White papers may be the best business-to-business marketing tool for selling IT products, a new study finds. KnowledgeStorm conducted the “Define What’s Valued Online” survey for the CMO Council to identify how online technology influences IT buying.
Business users and IT professionals overwhelmingly turn to the Internet to research products and services, with 90 percent of the survey group going online for product information. Fifty percent of respondents spend up to five hours a week looking up product information while an additional 25 percent spend five to 10 hours a week researching technologies.
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While online, 58.3 percent of professionals researching products look at vendor white papers for information. Decision makers rely on product reviews 53.8 percent of the time, and analyst research reports in 52.2 percent of all cases.
Information garnered online may influence not just the business professional who looked it up, but also others to whom the individual passes it along.
“The person going in and accessing this content isn’t necessarily the only person who will be exposed to the information,” Matt Lohman, manager of market research at KnowledgeStorm, told ClickZ Stats. “There’s more people seeing the message.”
Decision-makers find their most pressing research challenges to be invasive online advertising; pop-ups, spam or phishing; and biased and slanted content.
Marketing hype is also identified as a top concern or pet peeve. Fifty-three percent cite “hype and puffery of offerings” as the highest annoyance. Poor communication of business value proposition and too few proof points that evidence ROI also rank high in this category.
“Get to the point in the first couple of paragraphs of the content and give me real world examples,” says Scott Van Camp, editorial director for the CMO Council. “Don’t drop the marketing anvil on my head.”
With 70 percent of respondents, research begins at search engines and directories, with vendor directories trailing behind by a long distance. The report states that decision makers overwhelmingly trust search engines and directories and value them as channels for online information.
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Respondents cite Google as the search engine of choice by 96.5 percent. Yahoo is used by 52.9 percent of respondents, and MSN Search is accessed 28.6 percent of the time.
“It’s important for companies to recognize this and be sure their keywords are matching their content online,” said Van Camp.
KnowledgeStorm conducted the survey for the CMO Council in July and August of 2005. Nearly 1,400 participants completed the survey. Fifty-six percent of the participants are business users and technology professionals account for 31 percent of the survey pool. Close to half of the participants surveyed make the final purchase decision or act to influence purchase decisions. One-third are relied upon to advise which IT products best suit the organization.
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