For technology marketers, the information technology sector offers a lucrative opportunity. After all, IT spending worldwide is forecast to reach $3.3 trillion in 2008, according to Gartner Research, an IT research and advisory company. Marketers can also take advantage of an industry in which decision makers are always seeking knowledge. IT professionals are constantly looking for new technology — they seek ways to use and implement it in their jobs.
However, because IT professionals are constantly bombarded with information, marketers need to keep brevity and pertinence in mind if they want to appeal to this target group.
“IT professionals are the people in the trenches, solving problems at data centers,” explains Tracy Hansen, senior director of Web and new media for NetApp.com, a data storage company. They want tech specs and product comparisons, she explains, but resist wading through extraneous content when they are seeking product information.
It becomes critical, then, to deliver marketing information in a straightforward and direct manner. “You need to understand whom you are trying to reach,” Hansen continues. “They don’t want to click through six pages of a Web site to find what they want.”
Hansen also recommends taking marketing cues from the business-to-consumer world — for example, engaging IT professionals on social Web venues such as blogs and chat rooms. Today’s successful b-to-b marketing realizes that businesses are consumers too, she explains.
Although technology professionals may want product information, they don’t want a sales pitch, cautions Shane Aubel, co-founder of Accent Global System Architects, an information technology consulting firm. The company decided to redesign its newsletter in May to reflect this mantra.
“The real goal was for this not to be a newsletter that would be disregarded as ‘sales-y,’” he notes. “We decided to give it a little personality, talk about what’s going on at the company, and share knowledge with our customers and our colleagues.”
Aubel says engaging in this kind of information-sharing effort can have a “grapevine effect,” and can serve to get a marketer’s product information passed around.
“It really helps to think of unique and different ways to engage IT professionals,” he continues. “A Web site and newsletters should act as conductors of information.”
Les Yeamans, president of online media company EbizQ.net, which conducts virtual events in conjunction with Unisfair, a virtual event provider, says marketers should be very specific and detailed whenever engaging customers within the IT industry.
“Micro-targeting is the key,” he says. “[IT professionals] want to hear about specific new product trends or happenings in their industry. You want to avoid putting forth material that’s broad or general in scope.”
Using his own company as an example, Yeamans says the key is choosing specific topics for the virtual events that would appeal to IT pros. Relevance is essential. “It has to include good, compelling information,” he points out. Naturally, a marketer should be aware of topical issues in the IT community before developing a campaign that’s designed specifically to reach those people, he adds.
It’s that combination of topical and timely content, specific details about product information and a specific, targeted approach that can help a company get their message read and appreciated by IT professionals, Yeamans explains.
“If you have very focused content, you can have a very loyal audience,” he advises.
Accent Global System Architects
Accent Global wanted to change the tone of its industry newsletter that went out to people in the IT industry. The company focused on making it less of a sales pitch for its products and services, and more of a conduit of information that tech professionals could share with their colleagues, peers and others. Since relaunching the newsletter in May, the company has received increased feedback and visits to its Web site.
Web site redesign
Over the past year, NetApp decided to redesign its Web site to better appeal to its tech-minded, professional audience. It eliminated the number of clicks that users needed to get to product information and refined its search engine. So far, the results have been better than expected. For the first full month after the redesign launched, the site had 111% more unique visitors than it did over the same month the previous year.
EbizQ, a new media company, realized that offering virtual events on very specific and timely subjects in the tech world effectively engage the IT professionals who use its site and attract new visitors. The company’s most recent event drew more than 1,000 registrants — generally, events drew 400-1,000 people. It hopes to continue seeing this amount of registrants at future events.