IT purchase decisions are not controlled solely by a business’s IT department – and they are not the responsibility only of senior business executives. New research from LinkedIn, comScore, Starcom Mediavest Group and Mashwork identifies a broader, cross-functional IT Committee responsible for shortlisting and appointing suppliers. And it proves that those businesses that identify this group accurately, and deliver relevant content to them in the early stages of the purchase decision process, have a clear advantage when it comes to securing a share of their budgets.
The IT Committee trusts LinkedIn more than any other website to receive information relevant to their IT decisions, and they are approximately 50% more likely to engage with vendors on LinkedIn than on other social networks.
For full details, read our full research report The Social Media Bridge to the IT Committee, or download a concise summary of the report as an eBook, with essential tips for building relationships with IT decision makers.
With the IT Committee typically 60% of the way through the purchase decision process before its members start reaching out to potential suppliers, engagement through relevant, value-adding content isn’t just a means of building long-term relationships for IT companies; it’s an essential part of lead generation, and can make the difference between being included on shortlists and not making the cut. Typically, only three vendors are shortlisted for each IT purchase, and 94% of purchases are from companies on these shortlists. When potential suppliers engage with Committee members on LinkedIn, their likelihood of securing a meeting increases significantly.
The study proves that IT Committee members increasingly prefer social media, and LinkedIn in particular, as a channel for guiding their purchases from awareness, scoping and planning through to selection and implementation. In the UK three quarters are ready to have a conversation with a new vendor on social media; 78% use social media channels to gain awareness of their options 73% for scoping a project, 74% for planning, 69% for selection and 66% for implementation. Use of social media in each of these phases has increased by on average 70% in the past year.
When asked why they chose social media to guide their decision-making process, the Committee nominated Trust, Efficiency, Relevance and Access to a broader network as prominent reasons. Meeting these criteria is essential for companies looking to engage Committee members pro-actively: “receiving a lot of marketing material” was identified as the number 1 reason why those members avoided connecting with vendors on social platforms. Rather than generic marketing materials, they demand value-adding content that is relevant to particular phases of the purchase cycle: industry news and strategic information in the awareness phase, best practice and how-to guides, plus demos and checklists during the later stages.