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5 Key Trends in IT Buying Behaviour

With buyers pressed to move faster, IT vendors have had to accelerate campaigns across all stages of branding, lead generation and social media, or so research conducted by Tech Target would have us believe. At their conference entitled, Online ROI Summit, held in London on May 22nd, 2012, Tech Target, the owners of Computer Weekly, lined up an impressive set of speakers from HP, Kaseya and Dell to share examples of how companies were successfully integrating and converging marketing for bigger, better results. They also shared results from a global survey of IT buyers fielded from June 2011 and completed by in excess of 4000 survey respondents.

 Here are some key takeaways that technology marketers will find useful to consider:1) The buying cycle has accelerated from 6 - 9 months to 3 - 6 months: Faster time to market and competitive dynamics are largely to blame. It's never been more important for vendors to improve outreach by combining media efforts and converge lead generation, events, content syndication, branding efforts and social to get buyers to your website. Once they get there, it's imperative the site makes it easy for them to know 'where to go' and 'what to do.' Is your 'welcome' and 'try this' clear to an IT visitor?
2) Specialists are the marketing target you should be planning for: 50% of IT targets call themselves specialists, the research reveals. IT vendors need to provide specialists with a full chain of content to move them along the sales cycle and shouldn't shy away from deeper technical content. SMB targets are more likely to be generalists, with less experience. IT managers deserve a separate stream of marketing focused on cost-savings and business benefits. 3) Single buyer scenarios are rare, especially at large companies: IT vendors focussing outreach on IT Directors or IT Managers are likely to loose out to the competition spreading their net wider to reach broader job titles as typical IT buying teams consist of between 2 - 4 persons. Majority of buying teams have more than one buying project active in a quarter and vendors offering larger product lines and with the best ability to cross-sell or solve the 'whole pain point' are likely to achieve competitive advantage. 4) Like it or not social has got to be a key part of your marketing mix: According to research results, more than 50% of buyers said they will be responsive to vendor solicitation on online platforms, provided the messaging is relevant. More than 90% of buyers visit a vendor website after seeing an advertisement for a product or solution. Once they get there, it's important that vendors are able to continue the digital conversation that got them there. One of the first things a buyer will do is check out the social scene to see what peers are saying about a particular vendor. This is where 'influencer' based marketing becomes important. Of all the social platforms available, Linkedin is the only one playing a significant role while online user communities, forums, industry blogs and Q&A sites remain important 'purchase' influencing platforms. 5) Don't treat social media marketing as an extension of your lead generation efforts: Marketing teams often treat social media marketing as a pilot project and consequently don't build in enought time and resource to allow it to succeed. If you're considering it, be realistic is planning for resources. Create a plan for content assets that will be used in social engagements and be prepared for follow-up with inbound activity. Consider launching a social sales team, staffed with 'socially aware' people - not the typical 'sales guy' profile - actively build their social profiles. Consider the global challenge - are you staffed and organised to respond to social leads from key geos?  Click here to go to the Tech Target site and download a full copy of their Media Consumption Report. Good read for those of us advising technology vendors on competing for market share.