Businesses the world over have resolved to operate more digitally since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – that’s not new news. Even in our pre-COVID environment, however, digital technology had already begun to transform the business landscape – and professional services companies are no exception.
Professional services refers to those businesses whose entire revenue channel comes from the sale of services (i.e. consulting or advisory), or a blend of services and products. Technology services refers to that subset of companies that provide IT or tech advisory within a SaaS, IaaS, PaaS or other similar model.
The digital environment has changed the way in which potential customers learn about and vet potential service providers, forcing companies to rethink their marketing strategies. Technology services companies must prioritize a strong digital presence in their overall approach to marketing if they wish to remain competitive.
In this post, we will review the role that digital plays in technology services marketing as companies seek to grow and scale their firms.
Tools and advice to help you find clients for your web development, IT, or computer systems design business.
Hard data: The case for digital marketing
Although having an online presence makes intuitive sense, research from The Hinge Research Institute (HRI) puts it into perspective. Consider that the very first step a potential customer will take in getting to know you is not to pick up the phone and have a chat. Eight out of ten times, they’ll visit your website before doing anything else.
They make their judgment right then and there about whether you’re a good fit. The painful reality? You’re likely leaving a lot of business on the table. HRI’s research further shows that 44% of potential customers rule out companies because they can’t understand from the website what that company truly does and how they do it differently from the competition. 30% of potential customers rule out companies due to bad UX – they can’t find what they’re looking for on that company’s website.
That all makes the case for having your website in order. A final data point to consider is HRI’s finding that the fastest growing companies – those that grow 20% or more for three consecutive years, generate 40% or more of their leads online. Winning new business through traditional means – referrals, relationships, demos and such – will never go away. But think about how much more powerful that traditional marketing becomes when the customer you’re pitching to sees a powerful online presence. It helps keep you out of the group of companies that get ruled out.
Educational content helps companies build trust
Even in a digital world, business is built on relationships and trust. Digital marketing allows you to strengthen existing relationships — and build trust through informative, valuable content — with both current and new customers. In fact, creating online content is the number one marketing priority of high-growth technology services firms, as found in HRI’s High-Growth study.
Why does content marketing work? When customers are buying a service, they are buying expertise. Behind every service is an expert delivering those services. Any company can claim to have the best people, the best solution, or best-in-class customer service. But when a company produces a regular cadence of high-quality, differentiated thought leadership that directly addresses what their target buyer cares about, the message becomes clear: They are the best and most qualified solution to the problem.
Technology services marketing the high-growth way
Professional services is becoming crowded and commoditized, particularly in the technology services industry. This reality makes differentiation a non-negotiable. High-growth technology services companies prioritize their marketing around specific techniques and tools that can help them meaningfully differentiate from and stand out above the crowd.
Educational content, as mentioned above, leads the list. Other digital marketing techniques and tools, such as incorporating well-researched keywords into that educational content and on the company website, building visibility through social media marketing, adopting automation tools for effective nurturing, and forming a disciplined ritual of tracking and measuring the performance of each technique are part of the top 10.
A scan of these marketing priorities shows that high-growth companies understand how to not only demonstrate their expertise through content, but also create visibility around that expertise and content. To see the full list of top 10 techniques, check out The Download: Making Sense of Online Marketing for Technology Services.
The bottom line.
Customers are learning about solutions and then making their buying decisions in a largely online playing field. If you’re considering getting started with online marketing, you may become overwhelmed by the numerous tools, never-ending expert advice, and the many marketing myths presented as fact. Or, maybe you’re already incorporating online marketing into your overall approach to winning new business, but feel frustrated to find that it’s not as easy as many claim it to be.
Whether you’re a veteran or a relative newcomer to digital marketing, you’ll benefit from the expanded advice on technology services marketing in The Download: Making Sense of Online Marketing for Technology Services. The free guide was written to help you learn how to build a digital marketing engine that acts as a cohesive system, which in turn helps you be more deliberate about your company’s growth and approach to winning new business.