Industrial Marketing Blog

How do Engineers Use Content in Their Buying Decision?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Of course, you know that engineers use content in making work-related decisions, i.e. buying decisions. Datasheets, case studies and how-to videos have always been popular with this target audience. However, have you ever asked yourself the question, “how do engineers use content?” The answer to that question is fundamental in developing an effective industrial content marketing strategy.

Recently, I read a research study published by ENGINEERING.COM. This report goes well beyond the general assumptions about how engineers use content and provides researched proof. You can download the “How Engineers Find Information” study from that link.

Why is content important for reaching engineers?

The old ways of cold calling and e-mail blasts are proving to be ineffective. This has nothing to do with the popularity of content marketing. This behavior is driven by how engineers want to interact with their suppliers. They are very much in self-select and self-serve mode.

The chart below shows that 75% of engineers prefer to engage with a vendor representative somewhere in the middle of their buying journey to just before making a final decision.

Engineers use content and stage of contact

Understand the difference between a functional buyer and a specifier

I’ve spent many hours explaining this difference to several clients. The contact name in your CRM may be someone from the Purchasing Department who sent the RFQ inquiry and/or issued the PO, but that person is a functional buyer. An engineer must “design in” or specify your industrial products before the Purchasing Department can contact your sales team.

Often, the Purchasing Department can only contact vendors from their Approved Vendor Lists (AVLs). Engineers are strong influencers throughout the buying process even if some of them may not have the final buying authority. 69% of engineers provide their input in the buying decision.

Engineers use content and level of decision making

Younger engineers use content and consume it differently

It is important to understand the age difference. Your content must win the mindshare of these younger engineers who are often tasked with the initial research which is often done online. They are the ones who will carry your message to senior stakeholders, many of them may not visit your website but that doesn’t mean they don’t consume content.

Over half (54%) of the engineers surveyed were 45 years or younger. Look at these two charts from the study to see how younger engineers get their information and consume content.

Understanding the age difference in how engineers use content

Different formats preferred in how engineers use content

You’ve heard this before, but it is worth repeating – one size fits all won’t cut it. The chart below shows the weekly consumption habits of engineers for various types of content.

Different formats of content preferred by engineers

I hope my post and the research findings help you understand better how engineers use content and plan your industrial marketing strategy accordingly.

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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  1. Emphasizing context is so important when talking about content marketing—especially for B2B. I feel like many marketers make the mistake of painting everyone in a persona segment with a wide brush and only considering those who make final decisions in bottom-of-the-funnel content.

    Your research is very helpful as I write strategy presentations, I have 20 of your posts open in tabs right now. Thank you!

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