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IT Decision Makers are People Too

- March 26, 2012 - 2 Comments

Sometimes as B2B technology marketers, we experience a little tunnel vision when it comes to our target audience. There’s a tendency to think that there is a hard line dividing business buyers from consumers; that the marketing methods we must use to reach our intended audience are so unique that they are unrelated to consumer marketing techniques and that practices from consumer-oriented marketing can’t possibly be applied to B2B buyers. As it turns out, IT decision makers have a lot in common with personal technology buyers when it comes to online behavior, media consumption and brand reception.    

Consider these similarities noted from a recent TechTarget report and their implications for marketing:

Researching Product & Solution Information Online

100% of both IT decision makers and personal technology buyers surveyed use the Internet for researching products and solutions.

 Both IT decision makers and personal technology buyers rely on independent, third-party sources for information that can be used to make more informed buying decisions. Specifically, they are gathering information from trusted review and evaluation sources, incorporating peer recommendations and insights from forums and social media sites, and self-educating to make their purchase decision.

 Both IT decision makers and personal buyers spend time in specific online communities with 93% of both audiences reading and contributing content. The difference is IT buyers prefer online technology specific communities e.g. IT Toolbox, IT  Knowledge Exchange etc. versus  general  social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn which are preferred by consumers. 

Marketing Considerations:  As marketers, we need to be sensitive to what kind of information our target audience wants, what format this information should take and where and when it should be served up.

Value Exchange – Content for Contact Info

Capturing leads is one of the most important goals of marketing. Some may argue it takes the number one slot.  One way we capture leads online is to ask the prospect for contact information in order for access to information and resources.  Under what circumstances are prospects more willing to share their contact information:

According to the Tech Target survey, IT buyers are more willing to share contact information when they are ready to purchase, if they are familiar with the vendor and if they believe they will receive quality information.

For  personal technology buyers, vendor familiarity and information quality are also the top drivers, but they are also more willing to share contact information in social and product review environments.

Marketing Considerations:  We need to evaluate what content should be gated with a registration form and what content should have open access. If familiarity is one of the factors that influences whether a prospect provides their contact information or not, it makes sense that we would have a good amount of content that is open. This goes beyond a typical corporate web site into thought leadership level content, vendor comparisons, success stories, etc. that can be promoted through social networks and technology forums. Establishing a protocol for what content sits behind a registration form can help focus your marketing and ensure you’re providing value to prospects and capturing them when they are ready to make a purchase.

 The Influence of Online Advertising

Since 100% of our prospects are doing research online as part of their consideration cycle, online advertising, retargeting and remarketing are common strategies to generate awareness. The question is when are viewers more likely to pay attention to these ads? 

Both IT decision makers and consumers are influenced by online advertising in all cycles of the buying process. However, this influence is concentrated more during the awareness and consideration stages, so at the top and mid-point of the funnel. 

More importantly, the degree of influence is heavily dependent upon the relevance of the advertisement to the content that the prospect is currently viewing.  If your ad relevance is high, nearly 90% of both IT buyers and consumers would be more likely to further research your brand.

Marketing Considerations:  Online advertising can be strong driver of web traffic as long as your placement of the ad is purposely done to ensure that what you’re promoting is relevant to the content the person is viewing now.  Carefully consider where your ads are appearing to garner more clicks.

People are people. It stands to reason that some of the marketing approaches for consumer can be applied to B2B technology markets. Slight adjustments may be required, but essentially the techniques and levers remain the same.

Learn more about the similarities and differences by downloading the TechTarget report (registration is required)


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  1. Good post Ruth - thanks for distilling this info (so we can avoid their gate!). I'm going to share with my team. The conclusions are consistent with a digital habits survey we send to our customers a year back.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I completely agree with this viewpoint- at times one would go overboard with one's marketing campaign and bracket IT Decision makers as special beings with specific non-human traits.