An Engineer’s Perspective: What Documents Matter on a Product Page

Establishing a good buyer’s journey is not an easy process. It takes the right mix of awareness strategies, value propositions, and service followthrough to land that final conversion. As service providers, it is therefore necessary to identify where, at each step, we can give more and make it easier for the customer to arrive at their destination.

In the past two years, GlobalSpec has released two surveys– the 2020 Smart Marketing for Engineers and the 2021 State of Marketing to Engineers. Both have offered clues into the mindset of engineers as we move forward into a new digital age, including insights on what brings the biggest value and cracks in the process that we may need to fill.

In the 2020 survey on Smart Marketing for Engineers, out of the almost 300 respondents, nearly 72 percent said that they are willing to view at least three pages of search results before deciding to click and read up on a product. Another 27 percent are willing to read up to five pages of search results. This tells us that engineers are hungry for information, and with the overwhelming resources available, they are more selective and critical of what comes their way.

It may come as no surprise that when it comes to the actual website, engineers want to keep it simple. The survey notes that typical features that other groups might find impressive like interactive graphics and online chats are generally unnecessary. Instead, engineers prefer in-depth technical content, resources, and specifications. This also translates to their preference for the way data is presented–clearly labelled with links, concise descriptions, and apt summaries. It makes sense, given that the engineer has already spent time combing through pages of search results. Simplicity is key.

So once an engineer is on your website and searching for technical documentation, what exactly are they looking for?

What Documents Matter on a Product Page

Most importantly, the datasheet. Datasheets are the single source of truth for every single product out there. Listed in its pages are the inner workings of its parts, the voltage to which it comes alive, the interfaces with which it speaks to other components, and a myriad of other vital information that every engineer needs to know. Usually, there’s a summary that lists all the most commonly searched information such as voltage ratings, packaging, size, etc. but it is virtually impossible to list all of a product’s information on the page which is why datasheets exist. The datasheet should be easy to find and one of the most prominently displayed items on the product page, as it provides the most value.

The second most sought after documentation are the case studies, which are extremely valuable because they allow you to look at the work of fellow engineers and go through their processes, providing the opportunity to examine each other’s works and build on it to create something better. Case studies also help us see outside the box by showing alternate uses. This kind of intersectional resource becomes very valuable with increased availability, so distributors, take note.

Finally, in our third spot are white papers. White papers talk more about the broader side of things rather than that one product, but often offer crucial information for engineersThe technology bubble is ever growing, new technologies arise every year, and as new solutions are created, new problems spring out of the ground just as the last one was addressed. It's a cycle of innovation and problem solving that pushes technology forward. White papers are essential tools that industry leaders and experts use to reach audiences and peers to present solutions. Being a part of these conversations, and having the access to different papers allows an engineer to create their own strategies and approach to possible issues.

The buyer’s journey is an understandable concept, but it is not easy; it is complex in execution and it requires us to empathize with our customers, examine what they need to solve their problems, and deliver the highest quality of service. Companies should think about the value they are putting into the market and how their websites address the needs of your audience.

For help on this journey, Big Zeta offers a variety of tools and services, including web design, content management, and demand generation.

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