Lessons learned from the recent ComputerWeekly Media consumption study

The pandemic and resulting digital shift has had a profound impact not just on the way we go about our working day in business, but on our purchasing habits – and that’s as true for B2B buyers as it is for the masses of B2C buyers as they all rely more and more on their iPhones, tablets and other smart devices.

This is especially true for the Tech industry.

Lockdown pushed the need for tech solutions and fast-forwarded digital transformation in almost every business. As the demand for technology solutions has accelerated, the technology purchasing process has had to change to meet the fast-evolving business climate.

The tech market has become crowded and vendors struggle to get their message to the right people at the right time – vital to drive lead conversion.

Study shows vendors must use digital channels – or die

A recent ComputerWeekly media consumption study finds prospect place an increasing reliance on digital channels to find out information from tech vendors. The sales journey has truly gone digital.

Here an effective marketing strategy can set tech vendors apart – and a carefully planned and integrated PR strategy will help tech businesses come out swinging.

Meet and greet? A staggering 81% stay at a digital distance

Once a prospect has identified a need, they will begin the customer journey by searching for solutions and businesses that can supply them. This is a critical stage where businesses and their products are directly compared with one another, so it is important to make a good first impression!

However, rather than meeting with salespeople, skilled at their trade and highly sociable, prospects are increasingly looking online for information to inform purchases. ComputerWeekly found that a staggering 81% of information can now be gathered online without buyers physically meeting a tech vendor. And that’s not all! This change seems to be a permanent one, as 72% of those surveyed believe the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on information gathering.

You’re down the funnel – or not – before you know it!

This means businesses have a smaller chance at appealing to human emotion in the customer journey – a key weapon in the arsenal of any sales team. Now it is all down to a digital marketing strategy to pick up this slack and “get customers through the door”, so you’d better have a good one!

Witness the shift away from Face-to-Face events

This shift in purchasing behavior is reflected in the ComputerWeekly study in the events space too – once a place to meet, greet, explore and start sales conversations. Face-to-face events have waned in the face of the pandemic disruption and as such, their role within the purchase process has significantly declined – the percentage of significant relevancy in the purchase cycle decreasing from 53% prior to the pandemic to just 41%.

At IBA, we were very much aware of the significant decline in face-to-face events and championed the advantages of online events for marketing and for sales teams, explaining how businesses can capitalize on this in our PR lessons learned from the virtual event circuit blog last year.

Where face-to-face events were once the main means of sharing important brand information with prospects, prospects are now looking online. We have a new digital rule book.

New strategies required to meet prospective buyers online: If you can’t beat them, join them online

Here, the use of a well-thought-out B2B PR and content campaign is essential to connect businesses directly to the right customer at the right time and increase lead conversion rates.

At IBA we always say, “the same message from more than one source is more readily believed”. Here, a solid content stack – a core source of content around a key message which can be broken down and repurposed into different assets to be used over and over again – is essential to produce a constant stream of relevant and interesting content and build buyer trust.

Become ubiquitous, be everywhere, no digital hiding space for your prospect

With this PR methodology, the same core business message can span multiple assets: from gated assets on company websites such as whitepapers and eBooks to bylined thought leadership content placed in authoritative industry publications. From blogs hosted as own media on company websites to social media posts that direct traffic back to web assets or that share placed content and tag industry publications.

Each asset is housed in different locations online, in places where prospects are likely to be looking, and even in places they aren’t. SEO is now a vital part of any B2B PR campaign, and those placed media articles with relevant keywords can have a huge impact to boost an organization’s search ranking.

Building trust is the best game plan when it comes to B2B sales

The shift to an increasingly digitized purchasing cycle has already begun. B2B buyers are going online and through digital channels to gather information on tech vendors. And, as the tech vendor market has become so saturated – with 47% more tech vendors chasing the same business – tech vendors need to ensure they stand out from the crowd. A consistent brand voice across all these digital channels will foster prospect trust and keep buyers coming back for more!

Elizabeth Quinlan is PR Executive at IBA International.

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