Research Demonstrates Content Plays Key Role in Accelerating Sales through Lead Nurturing

IDG Enterprise’s 2012 Customer Engagement Research Details the Role Content Plays in the Technology Purchase Process and what Customers Expect from Vendors

Framingham, Mass. – September 25, 2012IDG Enterprise—the media company comprising Computerworld, InfoWorld, Network World, CIO, DEMO, CSO, CIO Executive Council, ITworld and CFOworld—releases the results from the 2012 Customer Engagement research, examining the role content consumption plays with IT decision-makers (ITDM) at each stage of the IT purchase process, the content type and quantity that is best received during the lead nurturing process  and the impact mobile and social have on content consumption.

The research completed by more than 1,000 IT and security respondents from a range of industries, reveals the top resources that ITDM use as they progress through the purchase process. These tools—including articles, how-to videos, product reviews, ROI tools and more (see infographic)—are relied on as informational resources to assist in the decision-making process. On average, ITDM download nine assets during the purchase process.

“Technology is transforming how businesses operate– from big data, mobility, BYOD, cloud, social and beyond– and IT decision-makers are responsible for selecting ever more complex solutions and partners to meet business needs” said Bob Melk, SVP, group publisher & CMO, IDG Enterprise. “This research validates that IT decision-makers require a variety of content prior to making a purchase. Tech marketers need to build an extensive library to facilitate ongoing discussions and stay top-of-mind through each stage of the purchase process. This is an area marketers struggle to develop and maintain in a rapidly transforming marketplace. Content services, like those provided by IDG Enterprise’s Custom Solutions Group, enable marketers with the ability to grow their library and include a trusted, third-party voice, reducing perceived vendor bias.”

Content is Key in Lead Nurturing Programs

ITDM thirst for unbiased, relevant content as they investigate new products and solutions for their organization. This opens the door for tech solution providers to not only share their thought leadership, but to build a continuous relationship with ITDM throughout the purchase process with a variety of assets. Ongoing communication with a prospect after they have engaged with a vendor’s asset/content – lead nurturing – does not happen overnight. After an initial asset is downloaded, enterprise ITDM appreciate receiving an additional two pieces of related content within four weeks. Typically, ITDM consume five pieces of content prior to being ready to speak with a sales representative and they typically consume eight pieces of content, created by, or on behalf of the solution provider/partner they eventually select. The best time for solution providers to contact ITDM is within 6 days of them downloading and consuming their desired amount of content.

“This research also captures a significant gap in the communications that ITDM expect to have with solution providers throughout the purchase process and what those providers deliver,” said Melk. “Marketing and sales need to collaborate more effectively throughout the lead scoring process and to the point of ‘sales readiness’ to ensure leads are contacted within an average of just six days after the appropriate level of content has been consumed.  Only through this partnership will leads effectively convert to sales.”

Enhance Search with Data Services

During online searches for content the majority of ITDM prefer to click on organic search results (68%) compared to 5% that prefer paid search results. Additionally, familiarity of a source not only increases the likelihood of a tech buyer clicking on a link (83%), it also increases the trust tech buyers have in the information they read online (73%).

The majority of ITDM are aware of marketers’ efforts to reach them through data services techniques,   but their level of appreciation varies.  The research shows that 45% of respondents notice and appreciate content delivered related to their search history, while 35% notice but do not appreciate this tactic. Conversely, 39% notice and appreciate content delivered related to previous downloads, while 40% of respondents report that they notice, but do not appreciate that service.  Only 20% of respondents said that they do not notice when content is delivered relating to search or previous downloads. Research results also indicate that IT heads are more receptive to this practice than non-heads of IT.

ITDM Embrace Mobile and Social

Beyond creating trusted, relevant content, tech marketers need to produce content that is viewable and interactive on mobile devices. Currently, the majority of ITDM (87%) report impediments to viewing and accessing information for purchase on mobile devices, including: user interface not optimized for a mobile device (49%), difficulty typing (34%) and security concerns (33%).

While ITDM are most likely to use email (86%) to share content/assets they read and download, they also access social/business networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Three-quarters (73%) of respondents have engaged with a technology vendor using social media or business networking sites.

Key findings include:

  • Specific types of content are used strategically throughout the IT purchase process.
  • ITDM download an average of nine informational assets throughout the purchase process.
  • ITDM prefer to be contacted within 6 days of downloading and consuming their desired amount of content.
  • How-to videos are in the top 3 video resources used in the majority of purchase process stages.
  • Lead nurturing is key to the sales process, but leads are only receptive to a certain level of related content over a relatively short period of time. One-third (34%) of respondents indicate they are ready to be contacted by a sales person after consuming two to four pieces of content.
  • Despite a strong need for quality content, trusted information is hard to come by due to perceived vendor bias. Partnering with a trustworthy source to produce content can help offset this perception.
  • IT decision-makers use social media to discover, share and discuss tech information.
  • Social networks also encourage and improve vendor relations. Three-quarters (73%) of respondents are engaging with technology vendors on social media and/or business networking sites.

To receive the complete study results contact Bob Melk at bmelk@idgenterprise.com.

About the IDG Customer Engagement Research
IDG Enterprise’s 2012 Customer Engagement research was conducted online among the audiences of six IDG Enterprise brands – CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World– via online and email invitations, between April 9, 2012, and May 18, 2012 with the goal of gaining a better understanding of the role content consumption plays in the technology purchase process. All respondents are involved in at least one of the following steps in the purchase process of IT or security products and services: evaluation, recommending/selecting vendors, determining requirements, determining the business need, approval/authorization, or selling internally.

About IDG Enterprise
IDG Enterprise, an International Data Group (IDG) company, brings together the leading editorial brands (CIO, Computerworld, CSO, DEMO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World) to serve the information needs of our technology and security-focused audiences.  As the premier hi-tech B2B media company, we serve our reader and advertiser audiences by delivering award-winning content, community, conversation, and conversion solutions across our entire portfolio of award-winning websites, events, magazines, products and services. In addition, the CIO Executive Council is a peer advisory service that delivers on the business, technology, and leadership needs for the world’s elite CIOs and their respective staffs.

Company information is available at www.idgenterprise.com.

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Contact:
Lynn Holmlund
Marketing & PR Manager
IDG Enterprise
lholmlund@idgenterprise.com
Office: 508.935.4526
Mobile: 508.254.8336

Download our free white paper, “Connecting the Dots Between Content and Sales” to learn more about the role of content in the IT purchase process.