Technology has always been a powerful tool for businesses - to compete, adapt, and grow. The events of 2020 have brought this to the fore, with technology poised to play a central role in how businesses continue to navigate this rapidly evolving world.
Even in an economic environment impacted by the global pandemic, close to half of businesses in APAC (42%) expect to maintain or increase their technology spending. This was a finding that LinkedIn uncovered in “Age of Agility”, our seventh year of conducting one of the world’s largest research surveys of B2B technology buying and decision-making.
In a bid to make sense of today’s dynamic landscape, we reviewed data from nearly 6,000 respondents, including nearly one-third from APAC. Through our analysis, we uncovered key trends that tech marketers should know about and coupled that with five key recommendations for tech marketers looking to thrive in these uncertain times.
1. Empower the next generation of IT guides
Technology buyers in APAC are more than just IT decision-makers. A diversity of other functions, from business development to sales, marketing and engineering, now have a greater say in how technology is used in their company. Collectively, non-IT functions influence 70% of the technology buying decision, compared to IT’s 30%.
For IT to manage this distributed decision-making process, they need to act less like gatekeepers and more like guides to their internal stakeholders. For technology marketers, the crux lies in eliminating friction in the process by increasing brand familiarity and favourability among relevant buying committee audiences.
2. Aim for fame in the customer journey
Insights from our research show that APAC buyers are most active in the earliest stages of new technology purchase, most notably in researching potential solutions (52%) and shortlisting vendors (50%). As competition for buyer attention intensifies, getting on that shortlist requires brands to be top-of-mind across a large and diverse buying committee.
Technology marketers need to focus on building a strong brand—not just driving leads. 44% of business in APAC have sales cycles that can extend beyond 12 months. This makes a full-funnel marketing strategy that drives awareness, memorability and favourability over the customer journey even more paramount.
3. Address the committee’s paradox of needs
In APAC, two out of three technology buyers (65%) hesitate before trying new products or vendors. They may crave the innovation and flexibility offered by challenger brands but they also seek the reliability that comes from working with well-known and experienced vendors.
For many of them, however, the pandemic has reinforced the importance of value and reliability. Close to half agreed that they would consider new alternatives if their business needs cannot be met by well-known brands (47%) or if the product or vendor proves to be more innovative (also 47%).
This creates an opening for marketing to play a significant role in solving buyers’ paradox of needs. Marketing efforts focused on shaping perception, demonstrating relevance, and helping buyers navigate change and uncertainty may very well shift the balance in your brand’s favour.
4. Spark the virtual water cooler
An offering may be best-in-class but buyers won’t take your word for it. With social media and other knowledge-sharing platforms democratising the buying experience, trust and reputation is everything. While advertising is still the third-largest driver of product awareness among APAC buyers, it is social proof and user validation that increases their trust in a product. Professional peer reviews, in particular, is the number one driver of trust (51%) and knowledge (41%).
For marketers, the way forward is clear: galvanise user feedback and elevate your best customers into heroes for your brand. Using a full range of tools, from messaging and positioning to insights, events, and thought leadership, you can spark the virtual water cooler by giving audiences something good to talk about.
5. Seize the post-sale frontier
Greater numbers of APAC buyers are prioritising post-sale support (60%) and weighing past experiences with solutions (50%) when making technology purchases. Appreciating that buyers are investing in an outcome, not a product, brands that demonstrate reliable and relevant customer support can build an edge. Marketers can achieve this by positioning support and other services designed to deliver successful customer outcomes in your messaging.
And because past experiences clearly count for something as well, marketers can leverage strategies such as account-based marketing (ABM) to upsell, cross-sell, and build visibility of your solution’s business impact among existing customers. A greater focus on retaining existing customers can lead to stronger relationships and increased business opportunities.
The pandemic has catalysed a fundamental shift in how businesses operate. The sheer volume of digital transformation projected to take place in APAC over the next few years presents a massive opportunity for B2B technology brands. It’s on marketing to lead the charge.
And lastly, going with the name of this study, B2B marketers must reciprocate the agility shown by the industry in transforming itself during this pandemic with the agility to act with speed and drive the advantage of getting there first.
For full research insights, download the Age of Agility: APAC edition here.