Engineers are an important marketing target audience for manufacturing companies. These professionals often make or significantly influence their companies’ buying decisions for big-ticket items like machinery, hardware and fabricated parts.
According to the results of a new survey, engineers spend 8.3 hours per week reading or watching engineering resources, with 86 percent of those hours spent on digital content. So this audience is imminently reachable by digital marketers who take the time to understand their preferences.
At Kuno, we’ve long been in the business of helping industrial clients effectively market to engineers and other mechanically oriented professions. Based on years of researching engineers' search, content and buying preferences—and working with companies across North America and Europe in industries from cables and connectors to metal parts fabrication—we have some best practices of our own for creating engineering resources.
But first, let’s take a look at Engineering.com’s recently released annual report of insights for marketers looking to reach this valuable audience. Engineers from a variety of industries—design, manufacturing, government, consumer products/electronics, natural resources, construction, aerospace and defense, machine tools and medical devices—chose to respond to the survey. Based on the results, below are five ways you can improve engagement with engineers by building better engineering resources.
As with most busy professionals, one of the best ways to reach engineers is to create relevant content easily accessible on the go. According to the engineering.com survey, engineers spend 2.7 hours a week reading content on mobile devices — about a third of their total reading time — so always optimize for mobile.
Keep your message short and to the point. As for the type of content engineers prefer, the study says the vast majority (71 percent) likes short articles. Another 44 percent of respondents said they preferred brief video demos.
What don’t they like? The bottom three, least preferred types of engineering resources are live local industry events, podcasts and streamed video of events. So marketers would be safe to use all these types of lengthy and time-consuming content sparingly for this audience.
Pictures can help illustrate concepts and improve readability of written content. Engineers and scientists value images because pictures are one of the best ways to communicate and assist in solving problems at a glance. Images also greatly improve the readability and comprehension of your engineering resources by breaking up large chunks of text. Options for visuals in engineering resources include photos of products (close-ups or demonstrations), graphs or charts of performance metrics, flow charts and product comparison tables.
Like many of us, engineers prefer to discover information primarily via search engines, according to the engineering.com survey. But not only do engineers tend to use search engines when seeking out engineering resources, studies show they are one of the few audiences likely to dig past the first few pages of search results. While this might sound like a tough room—people who know what they’re looking for and are likely to pass by anything that doesn’t meet the standard—there are a few things you can do to stay on their radar.
First, take extra care in crafting meta-descriptions that accurately reflect the substance of your content. Because engineers may be scanning several pages of search results, you have a chance to grab them with those 250 characters.
In addition, it can be particularly worthwhile to craft several pieces of content around each target keyword—think in terms of a larger campaign instead of one or two articles or resources per subject. If you rank across several pages of results, you may still garner some attention with your less popular posts, provided they have the requisite substance. But overall, as with all digital marketing campaigns, a solid SEO strategy is critical.
When asked, "How do you process emails that land in your inbox?" by engineering.com, respondents said:
So there is an opportunity to engage directly, provided you catch their attention quickly.
As its name implies, 3DPrinting.com is a go-to resource on all things related to 3D printing—one of the biggest among the hundreds of blogs in this burgeoning field. Their articles tend to be short (only 5-6 paragraphs in length) and always include plenty of illustrations, while headlines are also concise. As a result, their visitor statistics are the envy of this relatively new but buzzworthy subject.
GE’s company blog provides industry insight for engineers in a wide range of fields. The multinational conglomerate focuses on providing high-quality articles with insights into its various market segments: aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital, additive manufacturing, lighting, oil and gas, and many others. Its articles highlight how GE’s innovations are being used by companies all over the world to take their products to the next level.
3M’s blog is devoted to data science, healthcare management and general life science issues. Like other large, industry-leading companies, 3M doesn’t use its blog to pitch product. The company instead offers general-interest articles about its industries, like this recent post about how patient engagement can both improve outcomes and healthcare reduce costs, to demonstrate its insight and thought leadership. Engineers in the life sciences and healthcare can get a birds-eye view on how their work affects the world.
Run by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a public-private partnership dedicated to serving small and mid-sized manufacturers, Manufacturing Engineering Blog focuses on topics such as sustainability, advanced manufacturing, finance and workplace innovation.
By highlighting the work of its local branches in assisting businesses, the MEP is never at a loss for unique material pertaining to the real-world impact of manufacturing and engineering.
Posting several times per month, the organization blogs about everything from how one of its local affiliates in Ohio helped a snack-food manufacturer innovate to how a California affiliate’s assistance with a new marketing effort initiated a crucial customer diversification effort for a small business that manufactures pet-waste bags.
The name says it all—Civil Engineering Portal is a go-to source for informative articles and opinions relating to civil engineering. But you’ll also find engineering resources on related industries—construction, project management and real estate. Written by engineers and for engineers, the site’s appearance is far from ornate. But the material is concise and mobile-friendly for an audience that values faster browse time.
At Kuno, we’ve found that our experience reflects the findings of engineering.com’s latest report. In that vein, we have a few observations on how to approach this audience with content tailored for its needs:
Like many busy professionals, engineers are resistant to filling out forms, so reserve gating for your lengthier, more in-depth content such as white papers offered at the bottom of the funnel. When you prove the value of your resources early in the buyer’s journey, your potential customers are more likely to return and increase their engagement in exchange for higher-level engineering resources and content.
Include relevant information about your products and services, comparison charts and graphs demonstrating performance results. Even if you choose to occasionally include some light-hearted content, your focus should remain on your industry to remain relevant with an audience that seeks engineering resources.
There is a substantial opportunity to engage with engineers via email. Kuno’s experience reflects the data that, with relevant subject lines and content, you have a high likelihood of an engineering audience seeing your message. But
We’ve found engineers, particularly those who are decision makers at their companies, only want to be contacted directly when they’ve narrowed their options or have made a decision. Again, the latest data reflect these best practices. As the engineering.com survey found:
With 75 percent of engineer decision makers or influencers wanting to delay interaction with your sales team until the later stages of the buying process, marketers have an opportunity to engage with them earlier by providing helpful resources they can find easily when they want them.
Very few manufacturing companies have the capacity to create valuable, well-researched content that's optimized for search entirely on their own. Your company can benefit from the expertise offered by a partner who has deep experience marketing to engineers.
To see what Kuno has to offer as you begin crafting your engineering resources and other content for engineers, check out our resource, 5 Secrets to Reach Your Target Audience.