Last week our team was the first US agency to see the results of the 2016 IDG Enterprise Customer Engagement study, which looked at the purchase process preferences for over 1,000 IT decision makers. As you can imagine to a tech agency (and our marketer clients) who want to know how, when and where to get their message in front of a purchaser, this data is golden.
Now, much of the data confirms existing assumptions – thank goodness for some stability in this – but there’s enough new data and subtle changes to make everyone sit up and challenge their own preconceptions.
Misconception #1: Most IT decision makers never fill out registration forms
One vendor recently told me “75% of IT pros never fill out a reg form”…OK then….I guess that means we’re all chasing the same half dozen idiots who do?
Even discounting this rather absurd statement, many industry veterans assume anyone higher than an IT manager will rarely provide their details in exchange for a piece of content. That unpleasant task is instead farmed out to lower-level colleagues who then bring the summarized information to their boss.
However, according to the survey results, that notion is just plain wrong. Complete garbage, actually. IDGE found that, 79% percent of IT decision makers said they have registered to receive tech-related information in the last 6 months (and the survey audience profile actually skewed heavily towards senior IT titles).
This basically flies in the face of everything we have been told about the habits of this ever illusive and highly coveted senior IT audience. And begs the question, if ITDMs are willing to provide their details in exchange for content, are they more heavily involved in the initial vetting process for new products and solutions?
The answer is yes. As the IDGE data also confirms, the most senior IT professionals are getting more involved in the decision process and remain critical in the buying cycle – no 1 in determining need, no 3 in determining technical requirements, no 1 in approval and no 1 in selling the selected vendor internally to other executives. But yes their informational needs are different and so it’s time for businesses to take the hint and rethink their content strategies targeting these titles and other senior IT positions.
Misconception #2: Any user who registers with a personal email is a useless lead
We have heard it time and time again from clients, personal emails should be removed from lead data. But when you consider that 29% of IDGE survey respondents used a personal or secondary email address to register for content, it starts to look like the practice of scrubbing non-business emails is leaving potential nurture opportunities on the table.
Now there is a lot of debate on the value of non-business emails, many citing the fact that personal email accounts are either less maintained or downright useless for prospecting. Sure some “spam” catching accounts go unmaintained and yes the fact many vendor messages received on personal accounts get deleted immediately is undeniable, but to make a blanket assumption that any registration made with a personal email is unusable is just bad business. I know I check my secondary account every week and still open a small but important percentage of the nurture content I see in there (ultimately it’s about the content’s relevance to my needs, not where I see it)
Registration location is also important; people are more willing to provide valid details on a brands own website compared to a third-party site. The reasoning behind using a personal or fake email address to register for content may not be due to the fear of a brand following-up, but more out of fear that signups with third-parties may facilitate selling of that data. It’s a matter of trust!
Misconception #3: Users don’t register for content because they are afraid of a sales follow-up
Wrong. IDGE found that only 36% of IT decision makers are hesitant to download information for fear of unwanted sales follow-up. This is yet another stat that discredits the belief that higher level job titles don’t download content. Quite the contrary actually. If 36% are a little jumpy about a potential follow-up from sales, the remaining 64% are either not worried and/or more interested in getting the content.
Most importantly IDGE actually found that the number of IT decision makers worried about sales follow up has gone down consistently for the last three years, from 48% in 2013 to 42% in 2014 to a new low of 36%.
Personally I suspect that we are seeing the results of the drastic improvement in lead nurture technology which has in turn led to a significant reduction in unwanted and pre-emptive sales calls after content has been downloaded. Inbound lead scoring has helped. More importantly the ability of modern lead nurture solutions that have sophisticated capabilities, slot users into various nurture streams based on their activity level, meaning that downloading a single piece of content is generally not nearly enough to warrant a phone call.
The moral of the story? This study proves that registration forms and fear of sales aren’t the real culprit in deterring users in top positions from downloading content – it’s the content itself. If your content speaks to the unique challenges and business needs of this audience, they will register.
There were many more interesting results from the IDGE study and we highly recommend clients engage with them to run through it…something we can help arrange.
D I C K R E E D