More and more customers change the way they purchase IT services.
For many, long gone are the days of calling potential vendors to learn more about the service and its delivery.
Today, IT buyers go through most of the process alone and acquire the necessary information by themselves.
For you, this means that you’re no longer able to influence their decisions.
At least not directly.
However, you can alter your marketing process to ensure they’ll discover your company and recognize it as an IT expert to hire.
In this post, we’ll show you how.
So, let’s take it from the top.
The New IT Buying Process
At first sight, nothing about your prospects has changed.
They still phone or call into your premises, ask some questions and if satisfied what they hear, make a buying decision.
But after only a brief moment, you realize there is something unique about them.
For one, they’re informed. Today’s customers come prepared, knowing a lot about your service already. Many are also able to define their problems better. They even actually understand their current challenge.
And that’s because before engaging with you, they’ve most likely gone through a lengthy research process. They used Google and other sources to learn more about their problem and identify your service as a potential solution.
Then, they researched your company online and checked what others are saying about you there. Some might have inquired about you too, on social media perhaps.
And eventually, satisfied with what they discovered, they’ve reached out.
Which suggests that most of the sales process happened without your direct involvement!
In fact, according to SiriusDecisions, customers go through as much as 70% of the entire buying cycle now without any contact with the company.
This, as a result, distorted the roles of sales and marketing. As Steve Patrizi pointed in this article, marketing must now aim to achieve more than generate interest in a product.
Today’s marketers must also nurture and engage prospects, and accompany them along the entire buyer’s journey until they’re ready to buy.
Sales team enter the picture in the final stages when a person has already acquired all the necessary information and conducted extensive research on their own.
Your marketing funnel, therefore, must now focus on channels that allow you to achieve the above effect – guide a person along with their buyer’s journey.
And here is what we believe the best way to make it happen.
5 Marketing Strategies That Position Your IT Company Along the New Marketing Funnel
To align your brand with the way a modern buyer finds and engages with IT vendors, you must incorporate the following channels into your strategy:
- SEO to position your content for relevant searches
- Local SEO to target local and immediate interest
- Videos to target buyers learning more about their problem
- Case studies to convince buyers in the evaluation stage to hire you
- Service sheets and whitepapers to empower prospects to make informed decisions about hiring you,
- Blog to boost your authority
- Digital PR to build industry reputation.
So, let’s go through them in turn.
Channel #1: SEO
SEO, a strategy to position webpages in Google’s search results, remains one of the most effective marketing channels.
And there is so much data to prove it.
For example, according to a study conducted by PMDigital and ClickZLive organic search delivers about 30% of overall website visitors. What’s more, this traffic converts at a staggering 20% – 25%.
Not bad, eh?
However, your SEO strategy must go beyond just ranking the website. Every day, countless people search information about their IT-related problems or challenges.
Here’s a quick example showing search trends for one such keyword. Note how the interest hardly ever wanes throughout the year.
Needless to say, many of those people could become your customers.
But for this to happen, they need to:
- Discover your content in search at every stage of the buying process
- Identify you as a subject-matter expert (typically by the quality of your advice.)
And SEO gives you the opportunity to achieve the first point – position your blog posts and other content where the audience is the most likely to be looking for them, in search engine results.
Read our SEO advice to learn more:
- 4 SEO Trends IT Companies Must Know in 2018
- 12 SEO Resources for IT Professionals Who Want to Rank Higher in Google
- 3 Basic SEO Tasks You Should Have Done Long Ago
- How to Boost Your Search Traffic By Simply Improving Meta-Tags
- Here Are the Most Important Local Ranking Factors To Rank Your IT Website
- How to Optimize Your Website’s Content to Immediately Boost Its Rankings
- 7 Backlink Types You Need to Stop Getting Right Now (If You Want Your Site to Rank)
Channel #2: Local SEO
Customers at the early stages of the buying cycle use search engines to find information. Those already contemplating hiring an IT firm, however, will use it to discover potential vendors. And many of them, would they look for local companies.
That’s where Local SEO strategy helps.
Local SEO aims to position a brand in local search, a part of Google’s results aiming to deliver local business information. It looks more or less like this:
Note how those search listings include business information such as address, phone number, opening hours and even reviews.
The goal of local SEO is to help you position the company in front of people who look for your services near where they are.
And customers happily use this feature. According to Search Engine Watch, the number of searches including the term “near me” have doubled between 2014-2016.
Wordstream also reports that “72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.” (source)
Our Local SEO advice:
Channel #3: Video
Video has taken the business world by storm. On average, companies publish up to 18 videos per month. And for a reason. After all, 90% of customers say that videos are helpful in making a buying decision.
No surprise that only two years ago, 62% of B2B marketers rated video an effective content marketing tactic.
And it makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, YouTube is often the first place we go to when we face a technical problem or issue.
Your customers are no different. Faced with an IT issue, they might turn to YouTube for answers or information that would help them understand the issue.
Needless to say, the channel offers an incredible opportunity for exposure and introducing your brand to potential customers.
Channel #4: Service Sheets, White Papers, and Other Downloadable Resources
Search results, YouTube, and many other channels help prospects acquire the knowledge they seek.
But at some point, they’re going to start evaluating potential vendors. Although not ready to buy yet, this is the moment when they begin considering engaging an IT company.
And at this point, they’ll look for more in-depth information that would help them choose whom to hire.
That’s where they become interested in downloadable, middle-of-the-funnel resources like white papers, service sheets or case studies.
Each of those documents helps them understand a specific aspect of the company and its service. For example:
White papers are ideal to introduce them to your specific service, explain its intricacies and help them justify the expense of buying it.
Service sheets provide specific information about your deliverables and the process.
And case studies, help convince them that your company is the best choice to solve their problem.
Read our downloadable resources advice:
- How to Get Started with Inbound Marketing in the IT Market
- 3 Lead Generation Strategies Guaranteed to Find You More Clients
- How to Create the Best Case Study for an IT Firm
Channel #5: Content Marketing
Undoubtedly, content forms the basis for the majority of marketing strategies today.
However, in this article, we want to focus on a specific objective the channel helps achieve – building your authority.
Because with so much choice on the market, customers naturally select IT providers whom they consider authoritative and can see their expertise.
And they often establish a company’s authority based on a number of cues:
- Their market visibility. If customers see a company’s name popping up along their buyer’s journey often, they consider them authorities.
- The value they provide. Similarly, if a company provides valuable information along every of those touch points, it’s almost impossible for someone not to consider them authorities.
- Market connections. A company that often appears in industry publications or speaks at the leading IT events will also acquire a much greater authority status.
Content allows you to achieve every one of those objectives. Blog posts and guest posts help you build industry visibility, provide value, and in the case of guest posts, also help establish connections with the leaders in the market.
And here’s some content marketing advice that will help you get started: