How to Generate Manufacturer Sales Leads by Providing Online CAD & BIM Downloads

The marketing world spent 2020 in a holding pattern. We went week-to-week with little information to build and execute our marketing strategy. This hit the “trade shows” area particularly hard. People couldn’t gather to meet and share ideas or learn about new businesses to work with. This meant generating fewer manufacturer sales leads by meeting face to face.

How strategic, digital marketing tactics will keep the manufacturer sales leads flowing, this year and beyond.

The foundation of many marketing plans has traditionally been the in-person event. These placed exhibitors in front of prospects, providing a valuable source of manufacturer sales leads and customer interactions. Unfortunately, the future is murky for Tradeshows, Conferences and Trade Fairs.

Manufacturers must find other avenues to have relevant customer conversations and drive leads. Among the most successful strategies, is the use of 3D CAD & BIM models as a marketing asset. This strategy has been building momentum over the past 20 years but has become priceless recently. Continue reading to see how manufacturers are thriving in 2020 and beyond by providing engineering content on their website, simultaneously replacing tradeshow leads and improving digital customer experience.

How to Provide Free Online CAD Downloads to Drive Manufacturer Sales Leads and Improve Online Customer Experience at the same time.

Whether they make engineering components or architectural products, manufacturers are always looking to deepen their interaction with their customers. Often they are separated from their prospective customers by an invisible walled called the internet. Clients show up one one side of the wall, browse the manufacturer site, get the information they need and they leave. The manufacturer has to guess at their intent by reviewing analytics and traffic info. What they really need is direct interaction for those who visit their site!

How to Generate Sales Leads by Providing free Online CAD Downloads

Today’s manufacturing marketers have a new approach to convert visitors into qualified manufacturer sales leads and customers. The idea is to draw customers in by creating helpful, relevant content. This approach is called content marketing. They provide the content in exchange for contact information and build a relationship in the process.

Content marketing for many businesses included whitepapers, eBooks, blog posts, videos etc. This content often takes real work to create, publish and share. Component manufacturers have a marketing edge here: They can provide detailed product information and online CAD downloads based on engineering data for their physical products. (don’t worry,  your design IP is protected by providing a “form, fit and function” model).

This relevant information is the type of content engineering and architectural customers want because it’s fast, easy and self-serve, offering them more information for their purchasing decision. When you provide online CAD downloads, every download is a piece of content for the customer, and each of those pieces of content is a qualified sales lead.


Manufacturer sales leads exploded in 2020! Online CAD downloads grew by 64% over 2019, with Engineers and Architects downloading 666M CAD & BIM models. 


Online CAD downloads generate BIG GROWTH  in manufacturer sales leads

By deploying an interactive product catalog on their website, manufacturers have an enormous content library at their fingertips. Each online download is a piece of content that customers need and will return when they need another part. This not only gives the manufacturer’s marketers great, evergreen content but also draws in customers from across the web searching for a part.

Most importantly, online downloads of 3D CAD models are exactly what the customer needs. By giving customers the content they are looking for (and 3D PDF datasheets to share with team members who don’t have CAD access), you are building a pipeline of qualified manufacturer sales leads.

Additionally, the online CAD downloads also give customers the information needed to move them down the marketing funnel toward a complete purchase.

Learn More: Get The Ultimate Guide to DCX. Everything you need to know about digital customer experience in the manufacturing industry.

Free Online CAD Downloads Manufacturers can Drive Sales Leads and Improve Online Customer Experience at the same time

Online CAD Downloads with Built-In Meta-Data are manufacturer sales leads that keep selling

Each CAD download has built-in meta data that includes the part number, manufacturer information, and information on how the customer can purchase the physical product. Not only does this ensure that the manufacturer’s information remains in the product when it’s downloaded but it also provides the customer with the next step to purchase the product.

Industrial marketing expert Achinta Mitra calls these 3D CAD models with designed-in information “supercharged content assets” or “sales enablers,” and he’s absolutely right.


Manufacturer Sales Leads with 81% Conversion Rate = Big ROI

Yes, that’s right. When asked how often a customer will purchase a part they download, 81% of customers say they actually buy the same product they downloaded. But they don’t just make one purchase per download; manufacturers are producing many products from the single design, resulting in a multiplication effect. In reality, one downloaded part results in 18.3 purchased parts on average!

So, if you’re a marketing manufacturer looking to drive more sales from your content library, free online CAD downloads should be your bread and butter.

When manufacturers implement a CADENAS PARTsolutions catalog on their website, they have access to our lead tracker tool. This tool enables the manufacturer to track new leads from their online catalog in real time. It also integrates seamlessly into your existing CRM and marketing automation platforms.


In Conclusion

While nearly all marketing teams know content marketing is vital to generating leads, content type is also essential. Online CAD downloads are surefire lead generators that have longevity and a huge return on investment. And, giving them to customers for free and on-the-fly makes for an unbeatable online customer experience.

Happy customers, seamless integration into your existing lead tracking and CRM tools and an arsenal of content… what other marketing tool beats this? Share with us your thoughts on how an online CAD configurator can bring your sales and marketing teams closer together.

To see how the product catalog boosted sales for Bison Gear and Engineering, read their story or check out the video above.


Follow the blog series: Digital Customer Experience for Industrial Manufacturers

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Adam Beck

Director of Marketing at CADENAS PARTsolutions | A Marketing graduate from the Miami University, Farmer School of Business in Oxford Ohio, Adam has years of experience in marketing and design for a variety of industries.