My original intent this week was to do a post on the ROI of social media and how we have to change our perspective on what we measure. After all, how do you measure a conversation? But, I came across a recent Forbes|Insights report, “The Rise of the Digital C-Suite”, and thought this could provide insight on the growing importance of inbound marketing and social media. I’ll get to the ROI question in a future post. For now, read on and download the The Rise of the Digital C-Suitefor complete details.Here are the findings that really stuck out for me and my $0.02 on why marketers should care:• The Internet is the C-suite’s top information resource. Executives find it more valuable for locating business-related information than references from colleagues, personal networks, newspapers and magazines, TV and radio, and conferences and tradeshows. Importance for Marketing: Marketers need to fish where the fish are. If you are targeting C-level executives, VPs and directors, then you need make sure that not only is your content relevant to the C-level, but it’s easy for them to find you.• Contrary to popular belief, executives search for information themselves. More than half of the C-level respondents to the study said they prefer to locate information themselves. The immediate access to information means executives can make faster and more informed decisions. Importance for Marketing: You can reach critical decision-makers online, engage in conversation and cultivate relationships. Important relationships that can ultimately turn into sales. • Executives turn to mainstream search engines first. 60% of executives surveyed do more than six searches a day. Once they get started on a search, executives are willing to click around to locate the right information and will follow a path of links driven by search results, content, and advertising. Importance for Marketing:Search engine optimization is of critical importance. Getting found by the right audience is a big portion of the battle. Make sure your web site, blogs, landing pages and syndicated content is optimized.• Video and online networks are emerging as important C-suite tools. While text is still the preferred format for receiving information, streaming video, webcasts, and similar formats are increasing in prevalence. Similarly, executives are increasingly willing to network and seek advice through online communities, although personal contacts are still preferred. Importance for Marketing: Social media tools like YouTube, LinkedIn, specialized community forums can play an important role in your marketing. These tools make it easier for you, your company, product and or service to get found. As the way C-level executives search and evaluate information, social media will bean increasingly essential part of your marketing efforts. • Executives in IT are the most prevalent users of the Internet for information gathering. CIOs and other IT leaders are the most likely executives to conduct Web searches, use online communities to gather information and recommendations, seek out blogs and other Web 2.0 tools, or use online video over text. Importance for Marketing: For those of targeting IT decision-makers, the future is now. Clearly, if you are targeting the IT function you need to be leveraging social media to engage online. IT executives regularly use these tools to find information on technology trends, competitive analysis and corporate developments. • Executives under 40 are the most willing to engage with merging Internet technologies, including blogs, wikis, Twitter, mobile computing, and online social networks. Having come of professional age in the Internet era, these executives are fluent in web technologies. As they enter the C-level, they are likely to take collaboration and networking to new levels. Importance for Marketing: The future keeps coming. More and more executives are embracing the Internet and social media as a chief source for business information. Business information they use to make decisions. Our marketing efforts need to evolve to focus on providing relevant content, in the right places, so those seeking it can find it at the right time. Is your marketing evolving?