We meet a lot of businesses that struggle in one way or another to generate new leads, fill their sales funnel, and essentially, get their message out there.
One of the most common industries that finds marketing a big challenge is technology. Whether this is a physical technology product, such as 3D printing, or a virtual solution, such as ecommerce analytics, technology businesses can find themselves missing the mark when it comes to their messaging.
So how can we help improve marketing for tech companies? Why, by learning to be more inbound of course. Oh, and some of these great ideas...
Update: if you're not sure where to start when it comes to planning out your best marketing campaign yet, our marketing strategy blueprint can help your business growth goals.
1. Be more inbound
Despite the inbound marketing methodology being around for some time now (since the early 2000's in fact), there are a large number of companies and marketers out there still on the old, interruptive sales and marketing path. You know the one: the one with the interruptive sales calls, irrelevant emails, and pushy online ads.
The thing is, people don't want to be marketed to, or sold to in this way, and they haven't for some time. I don't, and I own a marketing firm!
In fact, people don't want to be sold to, or marketed to, at all! What consumers want, what your consumers want, is to be helped...
Hubspot, the leading global authority on inbound marketing, back this up with a simple sentence:
"People don’t want to be interrupted by marketers or harassed by salespeople. They want to be helped."
So, how can you apply inbound marketing to your tech company? In a few simple ways:
Understand your audience and how you can help them
One thing that's key to any marketing strategy is to profile your ideal customers. This doesn't have to be a war and peace biography, but by identifying who your best customers are and, more importantly, their goals, plans and challenges, you can produce marketing material that will speak to them more effectively.
By knowing more about your prospective customers, you can avoid alienating them with jargon and confusing feature lists that don't help your buyers see the value and benefits in your technology.
Go easy on the sales
An interesting stat from the State of Inbound Report is that only 19% of buyers rely on salespeople for purchase decisions. That means that over 80% of your audience are researching solutions to their issues on their own.
This means that enabling your customers to help themselves find content that addresses their issues, or helps them meet their goals is vital.
Of course, you need a solid sales process, especially if your products are higher value as it means a longer purchasing decision. But instead of viewing it as a sales process, start looking at it along the lines of helping align your wares to the needs of your customer - is your solution the best fit for this customer?
By backing away from the traditional, outbound, hard-selling approach, and introducing more of a consultative one, you'll delight your customers, even before they come on board.
Reduce your overt advertising
Mobile ad-blocking has increased 90% year over year. What does that mean? Well, it confirms two things:
- that people are getting increasingly tired of interruptive advertising
- and they're employing new means of shutting it out.
On this subject, we wrote about the top two methods of online advertising that collectively caused the most frustration for people: autoplaying video adverts and pop-up ads.
This doesn't mean that you should hit the stop button on your advertising, just take a step back and look at how your audience is responding to it. Where are the adverts placed? On which channels? How are they implemented (pop-ups, inline, etc.)? Are they contextual, such as those you'll find on Facebook, aligned to your prospects' interests?
2. Change your messaging
Despite my background in complex technical development, even I struggle to understand the main features and functionality of a lot of technology products and services out there.
For example, here's a paraphrased quote from the front page of a technology product website:
"Our integrated code plugins deliver information to users at the right time, on site, SaaS and mobile. We support complex requirements, extended communication and underpin sustainability".
Now, when you dig into it, you can see exactly what's on offer and to whom, but there's a lot of digging to be done first.
Reading that initial statement as the opening gambit on a website, the first thing that hits me is that even if you understand some of the terminology, you're still left wondering what it does and why it helps me.
Compare this with Bunting, a supplier of ecommerce website personalisation software, whose very opening message reads:
"Engaged shoppers. Rocketing sales. Happy you. Bunting makes it easy to personalize your website, and delight each and every visitor."
Sure, it doesn't mention the specifics just yet, but it makes it easy to see, at a glance, what you're getting into: personalising your website to increase sales and make your customers happy.
Unfortunately, marketing in the technology sector is littered with examples of the former; complicated paragraphs full of jargon, technical terms, and baffling product explanations.
Based on your customer research, it might be that you need to mention certain key phrases to help them find you, or understand what you're about, but this will depend on the niche you're in.
Usually, though, it's best to strip it back and keep your marketing and messaging as simple as possible. Focus more on how what you offer helps your prospects meet their goals and solve their problems and focus less on hitting technical jargon and listing features.
3. Make more content - i.e. Blog. Blog. Blog
From the State of Inbound 2016 report, one of the largest surveys of marketing and sales professionals, 60% of marketers are prioritising blog posts as part of the future of their marketing campaigns. To add to that, the report highlighted that 29% of consumers want to see more blog content in the future.
Yet, blogging remains a haphazard affair for many firms, not only tech businesses.
Three of the biggest objections to using blogging as a marketing strategy are:
- What's the point of blogging?
- We don't have enough time to blog!
- What would we write about?
So let's address those points:
What's the point of blogging as a marketing strategy?
One of the biggest positive aspects of inbound is that it helps you reach your target audience earlier in their buying journey, positioning you as the expect and keeping your products top-of-mind.
As a tech company, you don't want to wait until the end of the purchasing journey when your prospects are comparing solutions as that's too late!
Another plus point is that it helps you explore a range of topics in more depth than a single web page alone. This helps with your search engine optimisation allowing you to build an audience and get discovered more easily than just having a website somewhere on the Internet.
We don't have enough time to blog several times a month
It's all about a plan. Yes it can take around four hours to craft a detailed blog post including research, writing, editing, producing graphics and promoting the post, but it's part of a workflow. Create yourself a content calendar and hold yourself accountable to get it done each day, week, month, etc.
What would we write about in our blog articles?
Simple: what your customers want to read. What do they want to read? That's where having a strong buyer persona helps. Because you understand what challenges your ideal customer faces, you can write helpful content to speak to those issues and engage with your target customer more easily than with a website alone.
Blog articles make it more personal, more of a dialogue between your business and the customer.
We'd definitely recommend starting a blog for your tech company and we have a great series of articles to help you do just that.
4. Get more social
Again, from the State of Inbound Report 2016, two out of three adults use social media to keep up with the news, and 2 billion people use Facebook to search for content every day.
It's clear that, whatever industry you're in, your audience is very much going to be present on social media. By maintaining a strong presence on various social media platforms you can expand your reach, interact directly and immediately with your prospects and valuable customers.
For technology companies in particular, there is usually a air of wizardry and witchcraft about them, with their products or services often removing the human element of the business. By using social media, you can introduce this human element back into the conversation and show off some of the behind the scenes action in your business; it could be talking to customers about their experiences with your products, showing off something special and fun in your business - like pizza Fridays - or how your products are built.
5. Use more video
Video is a growing trend amongst social media networks and more marketers are prioritising video as a delivery medium for their messages.
If an image is worth a thousand words, then video is worth a thousand images. By investing in a video, your technology business can cut through the jargon and wall of off-putting metrics to get to the heart of your consumers' issues.
Show your prospects a quick video of how your product / service solves a common and frustrating issue, or introduce a regular series of videos that answer real questions from your customers and fans.
Videos help to build trust, authority and respect - the three most powerful attributes in the sales process.
Be more inbound. Be a bit less 'tech'.
To recap, here's a summary of our top five ways to help improve marketing for tech companies and generally help your technology business be a little bit more inbound:
- Introduce more inbound marketing points into your strategy
- Change your messaging to make it more about your audience's needs and goals than complex, technical jargon and selling points
- Make more content through blogging to reach your customers earlier in their purchasing process
- Get more social and engage with your audience through winning content, images, and videos that give them an insight into your business
- Use more video to get your points across quicker and in a more appealing fashion