Of my many years on H&P, I’ve known Jane Cooper for most of them. Jane is our marketing director, and one of her responsibilities is producing readership studies. These studies are intended for advertisers, so they can see how engaged our readers are with fluid power. I enjoy looking over them, too, because they give a pretty good representation of our what our subscribers do and what they are interested in.
For example, about two-thirds of our subscribers specify both hydraulic and pneumatic components. No surprise there. About one-fourth specify only hydraulic, and about 10% specify only pneumatic. Our latest study also shows that nearly three-fourths of subscribers specify fluid power products for both new and existing equipment and machinery. The balance is pretty much split: about half of them specify components only for new machinery, and the other half specifies only for existing machinery. That’s about what I expected, too.
Probably the most important feedback to advertisers is the types of products most readers specify. Topping the list, at 83%, are valves. Pretty impressive; that number represents six of every seven readers. A close second, at 80%, is cylinders, with connectors (hose, fittings, couplings, tubing) right behind at 79%. In all three cases, those numbers represent both hydraulic and pneumatic components. Another biggie is hydraulic pumps, at 73%.
Those topics are all interesting because we write about them regularly. What’s more difficult to write about is the importance of various factors in the purchasing decision. But Jane has those covered, too. Not surprisingly, the most important factor, by far, is product quality. Prompt delivery came in second and engineering assistance third. After-the-sale service and supplier reputation tied at fourth. I was surprised, though, that Made in USA came in last. It was still important—scoring a weighted response of about 63%—just not as high as others. Buying multiple products from a single source didn’t fare much better, nor did low price.
The next couple topics, however, are of greatest interest to me. First, we asked subscribers to rate the importance of various product information sources. As expected, supplier websites is the clear winner, followed closely by search engines. Trade magazines, by the way, placed in the top third, right behind distributors and sales reps.
Let’s wrap things up by looking at social media. Traditionally, editors were not considered to have marketing roles. But management all over the country is pushing editors, engineers, service technicians, and other non-marketing technical roles into social media. I often ask readers about their involvement in social media whenever I can—usually at trade shows. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface, so here’s where I pay close attention to our latest survey.
We first asked how much value subscribers place on social media in their jobs. Only 14% responded very important or extremely important. About a fourth answered moderately important, but 62% replied that social media was either slightly important or not at all important. The other question asked which social media sites readers used for work-related purposes. The answers: LinkedIn, 66%; Google plus, 50%; Facebook, 25%; and Twitter, 8%. (The numbers add up to more than 100 because participants could pick more than one.)
Thanks to all of you who took the time to complete our survey. It really does help us better provide the information important to you.