Something we often hear is MSPs saying how busy they are marketing their services.
They list off a million different things that they’re currently doing to ‘get their brand out there.’ And when it comes down to crunch time, what they’re unintentionally doing is really just wasting time trying to be busy. At some point you have to ask yourself: Is it worth it? Fumbling around in the dark, constantly being busy, spinning the wheels. But not gaining anything…
We want to help YOU identify what Marketing Tactics you’re currently doing and then simplify them to help you become more efficient in earning leads and business in the long run.
In this post, we're going to run through 7 High
Value Marketing Tactics and for each of the seven tactics we’re going to break them down into three categories:
Low Value - usually things you’re doing that’ll take up time but provide little results.
High Value - more complex tasks that generally provide significant results once completed.
Action Items - things you MUST do because they can lead to higher growth opportunity for your business.
Before we get started with the seven high-value marketing tactics, we first need to have a look at ‘why’ a lot of MSPs are spending time focusing on what we categorize as ‘Low Value’ items.
As the internet has evolved over the years, so has the amount of information, services, and software you can use to run your business.
In some cases, more isn't better and when it comes to the evolution of marketing tools, “more” certainly isn't better. Why? Well, If you can limit your business to using a few specific tools and really become efficient in them, then you have a greater chance of succeeding with your online marketing because you’re no longer trying to juggle 100 different programs while constantly trying to keep up with changes.
That’s not to say you should throw out all the tools you’re currently using; instead, take stock and see which are helping and which you need more time to really understand how they benefit your business and put them on hold.
On top of that, you then have to navigate the conflicting information that is promising incredible results at the click of a button. Understandably, offers like this are appealing, but it can be hard to know what information to trust -- and that’s why we’re here to help.
The first tactic we’re going to look at is SEO. We all know SEO is important to get your website (and services) found on Google (and other search engines), but with over 20,000,000 results in Google for ‘How do I do SEO?’ it can be hard to know what needs to be done to actually get success with SEO.
SEO Low Value
Automated SEO reports
SEO High Value
Earning quality links
SEO reports give simple suggestions for improvement but it’s important to remember that these reports are automated and can be flat out wrong. Focusing on these reports leads to good practices like including alt text for images, but that’s certainly not going to make or break your SEO efforts as an MSP.
In the eyes of search engines, earned links are seen as a vote of confidence in the quality of your site.
The more links you have from HIGH-QUALITY sources, the more likely your site will rank for your target keywords.
High-Quality sources are the key, though. Anyone can go to Fiverr.com and pay $5 for 100 backlinks, but why shouldn’t you? Backlinks are incoming links to a webpage, so a high-quality link is one that comes from a trusted source. That’s not something you and the 500 other people who paid $5 for 100 links can get easily.
Search engines are smart enough to determine whether a link is valuable. If you are going to ‘link build,' then make sure that you’re at least doing it with sites that are an authority and in niches related to yours. There is no use getting a link from a beauty spa website when you’re selling IT services.
Over the years, the way search engines determine ranking results have gotten more and more complex, but inbound links have remained one of the biggest factors involved in SEO success.
Action items for SEO
Now that you understand that automated SEO reports are something to only be glanced at, it’s time to put your focus on the following three SEO Action Items.
Find out how many inbound links your site has today.
The first step is to collect information about how many links you have today and who is linking to you. To do this, there are a few different tools you can use. We recommend both Opensiteexplorer.com and ahrefs.com. Something you might also want to do is check your competitors' sites to see how many links they have and who is linking to them.
If you’re unsure about what to do with the data these tools provide, talk to an SEO expert. If you’re already a Pronto client, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for help.
Create links with case studies.
Case studies are great ways not only to generate links, but also to create content that helps prospects decide that you’re a good, trustworthy company to use.
For MSPs, Google Adwords is one of the best ways to get in front of your prospects. It gives you full control over what search phrases your ads appear under as well as the location of the searcher.
Now that sounds all well and good, but Google does play a little trick on business owners. They make getting started with Adwords super easy, which makes it seem like the Adwords platform will automatically show your ads to the right people.
They forget to tell you how complex Adwords really is and how much ongoing work it takes to actually ‘make them work.’ It’s easy to throw a lot of money away if you’re not paying attention and know how to manage your campaigns.
Google Adwords Low Value
Set & Forget Campaigns
Google Adwords High Value
Adjust, Tweak & Monitor
Considering how easy Google makes it to set up campaigns in Adwords, it’s hard not to be pulled in and want to set up a few campaigns. But unless you plan to plan to actively manage your campaigns, and instead decide to put them on auto-pilot, you’ll end up flushing hundreds of dollars down the drain for nothing.
The more you look at and study your AdWords data, the better you can optimize and make improvements to your campaign's ROI.
Once you’ve developed and launched a well-organized campaign, you can really dig into which ad groups are getting clicks and which are getting conversions.
Some improvements you can make in your campaigns to get them really working are:
When you have a well-targeted campaign, you'll be displaying your ads primarily to searchers who show intent or interest in managed services providers.
That’s all well and good, but if your ad copy is lacking you’re not going to catch their attention which you need to inspire the click. If your click-through rate is below 1% you need to go back to the drawing board with your ad copy.
After optimizing your ad click-through rate, you should analyze how your landing pages are performing. When a visitor clicks your ad but leaves your site right away, they effectively “bounced.” You want visitors to complete a form on your site to become a lead, so your goal is to get this number as low as possible. After all, you’ve already paid Google to send the visitor to your site.
Your ability to continually optimize and adjust your campaigns is what’s going to bring you success with AdWords.
To keep things simple here, we’ve narrowed it down to three routines you need to perform on a daily, weekly and monthly basis:
Check in on how your keywords and ads are performing. Do this every day or maybe every other day depending on how smoothly your campaign is running.
Are the click-through rate and ad position too low?
Maybe it's time to increase the bids.
Or maybe it's time to review your ad copy.
On top of that you, you should always check which search phrases your ads are appearing with and mark irrelevant phrases as negative keywords. This tells Google not to display your ad for those phrases.
Look at your click and lead costs. Do this once a week and make sure you’re on track to meet your monthly budget and lead goals.
Dive into the quality of leads and signups. On a monthly and quarterly basis, you’ll want to dive into the customers you drove through AdWords. Compare them against your other marketing channels and figure out whether AdWords is providing a positive return for your business.
Marketers have proclaimed this maxim for as long as marketers have existed: “Content is King.” And when it comes to customer acquisition, Content will continue to be King for a very long time.
By providing content around your services, you promote yourself as an authority on the topic. That creates trust, which then creates leads and sales.
Blogging (and content marketing in general) is a great strategy. It can help your SEO, it can improve your site engagement, and it can be used in your email campaigns.
That said, there are a few trends we’ve been noticing when it comes to blogging…
Content Marketing Low Value
Writing blogs for search engines
Content Marketing High Value
Writing blogs for your readers
Content Marketing Low Value Category: Quantity vs Quality
You will end up hurting your brand and business more than helping it if you write your blog content around a keyword or a desired word count. Search engines are getting better and better at determining whether a blog post is actually valuable. They don’t want to send their users to blog posts that visitors aren’t going to find insightful.
When it comes to content marketing, you want to write for the end reader by being genuinely helpful.
As a side benefit of purely focusing on the reader and providing value in your content, it helps with the search engines as well now that they take more interest in engagement and interaction.
What’s even better than writing directly for people, is writing for people in specific stages of the sales funnel. (Not sure what a sales funnel is? Read this post.) By answering the specific questions they have at a given stage, you can pre-emptively alleviate potential concerns they have at that point.
The screenshot above shows a customer journey we mapped out for Pronto. And even though we’re a marketing company, you can replace “website” with “technology” and a lot of what we’ve done here applies to MSPs as well.
What really helped with our marketing strategy was not just mapping out the journey from prospect to lead to customer, but also digging into what people are thinking at each stage -- what concerns or questions they might have or what roadblocks we might run into. We then took this and planned out blog articles, emails, ebooks and videos that help guide people through their journey.
Thinking about your content in this way helps you create a strategy that directly impacts your conversions.
Action Items for Content Marketing
Audit your existing content. The first thing you want to do is know where you currently stand and identify which areas you need to fix.
Align each piece of content to the different stages of your sales funnel. Start with a simple spreadsheet and include your blog posts, case studies, eBooks, whitepapers etc. When evaluating your content, ask yourself these questions. Will it...
convert visitors into leads?
close your leads?
delight your current clients?
Begin writing blog posts about the topics your prospects and clients discuss with your sales team on a regular basis.
After the post is written, you can make some adjustments to optimize the post for search engines. But only after the post has first been written for the reader.
Promote your new content is via your Social Media accounts, your monthly newsletter, or even better yet a targeted email campaign. The last step is to get your new content in front of your audience. Don’t expect people to just find your post. Organic search traffic will come over time, but you want to be putting it into action now with your own promotions.
Conversion optimization is most closely associated with A/B testing your website pages by changing headline text or calls-to-action. But conversion optimization applies to any incremental improvement aimed at better progressing your potential customer through your funnel.
Conversion Low Value
Random chance A/B testing
Conversion High Value
Optimizing for target personas
A/B testing is overrated. Most optimizations done this way focus on testing an orange “buy” button versus a blue one. This approach will typically get you little, if no actionable results because it amounts to arbitrarily turning the knobs on a machine and hoping for success by random chance.
As an MSP, when it comes to Conversion Optimization you want to take the time to think about whom you’re trying to appeal to.
The best way to optimize conversions is develop buyer personas and tailor your funnel to your target audience.
Buyer personas are basically pretend-characters that encapsulate the types of buyers you want to attract. By developing these personas, you’ll have a better idea of how to appeal to them through your site’s copy, images, and blog posts.
Think about it, would you pitch your services the same way to a business owner as you would to a CTO? Different roles have different pain points. When you define their pain points, you can determine how to appeal to them… This will make your marketing efforts much more effective.
The graphic above shows a buyer persona named ‘Reluctant Randy.’ He has a job title, a salary, and specific pain points he needs addressed.
By creating these personas, we can tailor our content and marketing to those who we know will be reading and help move them into our sales funnels.
Gear your content and marking to these specific types of people. As we talked about in the content marketing section, it’s all about addressing their pain points and their needs. The more your content speaks directly to them, the more likely they’ll take action.
Review all of your calls-to-action. Go through your website today and look at all the buttons on your web forms. If any of them say something generic like “submit” or “click here” replace with something specific that will direct your persona what to do: “Book a Consultation” or “Request My Quote”
It’s impossible to talk about Marketing Tactics and not mention Email Marketing. Email Marketing is still one of the best ways to reach your leads and current customers. But not all email campaigns are equally effective. Your success with email depends entirely on how you approach this powerful tool.
Email Marketing Low Value
Untargeted, one-off blasts
Email Marketing High Value
The biggest mistake we see repeated among MSPs who do email marketing is that they send sporadic promotional emails to every email address you’ve captured in your CRM.
One of the best uses for email marketing is lead-nurturing and the campaigns that get results are specifically targeted.
When it comes to MSPs where the sales cycle is longer, this is particularly true.
Your prospects might be unready to make a decision about switching IT providers. Maybe their pain point hasn’t become a big-enough issue yet.
To deal with this effectively, you need to do three things:
Remain top of mind.
Show off your expertise.
Help your prospects make informed decisions.
Building a series of education emails covers all three of those by allowing you to send to your audience weekly emails teaching them about a particular aspect of your services that will help their business.
Action Items for Email Marketing
Determine the most common questions you get from prospects and clients. If you already have blog posts about these topics, you’re off to a great start, but not everyone is going to read your blog post unless you point them to it.
Write a 3-5 email series that answers your most common questions. This is called an email drip campaign. In the case of cloud computing, your first email may explain what the cloud is. Then the following emails can build on that further.
Make sure to include a strong call to action. This is basically a button which users should click after they read the email. In the initial emails, your CTA may be directing readers to a blog post. But in the last email of the drip, you may encourage readers to contact your team for a free consultation by leading them to a landing page.
With all the above tactics starting to take shape, it’s important for you to be able to track what is working and what isn’t. Analytics is a critical tool for using your current marketing data to make intelligent improvements to your future marketing plans. But how you use analytics can mean the difference between finding a big opportunity or losing hours digging through data without much to show.
Analytics Low Value
Tracking vanity metrics
Analytics High Value
Tracking specific campaigns
A lot of analytics tools will draw you into dashboards with top-level metrics like overall page views or time-on-site. These metrics only scratch the surface and don’t give you any actionable information about how to make improvements. It plays to our vanity to see pageviews increasing month after month, but what does that really mean for your business?
You need to use your data to data evaluate the success of specific marketing activities.
For example, you might ask, "Is my conversion rate from organic search traffic increasing or decreasing?" Once you have that answer, you can then ask, "Why?" And then you can build a hypothesis that can drive you to make improvements to your marketing or your website.
The table above shows that our leads from Email traffic were significantly larger in March and October. So we can ask ourselves why that’s the case.
By looking back at our email campaigns over the last year, we find that we promoted new eBooks in those months. That’s some pretty clear evidence that tells us we should be investing more in producing and promoting more ebooks.
Analytics Action Items
There are a few fundamentals you have to have in place to be able to collect the right data for your business.
Make sure you’re tracking goals in Google Analytics. Goals are actions that you want people to take on your website; they can be anything from clicking a link to submitting a form to signing up for a service. Our Understanding Google Analytics post will help you get the most out of Google Analytics.
If you’re a Pronto client, then you should already know about the Pronto Dashboard that has been designed to give you easy access to the data you NEED.
Make sure you have the ability to track calls is important as well. Without a call tracking system, you’re missing out on conversion data from your marketing campaigns, so you’re operating with limited information.
Sales & Marketing Strategy
At every step, it’s important to think about your overall sales and marketing strategy. Without a clear strategy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of jumping from tactic to tactic without ever actually completing something properly.
Sales & Marketing Low Value
Shiny object syndrome
Sales & Marketing High Value
Focus on your sales funnel
Shiny Object Syndrome is something we all get hit by at some point. You hear from a friend that they get all their leads from SEO, so you focus on improving SEO for a few months. It doesn’t produce amazing results right away, you look for another solution. And so on, and so on.
You’re not going to benefit from constantly switching from one thing to another.
The goal of all of your marketing and sales efforts is to guide people through your funnel. So base all of your activities on your funnel to generate lasting results.
That applies to content, email, building conversion paths on your website, as well as your overall sales and marketing strategy.
The example here shows only the marketing services we offer, but when you’re planning this out for your business you should map out everything -- including offline marketing efforts like direct mail campaigns, offline advertising, tele-sales, and networking.
Action Items for Sales and Marketing Strategy
Write down all the marketing activities you’re currently doing.
This could be anything from sending direct-mail campaigns to promoting your referral program.
Once you’ve compiled the list, match everything with a stage of your sales funnel. Think about if each marketing activity is:
Helping attract visitors
Closing leads into clients
Delighting your current clients.
Find and fix the weak spots in your funnel.
Once you’ve defined the areas for improvement, prioritize them with your team so you can begin taking action.
It’s important to set due dates and put them on your calendar. You’ll greatly increase the chance that you’ll take action.
The last thing you’d want to happen is to revisit your marketing task list next quarter and realize that everything stalled because you got busy.
Now that you’ve read all about high value marketing tactics, you’re ready to start marketing your business and making an impact on your sales revenues. What’s step 1? Subscribe to our quick start guide below.
Stay focused with our 3-Step MSP Marketing Planning Series
Get your marketing & sales strategy done with our: