With everything going on in your business, it’s very easy to neglect your own marketing. However, creating an effective inbound marketing strategy can completely change the way you attain new customers. With the right tools in place, you may actually see that business start to approach you.
Effective MSP marketing involves combining traditional marketing with a newer, more modern “inbound” approach. In this guide we’re going to cover the inbound marketing side of your marketing strategy.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Hubspot, an Inbound focused CRM, explains it best. Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they may or may not want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they already have.
Inbound in the wild takes the form of blogs, ebooks, social media, and other pieces of content meant to drive demand for your services. As an MSP, inbound marketing means creating valuable content and experiences to draw in potential customers.
Essentially, the idea is that instead of going out and looking for customers, doing things to make them come to you. When you create content and provide value it just naturally attract leads.
Inbound can be incredibly effective, although it sometimes takes a while to get up and going. High website traffic and lead generation doesn’t happen overnight, so you still have to promote your content on channels such as email and social media. However, once the inbound machine is up and running, the momentum and results are usually compounded.
To start in inbound marketing, think about what your potential customers are interested in, and what problems they have that you could solve. Then, start creating content in whatever medium works best for you that solves that problem and establishes your company as an authority and expert on the subject.
Inbound works like this: a potential customer comes to your website via google, social media, etc. to read a blog, watch a video, or check out your services. They then click on a Call-to-action (CTA) on your website to download a helpful ebook or whitepaper. They enter their personal information into a form on your landing page to download the resource.
Inbound Marketing Tactics for MSPs
While inbound marketing itself is more of a methodology, there are several tactics that produce inbound traffic. These all really follow a similar approach, which is creating valuable content and driving demand.
A blog can do a lot for your company. It’s a great strategy for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and being at the top of google can increase your traffic exponentially. Additionally, a blog gives you the chance to speak to prospective customers before a traditional sales call, giving them value and building trust before you’ve ever spoken. Start a blog, write about your industry, and watch the results.
eBooks are longer pieces of content, usually delivered via a PDF download. The difference between an eBook and a blog post is that you normally require a user’s information in exchange for a download. At Hook Security this is one of our top lead generation sources. eBooks are highly educational and it should solve a major problem or need of your customers. For example, the reason you’re reading this is that you may be looking for marketing tips, and hopefully this is helping you with that.
Whitepapers are very similar to eBooks, but while eBooks tend to be fun and conversational in nature, whitepapers deliver a research-based message. A whitepaper in your field could be an industry report, a published survey, or any kind of results or numbers-based report. These generate lots of downloads as a good whitepaper contains information people really want to see.
Landing pages are web pages that focus solely on one thing, usually with the goal of lead generation or a purchase. Apart from your regular website, which showcases your products, services, and contact info, landing pages allow you to give your website visitors a distraction-free page with your offer (ebook, whitepaper, etc.), with the hope that they will convert. The reason to use landing pages instead of a normal page on your website is simply for the lack of distractions that your site navigation, footer, and other normal aspects of your site that may keep that visitor from filling out your form.
SEO is a pretty large behemoth, and several vendors and agencies will lead you to believe that it’s way too big to take on yourself. And while SEO vendors can offer you value, and you should outsource this if you can, there are several easy things you can do to help your website climb the rankings. We even have separate guide on local SEO.
Social Media provides two ways to do inbound marketing. You can create content directly on the platforms to drive engagement, but you can also use Social to drive traffic back to your other website content. While it’s easy to think of social media as something people use casually or only, well, “socially”, social media is actually the driver of billions of dollars of commerce, and it’s not just limited to B2C. B2B sales works on social media. It just takes some additional navigating of the waters.
Basically every tactic mentioned above involves some sort of writing content. If you’re putting your hand up saying “I don’t write!” then consider video as a form of content creation. Find ways to educate and bring value via video. When done well, this is the best way to create trust with your potential customers, as they see your face and start to trust your opinion before even meeting them.
Converting Inbound Traffic to Sales
Alright! So you’re doing Inbound Marketing. The tactics mentioned above open the door for inbound traffic, but it’s up to to then convert them into sales. Next, we’ll go through some steps for converting traffic into leads, and leads into sales.
Forms and CTAs
To turn traffic into leads, you need two things: their information, and their permission for said information. So how do you obtain it?Like before, simply ask for that information in exchange for your content via a form or chat, and deliver the offer.Calls-to-action, or CTAs, are buttons, links, or images that prompt your user to take advantage of whatever you’re offering. These typically live throughout your site, in emails, social media, etc. and usually lead to a landing page containing your form. Use CTAs and forms together to effectively convert your traffic
When generating leads, you’ll find that not all leads are created equal. Some may by qualified and ready to buy, while others are simply shopping around and may not be aware of your solutions yet. For this latter audience, you’ll want to nurture them.
Nurturing leads involves using email campaigns, advertisements, phone calls and other marketing methods mentioned above.
The goal is to guide the prospect through your buyer journey. This could be by scheduling demos, educating about your solutions, or sending more offers and content, however it’s important to market to them “where they are” in the buying process. Calling someone who simply signed up for your newsletter may scare them away.
Measuring Your Success
Measuring the results of your marketing is incredibly important as it helps you know what areas of your efforts you should focus on, improve, and possibly even stop completely.Here are few KPIs we think you should track with your MSP marketing:
- Email Click Rates
- Lead Quality (vs. Quantity)
- Website: Traffic to Conversion rates
- SEO: Organic traffic and keyword rankings
As with any marketing effort, you should also measure the cost of bringing in a customer versus the lifetime value that customer brings. Putting marketing dollars into play can be daunting, but if $600 can bring in a customer that nets $20k over their lifetime, is it worth it?
By the way, if you'd like to download this guide as a PDF, you can do that here.
Bonus: MSP Blog Content Ideas!
As an added bonus, here are a few ideas to help boost your creativity when coming up with content.
List all your services out, and write a post educating about a problem and solution that that service provides. (i.e. Is your company prepared for the latest phishing attacks?)
Create “Listicles” using the day-to-day small problems you solve (i.e. 6 ways to increase company productivity through IT)
Make predictions about the IT industry or technology itself, and write about it.
Survey your current customers and create a “The State of Cybersecurity in [TOWN]” whitepaper.
Find inspiration from employees, customers, competitors, to find areas in which you can add value.