The beauty of the tried and tested inbound marketing methodology is its universality; you can apply it industry-wide, as it lends itself to being tailored precisely to your buyers’ needs. Successful tech or SaaS inbound marketing relies on content and messaging that champions thought leadership and problem solving ability.
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Now, here are our five must-dos when developing an inbound marketing strategy for tech and SaaS companies.
1. Know your customers’ needs at each buyer’s journey stage
Inbound marketing methodology is geared around buyer personas and the buyer’s journey. Your buyer personas are the (approx. 4) types of people you’re targeting; they aren’t real people but they do represent real people, as well as their goals, challenges and fears.
As a tech or SaaS company, it’s likely your mission to make life easier for your customers through the means of your software, platform or some other IT-based solution. To this end, your inbound marketing objective should also be to solve the problems of your buyer personas at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
What questions are they asking at the awareness stage? Use your industry knowledge to take your potential customers’ problems and turn those into blog posts and content. If your company builds CRM software, how about an eBook about how to make sales teams more profitable and efficient? Refine your PPC and SEO strategies by targeting high frequency, low competition long tail keywords.
At the consideration stage, they will likely be researching and comparing solutions, so this is where you need to prove your worth over your competition. Perhaps by nurturing your leads via opt-in email marketing, inviting them to join webinars, or sending through product specs or a case study on how your technology helped a client increase their ROI, for example. Remember to segment your email lists by buyer persona and buyer’s journey stage to increase relevance.
By the time they reach the decision or purchase stage, your targets will probably be ready to test-drive your software or service, and compare you and your competitors. Now’s the time to offer a free demo, trial or consultation, via your email marketing, remarketing campaigns or social media channels. It’s then up to the quality of your product and the abilities of your sales team to close customers.
2. React to industry trends
The tech industry is a fast-moving and ever-changing one, so it pays to stay on top of the trends. Sign up to relevant news alerts, find the latest studies and research and understand how your company must adapt with the times.
In your inbound marketing, make it your goal to be a source of information on the latest movements in your industry. Trends are always going to be of interest to your customers and client base, who’ll also want to keep ahead of the game. Use your understanding of your buyer personas and industry knowledge to expertly predict future developments and how these could affect your target audience.
If your product is advertising software for example, write about video ads or the future of wearable technology. To turn your content into leads, place downloadable PDFs behind a form. If your gated content is appealing enough, people will happily give their email address to download it. You can also ask for additional relevant information, like their industry, job title and company size, once your leads download subsequent content.
Be a thought leader and own the conversation; it will ultimately build your company’s reputation and help you compete with the major players.
3. Be active on social media
How you utilise social media in your inbound marketing strategy will largely depend on your industry, target buyers and whether you’re B2B or B2C.
For B2C tech companies, depending on where your customers are likely to hang out, you can incorporate any or all of the following into your plan: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and more recently live-streaming platform Periscope. Post engaging content that goes viral, write entertaining and sharable blog posts to promote via your channels, create videos and take funny photos; the choices are endless, so the limits of your creativity are the only boundaries!
If you’re a B2B tech company, your most useful channels will usually be LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Some of your main social media activities might include: finding, joining and participating in relevant discussion groups on LinkedIn, following and engaging with Twitter influencers and early adopters in your industry, getting involved with relevant Twitter conversations, and sharing your content (blogs, eBooks, templates).
You’ll find your sweet spots in terms of the best channels and best practices for your company. Whatever your social media activity level, it’s important to create a social media calendar, find your own voice and monitor and optimise your engagement levels, clickthrough rates and conversions.
4. Speak your customers’ language
In the tech industry, marketing content has the potential to become dull, overly complex and jargon-ridden. To avoid falling into this trap, develop a tone and language your target audience will enjoy. Make your blog and content come to life by injecting personality, a sense of humour and approachability into your writing.
Keep it simple, but still advanced enough to be interesting and engaging. Either avoid unclear jargon completely, or at least explain what it is and define it. If your customers are likely to talk about lead generation, there’s no point in you referring to it as ‘business opportunity collection’. As always, address the needs of your targets.
Your buyer personas might be made up of a mixture of marketing professionals, techies, sales people and CEOs. The language you use for your targeted content should reflect who you’re writing for. Consider how they speak, the tech publications they read and the influencers they follow on Twitter; draw inspiration from these sources for your own language style.
5. Watch your competition
Part of successful inbound marketing for small- to medium-sized businesses is striving to be better than the rest; creating remarkable content that appears higher up in search engine results, offering the most valuable content and competing for mindshare against not only your peers but bigger companies too.
Analyse your competitors’ inbound channels: their blog, content offers, social media and search engine performance. You can do this by reviewing their websites and channels, as well as finding who is ranking highly in Google for relevant keywords.
HubSpot customers can go to the Competitors section of the app and enter competitor names and websites to monitor their traffic rank (the lower the better), mozRank (authority and popularity rank on a scale of 0-10) and HubSpot marketing grade (a website’s holistic online presence grade on a scale of 0-100). See where you need to improve to match or exceed your competition, and aim to optimise your scores over time.
Use your company’s USPs, together with a winning inbound marketing strategy, to go one better than your competitors. What can you provide your potential customers with that no one else can? That’s where you need to be headed.
Inbound marketing for tech and SaaS companies is about reacting to trends, empathising with your target client base and solving their problems. The onus should always be on demonstrating your expert knowledge and deep understanding of your customers' needs.
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