While few tech executives doubt the value of marketing and public relations, research from IDG really underscores the value of content in the sales cycle.
IDG’s “2020 Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker Study” explores “the influence that IT decision-makers (ITDMs) play in this changing landscape, as well as how the IT purchase process has changed due to the pandemic. In addition, IDG “looks at the types of tech purchases organizations plan to make, who is involved in each stage of the process, and the information sources relied upon in order to make the final purchase decision.”
Overall, the report concludes that IT is still generally in charge of purchasing decisions and that influencers – typically line of business managers and technical specialists – play a big role in terms of swaying what gets final sign-off and funding. In addition, IDG notes that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation initiatives and that – as we all know – almost everything that can “go virtual” has moved rapidly online in the last year, as physical sales have moved to e-commerce and in-person interactions have gone virtual, including sales meetings.
Which is precisely where content comes in. While it is no surprise that IT still holds the purse strings and that key influencers sway decisions, the “new news” is that content has an increasingly important role in the decision-making process. Not only does IDG’s report highlight the use of content in the sales journey, but it also illustrates just how much more impactful it has been in the era of pandemic-induced social distancing.
For example, ITDMs report that the top three sources for keeping “up to date with technology” are tech content sites, white papers and webcasts/webinars and that business content sites were the number two source to determine the business need for new solutions. These are all venues where both owned and earned content is important to visibility and are an obvious place for investment by technology vendors. In addition, the report points out that the average number of content assets downloaded in the purchase journey is between five and six and that content consumption is trending upward as 41% of ITDMs report an increase in content consumption.
At some point in the near future, the tech industry will likely get back to in-person sales calls, trade shows and customer events, or we’ll migrate to some sort of hybrid model. Until then, the vast majority of marketing will remain online. Not only will paid and owned channels like press releases, social content, blog posts, webinars, ads, and collateral, including white papers, continue to feed into the sales cycle, the role of earned media content, ranging from media coverage and industry-focused executive bylines to op-eds and case studies, will serve as important buying validation for external audiences.
What this means for technology vendors is that a meaningful need exists to produce more, and more diverse, content, ensuring that audiences are well-served. IDG states that “73% of tech decision-makers say that if a vendor does not supply them with educational content during the research stage, it negatively impacts their impression.” A full pipeline of owned and earned content is therefore essential to building customer trust as part of the sales journey, as 56% of ITDMs say that “properly sourced case studies/testimonials” increase trust in online information, and 31% say that news/event coverage by a “variety of media organizations” increases vendor trust.
This need to make a positive impression and to have a broad range of content available for consumption should impact the thinking of tech marketers who are weighing the value of investing in content as part of their PR programs and when evaluating content programs as a segment of their overall marketing mix.
At Bospar, we have always believed that a robust content strategy is critical for go-to-market success – not only for use by PR but for use across the broader organization. That’s why we have a portfolio of proven techniques designed to maximize the value of each piece of content that we create, enabling us to help each client achieve efficiencies and economies of scale with content and to increase content ROI and impact.