New Research Gives Tech Marketers an Edge (and a Bridge)

September 25, 2013

If you’re an IT marketer, it probably comes as no surprise to learn that B2B tech buyers are rather scarce.  Currently, just 15 million technology decision makers in the United States are influencing $820 billion corporate dollars. But the reality is, the buying process is only growing in complexity as product and budget decisions are distributed to an “IT Committee” – a group made up of stakeholders from departments like IT, Finance and Marketing.  The diversity and educational requirements of this committee requires you to do a lot more to capture the attention of your prospects.

The technology sector is an important one for us here at LinkedIn.  We have more than 238 million members globally leveraging our platform to educate themselves about new technologies and discussing trends with peers and experts. As a result, a lot of tech companies utilize our platform to provide insights and participate in conversations with their clients and prospects.

We want to give tech marketers an edge when it comes to successfully connecting with their audiences, so we commissioned a study called The Social Bridge to the IT Committee, available today.  This research serves as a resource for IT marketers who want to understand the evolving needs of the IT Committee, leverage content marketing and social media to build customer relationships, and achieve near-term business results while building for the long-term.  It was conducted in conjunction with comScore, Starcom MediaVest Group and Mashwork.

The IT Committee are spending a tremendous amount of time on social media, with a staggering 95% using it monthly to access information specific to their business.  What’s more critical is that they have greatly increased their usage to drive and validate the entire IT purchasing process.  If you aren’t in these conversations, you could be left on the sidelines.

When the time comes to pull the purchase trigger, our study found that decision makers select a vendor from a very shortlist – 3 companies make the average short list, in fact.  Furthermore, there is a 92% chance the final choice was one of the top three.  If you’re an IT marketer, you have every incentive to make social media a priority in order to get on the IT Committee’s radar.  It is here that decision makers are discussing ideas/projects with peers, seeking expert advice, and building trusted relationships – all before any mention of a vendor or asking to be contacted. Here’s a sampling of what else we learned through The Social Bridge to the IT Committee:

Participate, don't dictate
• Receiving "a lot of marketing materials" is the #1 reason the IT Committee would not connect with a vendor on social media
• 76% say they are ready for a conversation with a vendor on social media

Reach beyond the IT department and the executive level
• 43% of the IT Committee work outside of the IT department
• 50% are individual contributors or managers

Context matters in B2B
• The IT Committee trust LinkedIn more than other websites to receive information relevant to their IT decisions
• Buyers are more than 50% more likely to engage with their vendors on LinkedIn than on other social networks

How is the IT Committee asking for help and how are brands taking action? Content is playing a big role in social media, especially in how the tech buyers are using the medium.  In a world where editors are being augmented by an individual’s network, marketers need to invest meaningful time to engage buyers where they are, where they learn, and where they go to make their decisions. This requires a solid content strategy rooted in sharing relevant information that will not only establish category expertise, but it could also establish long-term relationships that turn prospects into clients.

According to the study, members of the IT Committee are turning to LinkedIn to connect, talk and get information for their purchases.  As the de facto social network for professionals, LinkedIn is a more appropriate place than other social networks for buyers to connect with vendors, discuss purchases and get relevant information.  In fact, tech buyers produce twice as many status updates, have three times the connections and follow 4X times more tech companies than other LinkedIn members.

This is simply a glimpse into The Social Bridge to the IT Committee study, but we will be presenting the full research at LinkedIn’s TechConnect:13 event, which you can stream live on September 26th starting at 10:15 am PST.  We welcome you to join us by registering here: LinkedIn’s TechConnect:13.