Engineers Sweet On Email Newsletters, Useful During Buying Cycle

Other information sources may dominate. But one-third of engineers use email newsletters in their work, and over half turn to them when making purchasing decisions, according to “2017 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector,” a survey by IEEE GlobalSpec.

It proves once again that email newsletters have a robust presence in this shifting B2B market.

“Our research shows that 78% of engineers subscribe to at least one e-newsletter and rely on them for critical information during the early and middle stages of the buying process, said Don Lesem; vice president and Chief Design Officer at IEEE GlobalSpec, in an email.

He added: “Engineers expect e-newsletters to provide the latest on industry trends and events, research, product news and career information.”



Of 2,239 technical professionals surveyed worldwide, 64% subscribe to two or more free email newsletters. Specifically, 20% subscribe to two, 16% to three, 7% to four, 4% to five and 17% to five or more.

Some engineers even pay for email newsletters: 16% have at least one paid subscription, while 10% have two or more.

Granted, 21% of the respondents subscribe to no free newsletters at all.

But e-newsletters still beat other channels in this regard -- 44% of the respondents have no subscriptions to printed trade magazines and 31% have none to digital trades.

Email newsletters also play a role in the buying cycle. Of the engineers polled, 43% rely on newsletters in the research and needs analysis stage. And 29% use them during the comparison and evaluation stage.

But usage falls off during the purchase stage, with only 4% referring to newsletters at this point. 

However, newsletters were outranked at all stages of the cycle by general search engines, online catalogs and printed catalogs. They were also topped by, according to the study. Also, only 4% of the engineers make use of newsletters in the purchase stage.

Moreover, email newsletters rank seventh in overall usage, behind general search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs, printed catalogs, colleagues and webinars. Still, they are an important part of the media mix, one of several digital channels that marketers should invest in, IEEE GlobalSpec says.   

“The internet is a collection of innovative, relevant and useful digital resources for helping technical professionals be more productive and efficient in their work processes,” the company concludes in its wrap-up. “They use a wide variety of those digital resources, from search engines to supplier websites, webinars to online catalogs, e-newsletters to online forums.”

Founded around 20 years ago by former GE engineers, IEEE GlobalSpec serves “the practicing engineer, the bench engineer, the people that are taking things from R&D and actually delivering a finished product into the market,” Lesem noted in a recent interview.   

But the demographic is changing as veteran engineers retire and Millennials enter. “Some surveys say as much as 45% of the engineering staff is going to be turning over in the next 10 years,” Lesem said. “A lot of this institutional knowledge is walking right out the door.”  

Here are some additional findings from the survey: 

  • The most popular uses of the internet are to find components, equipment services, providers, product specifications and standards.
  • 61% visit six or more work-related websites per week.
  • 51% purchase products and parts on the internet.
  • 62% wait until the comparison and evaluation stage to contact a vendor.
  • 67% attended at least one webinar in 2016, and 31% tuned in to four or more.
  • 55% attended one or more trade shows in 2016.
  • 67% use YouTube or other video-sharing websites for work-related purposes.
  • Engineers spend 79% of their online time on desktops/laptops, 16% on smartphones and 5% on tablets.






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