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The information technology industry is growing at lightning speed. If you’re in charge of marketing for an IT company, now is the time to take advantage.
In this post, we’ll break down:
- The marketing challenges faced by IT companies
- Why you need a real B2B marketing strategy
- 12 marketing best practices for tech firms
Rest assured that if you don’t invest in marketing, your competition will. Here’s what you need to know.
Explosive Tech Industry Growth and What It Means for Your Business
The IT industry is big – really big. And it’s growing fast – really fast.
CompTIA estimates that the global IT industry will grow by 3.7% this year, reaching a value of $5.2 trillion for 2020.
That’s pretty darn impressive.
But what does it mean for your business?
- Hypercompetition: There are a lot of companies trying to do what you do. That makes it difficult to get in front of the right tech buyers at the right time.
- Opportunity: If you get in front of your targets at the right time with the right message, you will succeed. But you need to get there before your competitors.
So, how do you get ahead of the competition and take advantage of the opportunity?
Drumroll, please …
You need marketing for your IT company!
Sounds simple enough. A few product brochures, a tradeshow or two, a couple social media posts, and you’re pretty much good to go, right?
Why Your IT Business Needs a Real B2B Marketing Strategy
Marketing IT products and services today is much different than even a few years ago.
- More complex products and services: Thanks to emerging technologies and customer demands, IT is more complicated than ever.
- New buyer personas: According to a recent CompTIA survey, 55% of industry leaders report that multiple departments influence IT spending.
- Longer buying cycles: According to CompTIA, 40% of IT leaders reported that buying cycles are getting longer. This is due to an increased number of vendors, more complex products/services, and more stakeholders being involved.
It’s important to remember, too, that marketing is a priority for your competitors. The same survey reveals that, for 60% of tech industry leaders, the top two priorities to achieve positive business growth in 2020 are:
- Reaching new customers
- Picking up new business from existing clients
And both of these require what? You guessed it!
Effective IT marketing.
So, how, exactly, do you “do” marketing for IT companies?
Glad you asked!
12 Marketing Best Practices for IT Companies
- Research Your Marketplace & Buyers
- Understand Your Competition
- Understand Your Target Audience
- Build a Killer Website
- Build a Solid MarTech Stack
- Create Content. Lots of Content.
- Build a Meaningful Social Media Presence
- Take Advantage of Tech Influencers
- Make a Splash with PR
- Get Ranked on Peer-to-Peer Review Sites
- Don’t Forget About Existing Clients
- Integrate Emerging Tech with Marketing
#1: Research Your Marketplace and Your Buyers
Wait! Don’t get scared off.
Research does not need to involve a budget-busting agency and months of lost time.
“Research” means making an effort to quickly understand the basics of your marketing and your audience. This should take weeks, not months. Paralysis by analysis is the death of any business-to-business marketing strategy.
#2: Understand your competition
First, identify three or four of your main information technology competitors.
Now dig into their websites, social media, and any other online or offline resources you can find.
How big are they? Who are their main clients? What’s their messaging? What types of marketing and sales techniques do you see them using most?
If they’re investing and they look savvy, you’ll be well served to try something similar.
#3: Understand your target audience
Gather data on your target audience (i.e., buyer personas) by meeting with your sales team and talking with customers.
Ask lots of questions to learn about their pain points. Where do they look for information? And what do they want to know before making a buying decision?
The more you know, the better you’ll be able to tailor your messaging and offers.
#4: Build a Killer IT Marketing Website
This should be a no-brainer for a tech company.
But you’d be surprised at the number of ugly, non-converting websites out there in the IT industry.
Don’t be one of them.
Your website is the first impression potential customers will get of your company.
Make it a good one.
And make sure you get these key elements right:
- Design and UX: Use a sleek, professional, intuitive design to look like the IT powerhouse you are.
- SEO: Get a proven professional to set this up right. Good SEO will ensure that your company’s site pops up on the first page for key search queries. The more you’re found, the more leads you’ll get.
- Think Mobile-First: Most IT marketing website visitors come from desktops. Doesn’t matter. Google only sees the mobile version of your site, so make it a good one.
- Speed: Google wants faster sites. Users want faster sites. Don’t neglect your web.dev Performance score. Get it to 70, minimum.
- Accessibility: You want everyone to be able to enjoy your website. Make sure you adhere to accessibility standards.
#5: Build a Solid Martech Stack
Marketing for IT companies is a tech- and data-driven discipline.
Marketing automation tools let you eliminate wasteful, manual processes. They take care of things like:
- Automated email sends
- Analytics and campaign tracking
- Social media management
- Lead scoring
The right marketing technologies allow you to gather data on everything you do.
This means you can actually measure the ROI of your website, content, and campaigns.
What’s really great these days is that you don’t have to spend a ton to build a great marketing automation stack. It’s entirely possible to enjoy full-featured automation for $1,000/month – or less. Don’t feel the need to invest in an old-school “enterprise” system. The mid-market entrants might surprise you.
(Or, heck. You’re an IT shop. You’re probably going to build something yourself. That’s cool, too.)
#6: Create Content. Lots of Content.
“Content is king.”
Business technology buyers want to arm themselves with knowledge to make the right decision.
This is where B2B marketing content comes in.
Create different types of content that answer your target buyers’ questions. (Refer to your research data here.)
Then, use your website, multi-channel campaigns, and PR efforts to get your content in front of your target audience.
As a bonus, Google loves content. The more you create, the more keywords you’ll rank for. That means more traffic and more leads.
#7: Build a Meaningful Social Media Presence
Social media can be a key element of marketing for IT companies.
But it needs to be done right. (Otherwise, it’s a waste of time and resources).
If you only have a few dozen followers and they’re mostly your employees, you’re not doing it right.
To achieve an effective B2B social media strategy you should:
- Set up and maintain individual accounts for your “thought leaders.” People engage more with thoughtful individuals than #brands. Keep your brand accounts alive, by all means. But gregarious individuals can move the needle.
- Focus in on the social media channels where your target audience is most active. This is generally LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Facebook in B2B. Sorry; you’re not ‘Gramable.
- Produce and promote your own content. Everyone in your industry is SEO competition – even the media. If you boost their content too much, you’re hurting yourself.
- Interact with industry influencers and your clients. (No, this isn’t rote “following back.” Actually interact.)
- Offer something that’s both on-brand and valuable. Social media won’t drive many B2B leads, but it can serve as a branding opportunity. In the event someone checks you out, make sure they’re happy with what they see.
#8: Take Advantage of Tech Industry Influencers
Before you roll your eyes, let’s clarify.
B2B influencers are not the type your teenage daughter follows on Instagram. (Far fewer photos of their legs on beaches, for one.)
Influencers for IT marketing are speakers at industry events and sources for influenctial publications.
These are the people you need to rub elbows with whenever you get the chance.
Just one mention of your company’s name by a true influencer can be huge. It will expand brand awareness and likely drive leads and new clients. Their imprimatur matters – a ton.
Influencers are especially powerful in information technology. In this space, buyers are keen to take the advice of experts to help them make the right purchasing decision.
#9: Make a Big Splash with PR
Like with social media, publication relations is a great tool for IT marketing. But only when it’s done right.
Don’t simply put out a press release about your new product offering, leadership change, or office opening. If anything, these are drops in the bucket.
Instead, invest in professional PR services to make a splash that will get you noticed as a leader in the IT industry. They’ll be able to highlight what makes you different and special, then get the word out.
#10: Get Ranked on Peer-to-Peer Review Sites
Would you book a hotel online without reading reviews from previous guests?
That’s why peer-to-peer review sites are wildly influential in the IT industry. If you’re in charge of marketing for an IT company, you can’t ignore them.
First, choose the site(s) most relevant to your line of business. Set up a profile and ask your most satisfied clients (nicely) to provide a review. QED.
These sites also offer paid promotional opportunities. Clutch, for example, offers:
- Sponsorships starting at $200/month and ranging to $18,000/month
- Sponsored contributed content
- Branded content
All of these are meant to increase visibility beyond a free profile. Advertising on review sites isn’t for everyone – it’s not cheap – but it can be effective.
#11: Don’t Forget About Your Existing Clients!
Whatever you do, don’t neglect existing clients while you’re marketing your IT company.
Connect with them on social media (and, whenever possible, in person).
Send out a useful weekly or monthly email to stay top of mind.
Build targeted campaigns with your sales and success teams to offer new products/services or upsell what you already have.
It’s a whole lot easier (and cheaper) to retain your existing clients than it is to acquire new ones.
#12: Integrate Emerging Technologies into Your Marketing Strategy
Remember, you’re marketing for an IT company. Why not show off your development chops by integrating emerging technologies?
Build an AI-driven chatbot for your website to engage users instantly.
Or think about integrating VR or AR into your content and let leads experience your company, rather than reading about it.
IT Company Marketing: The Bottom Line
Keeping up with a fast-paced IT industry is tough. You need more than just brochures and tradeshow booths. Marketing for IT companies is about building a comprehensive, integrated and effective system.
But just like tech, B2B marketing involves a lot of trial and error.
Try out as many different marketing techniques as you can. Measure and analyze your results. Then try some more!
Do your best to follow these steps, reach out for help when you need it, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of marketing for IT.