Our products are awesome? Our customers are happy with our services? Moreover, they are recommending us to their peers? If so, what is the best way to embrace digital marketing and start growing our business?
This is where we were standing, when we started as a technology company years ago. In this tutorial we will outline the best strategies we used in order to come up with successful and measurable marketing campaigns.
94% of businesses conduct online research before making a business decision to purchase a product or sign a service retainer plan. The increased demand for software solutions to facilitate the different workflow, sales and business processes has made the software industry highly competitive and dynamic. Software and tech SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) are among the first companies to join the new digital marketing trends in attempts to lower their customer acquisition cost.
Read on to discover where to start:
- SEO Marketing
- Pay Per Click (PPC)
- Influencer Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Public Relations
- Affiliate Marketing
- Referral Marketing
How to Choose, Mix and Implement the Right Digital Marketing Tactics
Determine your business goals, the unique solutions you are offering, find out what your target audience is, and what your target customers’ problems are. Having insight on that, you will be able to create marketing content that is relevant to your (potential) clients’ needs.
So, ask yourself which digital channels you can use to communicate with your customers most effectively. Research where your top competitors are online.
1. Create a Marketing Strategy
There are different types of digital marketing strategies and each one will help you reach a specific goal. Your goal may be to increase sales, create brand awareness, gain a competitive advantage, or establish yourself as an authority in your domain, just to name a few.
Digital marketing offers endless opportunities. But there is a catch. A lot of marketing techniques could turn into money pit-holes, if not managed or implemented in the right way.
Even though each marketing approach is different in terms of cost, time, expected results and effort, some marketing tactics produce real results, but only if implemented as a part of one unified marketing approach. The overall success of a campaign depends on the smart combination and alignment of a few chosen tactics.
If you are wondering how to best strategize your marketing efforts; have a look at the 12-Step Digital Marketing Plan Strategy for Software Development tutorial to make sure you start off on the right foot.
Your digital marketing strategy should be comprised of consecutive and logically connected marketing techniques and activities. Moreover, content creation will most likely be one of your most time-consuming activities.
After you have produced unique and actionable content, you will need to spend time and effort on traffic generation. Start by researching where distributing your content would be most effective.
Your website should be optimized to achieve a high rating on search engines results pages (SERP) before planning a marketing campaign.
Easy-to-go options for initial traffic generation are Social Media sponsored posts and Pay per Click campaigns. As you generate traffic and visitors visit your website, remember to optimize your campaign landing page for user experience as well as for friendliness for desktop users and mobile users.
Make sure to create Call to Actions, allowing your visitors to find more of what they are interested in on your website. Letting the user bounce off your landing page is an awful waste of your marketing efforts.
Give your visitors additional information about the software products and services you offer, provide valuable content for them to view or download, and get them to sign up for your email marketing list.
You will then be able to communicate with them by following up with a few emails to establish if they are truly interested in what you are offering. Thus, you can also give them the chance to think about any solutions you might have in their own time.
Your subscribers will gradually start seeking more detailed information on your products and services. They will start thinking about solutions that can meet their needs. Sending relevant email campaigns to these subscribers will slowly, but surely convert some of them into happy customers.
Make sure you establish credibility. Provide testimonials or case studies that will help your business clients make the right decision.
Having well-structured affiliate partnership programs and conducting influencer marketing will additionally have a strong impact on your prospects’ decision to become your customers.
2. Allocate Enough Time for Both New and Existing Customers
Once you create a strategy, and that strategy starts producing results, you will be more confident and motivated to spend more money, time and effort towards customer acquisition.
It is important to divide your time between acquiring new customers and keeping your existing ones happy.
Try to remind yourself regularly of the effort it took you to acquire those new customers. Spend time contemplating the vast opportunities these customers have to scale as users of your products and services.
Stay close to them. Acknowledge their changing needs on a regular basis and track how their businesses evolve.
Your product is most probably important to their success. You have an established relationship. Your customers already trust you. Some of them may be already referring potential customers to you. Customer retention is crucial to producing recurring revenue, so stay close to your customers.
Try to be the first to answer their changing needs. After your visitors have become leads and leads have become clients, keep those clients happy, stay on top of what they need to optimize.
If you find it hard to allocate enough time towards customer acquisition, as well as customer retention, consider finding yourself a partner, or hire a marketing retainer service provider.
Smart management of digital marketing efforts is much more important to a software and tech company to secure income on a regular basis because the buyer journey in the IT industry is typically long (between 12 and 18 months).
This is due to the fact that prospects need to make an in-depth study of a new contractor. Business clients need to make sure they are making the best possible decision for a long-term product or service they are investing in.
B2B prospects usually have tons of unanswered questions and concerns, such as:
- How would a specific product or service meet their needs?
- How will services be secured in the long run?
- Would a solution be adaptive and scalable?
- Will the products and services require a lot of additional costs in the future?
Craft specific content to address these concerns.
Test, test, and then test again until you discover the tactics that produce real results. To help you decide where to start, here is a short overview of nine of the best marketing strategies for small and medium-sized B2B tech companies, including some tips and tricks on how to quickly reap the rewards of your hard work.
9 Marketing Strategies for B2B Software and Tech SMEs
1. SEO Marketing
The main purpose of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to increase your brand exposure to search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing by ranking higher than competitors. According to SocialMediaToday, 71% of businesses use Google to research products and business solutions.
An effective SEO strategy increases the number of organic visitors to your website, which in turn can be moved through the sales funnel. Here are a few tips on how to ensure that your SEO efforts meet the highest current standards:
- Produce relevant, high-quality content
The search engines ranking process is based on smart and complicated algorithms. They filter the most relevant and up-to-date content to show to users. Your website or blog is most likely to be ranked higher if it provides its readers high-quality content, tailored to the specific solutions they are searching for. There are numerous tools and techniques that you can use to further enhance your on-page SEO.
Be sure to write content specifically tailored to your target audience’s needs and not for search engine optimization per se. If you know your content is relevant, unique and relieves your audience’s problems, you have a head start already.
- User Experience, Speed, and Compatibility
The overall design, color combinations, easy navigation, content structure and the software architecture of your website are all important factors to the user experience. The user should be able to navigate your website easily. And fast.
As search engines care to provide the best service to users, website speed is yet another important factor for a website to achieve a high search engine rank. As mobile usage has been on the rise, search engines rank high websites that are mobile-friendly and responsive to different mobile devices. Ever since 2015, mobile searches are a higher percentage than desktop searches.
- Internal Linking
Internal linking of the content on your website will not only improve SEO, but will also reduce bounce rates by helping readers find more of what they are looking for. Therefore, make sure to insert links to materials, that are in line with the topic of the current content you are showing to your visitor.
- Add structured data to your website
Check to see if you have added Schema Markup to your website. Make sure it is implemented in the right way and is carefully tested. That will easily boost your SEO, as most search engines use it, striving to return more descriptive and informative results to users.
Schema Markup provides information to them on data types you consider important, such as your products and services, a schedule of upcoming events, your contacts and more. Only 0.3% of all websites have currently implemented Schema Markup in their SEO strategies, so use the competitive edge.
An authority website is a well-known and trusted source that has been recognized as a leader in its domain. Moreover, search engines rank such websites higher to provide users the highest quality content. Having such a website link to a page on your website will boost your authority as well. However, receiving links from a low-quality source can harm your ranking.
So, make sure you prioritize quality before quantity when you are trying to get other sites to link to yours. Providing unique pieces of information is also extremely important to establishing high authority. In addition, you should always provide links to the original sources, that you quote in your content, that has already been published elsewhere.
- Video Descriptions and Image Tags
Search engines go through video description and image tags as well. Quite often video content makes its way to the top of the results page of a search engine. The text, describing the video content, is also known as alt text. Including keywords in the alt text will improve your SEO and help search engines identify your media content easier.
2. Pay Per Click (PPC)
Using Pay Per Click to generate sponsored search engine results is a nice technique which may help you get more exposure by listing your page as a top result of a search page query, based on specific sets of keywords.
Apart from the fact that direct results of a paid campaign are temporary, “sponsored links” in search engines let users know that you will be paying per their click; thus you may not be considered as the most reliable source of information they could possibly find.
Your visitors will also be redirected to a landing page with the highest number of keywords, matching the ones in the query.
Be prepared. Sometimes, that particular page, among all other pages on your website, may not be best suited to the visitor. For this reason, make sure you incorporate the most relevant keywords in the software industry and to your particular domain on your entire site.
There are different tools you can use to explore short tail and long tail keywords to target a broader or a more refined audience. Just to name a few:
- Google Keyword Planner
3. Influencer Marketing
You can use influencer marketing by establishing relationships with popular and influential people who share your mission and who your target audience already follows. Hence, influencers that share your mission will often be open to promoting your products or becoming ambassadors of your brand.
Influencer marketing has been adopted by many B2C companies and has produced astonishing results. The number of B2B companies, trying to create strong relationships with influencers, is on the rise as well. Here is why:
- People Trust People – Whether you are focused on B2B or B2C, there is always a human being you are communicating with. People often do not buy a product. They are buying the person who is selling them that product. People trust other people who they perceive as credible and trustworthy.
- B2B Customers Cannot Be Sold Merely Through Advertising – An advert that pops up in a window again and again, and again, is irritating and shows disrespect toward a customer’s valuable time. 26% of people already use ad blockers to remove ads which results in significant decrease in ad views and conversion rates.
- Open Lines of Communication – When you advertise, you are taking a one-sided communication approach. Influencer marketing, on the other hand, encourages dialogue between the company, the influencers and the audience. Influencers are often open to conversation and respond to huge amounts of comments, which typically delights users as it’s a sign of personal engagement.
- Deeper Market Penetration – Utilizing traditional marketing approaches is often time-consuming, expensive and may not be that efficient for companies that are trying to enter a new market. Building strong relationships with influencers though is often a powerful strategy to create exposure and reach a larger audience.
Do your due diligence and try to identify an influencer who is popular and trusted across your professional networks and industry, and whose values and behavior match your own company’s code of ethics. You should also consider the following criteria:
- Reach: How large is their community across all channels – blogs, contributed posts, social media followers?
- Relevance: How often are they talking about the topics that are relevant to your audience?
- Resonance: When they create content, how does it resonate with their broader audience and does it result in engagement?
Alternatively, consider partnering with micro-influencers – a new rising trend. They are typically less popular. but can be as much or even more effective through maintaining a high engagement rate among a strong base of followers. Last, but not least, micro-influencers will also cost you less, and thus may be a viable option for you to start with.
4. Email Marketing
Even though it feels like email marketing has been in the digital marketing stage forever, it is still on the rise today and is showing astounding results.
Statistics show that email marketing is still effective, especially for B2B companies, the reason being that 86% of professionals claim that they prefer email communication for business purposes (HubSpot marketing statistic, 2017).
Statistics also show that email marketing drives higher click-through rate (47%) to B2B rather than B2C companies.
According to 56% of digital marketers, email marketing is the most effective channel for business communication with existing customers. You can provide useful information to your subscribers about upcoming company events, a new product launch, educational materials.
Try to maintain high-quality communication to establish strong relationships with your prospects or key stakeholders.
Often the customer acquisition path is long and takes a lot of time. You can keep your subscribers engaged by providing educational content, tutorials, training, industry trends, case studies on problems that you have already solved for other customers, and more.
Despite the fact that many businesses invest huge budgets and time on email marketing, they still do not see significant results. The sooner you identify the reason why a campaign is not producing results, the sooner you can create another campaign that does.
Many things could go wrong when managing a campaign: lack of personalization of the emails to your subscribers, not addressing a specific need, direct promotions to subscribers who are not yet ready to buy, too complex or domain-specific information that readers are not interested in, the poor choice of frequency of emails sent to subscribers, and more.
Analyzing and fine-tuning your email campaigns on a daily basis is key: You should calculate how much time you can allocate to managing your email campaigns yourself. Alternatively, you can choose to use professional services to do that for you, so you can invest your time on strategic business tasks.
5. Content Marketing
Content marketing became one of the most effective and preferred types of marketing in the past decade. In 2017, 89% of B2B marketers used content as their main marketing tactic, and 62% said it has improved over the past year.
People come to your website for a reason – they face a business challenge and need help to overcome it. It wouldn’t be wise to send those visitors directly to your price list page. As mentioned above, a B2B purchase cycle takes about 12-18 months. Therefore, give your customers the time and the relevant content to learn more about your company and its solutions to establish credibility.
To position yourself and your brand as a top-of-mind company in your field, focus both on quality and quantity. Create engaging content, and create it often to keep your audience interested. Here are some types of content you should think about when creating a content marketing strategy for B2B companies:
- Video content (70% of B2B tech companies confirm that videos are the most effective content at the top of their sales funnel (Regalix).
- Blog content (used by 90% of the tech companies).
- Case studies and testimonials (read by 42% of B2B buyers in the tech sector).
- Webinars (used by 84% of B2B tech marketers and 69% of them find this content effective).
- Infographics (top format to educate new leads, according to 63% of the B2B marketers).
- Whitepapers (used by 80% of B2B marketers)
6. Social Media Marketing
Social Media marketing tools are perceived as the most powerful tool for B2B companies to communicate and interact with their respective stakeholders, according to research conducted by Omobono.
You can use the power of social media for various purposes, such as to improve your SEO, to increase your brand awareness, to promote new products, to solve clients’ issues in real time, and to examinе your clients’ attitudes and needs.
Social media platforms are fast-paced digital environments that many SMEs struggle to catch up with. This is why having a clear social media strategy is a must. Determine what your goal is and decide whether, how and on which platform you will work toward achieving that goal.
Here are some tips on how to be successful in social media marketing:
- Choose the right platforms to be active on, based on your target audience.
- Interact with your followers. Respond to comments, reply to their private messages as quickly as possible.
- We all make mistakes sometimes. Thus, acknowledge your mistakes, apologize when necessary, and compensate for any inconvenience.
- Be active on multiple relevant social media platforms, not just one.
- Publish posts regularly.
- Listen to the negative feedback and convert it into goals.
- Monitor name mentions.
- Create relevant #hashtags for each of your campaigns.
- Interact with influencers.
- Focus on video content to boost your organic reach.
- If you decide to promote sponsored content in a certain social media, make sure to educate yourself on a regular basis on how to achieve the right results, or hire professional services to monitor your budget and campaigns for you.
7. Public Relations
Although Public Relations is not really a type of digital marketing, it can have a great impact on your company’s digital marketing presence if you incorporate it into your strategy.
Investing in PR can improve your brand exposure and reputation. You are certainly increasing your brand awareness if you have media coverage. In addition to public speaking, use celebrity endorsements and promote corporate social responsibility.
The core purpose of PR is to help you establish and maintain a strong and beneficial relationship with your stakeholders through effective and regular communication.
Lead your industry by focusing on transparent decision-making processes, ethical and moral norms of operations, by helping your community with reports on the challenges you face, and the innovations you’ve made, and by creating a corporate social responsibility plan.
8. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing focuses on performance-based types of business partnerships. The role of your affiliate partner is to connect the buyer to your company. The affiliate gets paid a commission on the sale when a purchase has been made.
If you are considering offering your services globally, consider using an affiliate to reach and convert your customer base. Choose your affiliate partners carefully, as they will be the ambassadors of your brand, selling your product or service to their customers.
9. Referral Marketing
Much like affiliate marketing, referral marketing can be used to increase a company’s sales and online exposure by paying commission for recommendations. The main difference between those two types of marketing is that the representatives of referral marketing are existing customers and partners, who have already used your products and loved it.
Thus, this marketing approach is preferred by many B2B companies because it relies on customer satisfaction, it demonstrates trust and reliability. 26% of digital marketers say that referral marketing is the most effective marketing program for existing customers, especially for companies offering software as a product.
Through the power of client testimonials, using the right communication channels, for example, social media allows you to promote your products to the right audience. Additionally, it gives your existing customers an incentive to promote your services.
Before starting the implementation of referral marketing, you should focus on a few key aspects:
- Facilitate and simplify the referral process as much as possible – Do not make your clients lose time trying to figure out how to communicate your offer to their friends and followers. Therefore, prepare referral tools, such as hashtags, landing pages, and personalized subscription links, in advance.
- Offer the right incentives – Find out what moves the people, who are referring your service, and what would truly motivate them to become your ambassadors.
- Implement referral marketing in your overall marketing strategy – Set up Call to Action (CTA) buttons on your website or blog posts, let your referrals use an email signature, monitor and measure the referral campaign.
There is a great variety of digital marketing strategies, but you should invest time and money only in those that will help you achieve your goals. Businesses have become hectic, CEOs strive to increase sales and return on investments, but not every company has the know-how or resources to master their digital presence.
DevriX started as a tech company as well. The need for a marketing strategy became more and more apparent to us as we were growing. We spent 4 years on designing an inbound marketing strategy for a software development company, tailored and validated in-house. If you are interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to get in touch.