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[Guest Post] Get 50% Sales Conversion Rates with CAD Models

March 16, 2017 / By Jeff Drust

This is a guest post. We welcome guest posts about helping manufacturers increase sales and/or advance their marketing function. Send in your idea and you too could be a guest blogger on MMG.

Of all the types of online marketing content that manufacturers and distributors can use, none beat 'CAD Model Downloads' for sales conversion rates!

We understand that content such as white papers, case studies, brochures, videos, demos, recorded webinars, reviews and others typically convert to sales, at best, in single figure percentages. CAD downloads can easily trump that and here is some supplier and user survey evidence to prove it.

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CDS surveyed users of CAD model downloads to clarify their business motivations and impacts. The survey was sent to several thousand randomly selected users who had downloaded CAD models, 276 responses are collated in the results. Just two of the result graphs are reproduced in this article but the full results are available here.

What are CAD Model downloads and why do prospects download them?
They are Computer Aided Design (CAD) 3D models and/or 2D drawings of your products provided on your website for viewing and downloading. Engineers and Designers view and select your parts online then download and include them in their new CAD designs. This increases their productivity because they don’t need to create the models or drawings. From your point of view your products get 'designed in' then purchased.

You can read the full US manufacturing distributor, J.W.Winco Inc. case study here, but John Winkler, CEO, Office of the President, summarized it like this:

"On average our customers save more than ¾ of an hour of design time per CAD model downloaded and on average nearly 50% of downloads result in at least one order. The majority of our sales leads are from CAD model downloads rather than from traditional marketing. The cost per lead of CAD download leads is less than 10% of the average cost per lead from traditional marketing plus they convert to sales at a higher rate and even more importantly they convert faster!”

Here’s the key point: both suppliers and users say CAD Model downloads can lead to a sale nearly 50% of the time! CAD downloads may be the most efficient and effective website visitor conversion tool available to suppliers of industrial components (bearings, gears, fasteners, etc.) and engineered products (motors, gearboxes, etc.).

Of course a CAD download may lead to more than one order. Initially it might be one or a few in a prototype but once a design moves into volume production many may be ordered. According to the same users, on average, 163 units are ordered. 

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On product detail pages the addition of 3D CAD models and 2D drawings increases the value of the web pages to users and can, consequently, increase click through rates.

Downloadable 3D CAD models are often right at the top of the sales funnel. For example here’s a scenario: An engineer is designing a new gearbox, working in their 3D CAD system. He or she will likely need many parts (gears, shafts, bearings, clutches, springs, washers, nuts, etc.) and will likely use as many off-the-shelf parts as possible (because they are usually lower cost than custom parts). To find those parts they primarily search online often from right within their CAD system (yes for marketing you can put your CAD models there too). Our studies show that engineers will often select between two suppliers based on which one supplies a 3D CAD model (because of the design time it saves). The beauty is how symbiotic this ‘engagement’ is for both parties. Designers save time, suppliers get their part/s ‘locked and loaded’ into new designs. Often neither side has yet spoken to the other – it’s all digital marketing. Once a design is approved it usually passes to the buyers to source all the components. Buyers rarely change or challenge what the designer spec’d in, not least because they’re not going to take liability for changing the design! Is there any other content type that’s so symbiotic and can create 50% close rates?

Sales lead generation is by user registration – usually a confirmed email address prior to download of the CAD model or drawing. Because of the time saving value of the model there is little or no resistance to registration. In addition, like other types of content, CAD models can be syndicated online to CAD systems and portals (for example, to increase their exposure and hence ability to increase traffic and leads.


There are many more reasons to use CAD Model Marketing, if you want to learn more see 10 Questions To Ask Before Selecting An Online Cad Model Solution on the Catalog Data Solutions Blog or give them a call.

Thank you to Jeff Drust for writing and submitting this post. Jeff helps startup and expansion stage companies accelerate their growth as a Consultant, Interim Exec or Board Member. Catalog Data Solutions is one of his current clients.

Manufacturing Marketing Group Louisville, CO US 303-953-4361