2021 IDG Customer Engagement study provides roadmap for tech marketers to educate and engage tech buyers

Boston, Mass. – April 19, 2021 – IDG Communications, Inc. – the world’s leading tech media, data, and marketing services company – releases the 2021 Customer Engagement research, which provides insight into the content types IT decision-makers (ITDMs) rely on and tips for vendor engagement as technology’s role in business stability and growth continues to increase due to the pandemic. Without opportunities to learn and network in-person, it was not surprising that many ITDMs turned to virtual content formats, such as tradeshows and roundtables, to engage with peers and vendor partners. As ITDMs adjust to new content format, tech marketers must fill content gaps and provide tech buyers access to adequate relevant and timely educational resources in order to remain a valued partner.

Ensure Your Content Provides Value
The majority of ITDMs (90%) find it challenging to locate enough high-quality, trusted information on IT products and services throughout the tech purchase process, up from 86% in 2019. The main factors remain the same – ITMDs feel there is too much marketing hype/empty buzzwords, a lack of truly independent, unbiased information, and that the information is too general. One difference from 2019 is that tech decision-makers are lessening their hesitancy towards downloading due to unwanted sales follow-up (34% in 2019 and is currently only 27%).

When doing their research, the majority of ITDMs (87%) are willing to register to gain access to vendor content if they find value in the information. But make sure you are not wasting their time. Only 41% of downloaded work-related content has provided value to tech buyers in the past 12 months, up from 38% in 2019. As organizations continue utilizing technology for growth, it makes sense that the content ITDMs rely on the most throughout the purchase process are product testing/reviews/opinions, product demos/product literature, and technology news. Additional formats that deserve recognition this year are vendor presentations at events (acknowledging that these presentations will be virtual in the short term) and case studies, which increased from 26% in 2019 to 33% this year.

“As the role of technology has accelerated this past year, it’s essential that tech decision-makers have access to reliable and timely content to navigate the IT purchase process,” said Sue Yanovitch, VP of Marketing, IDG Communications, Inc. “Tech buyers have had to alter how they research and evaluate solutions, and we see them spending more time online, reviewing case studies, and engaging with virtual events. In order to stay relevant, tech vendors must use the appropriate channels to educate their target throughout the decision process.”

Continue to Maintain Your Customer Base & Viability
Two-thirds (67%) of ITDMs say that the vendor who responds to their questions in a quick and thoughtful manner usually gets the business. What is the definition of quick? According to this year’s research, tech buyers want to be contacted within 19 hours of filling out a contact form for more information (and almost a quarter want to be contacted within that same day). Being quick, however, is not always enough. Tech buyers also shared the marketing-related factors that cause them to abandon a vendor when researching tech products and solutions – aggressive/persistent sales follow-up (56%), too promotional and self-serving (45%), and there are too many requirements to download content (41%).

Being able to prove viability, both financially for the overall organization and for a specific product is a necessity. Sixty-eight percent of tech decision-makers say that current economic conditions have made the financial viability of an organization more important when selecting new vendors. The good news is that tech buyers are receptive to emerging vendors. Close to half (47%) are open to adding technology from an emerging vendor if there is a business need, 27% will evaluate after they have proven their viability, 15% are open to being among the first clients of an emerging vendor, and 7% will evaluate upon recommendation from their trusted peers/network.

New to the study this year, we asked ITDMs to share the best way an emerging or well-established vendor can introduce a new technology product or service. When considering a new technology from an emerging vendor, tech decision-makers would like the vendor to provide case studies/proof of concept (51%), show evidence that the product/service stands out from the competition and provide direct comparisons (48%), and offer reassurance/proof that the new product easily integrates with existing technology (49%). These expectations are fairly different from those for well-established vendors. If a well-known, legacy vendor were to release a new product or service, ITDMs hope that they provide detailed product information (69%), offer reassurance/proof that the new product easily integrates with existing technology (57%), and offer current/loyal customers an exclusive preview (49%).

Education Through Virtual Resources
While we know that ITDMs continue to seek product demos, reviews, and tech news throughout the purchase process, we also know that the past year has significantly shifted what resources ITDMs have available to research and evaluate new tools and solutions. Sixty-three percent of ITDMs say that the lack of in-person events is making it more important to seek out online events (e.g., tradeshows, roundtables, webinars, etc.) to engage with their peers and vendor partners. Because of this, the majority (91%) say they have attended an industry or job-related virtual event in the past 6-12 months, with the primary formats being virtual training/workshop (75%), one-day virtual summit/conference (64%), or a multi-day virtual summit/conference (45%).

Tech decision-makers find value from these events due to the ability to hear from industry experts, see new products, be introduced to new vendors and their offerings, and to help spark innovation for future business projects. And as with many things forced by the pandemic, reliance on virtual event formats may be here to stay as 50% say that the time savings from not having to travel is a large benefit, followed by an increased opportunity to attend events due to location no longer being a factor, and the cost savings from not having to travel.

For technology marketers, it’s important to connect with tech buyers where they are researching solutions for their business needs and throughout the purchase process. Learn about how you can expand your reach and engage these IT decision-makers by becoming a sponsor at one of IDG’s virtual summits or roundtables.

About the 2021 IDG Customer Engagement Survey
IDG’s 2021 Customer Engagement Survey was conducted among the audiences of five IDG brands (CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World) representing IT and security decision-makers across multiple industries. The survey was fielded online with the objective of understanding the various types of content consumed throughout the purchase process for major technology products and services. It also looks to gain insight into the preferences of IT decisions-makers with regard to IT vendor contact and follow-up during the purchase process. Results are based on 800+ global tech decision-maker respondents.

Want more information? Download the 2021 Customer Engagement white paper for more insight into the research.

About IDG Communications, Inc.
IDG Communications’ vision is to make the world a better place by enabling the right use of technology, because we believe that the right use of technology can be a powerful force for good.

IDG is a trusted and dependable editorial voice, creating quality content to generate knowledge, engagement and deep relationships with our community of the most influential technology and security decision-makers. Our premium media brands including CIO®, Computerworld®, CSO®, InfoWorld®, Macworld®, Network World®, PCWorld® and Tech Hive® engage a quality audience with essential guidance on the evolving technology landscape.

Our trusted brands, global 1st party data intelligence and Triblio platform identify and activate purchasing intent, powering our clients’ success. We simplify complex campaigns that fulfill marketers’ global ambitions seamlessly with consistency that delivers quality results.


Stacey Raap
Marketing and Research Manager
IDG Communications, Inc.