Industrial and Manufacturing Marketing Blog

What’s Hot and What’s Not in Digital Marketing for Engineers in 2014

I just downloaded my copy of the 2014 Digital Marketing for Engineers survey published by John Hayes and his team at There are some interesting and encouraging findings.

I’ll use a few of the charts from the survey results that show what they found and then add what I am seeing firsthand with my industrial clients.

Survey Question: Will your 2014 budget for the following activities be smaller, larger or about the same? Bar length indicates respondents who chose “larger”

Digital marketing for engineers 2014 budget increases

Nothing here that really surprised me. I am seeing some differences. Companies that follow the “batch and blast” strategy of email marketing (Eblasts) are seeing poor results. In-house lists continue to outperform all other lists. I haven’t seen this trend change as long as I can remember.

Targeted niche enewsletters sent out by industry publications and directories are still performing well even though their open and click through rates have gone down. Typically, conversions are low since most readers rarely take any action beyond clicking on the link and reading/viewing the content.

This is where I see Marketing Automation playing a key role in improving results and accurately reporting ROI. Proper tracking and scoring rules help to identify the first point of contact and track activities over time rather than attributing all conversions to the last click.

My clients are using social media primarily for distribution of new posts, case studies, whitepapers and to drive traffic to their booths at tradeshows. They are not necessarily increasing their social media budgets.

Survey Question: Will your 2014 budget for the following activities be smaller, larger or about the same. Bar length indicates respondents who chose “smaller”

2014 Digital Marketing for Engineers trends

I am seeing some deviations here as compared to the survey results. Yes, both print and trade show budgets have shrunk significantly. However, they are not dead. Print ads are still good for branding/awareness and they continue to drive traffic to websites. I advise my clients to be very selective about publications and using calls to action to specific landing pages for tracking and measuring conversions.

Tradeshows are expensive and most of my clients have cut back on the number of shows where they exhibit. They usually tell me that attendance has gone down but the few leads that they do get are of very high quality. That makes all the difference if you manufacture and sell highly engineered premium products.

Survey Question: What content will you create more of in 2014?

2014 Digital Marketing for Engineers tactics

These findings pretty much match what I am seeing on the ground. Case studies do present some problems because of the NDAs that are in place. Some of my clients are forced to make case studies generic because of these restrictions. Instead of names, I have had to use generic descriptions like “Major hydrocarbon processing plant on the Gulf Coast.” It is virtually impossible to publish specific numbers and quantities as part of results achieved. Percentage increase or decrease is about as specific as one is allowed to get.

Another trend that I have noticed is producing video tutorials as part of industrial content marketing. Online learning universities and free/paid training classes are very popular too, especially with industrial distributors.

That’s my take on the trends in digital marketing for engineers. What’s been your experience and what are your plans for 2014?

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 36 years of practical 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., an industrial marketing consultancy in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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  1. Great piece Achinta. Thanks for sharing. I still am amazed at how much is being spent on social – so much so, that I wonder if sometimes blogging and content marketing unfairly gets put under that umbrella. While LinkedIn appears to be a good avenue for our clients, Twitter and Facebook simply aren’t delivering the results we’d all hoped for. And we track the results very closely.

    I would agree wholeheartedly that marketing automation is going to explode this year. We actually put a pretty large white paper together about marketing automation. If anyone is interested, you can download it here:

    Thanks again. I enjoy reading your thoughts. Oh, and if sharing the link (like I did above), isn’t cool, sorry. Happy to remove.

    • Jon,

      Thanks for adding your comments and sharing your white paper. Appreciate your kind words. I’m cool with sharing an occasional link as long as it is for helpful content.

      My clients use Twitter and FB primarily to announce new posts, tradeshows etc. I’ve seen a manufacturer use Twitter to start the conversation and develop enough trust to ask for a work email. Email is then used to continue the discussion privately.

      LinkedIn is more useful but I’ve seen too many people abuse it to the point of diminishing returns.

  2. Hi Achinta and Bob,
    The survey respondents are a diverse group and so there may be different interpretations of the questions. For example, most large organizations will attribute cost to the people assigned to social media and content creation.

    Some teams I’ve spoken with have more than 30 people generating content, distributing it through social media and conducting search marketing (paid and organic). That’s a big expense!

    Thanks for sharing the survey results with your audience.

    • John,

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Achinta

    I’m a little confused though. I can see why search engine marketing and social media marketing are at the top of the priority list, but what are they spending their money on?

    Organic search marketing and social media marketing are largely cash-free marketing efforts.

    Yes, they require a great deal of content creation (whether done in-house or outsourced), but somehow I doubt that is where they are spending their money.

    My guess is that search marketing is also including paid search (pay per click advertising from Google, Bing and others) which can add up quickly. (Not to quibble, but I would consider paid search to fall under an online advertising category rather than search engine marketing.)

    Still it’s not clear to me where social media money is going. Is to going to new hires, agencies or maybe social media advertising?

    All that aside, glad to see the emphasis on case studies. They are powerful marketing tools (both online and off) and they never go out of style.

    Thanks again Achinta.

    • Bob,

      Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts.

      I too have heard some people mix up PPC and organic SEO. They should be separated IMO.

      As I have mentioned, my clients are using social media for announcements but that doesn’t mean they are spending more money on it.

      Perhaps John from can clarify some of your other points.

  4. Yes Achinta…these results are encouraging. From my personal experience, as well as my customers’ attitudes, I would agree with survey findings and your comments. Engineers and industrial marketers are starting to see the benefits of content marketing and marketing automation. But…still a struggle to get them fully on board with new media marketing opportunities.

    • Tom,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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