The best materials databases to engage active technical buyers in 2022

Published October 12, 2021 | Written by Nicolas Dupond


In 2017, the material selection space boomed. Four new players launched their platforms, joining the three historical leaders — UL Prospector®, SpecialChem and Matweb.

history material selection platform (1)All these companies listed in this graph offer materials, chemicals and ingredient databases designed for technical formulators, and each platform covers a different spectrum of industries.

From a supplier perspective, each of those websites are great channels to reach, influence and engage with future customers and target markets. Each of these platforms lets you subscribe to free or paid listing services to attract traffic and searches onto your products, then convert unknown visitors into profiled leads.

So, which databases are actually best to engage technical buyers? And by technical buyers, I mean leads who have a project right now.

As I explain in the post, “organic traffic is a good indicator of leads’ intent”, I explain how organic visitors come from search engines like Google. Those visitors are proactively searching for a solution because most of them have a project now. This is why inbound leads are more likely to convert into customers, just like how you compare products online before buying.

To help further, let’s compare the organic traffic performance of each platform so that you can find out which platform is the best source of leads for your business growth.

comparison material selection platforms (1)

These charts are full of cool insights, aren’t they?

Going forward, I will focus my comparison on the 5 industries that we cover at SpecialChem, since these are the most competitive spaces:

  • Adhesives & Sealants
  • Paints, Coatings & Inks
  • Cosmetics & Personal Care
  • Polymers Additives
  • Plastics & Elastomers

From the chart above, here are the TOP 5 conclusions that made sense from my personal analysis.


#1 - SpecialChem is the best channel to engage active technical buyers

SpecialChem outnumbers the competition, by far. While covering a smaller range of industries vs others, the high degree of focus has allowed SpecialChem to become the largest database in the specialty chemical and material space. As a result, SpecialChem attracts the highest organic traffic from the search engines, and organic represents 70% of our total traffic sources.

From a supplier perspective, SpecialChem is the best platform to find active technical buyers in project mode. Our platform is ideal to influence and engage with your future customers. We even measured that 42% of SpecialChem’s visitors are working on a current project.


#2 – Cast your nest wide: Be on both SpecialChem and UL Prospector®

This is no surprise to see that UL Prospector®, another historical player, is among the leaders. As I said in my SpecialChem vs Prospector® comparison: Cast your net wide!

If you can afford both SpecialChem & UL Prospector®, use both platforms to reach, influence and engage active technical audiences. If you can’t, here are the reasons why SpecialChem might be a better fit for you.

Like Facebook and Instagram in B2C, SpecialChem and UL Prospector® are dominating the material and selection spaces. Their organic traffic represents 70% of the total organic traffic in the material selection space.

By focusing your digital strategy on those two channels, you will be highly accessible to your target markets.


#3 – Matweb: your third channel in the plastic industry

Matweb has a huge database of plastics and elastomers, and they have a great organic traffic too. But their ageing interface combined with limited digital marketing possibilities make this platform a good channel to influence active technical buyers, but not a great platform to engage them.


#4 – Not the right time for Matmatch

Matmatch is certainly the best of the newcomers. With the lowest number of listed products, they have a gigantic organic traffic in comparison to Knowde, Covalo and Chemondis.

However, I do not recommend you this platform in the plastic space yet, since metals represents 76% of their database. So, this gigantic organic traffic that you see is mostly related to metal.


#5 – Don’t expect much from newcomers

Knowde, Covalo and Chemondis have low to almost no organic traffic. To attract active technical formulators, they can only rely on SEA — Search Engine Advertising and social media to compensate.

Other methods these low organic traffic platforms can provide are outbound marketing campaigns — emails and e-newsletters. But these unsolicited actions are far less effective when it comes to be able to reach and capture active technical buyers, as you can see in our Inbound vs Outbound Leads comparison case study.

I personally do not recommend you these newcomer platforms yet, unless they can prove a positive ROI based on their organic traffic, and not based on paid ads. Let me explain.

Platforms that attract users by using search engine paid ads (SEA) to subsidize sub-par organic traffic (SEO) are at a major disadvantage. Why?

  • First, a lead from SEA is way more expensive than a lead from SEO: SEA leads are 4 times more expensive vs. SEO leads according to SurveyAnyplace.

  • Second, those paid ads are more likely to be displayed on results where SpecialChem and Prospector® already have SEO results — they both represent 70% of the total organic traffic.

So why would you pay more for the exact same lead?

That’s one key reason why those new platforms aren’t ideal for your digital marketing strategy yet.


Once again, my recommendation is only applicable to the plastic, adhesive, coating and cosmetic industries. For other spaces, that’s another story.



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