Recent Posts



Digital Marketing with CAD Get the FAQs

Inspired by Barry Feldman’s excellent post, “Digital Marketing FAQs (and Easy-to-Understand Answers)” here’s our extension to it to cover the use of CAD (Computer Aided Design) in digital marketing, aka digital marketing with CAD or CAD digital marketing. If you aren’t already knowledgeable about digital marketing and content marketing, read Barry’s FAQs then our CAD FAQs below. We’ve been asked all these questions and our answers, using minimal jargon, reflect our experience and insights and include links to more detailed posts we’ve written on the topics.

What is CAD digital marketing?

Successful digital marketing uses Internet connected computers, smartphones and tablets via channels such as websitessearch engines, social media, customer reviewsblogsemail and apps to focus on particular target customers’ needs. CAD digital marketing uses 3D CAD models and 2D CAD drawings to help people who use CAD and need models and drawings of your products. Digital marketing with CAD is most commonly used by B2B suppliers to help engineers, designers and buyers in the Manufacturing and AEC industries. 
More > Complete A-Z Guide – Understand B2B Marketing with CADWhen a CAD model is downloaded, how often is the physical part purchased?

How does digital marketing with CAD work?

By providing CAD content to help and save time for designers, engineers and buyers that specify and buy your products. Industrial products, parts and components are often included in new CAD designs. Downloading CAD saves customers from having to create it. At the same time ensures your products are ‘designed in’ by potential customers. On average 50% of downloaded parts are ultimately purchased and on average 157 units are purchased. 
More > 10 Questions to Ask Before Selecting an Online CAD Solutionwhen downloaded CAD models of parts are purchased - how many units are ordered?

What types of CAD content are needed?

The terms ‘CAD drawings’ and ‘CAD models’ are often used synonymously which can cause confusion. Typically CAD drawings refers to 2D drawings (plans, elevations and sections) and CAD models refers to 3D solid or surface models. Both 3D and 2D CAD should simply be components of your individual product detail pages – 3D models for inclusion in designers and engineers CAD designs and fully dimensioned 2D drawings for inclusion in specifications. The CAD should be viewable online without downloading any software apps, for example, to zoom, rotate and pan 3D models or see dimensions on 2D drawings. 
More > What Content Does An Industrial Supplier Website Need?

How many 3rd party CAD models do CAD users download?

As the graph shows, 3D CAD model downloads continue to trend upwards. About 90% of engineers download 3D CAD models and they, on average, annually download 63 CAD models each (according to Business Advantage’s annual CAD Trends surveys. See the link below for details, but these numbers conservatively estimate the number of CAD downloads only, and do not count CAD views – an engineer may view a number of part models (zoom, pan, rotate, etc.) before selecting which to download. 
More > Marketing with CAD Models, an Update on Trends & Formats?Annual 3D CAD Model Downloads per Engineer

Will CAD digital marketing help me?

If the answers to either or both of these two questions are ‘yes’ then you have your answer and should consider an automated online CAD solution and see more questions at the link below. Additionally watch the short video of industrial suppliers talking about their experiences.

  • Have your customers asked for CAD models or drawings of your products? If so how do you meet that need today and what does it cost?
  • Do any of your competitors offer online CAD downloads of their products? If so what has been the customer reaction – is it a competitive advantage over your company?

More > How to Add CAD Models to Website

I already have product CAD models, can I use them online?

Yes, it’s very likely that your CAD models from any 3D CAD system can be used but see the advice below on IP protection and CAD formats.

If I give away my CAD models can my designs and intellectual property (IP) be stolen?

You can ensure protection of your designs and other IP by making your downloadable CAD models ‘outer envelope only’ and excluding the inner details. This outer shell of your design is all that most customers need. 
More > CAD IP protection

Could people use my CAD models to 3D Print my products rather than buy them?

Reverse engineering of products so as to manufacture them has always been an issue and 3D Printing is the latest threat of this type because it depends on 3D CAD models as its starting point. However there are specific approaches companies can use to prevent reverse engineering and/or manufacturing of your products from downloaded 3D CAD models – such as not including all the detail in your models.

Alternatively allowing 3D printing of your CAD Models may be a new legitimate business model for you. For example by licensing them to 3D Print N items.
More > Allow 3D Printing for Prototyping but not Manufacturing!

How do I capture sales leads from my CAD Model downloads?

Let visitors view your CAD online without having to sign in or register because this is part of their search and selection process and should have no obstacles. Once they select a product and request a CAD download ask them to complete a one-time, minimal, user registration. 
More > CAD download registration

Will requiring registration discourage users?

With most types of content, for example case studies and white papers, downloads do drop off when additional obstacles are applied (such as registration). Users want to avoid the inevitable sale followup call! CAD seems to be different perhaps because it is often more valuable to the recipient as it directly saves work, time and cost (download instead of draw from scratch). Also, selecting a specific part for inclusion in their design means the user may want a future supply chain relationship with the supplier. For these two reasons seeking registration by email address does not significantly reduce CAD downloads. 
More > CAD content vs. regular content

For downloadable CAD does the CAD format matter?

There are two parts to this with Yes and No answers respectively :

  • Yes for the format in which your models are built and maintained. Your CAD models should be built in a format that leaves you free to use them in any CAD system or any CAD download system. Just as you don’t want to be constrained or locked into any one CAD vendors CAD system so you should not let yourself be locked into any one CAD Download vendor’s system. Beware of any CAD download vendors who attempt to lock you into their proprietary CAD formats and thereby restrict your ability to change vendors in the future.
  • No for the format or formats in which they are available for download. It really doesn’t matter any more because all the major CAD systems import and export a wide variety of formats including their own proprietary/native formats. These CAD systems have to meet stringent standards of compliance to industry standards in order to be purchased by governments or major corporations because those organizations use multiple CAD systems internally and/or in their supply chains. Therefore your CAD models can be downloaded in either proprietary or standard formats – see the link below for more detail.

More > For Downloadable CAD do CAD Formats Matter?

How are CAD downloads a Trigger Event for sales teams?

A CAD download can alert suppliers to the start of a new design that could be using one of their products. Astute and timely followup by the sales team can ensure and even expand that opportunity. 
More > 8 Ways to Radically Increase Industrial Marketing

How and where should I syndicate my 3D CAD models?

Put your CAD models where users look for them. Your digital marketing starts with your website and SEO for it so first offer CAD viewing and downloads there. Then syndicate your CAD to your partners websites, CAD search engines and portals (such as The benefits of this are more SEO specifically for those parts, extra traffic generated directly from the CAD search engine to your website and back-links from the search engine or portal to your website.
More > 3D CAD Model Search Engine

My parts are all custom, would CAD models work for me?

Yes, they probably would, particularly if your custom parts are configurable perhaps using a CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) system. Customers with relatively simple configurable parts can use CDS Catalog, customers with sophisticated configurable parts can use CDS Configurator or CDS ModelServer integrated with various CPQ systems.
More > CPQ system integrationImportance of CAD download models to designers?

What does an online CAD download solution cost?

Typically SaaS solutions are inexpensive compared to traditional perpetual license software and include an initial setup fee then an ongoing monthly subscription fee. Both the setup fee and the subscription fee are proportional to the number and sophistication of your products since that determines how much work is involved in setting up and then running your online CAD downloads. Whether you need CAD models built or adapted influences the setup fee. Costs are therefore specific to individual circumstances.
More > Use Product CAD Models to Radically Increase Sales (see Parts 1-6)

How can I make CAD downloads work for my distributors too?

Similarly to how you’ve always worked with your distributors only better. If you have generated sales leads and passed them to your distributors by geography or product line, you can still do that but the leads will be better qualified, lower cost/lead and likely more valuable. In addition your CAD models can be syndicated to your distributors’ websites, as you and they choose. 
More > Industrial Manufacturer and Distributor Online Marketing – Top 10 Priorities

Will adding a CAD solution conflict with my web development company?

No. Your internal or external web development teams can augment their technical and business solutions with specialized CAD as a Service.

How do design engineers find my website and the CAD of my parts?

Some will go directly to your website but most will find your website using a search engine or CAD directory like 
More > B-SMART – Upgrading Manufacturing SEO and Content Marketing

How likely is a purchase as a result of a CAD download?

The answers of many users and the weighted average is 50% of the time (shown in the graph). According to the JW Winco case study they achieve almost 50% too. For all types of content marketing we do not know of another type of downloadable content that converts to sales at any where near this high a ratio. Therefore CAD downloads may be the best type of content an industrial supplier can offer on their website. 
More > CAD Marketing and Compounding ReturnsWhen a CAD model is downloaded, how often is the physical part purchased?

If my competitor offers CAD and I don’t, will I succeed?

We can’t say that you won’t succeed, but you will likely be at a significant disadvantage because most engineers, designers and buyers now search for products online and prefer selecting from manufacturers that offer CAD downloads of the parts they need. 
More > Marketing to Engineers is So Different You Can Beat Amazon

What’s the cost difference between a CAD lead and a traditional Marketing lead?

According to the JW Winco case study, leads from CAD downloads cost about 10% as much as traditional leads. 
More > J.W. Winco and other Case Studies

When is a good time to add digital marketing with CAD?

It’s important to gain an up-to-date understanding of your customers buying process and determine if adding CAD marketing is likely to achieve a high ROI for your business. We can help you survey your customers and target customers to gain that understanding. There’s no wrong time to add CAD marketing but if you are planning to update your website it might make sense to add CAD then! Also, if you updating or replacing an existing, perhaps home grown, CAD solution we’ll link to specific advice for that. 
More > Replacing Outdated B2B CAD Marketing Tech

If you have other questions please ask them by leaving a comment below (or click to ask a question) and we’ll reply or add it to the list above. As always, if any answer isn’t clear or thorough enough please call us or click either button below:



Posted in