How IT Buyers Search Online During the Purchase Process

Content is King Back in May I was fortunate to attend a presentation by Google and TechTarget revealing new research on the use and interactions between online media and search during the IT purchase process.  The research was titled, “How IT Buyers Search Online During the Purchase Process”.

Whilst the phrase, “Content is King”, has been bandied about ad nauseum, the research identified that having great content isn’t sufficient in and off itself in today’s digital world.  You need to ensure that you have:

1. The right content – be that subject matter or medium (e.g. video, podcast, white paper, etc.)

2. For the right stage of the buying cycle.

3. Distributed in the right place.

Let me explore each of these in more detail.

1. The right content

Companies need to ensure that there’s a full arsenal of assets tied into relevant keywords.    Particularly with the rising importance of SEO, substantive, unique content is imperative for ranking highly in organic search, as stressed by Rand Fishkin in the recent Inbound Marketing University lecture series (being re-run in August for those that missed it).  And thus we see the increasing focus on blogging as it’s a fantastic way of generating lot’s of unique content and additional pages, all of which can help your SEO strategy.

In terms of video content, 69% if the research participants used online video to research technology solutions with no clear standout winner between YouTube (23%), vendor websites (21%) and Technology Content Sites (18%).  Therefore marketers need to ensure that content is distributed where buyers are looking – it’s about DISTRIBUTION, not destination.

And the consumption rate for videos is high, with a 90% consumption rate of editorial videos on publisher sites, and 70% on vendor sites.  Whilst this proves that they survey sample do watch videos, the optimum length was given as 10-19 minutes for conference presentations, and 3-5 minutes for demo showcases.

In terms of search activity, there were virtually no searches for content type – e.g. white papers, video, etc.  So whilst people do interact with a variety of different assets, people are searching for information on the technology issue/product.

2. For the right stage of the buying cycle.

Google/TechTarget Research Project: How IT Buyers Search Online During the Purchase Process

Google/TechTarget Research Project: How IT Buyers Search Online During the Purchase Process

The diagram above was termed, “the notion of the ‘hyper-active’ lead”.  It illustrates thousands of IT buyers, all searching for content specific to their buying stage, job title and needs.  As IT marketers, we need to ensure that we create content mapped to these stages and distribute these assets where our customers are searching for them.

3. Distributed in the right place.

A lovely way of summing this up I heard in a recent workshop was “Demand Interception”.  Search has moved the goal posts – this is no longer purely about trying to generate demand, the demand exists.  It’s about placing your content where your audience is already looking.  And this is where listening tools and knowing your target audience are essential.

For anyone interested in reading this reserach report in more detail, it’s available courtesy of B2B Marketing Online.  In addition, Richard Robinson of Google is presenting the findings in a webcast tomorrow – July 2, 2009 at 15:30 BST.

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