98% of engineers value data sheets, but that’s not the only content marketers should develop

Engineers IEEE GlobalSpec Trew Marketing
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Blog posts and white papers may reign supreme among many content marketers, but a survey of engineers shows data sheets and case studies rank highest among highly technical decision makers.

In the 2019 Smart Marketing For Engineers report, produced by IEEE GlobalSpec and Trew Marketing based in Austin, 98 per cent of the more than 350 engineers surveyed described data sheets as either “very valuable” or “somewhat valuable.” This is in contrast to white papers, which were considered “very valuable” by only 30 per cent of engineers. Infographics fared even worst at 13 per cent, while more modern forms of content such as podcasts came last, considered “very valuable” by only 10 per cent.

The research also showed a strong interest in e-mail, with nearly half of those survyed subscribed to up to three newsletters. The data also showed some differences by age. For example, 82 per cent of younger engineers expected to be contacted by a company within 48 hours, versus 40 per cent of older engineers that expected to be contacted within a day’s time.

As more Millennial-aged engineers enter the workforce, content formats like video are starting to rise, Wendy Covey, Trew Marketing’s CEO and co-founder, told B2B News Network. It’s no surprise, however, that data sheets have been a consistent favorite in the three years the research has been conducted.

“It really ties into the highly analytical and technical mind of the engineer. They really crave content,” said Amber Cooleen, IEEE GlobalSpec’s senior director of audience development, noting that 90 per cent of engineers also said they are likely to do business with a firm that regularly produces new and current content.

The report showed most engineers have three to four interactions with a vendor through content before they contact them directly. That means organizations need to think more carefully about the buyer journey and creating a plan with solid key performance indicators they can adapt as they along, said Linda Uslaner, IEEE GlobalSpec’s senior director of product management.

“One of the big takeaways is the importance of being really clear from the onset of what your goals are and what you want out of your marketing mix,” she said. “Where people often fall apart is in the planning work If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?

Navigating the buyer journey for engineers also means being mindful of serving them the right content at the right time, Covey said. While eBooks and white paper didn’t rank as high as data sheets, that longform content may still make sense as they get closer to a purchase decision. Although nurturing leads isn’t new, it’s particularly important with highly technical audiences that have a strong voice on buying teams, she said.

“When we present this data to people, that’s one of the things they’re a little stunned by. They want their sales people to jump on people right away when there’s been interest,” she added.

While a lot of other content market research programs exist, Uslaner said the Smart Marketing For Engineers Report is intended to address a gap in how to best approach and message a very specific kind of community. Covey said many of the findings could have broader resonance as well.

“A lot of times marketers are overworked, understaffed and sometimes we’re so busy trying to get things checked off our list we don’t take a step back and take a look at, ‘What is our strategy and what is our plan for delivering and producing this content that we know our audience needs?’”

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.