It’s Time for Content Marketers to Narrow the ‘Value Gap’

IDG’s Customer Engagement survey, now in its 7th year, always includes a few surprises. But it also includes a few themes that carry over from year to year. The one constant that deserves marketers’ full attention is what I call the “value gap”– the disconnect between IT buyers’ need for relevant, helpful content and technology marketers’ ability to deliver that content.

The stakes have never been higher. Digital transformation is raising IT’s profile across the broader business, as companies move more processes, interactions, and transactions to digital platforms. As technology becomes more critical to business strategy and decision making, IT teams need to be better informed about new tech – in part so they can educate their line-of-business counterparts who are part of the extended technology buying team.

First, the good news:

  • 74% of the 900+ respondents, all of whom are involved in the purchase process for major IT or security products and services, say they are more likely to consider an IT vendor who educates them throughout each stage of the decision-making process.
  • 61% say they require more resources from vendors to help inform their line of business counterparts throughout the purchase process.
  • 84% say they are willing to share their contact information with a tech vendor to gain access to content.

Sounds like a great opportunity, right? Enter the value gap:

  • Just 38% of the work-related content IT buyers downloaded over the past 12 months has provided them with actionable information. In other words, three out of every five whitepapers, reports, webcasts, or other downloaded content were not all that helpful to busy IT pros.
  • 86% says it’s challenging to find high-quality, trusted information on major enterprise IT products and services.

The traps that content marketers fall into are well known and persistent: our survey respondents cite information that’s clearly biased, full of marketing buzzwords, or too general as turn-offs. They also are hesitant to register for a gated asset because they don’t want the inevitable sales follow-up.

When the quality of your content does not live up to the promises you’ve made in promoting the asset, it’s bad for your brand and bad for business. More than half (52%) say content that is too promotional or self-serving would cause them to drop a vendor when they’re researching technology solutions. That’s the second-ranked abandonment trigger, behind only overly aggressive or persistent sales follow-up.

But there’s hope, in what marketers should see as an incentive to invest in more informative, more engaging content. In the instances when IT decision-makers (ITDMs) do find helpful content from a vendor, they’re likely to follow up in a number of ways:

  • Research the product on technology content sites: 64%
  • Visit the vendor’s website or contact the vendor: 63%
  • Participate in a product demo: 50%
  • Register to receive related content, if applicable: 43%

The path forward is clear. ITDMs are challenging vendors to deliver high-value content that will help them make better buying decisions.

What steps are you prepared to take with your content marketing to reduce the value gap?

Follow me at @roboregan