The Changing Marketing Influence Mix in the New Cloud Computing Era

 In Analytics and Insights
Time to Read:  5 minutes


Cloud solutions are the changing marketing influences mix just as fast as they are changing IT. As we all know, the cloud solutions market is big and fragmented. To better understand how marketers navigate it, our recent research Top Marketing Influences on Enterprise Cloud Solutions Buyers set out to answer some specific questions.  As said, cloud solutions are changing how enterprises implement and buy enterprise technology solutions. But here, we wanted to know how enterprises learn about IT and cloud solutions, and the marketing channels they use. We also wanted to know how marketing channel influences might vary by segment of enterprise buyers. Research uncovered some fascinating findings. In this blog post, we present highlights and recommendations on the changing marketing influence mix.

Changing Marketing Influence Mix Means Greater Vendor Influence

The top three influences on cloud solutions buyers are peers, trade press, and vendors.  It’s clear that even in the IT world with the Internet changing how customers learn and buy products, word-of-mouth is still the biggest influence.

Nearly 49% of cloud buyers say other IT professionals outside of the job while nearly 35% say other IT professionals at work are where they learn about cloud solutions.

Trade press is an important influence in the changing marketing influence mix, but respondents said they rely on 62 different sources. That’s a huge, huge number meaning lots of fragmentation. Only CIO, InformationWeek, and CNet had any real concentration. How does marketing honestly expect advertising ROI with such fragmentation?

Let’s turn now to talk about the role of vendors.  When asked about vendor sales teams as a key source of information, Cloud Pros lean on them a lot compared to other buyers.  In fact, 31% of Cloud Pros say vendor sales teams are among the top marketing and sales influences.  This compare to 9% of Cloud Pioneers and 16% of Cloud Planners.

Now what about vendor events?

Growing Role of Vendor Events

Only 8% of Cloud Pros use them as a source of information, compared to 23% of Cloud Planners and only 4% of Cloud Pioneers.

Vendors’ websites are the primary source of information for Cloud Planners. After all, about a quarter of them use web sites a lot. This compares to 16% of Cloud Pros and about 1% of Cloud Pioneers.

Growing Role of Vendor Websites

Now which vendor web sites educate cloud buyers?  All segments named Microsoft and IBM as their primary vendor websites. The ways in which cloud solution buyers seek information from vendor sources will vary, but the common factors are notable.

It’s no secret that the cloud has changed the game in terms of how marketing reaches buyers. Mass-marketing, or the good ol’ “spray-and-pray”, is not as effective now that we have such an abundance of resources.  With so many new sources, businesses with differing needs prefer different approaches to information. So with that in mind, here are some things to consider when reaching out to cloud solution buyers.

Changing Marketing Influence Mix Says Quality Content is More Vital

First and foremost, high-value content does three important things:

  • Teaches
  • Engages
  • Nurtures discussion

With the sheer amount of information online, content must be especially valuable to get noticed. No matter which corner of the cloud consumer market you’re trying to reach, you should offer content that’s well-made, thought provoking, and considerate of your readers’ needs.

Social Media and Web Presence Are Constants

In addition to creating high-value content, there’s no question that understanding and reaching your buyer personas via content and social media is the way to go.

Our research lays out 3 buyer groups, simply based on how much they already use cloud solutions.

Cloud Pros tend to rely most on LinkedIn for their B2B social networking, while Cloud Pioneers are equally likely to use both LinkedIn and Facebook. Throw Twitter into the mix – a favorite of pioneers, but used to varying degrees across the board – and you have several different angles from which to gain recognition and grab cloud buyers to the services relevant to their needs.

Research shows that social media engagement is key for many reasons. It’s how customers learn and engage with others who have gone down their same road.   It also increases influence with different segments of cloud solution buyers.

Furthermore, investing in a strong and dynamic web presence is a must. When you maintain a professional, engaging and informative website. From what our cloud buyer tell us, it sells your products.

Role of Analysts Less Important

What’s less important in the changing marketing influence mix?  Analysts.

As we touched on earlier, trade press is more and more fragmented.  Along with this fragmentation, analysts are less visible.  Less visibility leads to waning influence and our research shows it. Only Gartner seems to maintain its influence with buyers.

Big Changes Ahead for Tech Marketers

In sum, the changing marketing influence mix is affecting tech companies and tech buyers a lot. It comes down to great content to drive inbound traffic and to become the basis of outbound nurturing campaigns. Producing killer content and nurturing personas with both that killer content and with social media is the formula. At least for now.

Make sure that you do two things: Create a great product that sparks word of mouth and create content that stands out from the crowd!

Learn more about the 2012 Cloud Study here.


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