If you are an IT company in need of a technology marketing plan to run your company, here is a starting place. This plan will help you develop new client relationships and nurture existing ones with a simple to follow guide.
[Start Here] This article has a lot of sections, so here is a quick way to jump around. Everything you’ll need to market your IT company is here.
Marketing Strategy for IT Companies
The first place we need to start is with the overall marketing strategy that IT companies need to have with concern to their online marketing. By the very nature of their business, the tech business is tough to explain. There’s a lot of jargon prevalent throughout the industry. Too often this leads to lost business as the benefits of working with your company are lost amongst the shuffle of technical language.
But that only highlights how little IT consultants truly use online marketing well, despite the fact that they work in the digital world. A clear and well-defined message should be at the heart of your digital strategy. There’s a lot of opportunity out there for smart companies to take advantage of the benefits of online marketing.
The core of the marketing strategy for IT companies is around four stages, awareness, convert, close, and delight.
Each of the phases have activities that speak to the point of that phase in detail.
The Awareness Phase
This is all about getting your name out there. We call this the awareness journey in the marketing growth guideposts. Many organizations are struggling in this space, in fact, this is the most critical area of the entire funnel. Without good awareness, you’ll never have enough opportunities to leverage for growth in your company.
Awareness is about making your customers aware of your business. There are so many different ways to go about this, yet we are going to stick to the ones that don’t involve a chicken suit and a street corner. What we offer are tried and true methods of digital marketing for IT companies.
The Convert Phase
Once you have traffic to your website, the next phase is to convert that traffic into potential customers. This is the essence of the convert phase. Now the big question, how do you do that?
Most people think of websites of having one major call-to-action, or CTA, the “contact us” page. This is great for customers who are ready to do business right now, which would be maybe 1 out of every 10,000 visitors to your site.
So what do you do with the other 99,999 visitors? We try to engage them where they are, with content that might be appealing to them and helps solve a problem they might have. For example, if you are a managed service provider, you might have a few cybersecurity tips that you could share for the exchange of an email address. They get a valuable PDF full of help, and now you have one more potential client in your contact list. Brilliant!
So the key to success in this is to create enough conversion points that allow everyone to find a conversion so you can convert 2-5% of all visitors to your site with relative consistency. Each conversion should be tailored to a different stage in the funnel. This is the key to lasting results in digital marketing.
The Close Phase
Most of the closing phase happens on the phone and in the board room. Once a client reaches out to you for a quote or IT help, digital marketing might not come into play– but don’t write it off yet.
You’ll still be doing a good bit of email marketing during the closing phase. This might be case studies, samples of your work, or information sheets. Shouldn’t you put as much effort into those emails as you would your outreach emails?
You are going to need a solid proposal template, a great powerpoint template, and the savvy to work a presentation in the close phase. But your emails and social media can also lend a hand when it comes to closing deals.
The Delight Phase
Your marketing enters a different phase once a lead is now a client, but you still have to present a solid marketing effort to your clients. Now your marketing can move into client retention efforts versus onboarding. In the world of IT consultants, repeat business and referrals are key to your long term success. Happy clients will tell others, and might make the right connection for you in the future. Don’t forget that the majority of your clients are probably on a retainer basis. An unhappy client will mean a broken contract and lost business. If your IT company has poor customer retention, all the awareness marketing in the world won’t help you. But marketing specifically for the delight phase will.
You’ll use email marketing here in varying degrees. You might have a newsletter that keeps them on trend with your latest thinking, and you’ll use personal emails to connect with them periodically to build a relationship. Every communication with current clients from closing on out should focus on delight and creating happier customers.
Common Challenges With The Phases
There are a few common problems that come up when you have a sales and marketing methodology like this. First, and most common is putting a potential client in the wrong phase. You might have someone reach out to you after visiting your website really briefly asking for a proposal or quote. This could be good, but unless they have the necessary information they are not really qualified to be in the close phase yet. They are not really aware of your service and what makes your company unique.
Another problem is not putting the effort into each phase appropriately. 80% of your effort needs to be in the awareness or “prospecting” phase of the funnel. The remaining 20% to 10% is spent on closing, with the rest split between nurture and delight.
80% of your marketing effort should be on increasing the awareness of your company to your potential customer
Marketing Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint
A last word of encouragement before we move to the next section, that your marketing plan will be a marathon. There are small victories, but it’s an endurance game. Stick it out to the end and create the right materials and do the right activities to keep your company growing and business booming.
Websites for IT Companies
The most important aspect of your marketing will be your website. It’s your virtual leave behind, it’s your storefront, it’s your presentation deck and more. The website is now the central piece of all your marketing and lead conversion. Put simply, it needs to be fantastic.
Seek Simplicity and Focus
There is so much to write about website design and conversion optimization, we have articles on our site about those topics that you should read, but the most important thing to understand is that your site is not about you. It’s about your client finding the solution to their problem.
What does this look like? It looks like a website that talks to a potential customer, not about the stats and successes of your company. There is a time and place for that, but it’s not every page. Every single page has a very specific mission.
Your company’s services pages should focus on what you can offer your customers. If we reflect on our phases, there are a couple of things to consider for these pages.
The SEO focus for these pages should be SERVICE in LOCATION. For example, “cybersecurity strategy in Frederick, Maryland.” Your local SEO (people finding you in your town) will increase with this focus.
You should have a call to action to contact you for more information, but you also need an awareness phase take-away, which might be something of a self-help or tips guide for that service that your potential visitor can sign up for (read: give you an email address). Everyone wins, as you now have a new potential client email, and they get some help or value on the way.
Case Studies or Client Pages
You need to have “social proof” about your service. People need to know that it works, and has worked for others like them in the past. This can be done in a few different ways.
The most important way is to have testimonials. This is important as your visitors will want to hear how it has worked in the past and what it will be like for them. You should collect 5-7 testimonials. That is all you’ll need for the time being.
You should work to collect about 5-7 testimonials before launching your site.
Second, you’ll want to do a case study or sample of your work in real-time. Walkthrough a problem-solution scenario, or discuss how your services were rendered to solve the problem. This should be done in good detail, as the client will spend time here trying to figure out if this will work for them.
Third, another way you can go about this is a client list. I don’t like this for two reasons. Once, you have to put a good bit of clients there to make it seem like you’re not small, and then two, you give your competitors your entire client list. Food for thought…
The Information IT Blog
Yes, you’ll need a blog and here is why. The blog is the best place to grow your site content around the details of your SEO strategy.
There will need to be blogs written for your website quite frequently because Google loves sites that produce content. Additionally, you’ll have a keyword strategy that you’ll want to cover. You see, blogging is not about your whims, it’s a strategic exercise in writing thought-provoking content around keywords and topics that are of interest to different phases in the funnel.
You might get a chance to write about your cares, but mostly you’ll be writing topics that will help you get rankings and results for Google.
The Contact Us Page
Your contact us page is pretty basic. It includes all the request-a-contact information and a contact form to help people submit after hours. You might even try some more current technologies like Calendly or Hubspot sales to help schedule meetings.
Keep it simple, but also set expectations on what they will get when they contact you. This might mean having a brief statement about what you’ll discuss and how long it might take.
The Conversion Forms
Throughout your site, you will have content for conversion. All those content pieces we talked about early on, will need a landing page. You’ll want to look to make those pages work better and better each month, as your conversion percentage can greatly increase the number of leads that you have.
Email Marketing for IT Companies
Email marketing will be the workhorse of your online marketing. It’s used in almost all phases of your marketing and it ranges from very personal, to blast emails targeted at groups of contacts. Here’s how it plays out.
The Types of Emails You’ll Send:
Thought Leadership Email
This is typically what we refer to as an “email newsletter“. Newsletters in the past have been much more about the company and news, but the recent shift in the sales and marketing process turns the newsletter into a value presentation to the client. You’re sending valuable insight and content to the recipients to build value.
This is a series of emails that you will send after someone signs up for your content conversions. So if someone downloads an ebook, or signs up for a newsletter, you’ll send them this drip series of emails. This is an automated series that includes the following five emails by topic.
- Thank You – This is an email thanking the user for downloading your content and establishing goodwill.
- Problem/Solution – This is an email that explains a common problem and your solution to that problem.
- Objection – Overcome a common objection to your services and why your solution is best.
- Testimonial – An example of a successful execution of your service.
- Sales Letter – This is the ASK of the entire sequence, where you focus on the sales effort.
You should set these to be about a day or so between each one, nothing greater. You don’t want them to forget the brand and your solution for too long. But neither do you want to overload contacts with four emails in a day.
Direct email is really another way of saying personalized emails. Sending sales-based emails should be a regular part of your sales and marketing process. These include the following types of emails.
- Check-ins – Seeing how the client is doing personally or professionally
- Updates – Sending updates about your company that might impact the client
- Value-Add – Finding an article or piece of content that might be of value to your potential client or current client.
No matter how long a client works with you, they will need to be reminded of your services and what you do. Many times a client will pigeon-hole you into a specific offering that might not be your best offering or your most profitable. They might even have a problem in that area, and not know how to solve it.
Your service reminders are simply ways of letting them know what you do, who you’ve done it for, and what they can expect in the process. It’s important to frame a reminder as a core service, rather than a “new” service you are offering. New services are open to scrutiny, whereas core services are reliable. So make sure you don’t launch new services over email. Rather, launch new services on a case by case basis with those who can benefit, and once it’s vetted, you can roll it out as a reminder to all clients.
Lastly, the feedback email is important to know how well you’ve done for the client. This is a great source of testimonials, NPS scores, or any other feedback mechanisms you might need to shore up your service and make it a great service.
You can use a simple survey platform, like surveygizmo.com, and then send your emails out in your current email service provider.
Social Media Marketing For IT Companies
Where does social media fit into the IT company’s world? It’s a necessary element to any online marketing presence and should be considered for almost all IT businesses. Here’s why.
Besides the fact that just about everyone is on social media of some sort, being on social media serves two purposes for you as a tech company. First, it gives you increased credibility that you are “concurrent” with the world’s technology. This a shallow reason, but a good one. Second, it will allow you to promote your brand and demonstrate your expertise to an audience on a regular basis.
Facebook Marketing For IT Companies
A business page can be very successful for the 21st Century IT company. While you’ll find the majority of your audience on a professional platform like LinkedIn, Facebook is a good platform to develop company culture. Not all social media channels need to address customers directly. Think of your Facebook business page as a hiring arm. Use Facebook to introduce the world to a behind-the-scenes look at your company and attract new talent to your IT company.
I’d focus on sharing good content and ideas to bring value to your potential customer. Facebook ads are also one of the less expensive platforms for lead generation through paid social.
Linkedin Marketing For IT Companies
This is a requirement. Most of your B2B leads will be coming from Linkedin if you are planning to use social media for lead generation. You can successfully use Linkedin marketing to network and meet new people, you can also use it to bring value to your connections.
Most IT companies are going to want to create both a business page and a personal profile for the sales team and CEO. Personal profiles tend to get more engagement, allow for digital networking, and give you access to parts of LinkedIn, such as groups, that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. I’d recommend joining groups where you can add value to the conversation and become the expert. Think of it as a small speaking engagement. Use the discussion to further extend your expertise and build value in the marketplace.
Company pages give you yet another professional platform to market your company. You may not get as much engagement, but pages allow you to run advertisements and have a cohesive branded platform devoid of all personal content.
You can also use Linkedin to network. I’ve connected with many people over Linkedin, who later became clients or referral sources. The key is to bring the connection into real life. Sit for coffee, or pick up the phone for a call. A Linkedin connection does no good for you if it remains purely a digital connection.
Twitter Marketing for IT Companies
This is good as long as you match it to your needs. If you are not someone willing to commit to the hyper-speed of consumer media, then I’d take a pass. But if you are an IT company that deals with the nonprofit/financial/higher education markets, or something similar, then be on it.
The key to Twitter is to be on it, frequently. The recommended posting frequency is at least five times a day. Twitter is a fast refreshing platform. Content that has been on there for over a few hours is old news. Make sure you interact on the platform as well. This includes things like retweets, likes, and comments. Images are also great, and twitter is big on video now, so you can post a few seconds of video on twitter with no problem. Keep your twitter marketing focused on adding value to your customer base.
Tactically, a few points. Connect with new people every week. Use hashtags as much as possible, and follow the trending bigger conversations.
Instagram Marketing for IT Companies
Don’t do it. Unless you’re using it purely for hiring purposes.
Pinterest Marketing for IT Companies
Don’t do it- ever.
Advertising For IT Companies
Advertising is now the last step in the journey. You’ve created all your sites, assets and have your messaging down. Now it’s time to attract clients through advertising.
You will receive a good bit of attention from your site, content and social media just by doing them. But there will come a point when you will want to “turbocharge” your marketing efforts with digital advertising.
Here are some of the options to consider:
Google advertising will be your best bet to create some traffic for your website. There are lots of details on how to create a good advertising. We’ve written some extensive posts on how to set up ads, and how to pick your Google Ads budget. The important thing to know is that Google is a good investment if it’s done right. There is a reason that this is a staple of digital advertising.
The challenge is that you will not be the best person to set this up. This is definitely a task that is best suited for the experts, simply because they will get better results than you will alone. This goes for most advertising spending. Don’t waste your money.
It’s very likely that you have some customers and potential customers on Facebook. So it’s a good channel to try to locate and find your customers on this channel. Facebook Advertising has many nuances that need to be explored in your campaign to make it work really well, and again, hire someone to do it.
But you should set up your page as we recalled in the earlier section, and have a presence even if only to stay current and post relevant information.
Buying Email Lists
A word of warning here, In 99.99% of cases, I’d advise not buying email lists. Here’s why.
- The quality is typically poor, meaning they have low open rates
- You don’t know how old the list is, so it could be irrelevant
- It’s unsolicited, so you are in fact SPAMMING your potential customer.
In fact, the only reason I’d put it here is that if you have a very large budget, you could potentially use it as a branding campaign, with a content or top of funnel conversion piece. I used to have an extremely hard line against buying email lists. However, in recent years, I have changed that just a little bit. The truth is that buying email lists has a lot to do with your goals for the campaign. The most common use of list buying is to enter new markets where you have lots of volume to explore and an offer or service that you know works.
This is one of our favorite B2B online advertising options. The premise behind Google remarketing is that you only show ads to those people who have visited your site. You are targeting a very specific audience so you can give more targeted information and messaging in your ad.
Once a user visits your site, a cookie is set on their computer. When they visit a site that participates in the Google network, your ad shows. It’s very effective and targeted, which helps in the display ad realm– a “spray and pray” ad platform which we typically don’t recommend.