Rethinking the Tech Buyer’s Journey: Live Insights with Kelly Kyer

March 10, 2016

Rethinking the Tech Buyer's Journey

Savvy technology marketers know that today’s path to purchase is a content-driven voyage governed by the winds of elongated sales cycles, evolving user needs, and sophisticated stakeholders. But let’s face it, if you’re not making informed, data-driven decisions as you target, engage and activate customers — you may as well be swimming with the sharks!

Here at LinkedIn, we love leveraging data-driven insights to help marketers learn more about their audience and drive their business forward. So this week, Kelly Kyer, LinkedIn’s global technology vertical marketing lead, had the unique pleasure of hosting Rethink the Tech Buyer’s Journey, a webcast exploring, and answering, a few of tech marketing’s toughest questions. Specifically, Kyer chatted with attendees about:

  • The ever-evolving tech buyer’s journey
  • Today’s most effective content strategies
  • Audience targeting best practices

The slides from the session are featured below, but stick with us as we take you through a few actionable highlights from our tech committee research and questions posed by Tuesday’s live audience.

Today’s IT Committee: How has it changed? Who’s in it? Why does it matter?

In the not-so-distant past, the buying committee consisted primarily of IT decision makers with varying titles and functions. They also held the budget, influence and authority to make technology decisions for multiple departments within an organization. However, now technology investments are part of every department's operating budget as technology drives more parts of the enterprise. As a result the buying committee has fundamentally changed. Today, 78% of stakeholders outside the IT department — and across the entire business (think marketing, sales, finance, operations and human resources) — have influence over a various technology investments. That’s a lot of purchase power!

Our Modern Tech Buying Landscape: A lengthy journey, but well worth the trip

To succeed in tech marketing, one must provide pertinent, personalized content to both prospects and existing customers throughout the entire technology lifecycle. This is because buyers are constantly seeking information to inform, validate, or influence their decisions, even after they’ve selected and/or proceeded with a vendor. This was reinforced by our research, which found that tech marketers too often neglect customers post-sale, during which the appetite for education and expertise remains strong. So, have the courage to invest in uncharted new content territories that oftentimes matter most to your buying committee. After all, your job is to help them prove ROI and boost business outcome. It’s no easy task, but will pay off in dividends, reduce churn, build advocacy, and ensure you have happy, returning customers.  

Your Tech Marketing Content Strategy:  Always-on wins the race

With 4+ functional groups involved in each of the six technology buying stages (defined by Forrester as: 1) Identify needs 2) Spec/fund 3) Vendor selection 4) Implementation 5) Management 6) Renewal), it’s no mystery that content is consumed by multiple decision makers throughout the buying journey. So, to increase the chance of new vendors making the short list, a strong content game is mission critical. You must feed tech buyers with ongoing, relevant content and think ahead, specifically employing a few best practices, such as:

  • Aligning with sales early and often
  • Curating and creating helpful and meaningful post-sale content
  • Investing in educational resources and customer learning programs
  • Conducting customer research and developing focus groups
  • Broadening your targeting to include all possible functions that may play a role in the purchase path
  • Fostering brand advocacy and buying committee unity

Community Chat: Top picks from our live Q&A

Q: What resources would you recommend to help me take action?

A: Our latest research, Beneath the Surface: Today’s Empowered Tech Buying Process provides a comprehensive, global analysis of the technology buying committee and their content consumption. However, when it comes to content strategy, you can’t beat The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing — fresh off the press and filled with tactical tips and actionable best practices!

Q: I only deal with longer customer lifecycles. Do I still need to be always on?

Yes! While the distance between buying stages may fluctuate, the iterations and variety of content should not. And if you and your clients/prospects are in it for the long haul, lucky you! Seize this opportunity to provide value and prove you know and understand their business and its challenges. And we can’t emphasize enough, don’t neglect post-sale content! This is the time to build advocacy and lock-in long term success.

Q:  How do you create content that leverages influencers but speaks to decision makers?

By principle, any content that touches the decision maker should help arm them with information to have elevated, meaningful discussions up the food chain. Decision makers, particularly those tasked with doing the research on your product, will broker deals internally. So you’d like them to be advocates, rather than detractors. Regarding influencer content, always seek out new ways to enlist the support of influencers and get them talking about topics that are in alignment with your organization — either through a targeted strategy or by connecting dots and sharing inspiring content with like-minded people.

Q: How might content strategies differ between small and enterprise level businesses?

Typically we see two dynamics occur as it applies to content development strategy across varying sizes of business. Smaller companies (SMBs, startups) tend to be more agile. They can execute their content strategy quickly, due in part to less bureaucracy. However, they oftentimes struggle when it comes to scaling, and this is can be a hurdle to successfully become always on.

Alternatively, enterprise level companies oftentimes have the budget and resources to create a content engine, but face difficulty breaking through institutional silos. One remedy to this is creating a content center of excellence, one that pulls in efforts across the organization (ie. PR, Demand Gen, etc.) and cultivates a joint strategy. Once that plan is in place, you’ll be in better equipped to make an ask to activate always on. And don’t forget about metrics and measuring! You’ll want to keep those handy to demonstrate ROI and effectiveness.

The full recording of our Rethink the Tech Buyer’s Journey webcast can be viewed on-demand.

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