Tech Consumers Speak and What They Tell Us

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.


By, Matthew Yorke

It was not that long ago that the biggest challenge for publishers and marketers was to understand the dynamics of the print and the online worlds. Today, it is far more complex both from the medium and message standpoints.

The Echo Effect
Late last year, IDG Research Services released the results of its latest study: The Echo Effect : Understanding the Value of Tech Buyers. More than 3,100 visitors to IDG U.S. technology media sites such as PCWorld, Macworld, CIO, and Computerworld, participated.

Before I get into buyer behaviors, just surveying the modern reader’s journey is a dizzying experience filled with insights.

Ninety-five percent of the respondents use one or more social platforms. No surprises there you might say. However, in terms of what those interactions mean for brand engagement, that’s the exciting part: Forty-two percent are willing to recommend a company and 40% of the respondents experience increases in their brand loyalty.

Social Selection
But, from a marketer’s point of view this means more than just putting up a Facebook page or a Twitter stream. IDG’s social research revealed why users are on certain platforms and what their expectations are for each. For example, in the consumer tech category, we discovered that Facebook is used for sharing, Google+ for seeking (although this data may be influenced by brand associations with search), LinkedIn for networking, and Twitter for dynamic sharing. Consumers also expect vendors to use these platforms to respond to their questions, offer insights into products, and provide product reviews/rankings.

Mobile Taking Over for PCs
Print and online are no longer the game. It’s a mobile world, and smartphone/tablet activities are replacing PC-based usage. Two-thirds of the respondents own and regularly use two or more mobile devices, and about 33% of their browsing for technology content is via mobile. We know they are researching products, seeking in-store price comparisons, and purchasing products with their smart mobile devices. Mobile and social are two legs of a stool; the third is video.

Lights, Camera, Action
We discovered that our readers cannot resist tech-related videos, with 93% of them watching and 72% commenting on and sharing videos or posting them.

Mobile is driving this new-found appetite for video with 40% watching tech videos on their tablets and smartphones. Video is not just an entertainment factor. It drives tangible purchase behaviors with 64% of the respondents moving from watching a video to seeking further product-related information.

Puzzle Pieces from IDC’s Audience Segmentation
So that’s all very interesting, but what really counts is segmenting users by their social and technology behaviors to understand exactly what kind of messaging and marketing engages prospects. That’s the real challenge. In conjunction with the IDG Research Services Echo survey, we worked with our sister company, IDC, and its ConsumerScape360 practice and segmentation model. We discovered three audience segments among online readers: New Media Influencers, Enthusiastic Adopters and Needs-Based Buyers. Briefly, here’s how they differ and what can be learned from each category.

New Media Influencers are the highest value segment as they are natural brand champions and research products extensively before buying. They are active contributors to social/new media and are twice as likely as an average consumer to give brand or product advice to others.

Enthusiastic Adopters are key to driving sales in the early stages of a product’s lifecycle. This segment is most excited by technology and they own a lot of it. They rely on information from a variety of sources including social media, but are more likely to be following others (such as New Media Influencers) through the social web rather than actively contributing to the conversation. They respond well to marketing that is feature or function focused.

Lastly, the Needs-Based Buyers, who are the smallest segment, are more price sensitive and only buy technology when older devices no longer work. This group of prospects relies heavily on the advice of others.

Based on the Echo research and IDC’s ConsumerScape360, I have several recommendations for tech marketers, and marketers in general, since technology has become a part of so many products and services: Consider how you integrate social interactions and social content, including video, into your more traditional marketing. Think of ways to actively target and activate the New Media Influencers to become brand champions, and tailor messaging to reach those all-important Enthusiastic Adopters.

Life is certainly not easier in the digital and social worlds, but insights needed to turn prospects into customers are now clearer and can help you choose your priorities.

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