IT buyers say they’re contacted by marketers and sales reps more than 20 times per week on average, new research from Spiceworks has found. With that in mind, it’s important to find out where this hard-to-reach group goes for information and what they value from vendors.
How to Reach and Pitch IT Buyers
The survey – fielded among 535 IT professionals in the US and UK who influence tech purchase decisions – reveals that virtually all (97%) use online forums and communities to learn about new tech products.
Other popular channels used by a majority include tech news sites (79%), Google (77%), word-of-mouth (73%) and vendor websites (67%).
Fewer turn to conferences/tradeshows (43%), emails from sales reps (24%) and social media (23%) when searching for information, per the report.
That said, marketers should favor email over some of those channels when pitching IT buyers. Indeed, whereas 57% want to be contacted by email when being pitched, fewer than half as many (26%) want to be pitched on online forums or communities.
Phone (8%) and social media (4%) are even less favored.
Overall, despite the number of pitches they say they’re fielding on a weekly basis (mostly via email rather than phone), only about one-third (36%) said they’re not comfortable being pitched on any of the identified channels, preferring only to seek out information themselves when needed.
Meanwhile, IT buyers are most apt to respond to pitches from tech marketers and sales reps when those are made via email, according to the results. Three in 10 claimed to respond to emails at least frequently, with another 36% doing so occasionally.
And despite fewer liking being pitched in forums and communities, a majority said they respond to those engagements at least occasionally.
What Kind of Pitch Works Best?
When asked what fuels a respond to a new marketer or sales rep, IT buyers were most apt to point to a relevant product/service (77%).
Marketers shouldn’t rely on the strength of their brand, per the report. Just one-quarter of IT buyers said that a recognizable brand drives them to respond. But brand recognition could have some impact: separate research from Merkle has found that personal familiarity with brands positively impacts B2B buyers’ business decisions. And just 12% of IT buyers surveyed by Spiceworks said they’d be likely to respond to sales/marketing outreach had they never heard of the vendor.
Other information contained in pitches that work well with IT buyers include detailed pricing information and detailed product specs.
Prior research from IDG Enterprise and Arketi Group likewise has found that product literature is favored by IT decision-makers when evaluating products and services and choosing vendors.
In sorting the responses by generation, Spiceworks found that Millennials generally value detailed pricing information, a recognizable brand, and a personalized message at a greater rate than do Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. The older generations, by contrast, are more apt to favor a timely solution to a challenge.
What Drives – and Inhibits – Brand Loyalty?
There are a number of important factors that IT buyers take into account when considering their brand loyalty, per the study.
Almost all of the respondents said that great customer support (97%), consistently fair pricing (96%) and a history of reliable products and services (96%) are important factors.
Many likewise consider access to technical experts at a company (91%) to be important, as well as innovative products/services (83%) and company transparency (80%).
And in a win for those content marketers out there, 86% said that access to informative content is an important factor driving brand loyalty.
It’s interest to compare brand loyalty motivators and detractors. While two-thirds said that the quality and frequency of communication is a brand loyalty driver, 85% likewise said that too many sales/marketing calls and emails deter brand loyalty. That suggests that marketers have a fine line to walk between keeping up communications and overdoing them.
Similarly, while 83% value innovative products and services, a majority (59%) are deterred by a lack of innovation.
The biggest lever, though, is customer support. While great customer support is the most important driver of brand loyalty, a poor support experience will deter the largest (94%) share of buyers.
The full results can be accessed here.
About the Data: Spiceworks describes its methodology as follows:
“The Spiceworks survey was conducted in November 2017 and included 535 IT professionals across the United States and the United Kingdom who influence the technology purchase decisions at their organizations. Respondents are among the millions of IT professionals in Spiceworks and represent a variety of company sizes, including small- to-medium-sized businesses and enterprises. Respondents also come from a variety of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, nonprofits, education, retail, government, and finance. The generational data includes Millennials born 1981 to 1997, Generation X born 1965 to 1980, and Baby Boomers born 1946 to 1964.”