PLG: The Rise of Buyer Self-Education and the Essential Role of Experts

PLG: The Rise of Buyer Self-Education and the Essential Role of ExpertsProduct-led growth (PLG) models are driving greater buyer self-education and autonomy in conducting technology purchasing research than in previous years. PLG encourages buyers to explore and evaluate solutions independently through peer reviews, webinars and face-to-face events, interactive trials, vendor content and social media. This autonomy allows buyers to deep dive into product features, understand functionalities and assess value proposition at their own pace.

While self-education tools and sources like those mentioned are a valuable channel for buyers, they cannot replace the in-depth knowledge and insights offered by experts. To conduct a successful content strategy, you need to meet buyers where they’re doing research and provide a myriad of self-service research opportunities using expert-authored content.

Buyers see right through detail-light content, and instead crave validated, unbiased, technical content that speaks to their specific purchasing needs. For these buyers, expert guidance is essential, causing considerable growth in reliance on analyst websites and content over the last year (36% YoY). 60% of respondents in TechTarget and Enterprise Strategy Group’s (ESG) 2024 Media Consumption Study reported relying on analyst sites and content when researching potential tech solutions; 59% cited reliance on independent publisher sites and content.

Buyers are actively seeking out independent media publisher sites (like TechTarget and Data Science Central), analyst sites (such as Enterprise Strategy Group, Gartner and Forrester), and third-party solution assessments. Therefore, as a sales or marketing professional, you need to 1) make your brand’s presence known in these spaces and 2) capitalize on these content types for your own content strategy purposes.

To do so, consider marrying this self-service research dynamic with the delivery of analyst content to satisfy buyers’ voracious appetite for third-party pieces. Commission or invest in creating third-party independent and analyst pieces and research content to, for instance, promote via email marketing campaigns, spotlight in expert webinar conversations, display on your site and host in your resource library. After all, 49% of IT buyers told us they conduct research on tech vendor websites – use this to your advantage by presenting buyers with the content they crave.

Digital and self-service content reigns supreme

PLG: The Rise of Buyer Self-Education and the Essential Role of Experts
TechTarget & Enterprise Strategy Group Media Consumption Study | Worldwide

In closing, tech buyers continue to prioritize digital-first, self-directed research before they engage with sales. 63% of survey participants agreed that the information they find online (without engaging a sales rep) sufficiently helps them build their vendor shortlists. So, meet your prospects where they are by supplementing your existing self-service and self-education media with expert- or analyst-authored content, as these types are in high demand.  

That said, speaking with sales representatives is still important to IT buyers – and when buyers do so, they need technical advice. Position your sales reps for success by encouraging them to prime potential leads and prospects with your brand’s technical content dialed into their specific research and technology needs, and you’ll be well on your way to capturing new customers.  

For more information on the value of third-party and expert-based content, read The Value of Independent Third-Party Content, which further explains why expert content is your secret weapon and why third-party content is so effective at engaging buyers.