According to a recent TechTarget survey, 99% of the IT professionals polled rely on the web and search engines as their primary source for information gathering during their purchase cycle for technology products. Add to this the fact that the average technology lead consumes 20 to 50 pieces of content within a 60 day period – and that those pieces of content are not necessarily vendor-specific, the question becomes how can we, as marketers, make sure that our online marketing is attracting our targeted prospects?
In a word – relevancy. Is the content you’re putting out there relevant to the prospective buyer? We’ve talked about this before in an earlier blog post . But let’s take this another step. The TechTarget 2009 Media Consumption Report indicates that not only do IT buyers rely on numerous online content types during the purchase process, but they also have a preference for different assets based on where they are in the buying cycle.
This image is a terrific summary of how online content maps to the IT buying process. Here are some specific points that I find particularly relevant when considering what kind of content to develop.
- While the IT purchase process can take up to a full year, the awareness stage in which an IT professional is identifying and researching a problem, generally takes less than 2 months. The final decision phase where the buyer is contacting a short list of vendors takes less than 4 weeks. This leaves IT professionals spending most of their time in the consideration phase; researching vendors and their competition.
- 48% of the IT buyers surveyed indicated that 5 or more people are typically involved in the IT research and decision making process for a technology purchase. 20% of the respondents indicated that more than 10 people are involved in these decisions. I read this as a shift in the way IT departments are making decisions. It’s become a more dynamic collaborative process and as marketers this means that we need to nurture more contacts within an organization than ever before. For more info on lead nurturing, read this post.
- During the early stage of the buying process (awareness and early consideration phases), IT buyers turn to ebooks, emails and editorial articles to help them solve problems.
- Newer media types e.g. online videos, virtual tradeshows etc. rank high when the IT buyer is gathering technical information.
- Vendor demos, product literature and case studies are used predominantly at end stages of the buying process.
- IT buyers want content that showcases reliability and proven product success. Case studies and vendor comparisons are most sought after.
- The study also found that IT professionals are turning towards the input of their peers and colleagues along with online communities. Although vendor websites are one of the most utilized information sources, unbiased information resources are actively sought after and highly regarded.
There are a lot of content types noted in this research. I am not suggesting that you need to create them all as part of your marketing efforts. What I am suggesting is that you look carefully at your library of content and ensure that you have assets that adequately cover the three phases of the IT buying process outlined by TechTarget. For more details, download the full TechTarget 2009 Media Consumption Report.