Making it to the shortlist – how to use content to engage the human CIO

You may have seen our post on the rise of the human CIO, drawing on our Tech Heads research. In this post, we’ll shed light on how this new breed of IT decision maker is influenced by marketing communications throughout the stages of the procurement cycle.

CIOs have become discerning content consumers, with 46% changing to more ongoing, constant data-gathering techniques. The channel and content favoured by CIOs changes during the procurement process, meaning marketers need to stay agile to keep up with the new generation of CIOs. As CIOs are well informed and time poor, the impact of many traditional sales approaches is reduced. To have the greatest influence over their potential customers, vendors must look at how to tap into new ways to influence the procurement process, and marketers need to rethink how and when they educate, inform and challenge prospects. Key factors influencing the impact of content during the procurement process:

  • Attention Span: Short content is more valuable in the initial stages (89% prefer 150-300 word articles) with 55% preferring 500-2000 word articles close to the final decision
  • Media Type: During the early stages of procurement, national press is more influential (45% rate highly) changing to vendors themselves (47%) and specialist IT magazines (46%) being influential when they are looking to shortlist
  • Content Flavour: Content types also shift, with general advice being rated as useful (62%) early on, with expert opinions and case studies being utilised in the mid-stages and benchmarking / in-depth examinations being used when CIOs are close to purchase

When developing an engagement strategy, it’s also worth bearing in mind how a CIO is thinking during their procurement cycle. More than three quarters (76%) of CIOs have a good idea of the products and services they will purchase before formalising any IT tenders. This makes it critical that vendors and solution providers are communicating with prospects in the right way long before any formal procurement begins, if they are to stand a chance of being included in the purchase process. To reach the human CIO, marketers must understand how their prospects consume information today and adapt their behaviours and communications accordingly. If they are to win the hearts, minds and spend of their prospects, content has got to be useful, relevant, timely and ultimately, personal.