If you market to engineers, you know the challenges of reaching them with messages that resonate. A 2019 study conducted by Engineering.com uncovered fresh insights for marketers. The good news includes inspiring stats: the average engineer consumed 24 percent more content in 2018 (10.3 hours) than they did in 2017 (8.3 hours).
Three other insights that can help marketers reach engineers with more impactful marketing programs include:
So how can marketers leverage these insights to build better marketing programs that target engineers? Here are tips to make the most of each of these insights — including producing content that resonates, creating decision-maker buyer personas, creating websites that attract engineers and creating high-impact thought leadership.
Although they are consuming more content now than ever before, that doesn’t mean engineers are going to read just anything. They have specific criteria for content consumption, such as specificity, details and honesty. These four tips will help you produce the kinds of content that resonate with engineers.
Take a no-fluff approach to content creation. Talk to specific industries and use concrete examples. Generic references, such as speeding up time-to-market or increasing profitability aren’t going to cut it. Being specific makes your content highly relevant to engineers. Also, stick to shorter, more direct phrases without too many adjectives or qualitative statements.
Engineers are hard-wired problem solvers who prefer to get to the point without much distraction. Avoid highlighting features too early in the engineer’s buying journey. Save descriptions of your solutions’ features until after they have engaged in the problem-solution-benefit content. Early in the process, describe exactly the problem they need to solve and how your product helps to achieve that end goal.
After you’ve captured their attention with the problem, solution and benefits, it’s time to talk feeds and speeds. Don’t be afraid to go deep, such as file compatibility, browser compatibility, security maintenance and lag-time response, for example. In general, engineers prefer to draw conclusions on their own, so your content should be written in a way that helps guide readers with helpful facts, figures and insights.
With this audience, being honest about imperfections can create an environment of trust. However, if you share a weakness, also present a viable solution. Similarly, if you make a claim, be prepared to back it up. Finding this balance can make your content more powerful with engineers.
According to the Engineering.com survey, purchasing decision makers are the largest consumers of information, averaging over 12 hours per week. Creating detailed, in-depth buyer personas that help marketers zero in on their primary business concerns will help you focus on the right pressure points. For example, consider these concerns: “Fifty-five percent of engineers say the pace of engineering is increasing; 53 percent are required to do more with less; 40 percent say that pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk.”
Consider these four points when moving beyond your buyer personas to create a relevant editorial calendar:
Every engineering purchasing manager has budget constraints, including cost overruns and penalties on unfinished projects. Focus your content on the ROI of your service or solution, using visual aids like comparison charts, infographics and other easy-to-digest content that will help them present the points to their bosses.
Product-to-market lead times are top-of-mind issues for this audience. Delivering what you promise on time, every time is vital to winning the confidence and trust of these personas.
Quality and after-sales service support.
No engineer wants to bring on a vendor with poor after-sales service and support. Appealing to this concern comes down to defining the history of your enterprise, its successes, its ability to meet and exceed customer needs and expectations, and the strength of your after-sales service.
Engineering competencies and experience.
These buyers need to trust their vendors know what they’re doing. You must be able to back up your product or service offering with some engineering competencies of your own. Spend less time discussing your B2B solution’s benefits, and more time building a business case.
Another key finding from the “How Engineers Find Information 2019” report is that vendor websites outpace social media and print as preferred sources of information among engineering professionals ages 36 to 65.
Other research supports this finding: “Half of technical professionals spend six or more hours per week on the internet for work-related purposes, and 31 percent spend nine-plus hours (a full day) online.” Clearly, having an engineer-focused website will be a big plus for marketing to this audience.
Consider these three points when creating or updating your website to appeal to engineers:
More than most target audiences, engineers are typically in a self-serve and self-select mode. As such, your website needs to guide them in a logical and structured way to find the right information that will help them make informed buying decisions. Give them the right information at the right time and in the right format.
Don’t undervalue your website by generating only Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) from free content downloads. Incorporate effective sales enablers into your website redesign to generate more Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) from engineers, as well. Choose the tactic that will resonate with your buyer personas, such as sign-ups for webinars or entering information to receive a thought leadership whitepaper.
While it’s true that most engineers access online content using their computers, mobile access is becoming increasingly popular, especially with younger engineers. Make sure your site follows best practices for responsive web design.
Thirty-six percent of engineering professionals say they’d request a proposal from a vendor based on thought leadership content, the survey found. If you can leverage your industry thought leaders, you can create a more powerful marketing program to reach engineers.
The 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study confirms Engineering.com’s findings on thought leadership. The study asked business decision makers and C-suite executives about whether they’ve ever requested an RFP from a vendor based on their thought leadership. The results found that 83 percent of buyers say thought leadership builds trust. Buyers are more than twice as likely to have requested an RFP based on thought leadership, and that figure is even higher for C-suite executives.
According to LinkedIn, “thought leadership is valuable because it removes risk from the buying process. It gives buyers confidence that you know what you’re doing.”
Consider these three insights from the LinkedIn study when creating thought leadership content for engineers:
The takeaway for marketers is this: Too often B2B marketers targeting engineers miss the mark on reaching this audience. But they are not impossible to reach; you just need to reach them on their terms. Rather than underestimate the impact of the right content, buyer personas, website and thought leadership, create marketing programs that help you forge direct links between and your company and today’s engineers.