IT professionals are the last line of defense against cyber attacks, and they play a role in regulatory compliance. They also make purchase decisions. How does a high-tech vendor market to this elite group?
The answer is email, according to a survey by Spiceworks of 535 IT pros in the U.S. and the UK.
Of those polled, 57% prefer that sales reps and marketers pitch them by email, compared with 26% who want to be pitched in online forums, 19% in trade shows and 9% by postal mail.
Yet in a seeming contradiction, email is not high up on the list of channels that IT buyers use to learn about new tech products. Only 24% cite emails from sales reps, compared with 97% who prefer online forums and communities.
In addition, 79% rely on tech news sites, while 77% turn to Google, 73% rely on word-of-mouth, 67% prefer vendor websites, and 43% rely on trade shows and conferences.
Obviously, they turn to sources other than email when they want depth.
How often should they be contacted? Not too often. IT pros now are hit 13 times a week via email, five times by phone (despite the fact that only 8% prefer this channel), twice via online forums and communications, once via social media, and once by physical mail. Some are contacted 25 times a week.
Based on the fact that they are called despite their disdain for that channel, Spiceworks concludes that “the preferences of IT buyers aren’t always taken into consideration when it come to how they'd like to be contacted."
What drives IT pros to respond? For 77%, it’s a relevant product, and for 61% detailed pricing information. In addition, 55% are driven by detailed product specs, 35% by a free product trial and 44% by a timely solution to a problem. In addition, 26% say they respond well to a recognizable brand.
The study also shows that only 12% will respond to a vendor.
IT pros are a loyal bunch. They’re especially devoted to their server, virtualization and networking vendors, but not as much to cloud-based service providers. That could be because it’s easier to switch from one cloud service to another, Spiceworks postulates.
But 94% say they will bolt if they get bad service. And 85% are turned off too many sales/marketing calls or emails. The same percentage is driven away by security issues with a vendor, 75% by price increases and 59% by a lack of information.
Spiceworks thus warns that “too many sales/marketing emails will do some serious damage.”
Want to keep their loyalty? IT specialists treasure great customer support (97%), consistently fair pricing (96%), a history of reliable products and services (96%), access to technical experts at a company (91%) and access to informative content (86%).
Many also cite company transparency (80%), quality and frequency of communication (66%) and personal relationships with company representatives (59%).
Of course, this can vary by generation. Millennials are most likely to learn about new products via Google — 78%, compared with 63% of the Baby Boomers.
The study also shows that Boomers receive the most emails, phone calls and postal mail packages. Maybe that’s because they are “more experienced, more likely to make final purchase decision, and they have more history with technology brands,” the study states.
Whatever the reason, Boomers are also more likely to respond to emails from sales reps and marketers.
Relevant products attract everyone, but Millennials are also swayed by recognizable brands and personalized messages.