The pandemic has impacted many professions and industries, including engineers working in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. But engineers have long demonstrated they are a smart and resilient bunch—they have jobs to do and find ways to get them done, pandemic or not.

That’s not to say that engineers haven’t made adjustments to how they search for and connect with suppliers, and how they source and consume content. Here are some tendencies that have changed during the pandemic and that should be on your radar when crafting marketing programs during this unsettled period.

Participation is increasing in virtual events and webinars

First, there might be some confusion about the difference between virtual events and webinars. To help clarify, consider webinars as standalone, specific events—short, often technical, and focused on a single topic.

Virtual events are more expansive and last longer. While they often contain technical presentations that you might encounter in a webinar, virtual events may also include keynote speeches, exhibitions, discussion forums, sponsors, and other content and interactive features.

Forty-eight percent of engineers have participated in a virtual event, according to the “2021 State of Marketing to Engineers” research report developed by TREW Marketing and GlobalSpec.

Of those engineers who attended a virtual event, 80 percent found the event a valuable experience. Still, engineers prefer webinars to virtual events by more than a two to one margin, while 28 percent aren’t sure which format they prefer. This makes sense, as virtual events in their current incarnation are relatively new.

Whether at a virtual event or a webinar, if an engineer shows up, they’re looking for technical content. When developing your own webinars, keep this in mind. If participating in or hosting a virtual event, make sure you have plenty of opportunities to deliver technical presentations to your audience that help them do their jobs better.

Podcasts are an emerging content type

Fifty-five percent of engineers now listen to podcasts for work. Thirty-seven percent subscribe to 1-5 podcasts.

Out of those engineers that listen to podcasts, 33 percent listen for 6-20 minutes a week, followed by 26 percent that say they listen for 5 minutes or less. Given that the average podcast is 15-25 minutes in length, this data indicates that engineers are listening to about one episode for work per week.  

If you plan to delve into podcasts as a marketer, treat them like other content you produce. Make each episode focused on a single topic, don’t be afraid to get technical, and pay attention to production values.

Other tips: use good microphones, choose speakers who have strong and clear voices, be professional but also foster your personality, add beginning and ending themes to the podcast, and edit the file to create a tight and smooth final product.

Video is popular, but be careful

A whopping 96 percent of engineers watch some videos for work. Forty-eight percent watch less than one hour, while another 48 percent watch for one hour or more. By comparison, engineers spend twice as much time watching video as they do listening to podcasts.

Video has grown steadily in popularity, particularly among younger engineers. Thirty-two percent of engineers are willing to fill out a form to access gated video tutorials, making video a viable way to begin a relationship with engineers.

However, there are signs of video fatigue setting in. This is primarily due to the quality of videos. While a smartphone is all you need to make an effective video, not paying attention to production values can derail your efforts.

One way to make the most out of video is to use this content format for what it does best: showing visuals and movement as a way to explain concepts. That’s why demos and tutorials are the most popular subjects for videos, while talking heads can be snoozy.

Keep your videos as short as possible while still covering the topic. Pay close attention to your video statistics, particularly length of view. If a large portion of your viewing audience is dropping off around the same time, you’ve got a problem.

The biggest reason for drop off is lack of relevancy. Make sure your videos are about subjects your audience cares about and keep engineers interested by moving your story along.

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