We blogged about the results direct mail can achieve in reaching customers and driving sales, with proof in stats such as one-third more website visits, 20% increase in online sales, a 30% better response rate than email. And for technology sales to hungry users – think millennials – they prefer to be courted via direct mail.
Is the same true for technology decision makers in businesses?
According to eMarketer, business-to-business decision makers create a trusted network of influencers when thinking about what to buy for their company. Word-of-mouth is a key driver, where industry friends and other third-party experts are put ahead of traditional or digital marketing resources.
Specific to technology purchases, a 2013 study cited by B2B Marketing captured what goes on during the purchase process. The study was done because data specific to technology decision makers was scarce during a particularly competitive time in the market.
During the research phase, the study found that decision makers were:
- Very likely to use: peers and colleagues, search engines and consultants (immediate sources)
- Likely to use: trade shows, trade media, networking events and industry analysts (classic sources)
- Not likely to use: national media and industry forums (broad and shallow sources)
- Very unlikely to use: LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter (social sources)
So across all industries, before ever making contact with a potential supplier, decision makers continue to research them independently, identifying experts and gathering content from them to build their trusted network. Content they look for includes white papers, case studies and user reviews, followed by third party endorsements (trade media, analyst reports and national press) due to their influence as indirect recommendations. And finally, thought leadership (both trade media coverage and webinars) closely followed as it provides reassurance of innovation. And, although social sites including YouTube were not likely to be used, the final trusted categories were blogs and videos.
5 tips for getting on the short list
It’s still about the right medium, and the right message. Direct mail can be an important part of the marketing mix during a sales cycle. For technology decision makers:
- Do use direct mail for: Providing credible, thoughtful content to decision makers
- Do not use direct mail for: Influencing a purchase decision directly
And follow the following five tips for making the cut as a technology supplier.
1. Know your decision makers
Are you reaching the right people? Do you know their goals and concerns, as well as the IT needs of the organization they represent? Learn about the differences in purchasing processes according to the value of the IT being investigated, the type of IT (hardware, software, services etc.), and even the department the technology is being bought for.
Be sure to develop or recheck your audience personas to vastly improve your targeting. Find our guidance for developing spot-on personas here. Or, makeover your marketing list with a survey to help you deliver what audiences need most.
2. Create plenty of content
B2B marketers targeting IT decision makers must create plenty of content, in various forms, and must simultaneously address the different needs of the various sales stages. This is not new, but what the study showed was that the medium is equally important.
White papers and case studies are opportunities to share thought leadership and market views. Videos are ideal for explaining complex topics to tech-starved tech purchasers. Anything that shows your expertise is fair game, to prove your credibility and ability to deliver when they’re ready to buy.
3. Become the expert
Why not use digital or direct marketing tactics to show your expertise and earn the trust of IT decision makers? And get decision makers and prospects to come to you? Your content marketing can encompass it all. Learn more here.
“…industry friends and other third-party experts are put ahead of traditional or digital marketing resources."
4. Blog about it
Nurture relationships with IT decision makers by posting on your blog often, encouraging them to become followers who want more. Offer more great content from your library of white papers and case studies while you collect information from new prospects, which will further enhance your targeting efforts. Keep your blog cranking, and drive traffic to it, with these ten tips.
5. Keep direct mail in the mix
Direct mail is highly targeted. Affordable. Successful. It can deliver content directly, drive traffic to a specific blog relevant to your target, encourage new subscribers to your blog, and more. Mix up your media to keep top of mind with decision makers, so you’re on the short list when they are purchase ready.