Without opportunities to learn and network in person, it is not surprising that many IT decision makers (ITDMs) changed the way they consume content during the past 14 months—turning to virtual events like tradeshows and roundtables to engage with vendors and get a peer perspective. The global pandemic sent ITDMs online at an unprecedented rate to find the information they need to support the digital initiatives that have leaped to the top of many organizations’ priority lists. As Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security—we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt…in a world of remote everything.” IDG recently surveyed over 800 ITDMs in the 2021 Customer Engagement Study to better understand the various types and volume of content tech buyers consume throughout their buying journey, looking specifically at how this has shifted due to the pandemic.
Content Consumption Shifts Online
Content consumption is on the rise! And there is no question that ITDMs are increasing the use of online sources than in the past. In 2019, the average number of assets downloaded during the purchase process was five. Now, 41% of ITDMs anticipate downloading more content (i.e. white papers, research reports, project briefs) in the next 6-12 months to aid the purchase process. But, where are they spending the most time? IDG’s Customer Engagement study found that ITDMs are spending more time reading online content (49%), watching videos online (48%), watching news (39%), and listening to podcasts (30%). Further, ITDMs use a wide variety of content types to inform purchasing decisions. Topping this year’s list were:
- Product testing/reviews/opinions (cited by 53% of respondents)
- Product demo/product literature (49%)
- Technology news outlets (42%)
- Analyst research (41%)
- Vendor presentations (40%)
Reliance on Virtual Events
As ITDM’s explored ways to stay up-to-date on tech trends, virtual events proved to be a strong alternative for in-person peer and vendor meetings due to the pandemic. Sixty-three percent of ITDM’s say that the lack of in-person events is making it more important to seek out online events (be it tradeshows, roundtables, webinars, etc.) to engage with their peers and vendor partners. The majority of ITDM’s (91%) say they have attended an industry or job-related virtual event in the past 6-12 months, with primary formats being virtual training/workshops (75%), one-day virtual summit/conferences (64%), and multi-day virtual summit/conference (45%). The primary motivations for attending such events are:
- To hear from industry experts (as cited by 56% of respondents)
- See new products (53%)
- Be introduced to new vendors and their offerings (42%)
- Seek out innovation for future business projects (36%)
- Bring value back to their business (36%)
In fact, reliance on virtual event formats may be here to stay. The greatest perceived benefit of virtual events is saving time by staying “home” versus traveling. This was followed by an increased opportunity to attend events since location is no longer a factor and cost savings from not having to travel. About 33% of respondents also said they saw value in exploring sessions and attending on-demand sessions after the event, something that is usually not an option in the physical world.
As a tech marketer, it’s important to connect with tech buyers where they are researching solutions and consistently throughout the purchase process. Learn about how you can expand your reach and engage these ITDMs by becoming a sponsor at one of IDG’s virtual summits or roundtables.