You may think MSP digital marketing is intimidating because you don’t believe that you’re a marketing professional.
You don’t think that you can be effective when you don’t even know where to start, and that’s understandable. It’s basic human nature to look at the entire picture without stopping to appreciate individual elements — the fine brushstrokes, changes in hue, subtleties, and nuances.
But a systematic approach to marketing doesn’t mean tackling everything at once. More art form than magic, MSP digital marketing is often hyper-focused on taking small, manageable bites out of a much larger pie.
We get it. Marketing scares you.
For an MSP, digital marketing can be a daunting proposition, inciting mental images of firing a pea shooter at an aircraft carrier from 1,000 yards in pitch darkness. To business owners who need to focus on their businesses, MSP digital marketing is a chimera best left to its own devices.
If you leave it alone, maybe it will take care of itself, you silently pray.
The bad news is that it won’t; but that shouldn’t worry you because we’ve got you covered. With a few handy guidelines and best practices, you can take control of your marketing like a pro. This is the first of a two-part series on MSP digital marketing, and in this article, we’ll guide you through the steps needed to take on digital marketing.
What Makes Digital Marketing Different than Traditional Marketing?
Traditional (i.e., pre-WWW) marketing was very much entrenched in print, radio, and TV advertising. While not the only ways to market products and services, these delivery mechanisms formed the triad of available choices for companies that wished to get their message out to the masses.
Much has changed.
Digital marketing, which effectively began in the early days of the Worldwide Web, has created new opportunities that we couldn’t have dreamed of thirty years ago. And it’s constantly changing. Social media, which truly came online around 2006, has created new opportunities. High-speed internet and recursion in computing technology have provided a wealth of ways that companies can take advantage of marketing without breaking the bank.
Start with a Plan
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so let’s start with the basics. First, you need to have an MSP marketing plan. Marketing isn’t a game of whack-a-mole. Even the gigantic companies of the world — the Microsofts, Googles, Apples, Exxons, and so on — realize that they can’t indiscriminately spend their marketing budgets (and they have massive budgets).
To borrow from the medical profession, think of marketing as treatment and the planning diagnostics.
In the diagnostics phase, you identify and isolate the problems, plan out the appropriate courses of treatment, and then implement the treatment, whether it’s through medication, surgery, or some other action. And while marketing doesn’t always have to be surgical (in fact, it’s difficult to be surgical in marketing), it does benefit from a surgical approach.
Locating the area that’s affected and focusing on that area is an effective approach, even when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Planning can be scary. The word itself inspires people to push back because plans can get very long and complicated very quickly. Don’t let the word intimidate you, though. You don’t have to answer everything all at once. Just start with a manageable framework that allows you to dip your toe into the waters of digital marketing. There’s plenty of good information on the internet that can provide guidance, and the more you review your own unique situation, the more you’ll identify what your plan needs to encompass.
The bottom line: Don’t try to do everything at once
A Brief Introduction to Traffic & Conversions
It’s not unusual for MSP digital marketing campaigns to produce mixed results. Don’t panic if you don’t get the results you expected right away. Marketing, as stated earlier, is a bit of an art form, and art is subjective. MSP digital marketing is substantially different than traditional marketing (which we’ll cover in the second part of this series) and to be realistic, you need to have something to be realistic about: you need to understand how to measure your success.
Measuring success begins with setting a goal, so there are two terms you must become comfortable with: traffic and conversions.
Traffic is the amount of activity generated by your marketing efforts. If your goal is to get people to come to your website, then it’s the number of people who visited as a direct result of the marketing.
Conversions are the number of visitors who completed some sort of meaningful activity (to be clear, we mean meaningful to you). You converted them from a visitor to a ‘customer.’ Examples of meaningful activities include:
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Requesting information
- Creating an account
- Requesting a quote
While it’s tempting to focus on the last one — requesting a quote — any kind of conversion is important, because it suggests that number four will occur at some point.
Conversion rate is the number of visitors (traffic) that have been converted. For example, let’s assume the average monthly traffic to your website is 1,000 visitors. Of those visitors:
- 6 sign up for your newsletter
- 1 creates an account
- 1 requests information, and
- 2 request quotes
You’ve made ten conversions (leads), or 1% of the 1,000 visitors to your site. 1% is your conversion rate. So say you want to create 150 leads a month. Based on the current conversion rate of 1%, you’d need to increase your website traffic from 1,000 visitors a month to 15,000, or a 15 times increase in traffic.
But assume that you’d rather focus on your conversion rate than overall traffic (that is, the traffic doesn’t increase, the amount of leads does). Based on 1,000 visitors a month, to achieve 150 leads, you’d need to increase your conversion rate from 1% to 15%.
(Note: while it varies from industry to industry, a good conversion rate is between 2% and 5%).
While the numbers are fairly straightforward, they’re unrealistic in the short term and even in the long term (3-5 years), and the investment needed to cause a meaningful shift in your traffic and conversions can be substantial.
The bottom line: You need to be realistic with your goals
MSP Digital Marketing – Best Practices
Don’t be discouraged by the numbers or the thought of massive capital outlays. If you’re new to marketing or simply aren’t satisfied with your current marketing efforts, fear not. We have some great tips that will get you on track to creating better campaigns and effective audience reach. It doesn’t take a lot of work, and the returns can be very gratifying.
The main selling feature of MSPs is strategic partnering. MSPs rely on partnerships with companies and other vendors and depending on the audience (company or vendor), the message needs to resound to specific needs. Does your message require a two-tier approach? Not really, because the marketing mechanics are the same, but you should be clear on the target and create concise messaging that speaks to your audience.
Here are a few tips and best practices that you can adopt, once you’ve developed your marketing plan, starting with your approach, the way you deal with content, and how advertising fits in.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for outside help. Remember that you don’t have to do it all alone
- Measure, measure, measure everything — both content marketing success metrics and social media ROI metrics
- Most importantly, hone in on your target so that you don’t waste money
- Email marketing is still the workhorse
- Track what people are saying about your brand on social media
- Spend time on ‘earned media‘ PR
- Learn how to create great content
- Create helpful MSP marketing materials that address your audience’s pain points
- Blog all the time and do it well
- Don’t spam
- Create gated content (eBooks, white papers, downloads, and so on)
- Try to get guest posts in third-party publications to demonstrate your thought leadership
- Set up a Google business listing and ask customers for reviews
- Get on lists, for example, product review lists
- Leverage customer testimonials and create case studies
- If you’re going to spend ad money, spend it on Google and Facebook ads (and measure the returns)
- If you’ve got a TON of money perform hardcore search engine optimization (SEO) all the time
- Always do remarketing
Let TPM Help with Your MSP Digital Marketing
MSP digital marketing doesn’t have to be a minefield. In fact, with the right MSP marketing toolkit, it can be quite gratifying to see the results at the end of your hard work. While it’s not easy and the results aren’t always immediate, by planning out your MSP or VAR marketing strategy, setting your goals and targets, and adopting a three-tier philosophy — to your approach, your content, and your advertising — it is possible to take control of your organization’s marketing efforts.
And when you’re ready to take it to the next level with professionals who know the landscape and understand your pain, we’d be delighted to discuss your growth plans and how we can turn marketing from a headache into a sheer joy. Contact us today for more information.