IT purchase outlays are huge and IT decision makers carefully scan the buying environment for the best opportunities available before they take a purchase decision. They study, they compare, they discuss and debate. They have non-tech colleagues whose opinion matters so they need information which is LinkedIn jargon free and customer focused. If your brand isn’t playing in this space and if the brand information isn’t clear, sharp and relevant then you might not make it into the consideration set.
A recent research commissioned by LinkedIn, shows that IT buyers are 60 percent through the decision-making journey before they make contact with brands because they turn to social media to educate themselves and validate information with their peers. Being present in the right social media channel allows you to speak directly to those who want to hear from you in a cost effective well- targeted way that helps you break through the clutter. Our investigation shows that IT purchase decisions are frequently made by a cross functional IT Committee, comprising members of key departments, which is formed to provide inputs and help in the final choice of vendors, suppliers and brands. Clearly then reaching out only to IT specialists is not enough but that is what most marketers do.
Our report reveals a significant opportunity for marketers to rethink how they market to this important audience. There is a need to go beyond traditional networking because there is a marked increase in their reliance on social media to collect the critical information needed to make the correct buying decision.
Four key values have emerged in our research to underscore the criticality of social media, specifically LinkedIn, in the decision making process for IT purchases. These are Trust, Efficiency, Relevance and Access. Accurate and relevant knowledge that continues to be refreshed and made current, can be endorsed by peers and is easy to access, are benefits that a social media network such as LinkedIn can offer with great efficiency.
It appears that the process of building the implicit and explicit knowledge base for the best brand choices in IT happens not in a day or even a month, but over a long period of time during which incremental information bytes are accessed and retained. Peer discussion also plays an important role in this process. Trusted social networks enable peer validation of IT decisions on a large scale. This is how IT decision makers communicate, debate and decide on tech purchases. For brands in play, social media not only foster long-term relationships with their customers, they also serve short-term business needs through valuable lead generation.
More support for value of Social Media
Social networks influence two out of three IT Committee members involved at various stages of decision making like – Awareness, Scope, Planning, Selection and Implementation. Even more impressively, since 2012, the influence of social has increased at least 37 percent from an already large base.
As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn offers brands from across sectors the opportunity to stay in context and be more relevant to their target audience. Good content is key to this. What does relevant, engaging content look like?
IT Committees are interested in a wide range of topics. Senior decision makers are more likely to seek thought leadership content, junior team members tend to share and engage on practical tips and advice. These are some patterns we have seen emerge on LinkedIn.
To win leads in today’s social media world, marketers need a holistic content strategy that builds mutually beneficial relationships throughout the entire purchase journey. IT Committees who use LinkedIn consider it to be the most trusted social channel when compared to other websites, for engaging content, for making connections with vendors and to receive reliable information. LinkedIn data shows that establishing the right engagement channels via its platform also drives leads and face-to-face meetings.
IT buyers are more likely to have met with a vendor, attended a vendor webinar, or received a demo if they engaged with the vendor in two or more types of ways before the purchase.
LinkedIn also offers measuring tools like Net Promoter Score (NPS) – that enables the brand to measure the power of advocacy. LinkedIn data shows that when customers engaged with vendors on LinkedIn prior to purchase in more than two ways, there was a 25 point lift in NPS. Further LinkedIn Marketing Solutions also enables brands to target, publish and extend the reach of their campaigns by creating a contextually relevant ecosystem aimed at engaging the well educated and affluent member base on LinkedIn.
The implications for marketers are clear. Engaging content, delivered through channels from where IT Committees seek insights, is the currency that earns trust, advocacy and ultimately long-term opportunities.