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How to make marketing for IT companies effective

The promotion of IT companies is complicated by high prices, serious competition and products that are not easy to perceive for consumers. Cheap, fast and high quality – these three will never lead to a sales launch. IT is a difficult market where high demands are placed on the team from the very first steps.

What hinders effective marketing of IT companies

Experienced IT marketers are worth their weight in gold

The challenges of IT marketing

It is difficult to find marketers who not only work in the B2B sphere, but who know the specifics of the IT market, have expert skills and background. It is required to understand the terminology, at least a little orientation in the promotion product and the subject area around it.

For example, a marketer is needed for a development team building a subscription-based SaaS product. Programmers are able to create cool solutions that make it much easier for designers, marketers and targeting specialists to work with images, texts, videos. But at the same time, developers don’t know how to capture the attention of the target audience and sell their product. They implement an expensive feature, but find themselves at a dead end. It is not clear how to broadcast the development to the masses, what distribution channels to use. Not knowing other ways, the team blindly uses SEO or tries to sell something to the end consumer through contextual advertising.

However, only an experienced marketer is able to make a sober assessment of which channels will bring the greatest effect and build a sales funnel based on them. Having experience of working with one product, having understood how best to promote and advertise it, attracting customers, a marketer can fail if he or she does not have the proper outlook. A different product dictates different rules of marketing promotion.

Comparing a free-lance marketer and a specialist of an outsourcing company, the second one always has a higher level of expertise and a developed outlook, he has a “good knowledge”. This is due to the presence of constant practice of working with similar models and products. This is the only way to understand how to promote them, representing at least in general terms the reaction of the target audience.

It is difficult to gain the trust of the target audience

Trust is 90% of success in the B2B niche. It is formed through expert material, content, videos. Before offering to buy a product, it is necessary to prove that it is necessary and important. The customer will only show interest if he or she trusts the evidence and conclusions given.

To build trust, you can use:

  • Storytelling – storytelling in text or video formats about key facts, history, challenges and successes of the company.
  • Getting to know the team, interviews or interesting insights from key employees.
  • Feedback from customers already familiar with the product or service. The format of the feedback is not important to strengthen the retargeting funnel. Positive emotions of people always influence the decision to make a purchase.
  • Thoughtful content and realised case studies that show how the product changes the world and people by helping them solve problems.

The intricacies of internet marketing for the IT industry

It is not enough to be a marketer and understand the IT product. You need to have proven sales methods that lead to concrete results. You need to know how to launch a campaign when the channels for promotion have already been identified, analytics have been carried out, and the first conclusions on how to make a good start have been obtained. The first four months allocated for onboarding and product launch should be detailed.

Some companies on the market are engaged in consulting, substituting marketing for them. Optimisation, tagging and parsing of the semantic core are not carried out by consulting marketers, the client is given only recommendations on how to do it all himself.

How to choose the right semantics for launching IT company adverts

An IT company may face specific difficulties when launching selected channels. Here are two examples of simple semantic analyses that a person not versed in products can skip and end up wasting traffic and a huge budget.

Even people far from marketing have heard that the easiest way to get started is with contextual advertising. But who thinks that it is extremely difficult to expertly parse the semantic kernel, without understanding IT and product line, and without having accumulated experience. Let’s break it down with some examples.

For example, you need to promote hosting. Under the task is selected semantics, but the devil lies in the details. There is a system of protection – firewall. The request “firewall for the network” / “firewall + vendor name” – this is definitely a commercial, interesting request for hosting.

But if you formulate the query in other words, taking the word-analogue – “firewall”, it will immediately lead 80% of users who understand the firewall settings in Windows. But the firewall is also in Windows Server, and there are a lot of queries on it, because specialists are looking for information on how to configure it for Windows assembler. The purchasing potential of such an audience will be minimal.

Another example. All IT developers and support specialists know what GitHub hosting is. But a traffic specialist may think that it is the name of a hosting brand, although it is just a global repository for Linux, where various code compilations are posted. If you take “hosting github” as semantics, it will be a completely meaningless, uninformative and non-commercial query. The purpose of the client’s search is not to find information, but to get the hosting address for downloading codes, and nothing more.

Similar examples exist for any topic. The trick is to distinguish between synonymous queries and not to waste traffic by choosing the wrong semantics, you need to be an expert and have the right level of insight, to constantly “cook” within the IT market, improving your experience in promoting, advertising and selling high-tech products.

Why an IT services marketing company would want to test semantics

Semantics is the basis of demand, a visual demonstration of how the market searches for a product. It is the basis of contextual and targeted advertising systems, SEO.

If you take a niche that is far from IT, for example, where you need to promote an atelier for tailoring suits, there will be a lot of semantics directions. We need to take into account different styles, model and colour combinations, size range. The volume of semantics usually exceeds 50 semantic blocks.

In B2B and B2C projects IT topics are much less, but you need to be well versed in them. A potential client should be ready to test all the blocks in order to select the main ones. Even from a small set of semantic blocks (10-15) there are about 20-30 bundles, each of which should be tested.

Product hypotheses are built on semantic sets, bundles of creatives and target audiences are made, and specific targeting settings are implemented. From the bundles, 5-10 typical ones are selected (IT marketing help, targeting help, SEO, SEO for IT, IT brand promotion help), designed for the same CA.

These basic sets are multiplied by the target audience. There are a lot of such mixes. Therefore, it is desirable to detail one target portrait, otherwise there will be a lot of bundles. For example, 15 semantic blocks or ideas about promotion targeting for one audience requires 15 tests. If you conduct research for several CA, the number of tests will increase dramatically, which will require a huge budget, which most advertisers do not have.

Experience has shown that it is enough to test basic bundles, a minimum of two target audiences or bundles for different countries. Prepare yourself for the fact that you will have to invest in testing 15-30 bundles.

There is one caveat here: in B2B semantics, if marketing takes into account the needs of legal entities, the price of a lead starts at 27$. To train the targeting system so that it can demonstrate results and find leads similar to the ones that came in, the system must get 10 conversions in a week. This means that it will take 270$ to test one bundle! Multiply by 15, and it already requires 4050$ just for a set of tests.

In reality, not all bundles have the necessary volume of demand, not all are well received, and they can be reduced. But you need to prepare for very serious budgets even at the test level!

That’s why at the launch stage, especially in markets with fierce competition and high advertising costs, you need to work out your target audience by taking one super important avatar for the customer who buys your main product. This will avoid sputtering into different marketing funnels, explore the customer’s needs perfectly, and offer a solution to their problem as efficiently as possible compared to competitors.

An IT company can have as many products as it wants, but you can build an effective integrated marketing mix by focusing on just one product/service!

Marketing for IT companies: calculating for the future

In IT, there are products (applications aimed at a wide audience) that easily find their customers. But for the most part, products take a long time to sell. Of all the high-tech services, SaaS is the easiest to sell, as the bundles to promote lie on the surface.

Support and development services have a big deal cycle (the average price of a large project on the international market is about $80,000–100,000). This is a long-term purchase, just like buying an outsourcing service with a high cheque and a long period of approval, selection.

To prepare a product for sale, for example, a website, you need to work with the CA for a long time through retargeting. And to make it work, you need to take care of placing the maximum number of pixels of all kinds of social networks, etc. from the moment the product is launched. It is not a pity to invest $500 a month to warm up the audience, which has already spent $10,000 to attract. It should continue to be warmed up in social networks through retargeting, using AdWords, YouTube.

You need to keep attention at all times, as the product is complex. Out of 10,000 conversions, only one lead may appear. In retargeting, to get it, you have to have 500 people in your target audience. And you will have to spin adverts on all of them constantly for a week or a month.

If you are working with an international project, basic experience with LinkedIn, Xing, Medium, etc. is mandatory. Inability and unwillingness to work with them is a big mistake of a marketer, because on these platforms there is a huge audience, there is a large coverage, you can warm up well.

How micro-markup affects the promotion of IT companies

Even good IT companies with huge turnovers forget about markup. And if there is no micro markup, you can’t identify touch points with customers, you can’t find out what visitors did, what micro-conversions they made. As a result, the company is deprived of information about customer activity, quality assessment and traffic indicators, as a result, a whole segment of the audience remains invisible.

If there is no micro-markup, it is impossible to track micro- and macro-conversions and, accordingly, to evaluate the effectiveness of the sales funnel, depriving the business of information about marketing performance indicators. The tendency for a constant increase in the cost of traffic leads to an increase in the price of advertising and, if the advertising cabinet is set up correctly, more profit. This is possible if the targeting system training uses pixel markup on target actions, demonstrating how to match based on target action analysis the appropriate user behaviour.

Mechanisms of IT product adaptation in marketing

There are different variations of purchase decisions in the world. IT companies usually translate the creatives and texts on the website themselves. When the decision is made to select a contractor and launch an advertising campaign, marketers still have to test sales models in practice.

CustDev is a way of getting feedback from the user. Potential customers are interviewed, asking lots of questions about the product, service, and why you (didn’t)buy it, or didn’t buy it, what issues arose, etc. Interviewees are sought through a specialised service or by running ads that gather an audience for the survey.

You need to interview 7-9 respondents or use the expertise of a client who has already built sales and established communication with customers. But even in this case, it is necessary to conduct an interview with the client, finding out the audience portrait, key metrics. On this knowledge it will already be possible to launch.

If the client intends to scale up to enter another country, specialised services are used to search for potential clients. You can set search parameters (we want to talk to users of a similar service to the one we are launching, who have bought a premium subscription in the last six months). Based on the feedback – what (dis)likes, why they bought premium, what triggered it, how they found it – an understanding of the product is compiled. Only by taking a similar product (or an audience close to a competitor’s product) as a basis can you build your own marketing.

Generating quality traffic for IT companies

Clients, especially those far from marketing, want everything at once. For example, they want to use multichannel promotion. This is a fundamentally flawed judgement.

For example, the client has already mastered SEO with the standard costs of buying links or learnt how to make videos. For him, this is a simple and understandable channel that he is able to run on his own. In the beginning it always makes sense to take one channel, one link, one audience and find a super cheap lead-generator channel without expertise, which will confidently pour traffic into the sales funnel on the site.

Next, with the help of pixels and retargeting, you can work with the traffic by following a procedure to insulate those who came in. The transaction cycle is long, it takes at least 30-100 touches from customers through banner ads, sense, to the point where he orders something.

With one channel, you need to attract a volume of audience that will trigger retargeting of other channels.

Features of retargeting for IT companies

Each of the advertising systems has a threshold for retargeting ads. For example, Facebook starts displaying ads if more than 100 unique users have visited the site, LinkedIn – more than 300 users with a registered account in the network, AdWords – from 100 to 500. YouTube has the same bundle as LinkedIn: you must not only visit the site, but also have a YouTube profile (gmail mail), and there must be at least 1000 such events.

In practice, in order for complex retargeting to work, to increase the memorability of a brand or product, you need to collect a decent volume of audience. It is required to attract at least 2000-3000 users to make everything work. To make the process go, the number of transitions must overcome the milestone of 10,000. It is difficult to get a positive result with less investment and the number of transitions.

In complex topics with a budget of $1000 per month to do nothing. To start you need to have $4000-5000 minimum. To get the first hot leads, you need to buy a lot of traffic steadily and for a long time. This applies to the mechanics of working with any complex niches and projects: a lot, long, expensive. The probability of conversion triples if the number of touches between the client and the advert has exceeded eight times. Only in this case there will be a result.

It is very rare for five bundles out of 30 per project to deliver results, although more often than not no more than two demonstrate results and are suitable for further scaling.

Leveraging competitors’ expertise in SEO for effective marketing of IT companies

In order to improve ranking and attract organic traffic, you can use competitor analysis by parsing relevant topics. Based on the closest topics, a content plan is formed for SEO promotion of the site as a whole.

This methodology should be used along with content planning for case study creation and writing materials that go to support current articles. In addition, you need to look at what else on the competitive analysis works, where it shoots, what topics come in well, what pages give the highest traffic. By selecting a few suitable and relevant topics, this approach gives a good start with a minimum of costs for processing semantics and screening out untargeted queries.

How information traffic affects the marketing success of IT companies

Content strategy is built separately for commercial and informational requests. It is necessary to get maximum information traffic while reducing advertising costs.

In case studies, marketing content always takes into account the client’s pain points:

  • problem;
  • opportunities to save money and time;
  • closed vulnerabilities;
  • difficulties in the implementation process;
  • the benefits of using the product (service);
  • time spent.

What pain points does content address

Marketing content should always contain a call to action. Content created using this methodology can be informative or educational in nature. At the same time, it is able to bring a conversion rate of 1% of those who read the material.

An important factor in content marketing is the systematic nature of publications. Quality publications should appear regularly, providing potential customers with the right information at the right time. They should travel through the sales funnel without noticing it. Observing the conditions of place, time of publication and useful content manages to achieve a balanced and working content strategy.

Commercial traffic is expensive, so informational traffic becomes a direct path to scaling sales, raising conversion rates at a moderate investment. Informational content can bring in a semantic core, which can then be warmed up with retargeting to sell an IT product.

All these nuances of marketing for IT companies and products are worked out in practice. For example, having received after the publication of a simple informational material on setting up electronic sites more than 40 thousand transitions for a year and 1% conversion rate, it is important to actively apply this methodology in all projects, getting the most out of the information traffic.

Marketing for IT in practice

Given: a company engaged in IT services and consulting in the B2B segment. No clear marketing strategy, audience, applications on the website. For promotion the methods of classical Internet marketing were used.

Important! In order to independently test mechanics, innovations, and conduct serious analyses of IT development, a company “from scratch” will need several years and a budget of at least $86400. Or it is possible to use a ready-made development that allows you to increase site traffic by 30 times, increasing the indicators of other metrics many times over.

Algorithm for promoting an IT company

  1. Market analysis, collection of SN. Objectively, semantics does not show commercially profitable search queries. It is necessary to analyse high-traffic materials on competitors’ sites in the top. Only in this way you can find marketable queries.
  2. Content plan. It is formed by rubrics, then – by specific topics of publications. Emphasis on informational traffic (guides, instructions, cases, informative articles), as commercial traffic requires a very large budget. Having the content plan formed, you can engage in semantic analysis. Despite the labour intensity, the selection of relevant queries brings the lion’s share of traffic.
  3. Sets of mechanics for complex promotion. Promotion through Google with a deep dive into the topic. The purpose of deep research can be any. The main task is to collect primary information to create an SEO matrix, calculate the optimal number of words for the effectiveness of the query, isolate key phrases with a given number of tracked parameters. This showed what queries are needed, what web pages need to be optimised for IT company advertising.
  4. Expert content. Gathering information on services, vendors, products of the chosen topic, interviewing managers of top companies on behalf of the client, analysing the results. Expert materials are designed to work in the long term, leading to an increase in traffic and conversions.
  5. Link mass. Testing of different linkbuilding options on more than 100 sites. Time-consuming, but leads to high positions for niche queries. This is one of the options how to promote an IT company with a perspective for the future.
  6. Free links – their effectiveness is conditional. Only 1% of donor sites meet the requirements of SEO-metrics, and no more than 10% of links “live” longer than 6-12 months.
  7. Link exchanges. SEO-links are often excluded from ranking! In Google, artificial link building is prohibited. It is not possible to occupy the top places in the search results only due to links, but as part of a comprehensive approach to the promotion of IT-companies, they work perfectly well. Important! The necessary volume of links is individual for each project, it is necessary to assess the competitive environment. The higher the competition and the largest players, the more links should be purchased.
  8. Outreach. This strategy of placing backlinks by agreement is aimed at improving organic ranking, expanding the target audience, gaining user loyalty and increasing brand awareness. It allows you to smoothly build up a mass of links during promotion. This method is highly costly, the quality of content should be high, and the cost of each link depending on the attendance and expertise of the resource is estimated from $2,16 to $54000.
  9. LSI-copywriting. Optimisation of the text is achieved through words and word combinations, maximally disclosing the subject of the article with words close in meaning. This is necessary for the search engine to select the most relevant pages on the request. Properly written LSI-articles bring up to 50% of traffic in the long term.
  10. Evergreen content. It includes materials that do not lose their relevance as time passes. In content marketing for IT, these are requests for articles “examples of promotion in social networks”, “case study on promoting an IT company”, “how to promote an IT company”, etc. Guides, instructions, analytics, cases are suitable for this type of content. The publication of evergreen articles makes the site traffic uniform, improves behavioural factors, builds up natural link mass.
  11. Technical optimisation. A working site should be safe for the user, have a stable loading speed, workable modules and links. Increase in traffic optimisation will not give, but will more quickly promote the resource to the top of the search results. Check the quality of work is done for desktop and mobile versions of the web page. SEO-optimisation is a mandatory stage of the marketing plan of an IT-company.
  12. SMM-promotion of an IT company. Social media pixel mapping for Facebook helps to build a database for retargeting. DBs facilitate promotion and various PR campaigns by segmenting the interests of the audience. Groups of major segments are linked to lendings and quizzes, customising for advertising under Google Ads. Advertising for IT on brand outreach brings back old customers who have previously used the company’s services.
  13. Behavioural factors. Their analysis via Google Analytics is important for choosing the right targeting strategy. In the context of marketing an IT company, it shows bounce rates, untargeted queries, incorrectly selected audiences on IT topics. The analytics also shows the entry points to the site, reading time, bounce rates, and depth of browsing. This is necessary for further adjustment of content and work with internal links. Analytics tools show which pages need to be improved. Improving the behavioural factor has a positive impact on ranking.
  14. Use of proven bundles. Increase traffic several times. Each project requires the adaptation of bundles. For this purpose, the segments that bring maximum profitable applications are determined. For IT it is most often required to use bundles retargeting-BD + marketing + quizzes + lendings for consulting.
  15. Automate collection of email and Telegram contact database. Every month email-base grows by 30 subscribers, Telegram – 10-20. And this is not the limit.
  16. Implement chatbots with auto-invite settings and simple questions to segment users. This cuts off unpromising applications and leads to big deals with solvent customers.
  17. Web resource personalisation. The wider the market the company enters, the more relevant is the customisation of communication methods. Regional numbers are set up, geo-parameters are connected, functionality for substitute contacts, registration in catalogues is made. Connecting a phone number with the freecall code demonstrates the status of the company, doubling the conversion rate. For multi-lingual sites on landing pages for different countries should indicate the numbers of the country of promotion, substitute emails depending on the transition points.
  18. Integration sets. Automation of part of the processes reduces the load on the staff, reduces the number of managers. Properly configured integrations process up to 500 requests daily, clients are never lost, and specialists can concentrate on processing complex requests (up to 15 per day).

What’s the bottom line?

As a result of a set of marketing actions:

  • the company’s traffic increased 45 times, the number of visitors to the site reached 50 thousand per month;
  • retargeting base for 350 thousand people with the possibility of its monetisation was collected;
  • the number of applications increased by 5600%, conversions to sales – 32%.

POST AUTHOR

Petr Dzyuba

IT marketing expert

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