MainIT-Marketing ⁄ How to make promotion of IT services effective

How to make promotion of IT services effective

High-tech IT companies engaged in commercial and industrial activities form the basis of the modern market. They manufacture IOT devices, gadgets for monitoring and maintaining health, develop and produce software, act as providers, and create various SaaS applications.

Only organisations that have a professional team and do not neglect investments in the marketing of IT services and products can achieve recognition in the IT market. The specificity of marketing IT services (consulting, implementation and maintenance of software systems and products, for example, cloud billing systems) is that the slightest mistake can undermine the reputation of an IT company, lead to the exodus of customers and partners.

How to promote IT services

The big guide to promotion in the IT marketplace

A guide from a professional marketer

    Sending, please wait... Get on WhatsApp Get on Telegram

    How to promote IT services

    The big guide to promotion in the IT marketplace

    The task of marketing is to build a strategy and adjust the sales funnel with a minimum of investment, so that the system of attracting traffic and increasing conversions works at full capacity. The priority is to increase website traffic, the number of touches that lead to converting users into customers who return for new services.

    In B2B (including IT) marketing strategy is based on niche specifics:

    • services are becoming more complex from year to year;
    • the portrait of the target customer changes dynamically (the usual cycle of “portrait change” is 3-7 years);
    • the cycle of transactions lengthens due to the complexity of services, a large number of offers on the market, which the client tries to study one way or another.

    Marketing of IT services is conducted at three levels.

    • Strategic: selection of markets, IT development specialisation, pricing policy, production planning.
    • Tactical: promotion of the product and promotion of the company as an experienced developer and reliable partner. Creation of a base of clients, customers for outsourcing.
    • Operational: implementation, realisation and maintenance of products (services).

    Three levels of IT marketing

    Promotion of IT projects is associated with the peculiarities of the high-tech sphere – confidentiality and complexity of the product. There is often no mention of cool IT companies in the media space, and their developments, capable of meeting the needs of market customers, are little known.

    Difficulties of promotion and marketing of IT companies

    IT services cannot be marketed like house cleaning (on social media) or clothes (on marketplaces). There is a shortage of IT-savvy marketers in the market. Speaking of competent marketers – there are only about 8-10% of them in the market from the total mass, and only a small part of them has an idea about IT. Knowledge of marketing laws and tools does not help the average marketer who is far from IT.

    In order to sell successfully, one must understand the product, know the terminology, have a “keen eye”, understand the needs of the target audience, the interconnections in terms of technical work of products and services. A marketer must understand what the return on investment will be from each channel used, and build a sales funnel based on the most effective tools.

    Ideally, a good specialist should have a technical background, have expertise skills, work with similar products and services, be able to create competent and interesting content, and use their own touchpoints in marketing communications. He or she will then understand the reaction of potential customers and the direction of promotion. At the same time, each new product will dictate to look again for ways of marketing promotion, require testing of channels.

    A marketing professional must not only understand where to pour traffic to get leads, but also rely on connections, use non-standard techniques, cooperate with other market players, create expert content in all formats with a clear message – our service/product is the best solution for your problem. We work not only for the short-term, but also for the strategic, distant in time, goals to maximise the impact of marketing, to achieve excellence in it. This can be understood if you look for the answer to why marketing is necessary and what goals it pursues, through the prism of psychology.

    For example, marketers can create cool texts, work well in Google Ads and advertising in social networks, bring a lot of leads, but at the end of the day, they only establish themselves as sought-after professionals. But the peculiarity of many IT topics is the length of time it takes to achieve visible results – from three months to a year. A professional will only see the result of his labour over a long distance. That’s why the management must stimulate the interest of employees, give them faith in the product and motivate them so that they don’t get off the track, don’t give up early. Because of this, the manager must seek a constant balance between his ambitious plans (including the speed of achieving the goal) and the efforts of the team (the result of which can be seen only after time and does not always depend on the invested effort). At the same time, for the owner of an IT company, ideal marketing is a way to reach a new level of income, earning so much money that it is possible to work in “white”, completely avoiding any grey schemes, or “run” to a fundamentally new level of investment, or get the necessary key metrics of their web service, increasing the capitalisation of the company, etc.

    For the customer, marketing creates a need to improve his life by using a ready-made solution, for example, by purchasing the offered product or service. But to make the user want to buy an IT service, it is necessary to gain his trust, to surround him with expert articles, videos, testimonials of those who have already solved their problems using the offer. Storytelling, interviews and acquaintance with the team, realised cases work for loyalty.

    Cases work by demonstrating the client’s pain points, the problem, ways to solve it, the resources required for this, the benefits of using the service, the amount of effort, money and time spent. At the same time, case studies should not be published without the customer’s consent, nor should they be made public, nor should working points based on the intellectual property of a vendor or manufacturer, in some cases, even to talk about products.

    You should look for other ways to communicate with your target audience to spread the word about yourself and your services.

    Creating a marketing strategy to promote an IT company

    When starting to create a strategy, it is necessary to conduct a marketing audit to form the basis for making better decisions, increase the effectiveness of promoting IT products and services on the market, and reduce marketing costs. This will require a systematisation of critical and objective assessments of the goals and functions of IT company marketing, all procedures involved, and the competencies of marketers. As a result of the survey, the factors and mechanisms of strategic control that form the basis of marketing planning are formed.

    It will be necessary to analyse:

    • products/product lines;
    • channels of attraction/distribution;
    • market/competitors.

    To get results, you need to understand how to measure the effectiveness of the unit economy. It operates with metrics that provide an objective assessment of marketing campaigns. Given that business is evolving, two types of metrics are always taken into account – strategic (the impact of long-term initiatives) and tactical (the effectiveness of advertising in a short period of time). Baseline and overall financial metrics help assess the profitability of investing in certain marketing strategies.

    Metrics for evaluating marketing

    • ROMI – profitability, return on marketing investment in advertising (for example, an IT company promoted a mobile application by investing $2160 in advertising and attracted customers who made purchases worth $4320, i.e. every dollar invested in advertising generated twice the profit. This means that the advertising paid off and the investment was profitable for the company.
    • CR – conversion rate, i.e. the number of visitors who made a certain action. Conversion to sales, i.e. the percentage of those who purchase an IT product or service (it should be understood that percentages vary from company to company). For example, for sales of smartphone applications with a high cost and cold traffic from targeting, a 0.5% figure is very good, while for another seller offering free shipping, below-average price, and warm traffic, a similar figure would be at least 5%.
    • CAC – cost of customer acquisition. Knowing the cost per customer optimises the management of the budget set aside for marketing and advertising. For example, during the year an IT company invested about $54000 in marketing and attracted 500 customers, and the cost per customer, which can be put into budget control, will be $108.
    • LTV is the lifetime value of a customer, the income that the company receives from them for the entire time of interaction. The metric shows how much it costs to attract and retain each client. For example, buying a monthly subscription costing $54, a client brings the company $540 a year. If LTV exceeds CAS, it indicates the stability of the business and the possibility of increasing marketing expenses to attract more clients.
    • ARPPU is an indicator of revenue per paying client at a certain time interval (day, month, year) to assess the value of the product. The higher the indicator, the more solvent consumers of IT services and products.

    Thus, operating with unit-economy indicators and seeing concrete results (usually not earlier than in a year), it is possible to assess whether marketing is bad or good. Bad marketing is capable of satisfying only immediate goals and does not provide opportunities for growth, while good marketing works for the future.

    In the B2B sphere, even one deal with a customer within six months can recoup all the costs of promoting it. This means that you should look at marketing indicators from the point of view of trend changes – marketing can be unprofitable in terms of months, quarters, sometimes (relevant for startups) even years. But you need to see the trend in the form of sales, subscriptions, deals at the approval stage, growth of the client base (or mailing list base). If this is happening, you don’t have to look at losses in the moment. Morally it’s hard, but that’s how it works. It is important to determine the achievable point, i.e. when you want to “run” to the point where marketing starts to make a profit.

    And until that moment, you cannot fold your hands. It is necessary to keep developing promotion channels, to keep busy with analytics, and to have conclusions based on accumulated experience about how best to launch an advertising campaign. A marketer draws on analytics, developing proposals for the target audience, hitting the exact target, comes up with some distinctive features that attract attention.

    Attention retention is not an easy task. To get one lead or sale (depending on the niche) on average 1-10 thousand conversions or 50-500 users (depending on the product and type of traffic) are required. With such volumes of traffic, retargeting works well to insulate visitors and retain their attention (especially if the adverts will run for a week to a month). At the first stages of launching an IT product or service, we recommend to focus on one thing, the most marginal, in order not to be atomised and to test the basic scheme of traffic+retargeting and their sequence as much as possible.

    The work is carried out systematically and painstakingly, taking into account the needs of clients and offering specific ways to solve their problems. The target audience must know that the product works clearly, without fail, satisfying the needs for which it was created. This attitude has a direct impact on profit growth.

    To make it clearer, let’s imagine that there are five competing companies offering similar quality IT products in the same price category. Only by understanding the customer’s fears and desires can you sell them a solution. The customer will choose the company whose marketers have found a clear and attractive message, created a “legend”, formed an emotional connection, for example, through mascots and bright visuals, and showed how the problem is solved.

    To build an effective IT services marketing strategy, a number of steps should be taken:

    • Research the market/buyers/competitors;
    • understand the pains and needs of the target audience;
    • optimise the website;
    • select tools and services for forecasting, planning, measuring results, building communication;
    • create a huge amount of content with a well-developed semantic core;
    • increase social media presence;
    • utilise opinion leaders;
    • invest in professional PR;
    • build your brand in the IT market;
    • maintain the interest of existing customers through post-sales contact;
    • integrate new technologies (auto-funnels, triggered mailings, audience management systems).

    In most cases, a combination of three basic mechanics works for an IT services topic:

    • Working with search, paid advertising. It gives a quick return, already 3-4 weeks after the launch it is possible to receive the first requests, but it requires significant advertising budgets. In fact, paid advertising uses various ways to influence the client: direct advertising, return of users who did not make targeted actions, visual chips.
    • Work with SEO, content strategy (case studies, infomercials, guides, etc.). Organic promotion often gives higher conversion rates with constant work on semantics, and good traffic figures. Mechanics begins to bring results only after a long enough period of time – from half a year minimum. The more competitors in the topic, the more effort and costs for optimisation will be required. At the same time, you can use parsing of actual topics of competitors, pages with the highest traffic to form your own promotion plan on this basis. Given the high cost of commercial traffic, it is better to scale sales and increase conversion rates through informational traffic.
    • PR activities (industry platforms, business publications, interviews). It is necessary to identify the places where the interested audience gathers and to target them in various ways. You can use platforms oriented to professionals (e.g. GitHub, Quora), as well as to consumers. Getting conversions “from everywhere” just won’t work, but it will help you shape your audience.

    Marketing IT services is often built through testing mechanics and tools, and no one is immune to mistakes. Many marketing strategies need to be tried before the best ones are chosen based on analysis and feedback.

    Sometimes it’s enough to identify the simplest channel, bundle, target audience and lead generator that will drive traffic to the site. Using pixels and retargeting, it will be possible to insulate interested users, leading them through a chain of up to 100 touches before the client matures to order a service.

    In order not to lose customers due to lack of information about customers and their activities, to adequately assess the quality and performance of traffic, to bring “out of the shadows” segments of the target audience, it is necessary to pay attention to the micropatterning of various kinds of microconversions. These can be transitions to an application, to a website or its specific pages, clicking certain buttons, creating some actions (e.g. downloads).

    Micro-markup is a set of indicators that characterise a visitor as a person interested in an IT product. Thanks to it, it is possible to identify touch points, learn about the effectiveness of the sales funnel, and train targeting systems to analyse target actions based on pixel markup. Having set up the collection of indicators in advertising systems, the marketer trains and pumps them in parallel, which resembles interaction with a neural network. For example, you can take as a sample the most active site visitors who make a chain of certain touches and reach the application/subscription, and set the advertising system to search for similar users.

    At the same time, all the same data should “enter” the CRM-system database. The manager or marketer immediately sees – here are applications, here are sales, and the CRM-system will give a feedback signal (data upload) to the targeting system. This means that everything worked out well, and the data from the CRM-system can also be used to train advertising systems. As a result, the latter learn to bring the most active users who make targeted actions. Moreover, the CRM-system details the uploaded data, indicating not just the desired microconversions, but also on what users reached the “end” and paid for the IT product. That is, you can teach the advertising system to search for its target audience in just such a segment, as a result of which the company gets both active users and those who make purchases. There is a nuance here: such a “training” scheme is suitable for fast transaction cycles (subscriptions) with a length of a couple of days and a large number of transactions per day (from 10-20).

    Semantics for effective promotion of IT services

    To understand how users are searching for solutions to their pain points, you need to research semantics. It seems simple – find the most popular queries and work with them. But is it really that simple?

    For companies that have not used or weakly use in marketing work with search, SEO and PR, you need to focus on the selection of semantics. The semantic core is the foundation, so by picking up demand in search, it’s easy to build everything else – contextual and targeted advertising, and hypothesis sets. You can find interesting niche things that have low frequency in search when demand seems small, but the market is actually huge.

    Suppose a client is looking for an information security consulting service. If a person enters such a search query, it means that he has already received maximum information from friends and colleagues, has not found a solution that suits him and has gone to study the offers on the market. It should be understood that the search output is imperfect, in some IT topics it shows only 5% of the real demand. For example, in the city of N, 500 companies have problems with information security, but only the heads of five companies are really looking for a solution, going to the Internet to search for it.

    That is why the search engine remains the basis, the base. If you study the search intelligently, you can understand niche queries and segments, develop hypotheses on semantic blocks that can be targeted in order to catch everyone who is interested in information security. It is possible to specify what problems users are interested in – information security of servers, software product, databases. Only by understanding the specifics can you create an advertising campaign with powerful reach.

    Well-calibrated semantic blocks are used not only in SEO, but also in contextual advertising, become hypotheses for targeting, work in the CMC network, act as topics for YouTube videos and video targeting. The better a marketer understands IT topics, the more clearly he will allocate for testing bundles based on semantics and launch a study for the most valuable representative of the target audience, about which the maximum information has been collected and there is a ready solution for a particular problem. But even with the most precise arrangement, the budget for testing bundles will be impressive.

    For marketing, contextual advertising is a lifesaver. But, without experience in IT topics, you can make mistakes in the selection of semantics, using synonymous queries. For example, a good keyword query can be a request for website hosting service “website hosting service”, and unsuccessful – just “internet hosting”. The second query, despite its semantic proximity to the topic, is irrelevant, and therefore will not bring the desired result. Another example of incorrect selection of semantics can be broad queries “data backup” or “backup file server”, while seemingly similar query “database server backup” is already approaching commercial, and “backup database to cloud provider” is just perfect!

    Marketing strategy should take into account the research of the market, competitors, internal environment of the company. The analysis works for the future, preparing the ground for a leadership position with minimal costs and risks. To develop and implement a marketing plan, it is necessary to involve specialists of different profiles – marketers, product managers, copywriters, designers, SEO optimisers, analysts, copywriters, brand managers, technical consultants and others.

    Having marketers in the team who know how to work with LinkedIn, Medium, Xing, YouTube, Quora, etc. is a must for the job. These platforms gather the right audience, giving great reach and responding well to content as a warm-up element.

    Any sales model when launching an advertising campaign is necessarily tested in practice. This is easiest done by getting feedback from potential or current customers. CustDev involves interviewing potential customers found through specialised services or running adverts aimed at gathering an audience for surveys. For example, for localised overseas markets, the first audience cross-section can be obtained on Information is obtained in FB groups through discussions, in Medium – through discussions or posts, in LinkedIn – through direct messages, by running a filter search for contacts, or by using relevant thematic groups.

    How to promote IT services

    An example of a marketing strategy for the IT market

    18 steps from startup to successful project

      Sending, please wait...

      Click the button and you'll get Access to the checklist and the lead generation system we build for our clients

      Get on WhatsApp Get on Telegram

      Entering foreign markets obliges you to launch a larger-scale CustDev, conducting surveys (including paid surveys, with a cap of $100-150 per interview), and also using the client’s ready-made expertise concerning the target audience and key metrics. It is important to find out what attracts/repels in the service, why they buy it, what issues arise in the process of selection and use.


      Petr Dzyuba

      IT marketing expert

      Inline Feedbacks
      View all comments