Recently I wrote about “Using Buyer Personas to Develop Content Marketing Strategy” and I discussed the role of decision makers and influencers. In December the IT Service Marketing Association released a great study on “How Buyers Consume Information Survey” and highlighted a third group involved in making purchase decisions within organizations; Evaluators. Evaluators are research focused individuals who are vetting potential partners and putting together the short list of final candidates for decisions makers. This study surveyed 299 professionals with the breakdown being 13% Influencer, 19% Evaluator, and 67% Decision Maker who make IT purchases greater than $500,000.
In my previous article I raised the question of “do you know how your target customers are searching for information?” The ITSMA survey answers some of those questions for IT buyers and points out some very interesting trends. The survey groups buyers into two separate categories based on their behaviors:
Social Buyer: Someone who uses online communities to make purchase decisions
Traditional Buyer: Someone who feels online communities are not as useful to make purchase decisions
The study separated the two groups by the question “How useful are social media channels during the purchase process from 1 – 5” (1 being not at all useful and 5 being very useful). Participants rating from 1 to 3 were grouped as traditional buyers while those noting 4 or 5 were grouped in the Social Buyer Category. I think the traditional category is skewed somewhat as 28% of respondents (the highest total for one rating) gave social media a 3 as far as importance. Even with the smaller sample size I believe the study gives marketers a good idea of how buyers are consuming information.
The first difference between the two types of buyers is that Social Buyers spend 6.5 hours per week consuming content while Traditional Buyers spend only 4.3 hours or 34% less time-consuming content. There was also a significant difference in the way that the two buyer types preferred to receive information:
Social Buyers: Research Reports, Social Media, Email Newsletters, In-Person Seminars/Conferences/ Trade Shows, Print Journals/Magazines
Traditional Buyers: In-Person Seminars/Conferences/Trade Shows, Research Reports, Virtual Conferences/Trade Shows, Webinars, Sales Call/Private Briefing
Just looking at these few factors alone we can see how you may want to start tailoring your inbound and outbound marketing strategies to meet audience interests. In this study there were slightly more traditional buyers than there were social buyers but I think that trend will shift as time goes on. It would be really interesting to see how type of buyer shifts across industries. Looking at the results we see some overlap in content that both types of buyers are using such as In-Person Seminars/Conferences/ Trade Shows as well as Research reports. I would use this information to build my marketing strategy in these two areas and build out to include integration of content that can be distributed across the differing channels. Hopefully this helps you better see how building customer personas can help you develop a targeted content strategy.