June 23, 2017
The IT services marketer must become a knowledgeable tech expert. And a marketing strategy for information technology services requires you to understand why your prospects value your solution, too. So, to create an effective plan, marketers must align with sales and product insights to meet prospects where they stand.
IT SAAS companies invest between 80% and 120% of their revenue in sales and marketing in the first 5 years of their existence (Tomasz Tunguz).
As opposed to many B2C purchases, IT services can be more costly to purchase and implement. Therefore, buyers require nurturing down the sales funnel, past their pain points and obstacles.
Additionally, buyers need education, since IT solutions are often comprehensive or technically complex. So marketers must build an ongoing relationship that establishes trust with potential buyers, one that includes multiple touch points and supplementary content offers.
To explain the best practices of marketing for IT companies, we can discuss them using the inbound marketing model.
At each step, there are best practices that help move prospects to customers. Here are best practices for technology marketing throughout the funnel.
First, you must attract relevant visitors to your website. Don't worry about quantity of traffic; instead, focus on quality and intention to buy or engage. To do this, create content that aligns with your potential customer’s pain points, goals, and opportunities. Content includes: blog posts, eBooks, white papers, infographics, videos, and other relevant formats.
53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority (HubSpot).
As a search-engine best practice, start with keyword research and analyze competitor rankings. Utilize a range of keyword tools — like Moz and HubSpot — to find targets that indicate clear interest in your industry.
Optimize your pages and write content around these key terms. You can also amplify your content with a paid social media or AdWords strategy.
Pay heed to your customers' pain points: Search social media streams, conduct research, and interview customers. Seek to understand where, why, and what they browse. Then, you can organize a relevant blog and content strategy that converts users.
If you need help, hire an IT marketing strategy agency or freelance content team. B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month had almost 3X more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month (Hubspot) — so make consistent content a priority.
Publishing and syndicating third party content is also a great way to attract the right visitors. Creating content for industry publications can help establish credibility for you company - as well as get you in front of industry executives. Simply read the outlet’s editorial guidelines and write interesting content that shows your company understands the industry.
Now that there are visitors on your website, you need to convert them to business leads. The most effective way to do this is through high-quality conversion pages. Inbound is more effective than outbound marketing — cold calling, buying email lists, and direct mailings — to convert your audience. In fact:
When asked which tactics give a high ROI, 46% of marketers said inbound marketing, while only 12% said outbound marketing. – Hubspot
If your website includes contact forms, introduce content offers instead. The content should focus on a value proposition and talk about benefits, rather than features of your product (that will come later).
For example, an IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) company may offer a gated case study, "How an ITaaS Partnership Saved ACME Business $20,000 Y-o-Y." Such content provides value to a visitor, who may provide contact information to receive it.
Use a conversion form to ask questions that will help with targeting and qualifying later. For example, identify certain pain points, IT needs, and barriers to purchasing. These should all be easy to answer and codify — consider using a drop-down menu vs. open-ended text boxes.
Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts (Demand Gen Report).
After converting visitors, you must nurture them into opportunities. Unless the person indicated sales interest, resist the urge to call them. Instead, gradually explain the value of your IT solution via email, your website, and other retargeting efforts:
67% of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more. – Demand Gen Report
In the conversion stage, you gathered information. Now, this information will be useful in targeting different stakeholders.
For example, one stakeholder may be a technology expert who understands your solution and its interoperability with their current system. Yet you may also have a decision-maker poorly versed in IT solutions, who needs your service or product explained in terms of ROI. Now, how do marketers address both of these stakeholders? You can provide targeted campaigns using marketing automation software and ad campaigns.
Marketers using automation software generate 2X the number of leads than those using blast email software and are perceived by their peers to be 2X as effective at communicating – Autopilot.
Using a tool such as Hubspot, marketers can segment audiences and reach them with specific content. Send personalized campaigns that address the challenges and needs of each segment to nurture these individuals. You can also utilize lead scoring to prioritize leads for sales reps. Additionally, supplement your emails with paid retargeting ads on LinkedIn and/or other channels.
64% of marketers say they saw the benefits of using marketing automation within the first six months of its implementation (Regalix), so IT companies that have not invested in this software, should consider doing so.
When closing a deal, it’s important to have the marketing and sales teams aligned. Though it may seem as though this phase is only for the sales team, marketing will play a role as well:
When sales and marketing teams work together, companies see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates. – Hubspot
Salespeople can use marketing information to guide the sales conversation, What content did the prospect consume? Which pages did they view and return to later? How many emails did they open, and which? Marketers at this phase can create personalized, helpful content offers as one-off sends in the sales process or springboards for explanations on IT services and benefits.
95% of buyers purchase a solution that provided them with ample content at each stage of the buying cycle (Demand Gen Report). Marketers can help create customized content that can push the prospect to a customer.
When marketing IT services, individuals should maintain close a relationship with the sales team to ensure alignment throughout the buyer journey. Having content that matches this buyer journey is key for driving sales, so these two needs should work in tandem.
For B2B services, much more nurturing and personalized relationship is involved, and technology such as marketing automation can help organize and structure these budding relationships.
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