When we encounter technology companies that want to talk about how to improve their marketing, we will always begin by auditing their current marketing strategies, their communications and discussing their strengths, weaknesses and how they believe they are positioned in the market place.
The classic model we find from a marketing perspective - is of a business that is very self-focused. By that we mean, they tend to want to talk a lot about their product, its functionality, how many hours went into development and testing etc. We understand this, because it is an accurate reflection of their journey – their product usually has good functionality and has taken a significant investment in terms of development etc. But that's of little interest to a potential buyer. The marketing jump these Techcos need to make is to build propositions that will compel their targets to buy the product. They need to be honest and accurate in these propositions, but they have to sell the buyer the benefit and not the functionality or the complexity of the product.
“94% of business buyers do online research before any engagement” Acquity Group
An inbound marketing approach to promoting these businesses is an excellent model to adopt. Why? Because often there is:
When you adopt an inbound marketing strategy, you understand that a significant amount of buyer research will be carried out before any purchase (or even engagement), and that this research is carried out online.
“Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they will engage with a vendor’s sales rep.” Forrester
Hence you have to ensure that you create content that answers the issues and problems that these targets are looking for solutions to. This will help build your credibility and trust with these prospective customers. Traditional outbound marketing is no longer successful – business people are tired of these interruptive un-targeted marketing tactics. They now want to build knowledge on their own terms – wherever and whenever they choose to look for this information.
This is very insightful data. It confirms that there is a vast amount of background research being undertaken pre-purchase. But it also highlights that any sales out-reach too early in the sales cycle has a high chance of failure. Understanding your targets problems and providing solutions to them – before any direct selling begins, is going to be a large part of your marketing future.
Techcos have in general been good at adopting inbound and content marketing strategies. But they continue to face new challenges. Time was, when producing enough content volume, could ensure that the search engines would find you - and your pathway to your targets was opened. As internet saturation continues, it's much harder to cut through with your content. This has left some tech companies getting less engagement on their content than previously. This is the harsh reality. The answer is that you have to be better. Producing better content, perhaps even less in some cases, but with more quality. Being more strategic in how you plan your content and amplification.
The Content Marketing Institute recently published findings about good inbound marketing practices in techcos. They found that 36% of companies had a content marketing strategy in place and that it was also documented and shared extensively. 47% had a strategy defined but it was not documented and 14% had neither a strategy nor document. So they are getting better at planning and delivering on a strategy.
But the point is that moving forward, they will have to be better. Hence it will mean you have to have a content marketing strategy that is documented and understood by your marketing and sales team. And you will have to keep improving your execution of this strategy to get cut through. What is the content that is working best for Techcos?
In person events and webinars - where there is real interaction are seen as the best tools to get engagement. But showing success stories and video content also works very effectively. Customers engage with it and the search engines reward this type of activity.
Recent Hubspot findings show that sales and marketing function still have different points of emphasis in their top 3 aspirations. But they all form part of the same picture. The other important emphasis has to be getting better integration between sales and marketing.
For marketing, trends point at growing web traffic, working to convert leads generated through the website into customers (bringing them through the sales funnel) and demonstrating ROI on the marketing spend. This plays into a key strength of inbound marketing - providing data highlighting where marketing Euro is working and where you are still leaking opportunities and spend.
For the sales leaders, its about closing more deals, better sales funnel management and reducing the sales cycle length – so you can see the deep inter-relationship between the two functions.
Technology companies have been early adopters of inbound marketing, but they have to keep striving for improvement to keep driving better content into their digital channels to get better engagement and ultimately generate better sales for their marketing spend.
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