Does your managed services website need to attract more of the right visitors? Does it need to convert more leads and close more sales? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you’re definitely in the right place!
In this article, you’ll learn nine MSP marketing tips that help you convert more website visitors into leads and close more sales from these new leads. (The basic framework for these marketing strategies comes right out of the HubSpot inbound methodology, which you can learn more about in our free downloadable IT Channel Inbound Marketing Planning Guide.)
1. Optimize Your MSP Website
When most people hear the words “optimize” and “website” in the same sentence, they immediately think search engine optimization or “SEO.” The problem with that approach, however, is that SEO usually prioritizes search engine spiders at the expense of your most valuable website visitors.
Also, it’s extremely important to make sure that SEO knowledge is kept current. What may have been borderline tolerable in the SEO world (gray hat) as recently as 12-18 months ago could now get your website severely penalized.
But don’t get me wrong: on-page SEO is very important. It just isn’t the whole story.
It’s more important that you focus on optimizing your website around buyer personas and their behaviors, pain points, and goals.
2. Blog At Least 2 to 3 Times a Week
Business blogging can be an incredibly effective way to attract targeted website visitors.
However most managed service providers completely miss the point on business blogging because they’ve only done personal blogging in the past.
Approached correctly, with the right process and discipline, your blog can be a very valuable strategy for getting website content indexed and attracting the right visitors to your website.
Concentrate on updating your MSP blog at least two to three times each week, with truly remarkable content, that addresses your buyer personas’ questions and problems.
3. Amplify Your Blog Posts and Other Content with Social Media
Have you ever clicked the “Publish” or “Post” button on your blogging software and all you hear are crickets? Or the hum of your fluorescent light bulb?
You’re not alone. Unless you have the reach of Dharmesh Shah, Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, or Arianna Huffington, it’s unlikely that there are hundreds of thousands of followers eagerly anticipating your next blog post. So you need a way to amplify your blog posts and other website content – and social media might just be the ticket!
Social media can help drive more website visitors, lead conversions, and closed sales. But to do so, you need to get educated about social media and execute a solid game plan.
How should an MSP decide which social media networks are worth participating in? You don’t decide. Really! Instead, ask your clients which social media they use, so you make sure that you’re concentrating on the channels that are most relevant to finding more clients just like your current clients.
And most of the time you really don’t need to ask or survey. Simply visit your clients’ websites and you’ll usually find the answer staring you right in the face with social media icons.
4. Develop Content that Addresses Each Sales Stage
For each buyer persona, you need at least one content offer for each sales cycle stage:
Researching the problem
Establishing buying criteria
A content offer, also sometimes called premium content, is content that’s so valuable to a particular persona that the reader is willing to “pay” for it with their contact information.
Premium content is a big part of the secret sauce that turns targeted website visitors into leads.
To close sales faster, develop lead generating content offers for each sales cycle stage.
When leads are researching a problem, they’re usually most receptive to white papers, eBooks, guides, checklists, videos, and information kits. At the middle of the sales process, lead generation offers such as webinars, case studies, free samples, spec sheets, and catalogs are most successful. At the end of the sales process, or the bottom of the funnel as it’s often called, leads are most interested in offers for free trials, demos, needs assessments, and custom quotes.
5. Create Landing Pages that Convert Website Visitors into Leads
Now that you’ve developed content for each ideal buyer persona, and for each stage of the sales cycle, it’s time to “gate” the premium content behind landing pages.
Landing pages are like 24/7 employees that once set up properly, sit there and collect leads day, night, weekends, and even holidays.
A new landing page gets created for each and every premium content offer.
But what specifically does it take to get the landing page conversion rate way up there (at least 25%)? Bait visitors with an offer that’s so irresistible, they can’t help but take you up on it. How do you know what’s irresistible? Persona research!
6. Nail the Conversion Process
It helps to think of the lead conversion process for your MSP marketing like bookends:
Left bookend: Your call to action (CTA) convinces visitors to click the graphic and take action, so that they move from the current web page to the relevant landing page
In the middle: Your landing page is where you sell visitors on the value of our offer and why it’s more than worth trading their contact information for.
Right bookend: Your thank you page delivers on what was promised, manages expectations, tells leads what to do next, and attempts to move leads further along in the sales process.
Even more important than generating leads, however, is generating the right leads. This is where you’ll want to intensely focus on your buyer personas – and specifically their behaviors, pain points, and goals
Make sure that your entire conversion path from CTA through to the thank you page is action oriented. And consistently use your targeted keyword phrase for that particular page in the CTA, landing page headline, form header, and button, and thank you page headline.
There should be CTAs, both for top of the funnel content offers, as well as the middle- and bottom- of the funnel content offers, on nearly every page of your website (except landing pages, where you need to minimize distractions).
After a lead has converted, the thank you page should deliver the promised offer and guide your new lead through what to do next. As a best practice, the thank you page information is also usually simultaneously e-mailed to leads for future reference.
7. Use Extremely Segmented E-mail to Make Leads Sales-Ready
Regardless of whether a managed service provider has a true marketing and sales team, or the owner simply wears these hats, no one wants to waste their time with unqualified leads.
But if you strictly have conversations with those that are ready to buy, you’re completely ignoring the 50% of leads that are qualified, but not yet ready to buy. (Source: Gleanster Research, via HubSpot)
So what can you do in the meantime? Use e-mail to stay in touch.
But not just any old e-mail. While e-mail newsletters are still quite popular and definitely worthwhile, it’s really hard for the one-size-fits-most approach to really drive engagement beyond a small percentage of subscribers.
What’s the better way to go? Segment your lists by:
Sales cycle stage
Say for example, your MSP marketing efforts attract both health care decision makers and financial services decision makers. Can your managed services marketing really be effective if you’re sending the exact same message to both incredibly different audiences? Of course not! So you develop a buyer persona for each and segment the two groups into different lists.
However even within those two lists, an early stage buyer will have very different needs and concerns than a late stage buyer. So with two different buyer personas and three different sales cycle stages, you’ll need six different lists and campaigns.
Then, by carefully planning the sequences and campaigns, you can for example have top of the sales funnel offers for your health care persona that move leads through to the next logical step. And then your middle of the funnel content offers do the heavy lifting to help get leads to move themselves down to the bottom of the sales funnel, where they’re truly sales ready.
8. Align Sales and Marketing Together with Smarketing
Regardless of whether you’re new to managed services marketing, or you’re a veteran, you’ve likely had run-ins with sales teams that go something like this:
Sales person: I have to do my own prospecting because the leads from marketing totally stink!
Marketing person: I’m at a loss. We deliver totally awesome leads to sales, but they refuse to contact leads promptly and give up way too soon.
What are these tell-tale signs of? Misalignment. An “us” versus “them” mentality. It’s counterproductive and toxic.
So what’s the answer? Managed services smarketing! True alignment of sales and marketing.
Is it worth it? HubSpot for example found that companies that properly invest in sales and marketing alignment drive 20% more revenue growth.
To make this happen, sales and marketing need to look at revenue targets and figure out how many leads are required. Just as important, both sales and marketing need to be on the same page with the definition of a “sales-ready lead”
Another key piece of the MSP smarketing puzzle is closed loop reporting, so marketing can see exactly which sources of leads most efficiently and profitably monetized into paying clients.
Managed service providers are very familiar with SLAs as they drive client retention. But MSP marketing and sales professionals should also consider creating a simple SLA that defines their responsibilities to each other.
9. Delight Clients
Often when I ask managed service providers what they do for marketing, you know what the most common answer is? “Word of mouth”
But let me be brutally honest. To MSP marketing professionals, word of mouth isn’t “doing” marketing. It’s more like denial. Or hoping to win the lottery without buying tickets or even being eligible to win.
However if you do a good job with everything else and delight your clients, you’ll get word of mouth referrals that fuel the cycle starting all over again.
In the old days, MSP marketers may have mistakenly thought that delighting clients wasn’t their problem. After all, client satisfaction should be the concern of help desk and customer service staff, right? Wrong!
In the age of social media and the critical importance of client retention to a recurring revenue-based model, delighting clients is everyone’s job!
From a practical standpoint, make sure your employees and clients are well trained and kept happy. If either of these investments are neglected, your clients will know about it.
Fortunately, today there are also some great, relatively inexpensive tools for managed service providers that can help you stay on top of delighting customers, by paying attention to key metrics. Two in particular worth looking into are:
The Bottom Line
Most small managed service providers are in perpetual marketing denial. The owners know they need marketing and sales investments to survive and grow, but there’s a huge disconnect between that knowledge and action.
In this article, you’ve been introduced to nine MSP marketing tips that can help you convert more of your website visitors into leads and close more sales from those leads.
What managed services marketing strategies have you found most effective? Which have been a waste of time? Please share your thoughts in the Comments box below.
And to follow through on the nine tips introduced in this article, be sure to download your free IT Channel Inbound Marketing Planning Guide.
Creative Commons Image Source: flickr cote