IDG’s 2018 Customer Engagement Survey Explores Content Preferences and Connecting with Sales During the Purchase Process
IDG Communications, Inc. the world’s leading tech media, data, and marketing services company explores the role of content consumption and sales enablement during the technology purchase process in the 2018 Customer Engagement research. The majority of organizations (93%) have digital business plans, with most finding themselves in the exploratory phase, making tech investments a key priority. Unfortunately, technology vendors are often missing the mark in their content development; only 40% of content downloaded by IT decision-makers (ITDMs) is considered valuable.
Content: Keep ITDMs Engaged or Lose Them
Over the past six months, 92% of ITDMs have registered for tech content, and insights on security, cloud and IT services have topped the list in their searches. With a remarkable amount of content available, 93% of ITDMs prefer content that is tailored for them: 54% would like the content tailored based on their industry; and 49% by tech platforms already installed in their organization. When content is considered valuable, additional steps in self-education are taken, including research on technology content sites (64%), visiting the vendor website (63%), and participating in a product demo (50%).
While content can introduce prospects to a company or product, and lead them through the purchase process, it can also cause them to abandon their research of a specific vendor. Key factors leading to abandonment issues include, promotional/self-serving content (51%); not enough content available to do research on their own (48%); content is not clear (47%); too many requirements to download (44%); and level of expertise in content is not at the right level (42%).
“Content and educational tools can both positively and negatively impact the likelihood of a sale,” said Julie Ekstrom, SVP, IDG Communications, Inc. “Vendors need to invest in content that navigates tech decision-makers through the purchase process. If they do not, they risk negatively impacting the impression of their organization for three-quarters of decision-makers.”
Content Distribution: Audio, Video, Social
ITDMs still rely on traditional content formats like product demos/literature, product tests and reviews, and tech news, but as more ITDMs are watching webcasts (96%) and listening to podcasts (74%), it increases the importance of a multi-channel content approach. Not all webcasts are valued the same, as 51% of ITDMs prefer webcasts on-demand, aligning to their busy and changing schedules. Additionally, 60% of ITDMs prefer to download podcasts to listen to later. To keep them hooked, podcast producers should consider interactive formats such as panel discussions or interviews.
Social media continues to be a channel ITDMs use to learn about tech topics, with 93% of tech professionals using social media for work. LinkedIn continues to hold the top ranking; however, YouTube has shown significant growth with 67% of ITDMs using this channel, compared to 46% in 2017. LinkedIn and YouTube are not just the top used social channels, they are the social channels where content is most often consumed. However, when it comes to sharing and posting content, LinkedIn and Facebook rank the highest.
Earning the Sale: Marketing / Sales Alignment & Emerging Vendors
On average, five companies are included for initial research during the tech purchase process and only three make it to the shortlist for further consideration. Overall, 80% of ITDMs shared that when a brand is known and trusted it increases the likelihood of being added to the shortlist. However, new and emerging vendors are not excluded, as 27% of ITDMs are open to being one of the first clients for an emerging vendor. SaaS solutions and web apps are the categories that ITDMs are most comfortable trying out.
Once marketing-generated content gets noticed and read, responsibility for engagement is passed to sales. Eighty-nine percent of ITDMs shared that after downloading content, contact with a knowledgeable sales person, able to answer questions promptly, impacts the likelihood of a sale, which is up from 68% in 2016. So, when should this conversation take place? Sales should give ITDMs six days after content is downloaded before they follow up, because it often takes 2.75 days for content to be consumed once downloaded. This outreach should be via email and never text. However, if an ITDM completes a “contact us” form, sales should reach out in less than 17.21 hours, because 31% of ITDMs say that the first to respond usually gets the business.