[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

The digitizing of America continues at a rapid pace spurred on by mobile devices. IDG Research Services surveyed more than 3,100 visitors to IDG technology media sites in the US, such as PCWorld, Macworld, CIO, and Computerworld, to determine information consumption behaviors. The research underscores the power of social media, the widespread use of mobile devices, and the reliance on video to make purchase decisions.

The Social Shopper

Ninety-five percent of the respondents use one or more social media sites. Exposure to a tech product in the social web positively affects likelihood to purchase (44%), overall satisfaction with a company (44%), willingness to recommend a company (42%), and feelings of brand loyalty (40%). When asked how marketers should engage with prospects, just over 50% said respond to questions from customers and provide information about products. Just under 50% want product reviews/rankings, product specs/pricing, the opportunity to provide feedback, and resolve customer service issues.

Mobile Worker and Consumer

A smartphone or tablet is replacing PC-based activities. At least once a month, a large majority of users go mobile for email, use apps to seek tech news and information, engage in purchase-related activity and view video or other multimedia experiences.

Two-thirds of the tech-savvy respondents own/regularly use two or more mobile devices and one-third of their time is spent each week accessing tech info online via a mobile device.

Though advertising on mobile devices significantly lags consumer use of the devices, users are influenced by mobile ads. In the survey last summer, tech consumers noted that they have taken the following actions as a result of seeing a mobile ad on their smartphone in the past six months: researched a product (43%), looked for a product in a retail store (28%), clicked an ad (22%), and purchased a product (21%). The percentages were even higher among tablet users.

Matthew Yorke (President, IDG Global Solutions): The reliance on mobile devices for purchase decisions tied to an ad is an important new factor. Mobile usage has been soaring for a while but advertising has not. Mobile and social are converging to become one of the most powerful ways for marketers to influence prospects when they’re shopping.

Tech Consumers Overwhelmingly Drawn to Videos

Consumers find it hard to resist tech-related videos as 93% said they watched them and 72% reported they have forwarded, shared, or posted a video. And, given the mobile findings it is not surprising that four in 10 consumers are watching videos on a smartphone or tablet. Viewers are turning to video for product reviews, information to inform buying decisions, and to learn how to use a new product/service.

Video viewing also drives purchase behaviors: 64% of consumers have researched a product as a result of watching a tech-related video in recent months and close to half of them looked for a product in a retail store (45%), visited a vendor website or contacted a vendor for information (45%), or purchased a product (44%).

Grazing for Information

By a large margin, consumers choose technology websites for technology news and information (87%) but approximately half seek out technology-related print media (52%) or tech blogs (49%). Farther down the list are video-sharing sites and social/business networking sites. When asked for extremely/very valuable sources for finding relevant content, respondents said regular visits to tech sites (86%), traditional search engines (70%), and recommendations or posts in social media (40%) — an increase of 14% for social channels in two years.

While search is highly rated as a means of finding content, search ranking alone does not drive trust in online content. Only 14% said a listing on the first page of a search result increases trust. Rather it is an association with a known, familiar source (well-known journalist or blogger, tech content site or tech marketer) that drives consumer trust in online information and content. In fact, 73% report an association with a familiar source is important, while 45% note it is recommendations from family, friends, or peers that increase their trust in information they read online.