Say you just bought a new Peloton and want to learn how to use it. You have a choice: Watch a video, read the manual or Zoom with an expert. Which one would you choose?
According to a leading study of learning styles, about 20% would read the manual, 40% would watch a video and 40% would Zoom. You might say, “it depends on what I’m trying to buy/learn,” which is true enough. Approximately two-thirds of us are multi-modal learners. We rely on multiple info formats and our preferences shift depending on what we’re trying to understand or buy.
The point is, we all default to a learning style, or styles. And those deeply ingrained preferences guide not just our consumer-oriented decisions but how we acquire knowledge and make decisions in our business life, too. The same can be said for the enterprise tech buyers we market and sell to. Learning preferences don’t change just because you’re buying cloud backup or network management versus a stationary bike.
TechTarget’s recent acquisition of BrightTALK offers an intriguing glimpse into the relationship between individual learning styles and what it takes to engage prospects at the right moment. A close look at the composition, overlap and behavioral patterns of the two audiences underscores how critically important a multi-media, multi-channel presence is in an age where buyers control the terms of engagement with your content and brand.
In terms of pure audience reach, TechTarget and BrightTALK represent millions of 1st party prospects across the two communities. TechTarget has just over 21 million registered members, while BrightTALK has 10 million (members are defined as verified tech and business professionals who have self-registered and opted-in to our respective 1st party databases). Collectively, these members form the buying units at hundreds of thousands of accounts that, throughout each year and across the globe, cycle through millions of new business technology purchases, upgrades and implementations.
Despite strong similarities in overall audience makeup (company size, industry and job title/function are remarkably consistent), there’s only a 10%-20% overlap in members between the databases, depending on geo. The reason the communities are so unique is that each network caters to different learning preferences.
With its roots in online publishing, 140 independent Web sites and over 40,000 vendor-syndicated content campaigns each year, TechTarget caters to buyers who prefer text- and download-based content, such as website articles, whitepapers, technical guides, product sheets and other PDF-based content. Asked what content formats they prefer, TechTarget members rank whitepapers (59%) and product spec sheets (57%) over everything else. Webinars (40%) and videos (33%) are further down the list.
Learning preference and behavior is quite different for members of BrightTALK, the host to more than 30,000 new webinars and videos each year. While the content topics, focus and quality is very similar to what’s offered on the TechTarget network, BrightTALK members prefer the immersive, interactive learning experiences delivered by webinars (85%) and videos (61%) over downloadable PDF content like whitepapers (47%) and e-Books (42%). Given this preference, it’s not surprising BrightTALK members average more than 30 minutes in view-time per webinar/video.
In the digital age it’s a given that buyers are in control of where, how and when they research purchases. Most of the time that journey starts not with a visit to your company’s website but with independent online sources that feature a variety of expert and vendor viewpoints. This is even more-so the case today than a year ago, when face-to-face interactions filled part of the information void. When buyer research activity results in a visit to your company solution pages, BrightTALK-embedded channels enable you to cast an even wider net for your interactive-learning content, while also ensuring users have a consistent engagement experience.
What the small audience overlap between TechTarget and BrightTALK tells us is just how important having a multi-media content presence is to engaging the full buying team. You could have the Web’s deepest library of strategy and solution PDFs — or B2B’s most-viewed and entertaining webcasts. But if you’re not doing both, you could be completely missing half of in-market buyers.
It’s one thing to conceptualize this in terms of overall market access. It’s another to think about this in terms of your ability to move fast with specific account buying teams.
Consider the IT department at Walmart, for example. The giant retailer employs more than 15,000 developers, engineers and tech support professionals worldwide. At any given time, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of new technology projects underway, each with 8-12 or more individuals on the buying committee. Best case scenario, half of these influencers and decision-makers are multi-modal learners; you’ll have a chance to reach them on either or both TechTarget and BrightTALK, or via your BrightTALK channel page on your own site. But the other half, who are single- or preferred-modal learners, are probably only visiting one place and not the others, increasing the chances you’ll miss them at the moment they are in a buying motion.
The combined market access of TechTarget and BrightTALK isn’t just an opportunity to ensure you have a presence where buyers go to learn, or that you’re catering the experience to their preferred learning style. It’s also about leveraging the combined purchase intent insights these audiences offer across your marketing, sales and ABM initiatives.
Over the next year, we’ll be working on integrating our audiences, products and delivery systems to directly help you accelerate progress against all of these important initiatives. You’ll begin to see the benefits of that work in Q2, with much more to come throughout the rest of 2021 and into 2022. Stay tuned!