Can't miss highlights of New Manufacturing Market Research...

Analogy: if your marketing is a car then your website is the engine and your content is the fuelPhoto by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

In 1973 Peter Drucker wrote: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two - and only two - basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Since then the buying process has changed dramatically and buyers are firmly in control! They decide what to search for, what to click on and what to read or watch! If anything, the role of marketing has become even more important because B2B buyers are often 60% or more through their product research and selection before they even talk to a supplier! To be in consideration they must find and interact with you online during their research. The analogy above lays out the implications: NO marketing, No car; No website, No marketing engine; No content, No Fuel; Result: No GO! And by extension: no new fuel, no keeping going! Of course 'finding you' isn't sufficient to get selected and purchased, your online content needs to prove you are trustworthy, reliable, dependable, fair priced, etc. before even speaking to them. As Rebecca Geier put it "Content is the currency of marketing today" and that's why content marketing is vital for creating trust in your brand, top-of-mind awareness of your business and sales leads. This blog post shares the latest research on the subject and our next post, 'Online Industrial Marketing - You No Longer Have a Choice..." shares our resulting recommendations for industrial suppliers.

New Manufacturing Marketing Research

Recently 4 different research studies on 'marketing to engineers' have been released. We've reviewed these excellent pieces of work and recommend you do too - links to them are below. But, in case you don't have time to read them all here are the top 3 or 4 insights from each that struck us as most interesting and revealing.

1. 2018 Manufacturing Content Marketing

2018 CMI Manufacturing Content Marketing ReportThe Content Marketing Institute (CMI) manufacturing report is a US manufacturing industry cut of the data from their generic multi-industry study. This 'cut' consists of 155 respondents who work for US manufacturing companies. It's useful for comparing content marketing progress in this sample and for comparing manufacturing to other industries.

The insights that struck us as most interesting are:

  • 86% of Manufacturing organizations now use content marketing.
  • How successful are they at it?
    • 3% say 'extremely', 11% say 'very' and 55% say 'moderately' so a total of 69% are moderately successful or better. 28% say 'minimally' and 2% 'not at all' successful.
    • 2018 CMI Manufacturing Content Marketing Metrics70% say they have metrics proving that content marketing has increased audience engagement and the number of sales leads. While it is excellent that the majority of manufacturing marketers can now prove that their content marketing is generating increased sales leads, just 42% can prove it has actually increased sales and just 21% can prove it has decreased the cost of customer acquisition.
  • Manufacturing Content Marketing Types of Content Used.JPGTypes of content used? Social media and videos are widely used and important. But what of CAD content? An implication of CMI's generic approach is not asking about industry specific content types - like 2D CAD drawings and 3D CAD models in manufacturing. We guess those content types are captured in the generic "Illustrations/Pictures" category because 2D drawings are 'illustrations' and 3D models are usually viewed and manipulated (pan/zoom/rotate) 'photo' realistically. CMI also told us that a catch all category, 'other', was 8% so they may also be in there. The point is that CAD models and drawings likely rank highly and we already know they can convert to sales up to 50% of the time.

2. 2017 Smart Marketing for Engineers® Research Report

Smart Marketing for Engineers ReportIEEE Globalspec and Trew Marketing produced this report based on a survey of 811 engineering and technical professionals who make or influence buying decisions The analogy at the top of this post, If your marketing is a car, then your website is the engine & your content is the fuel was coined by Rebecca Geier of TREW Marketing. Their research is available here.

The insights that stuck us most are:

  • Engineers are a unique and skeptical audience but over 90% are more likely to do business with companies that regularly produce new and current content. So we all need to keep putting new fuel (content) in our engines (websites)!
  • Content types most valued by engineers are case studies, longer-length e-books and books, white papers. Engineers value online content sources most, primarily vendor websites and search engines.
  • For content promotion, emails are really important - nearly 50% of engineers of all ages subscribe to four or more e-newsletters.

3. Engineering Marketers Budget Plans 2017

Research Report on Engineering Marketers Budget Plans 2017Engineering.com produced this report based on a survey of 85 engineering marketers and 95% work in US companies.

The insights that struck us as most interesting are:

  • 87% of Manufacturing organizations now use content marketing - very similar to the CMI above
  • On the importance of marketing to sales, 65% say marketing is becoming more important, 32% say staying the same and just 2% say marketing is becoming less important
  • Marketing spend, 2 of the top 3 categories are 'creating content' and 'distributing content'. The other is 'trade shows' and spend on that is declining.
  • Marketers' compensation is being tied to measurable objectives, most notably sales leads and 4 out of 5 say content marketing helps them deliver qualified leads.[we already know that CAD models can be fantastic lead generators]

4. Where Engineers get their Information

extract of CAD users preferences for obtaining information from CAD Trends in the Manufacturing Sector 2017 reportEngineering.com and Business Advantage Group (BA) presented this joint webinar on their respective worldwide surveys of 1187 Engineers (60% in N..America) and 314 Manufacturing CAD users (38% in N.America). The full BA Manufacturing report is purchasable here but the extract of CAD users information source preferences is available in the recorded webinar.

The insights that struck us as most interesting are:

  • Engineers prefer to be left alone to do their researchEngineers, on average, spend about 9 hours/week consuming engineering information. They prefer easy to consume formats, their top preference is short written articles, the second is pre-recorded video. Most (56%+19%) want to be left alone to do their research before being contacted by sales reps, though 25% want to contacted at the start.
  • When engineers want to find answers their top 3 preferences are search engines (77%), digital publications (61%) and email (56%).
  • CAD users top 3 preferences for CAD industry information are print and digital industry magazines, social media (primarily LinkedIn and Youtube) and search engines.
  • Use of 3D CAD model viewing and downloads is one CAD Trend that continues to grow year over year (at least for the last 4 years that this CAD Trends survey has been done). On average in 2016, manufacturing engineers downloaded >52 CAD models/year.

Lastly, we can say that online digital marketing for industrial suppliers is all we, our software products and services do. It's our specialist expertise developed over more than a decade so we read new research avidly and are continuously thinking about the implication for ourselves and our customers. Our next post, Online Industrial Marketing - You No Longer Have a Choice..." shares our general recommendations for industrial suppliers based on this research but if you'd like our opinion on your particular situation please call or click either button below:

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