A survey was carried out by Trew Marketing and GlobalSpec to gain a better understanding of the buying behaviours of engineers. This research examined search behaviours, content preferences, in-person events and sales engagement. The survey contained a mix of popular topics as well as a number of new questions.
The resulting State of Marketing to Engineers Report is designed to help better understand the information needs of technical buyers, provide critical insights to guide marketing plans and educate and forge alignment with leadership and sales organisations. This is valuable and worthwhile information for companies that want to reach engineers as they search to buy products online.
Who Was Surveyed
Before we go into the results it is important to know who was surveyed. The engineers who took part were specifically targeted for this survey and came from a wide range of niche engineering industries.
When engineers search for products online they do so in great depth and detail, the survey found, with 81% searching three pages or more. Search results showed that engineers are three times more likely to search 10 pages or more than stop at just a single page.
The surveyed engineers were asked about how they interact with paid or sponsored search links and it was found that 51% actively avoided them. However, if the result seemed likely to be helpful, 27% would click on the paid search link to find out more.
Another question engineers were asked related to where they tended to search to carry out research on a product. Overall, supplier and vendor websites far surpassed other channels.
Figures from the study suggest that if page one results are the main focus then this is not always the best way to reach engineers who are looking to buy. Instead, it may be more important in an advertisement to focus on brand familiarity and what is on offer. Also, although supplier and vendor websites were found to be a preferred choice for engineers looking to purchase products, it should be noted that the sources of information that appear at the bottom of this table are still important and shouldn’t be ignored because buyers still go to these sources. Having a balanced approach to reaching engineers is vital.
When companies are trying to reach buying engineers it is important to consider what content tends to catch their eye and encourage them to learn more about the products on offer. If a company knows what engineers value this enables the content to be targeted and boosts the chance that they will find a specific product.
The participants in the survey were asked what types of content they found most valuable when carrying out research before making the decision to purchase a product. Not surprisingly, the survey showed that engineers love technical information, with product reviews/testimonials jumping from 7th place to 4th in terms of importance.
When asked who would be the most trustworthy originator of this content, the majority who responded said they preferred other engineers because many topics can be highly technical. Engineers have a greater sense of trust when they can be certain that whoever writes the information understands it fully and can have a meaningful conversation about the subject area.
The study also looked at newsletters, which have returned in popularity to roughly where they were before Covid-19 (which caused them to be read less due to ’’email fatigue’’. Also worth noting was the number of respondents who don’t subscribe to newsletters – 79% of engineers over the age of 45 are not subscribers. Of those that are, the most popular option is to receive a newsletter once a week, with the second being once a month.
In terms of social media platforms that engineers use, YouTube and LinkedIn were the most popular, as they have been in previous years. While younger engineers are more likely to interact with social platforms in general, YouTube was shown to be popular with all ages.
Because LinkedIn is a platform used by a vast number of companies, survey researchers wanted to know what catches the attention of engineers and stops them from scrolling by. The results showed that research data, product/service information and industry news are the top three areas where engineers stop scrolling.
With podcasts, 73% of engineers listen to a podcast relating to their work every week. However, keeping them short is key because the survey found that 82% prefer a podcast that is 30 minutes or under. At the same time, educational/how-to videos were the most popular.
The survey also found that content is what sets a company apart so they need to strive to create content that is valuable to a buying engineer. Strong data and pieces written by other engineers will be trusted most and with the right placements on social media it is possible to make an engineer stop and pay attention to the products on offer. Making use of a newsletter or a quick-to-the-point podcast can add to a content strategy and complement data that an engineer has seen posted online before.
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