing plan to deploy across digital channels
  4. Foster new relationships with the younger generation of technical professionals

There is lots more good information in this survey, so I suggest you download the full IHS Globalspec report here. You may also want to read our own survey of engineer’s media habits here.

Thanks for reading,


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Research Report: How Engineers Find Information
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