The State of Industrial Digital Marketing

Posted on Sep 13, 2016 by Kerry O'Malley


Even in the industrial arena, using online resources for work related tasks is now a normal practice for engineers, managers, and other professionals. At the same time, shifts are constantly taking place, as more traditional digital platforms transition to the latest technology has to offer. As a marketer, this can be frustrating! Just when you think you’ve figured out the most beneficial digital tactics for your business, new technology hits the scene, online users start changing their habits, or website traffic may begin to shift from one tactic to another for no apparent reason. In other words, nothing stays the same for long. In the world of digital marketing, you can never stop evolving.

Leading Industrial Digital Marketing Study

If you are involved in industrial marketing, IHS GlobalSpec’s Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector report is a must read each year. Below are some highlights from their most recent report, released in 2015.

  • The most popular use of the internet for any industrial related purpose was seen among 18 to 34 year olds at 80%.
  • 77% of those aged 35 and up used the internet to find components, services, suppliers, and equipment.
  • Only 19% of those aged 49 or over used the internet to read peer reviews of suppliers or products.
  • The most popular industrial uses for the internet were finding components/suppliers/equipment, obtaining product specifications, finding information on product availability, and research.
  • Google and other search engines were the leading information source on the internet with 89% using it, but supplier websites came in at second with 75% and online catalogs at 74%.

Industrial Digital Marketing and the Age Gap

The use of digital media remains prevalent among all technical professionals, but patterns do vary based on age. New hires, especially in the field of engineering, have different preferences. In a study published last year, over 40% of technical professionals visited at least 10 websites per week for purposes related to their work. Those who were under the age of 35 doubled that number by visiting an average of 20 websites per week, the highest number of any of the surveyed age groups. The study concluded that target audience age is one of the most vital considerations when developing a marketing plan.

Many industrial marketers are realizing that while the younger professionals in their customer companies may not yet be the ultimate decision makers: that day is not far off. Communicating with them in the ways they are most comfortable with NOW will pay off down the road. You might be surprised to know what percentage of visitors to your website are accessing it on a mobile device, as more and more young engineers and managers conduct a large part of their day to day business on a tablet or smart phone. Reach out to this younger segment of the workforce with a mobile responsive website and optimized emails and capture their mindshare before your competition.

Industrial Digital Marketing and the Buying Cycle

The buying cycle consists of many stages including research, comparison, and ultimately purchase. It can be time consuming and complex for buyer and seller alike, especially when involving multiple decision makers. Regardless of these factors, digital resources are widely used at all stages of the process. Following are the leading sources of information for each stage of the buying cycle.

  1. Research and Needs Analysis – Search engines were the leading source at 85%, supplier websites at 70%, online catalogs at 68%.
  2. Evaluation and Comparison – Search engines were the leading source at 76%, online catalogs at 71%, printed catalogs at 44%.
  3. Purchase – Supplier websites at 54%, online catalogs at 48%, search engines at 35%.

Because industrial buyers are primarily doing their own research in order to qualify and select a new vendor or product, marketers need to create content that appeals to users at each stage of the buying cycle. Not surprisingly, the IHS study reflects that technical professionals under age 35 are most likely to obtain the information they require to make purchasing decisions, online.

Most industrial marketers have learned to adapt to the times and recognize the need to stay current and educated on digital marketing trends and techniques, as well as internet use among their target audience. It’s also becoming clear, especially when reviewing surveys like GlobalSpec’s, that a dynamic, multi-channel digital media strategy is most likely to reach the broadest segment of your target audience, regardless of age. If you need help putting together such a plan or want to discuss ways to improve your online marketing presence, we’re here to help.


Author: Kerry O'Malley

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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