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Online Marketing Best Practices: Software & Technology Marketing

Posted on Feb 28th, 2012
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    software marketing best practicesAt TopRank Online Marketing, we work with clients in many different industries each facing a unique set of problems.  One of the industries we provide online consulting for regularly is software.  Be it network monitoring, healthcare system and hospital software, email marketing, project management, or B2C software, promoting technology solutions has been a part of our expertise since TopRank was founded over 10 years ago.

    Software development continues to become even more valuable in today’s social, mobile and overall digital world as companies begin to migrate what were once offline industries into SaaS and cloud based services.  It wasn’t too long ago that recruiting, sales, and marketing relied heavily on meeting in person or over the phone. With advancements in software and devices, organizations are now able to accomplish the same if not better results at a drastically reduced cost.

    Here is where software companies are met with a compelling challenge:  With so many new and previously established software solutions available for easy download and implementation, how can you compete in the marketplace?  It is no longer just a price or feature based conversation.  Companies are struggling just to get their brand front and center with potential customers.  Take Google for example, how often do you search and stray farther than the second page of results before you begin contacting companies to setup a demo of some sort?  Chances are you (and your prospects) don’t go past that first page.

    Our internet marketing agency works with many companies that are facing similar struggles: How to attract people looking to buy in such a competitive market?  Companies know that they have a great product but don’t know how to go about getting in front of decision makers and influencers within organizations.  By this point we know that an integration of marketing and sales is necessary for success.  In fact, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. Here’s a great guide to lead nurturing from our SaaS client, Marketo.

    Before making software marketing consulting recommendations, it’s important to do some due diligence to figure out key information about the software/technology company and their customers including:

    • Current Situation:  Where are they currently marketing? Sales performance? Leads, sales, order volume, length of sales cycle, cost per lead/sale?
    • Objectives: Where do they want to be both short-term and long-term?
    • Target Audience:  Define customer segments, characteristics and preferences. Who is the customer?
    • Pain Points: What problems are solved for both the prospect and the company they work with if they buy your software/service?
    • Differentiation:  What makes your software or technology different from the competition? What is the value proposition?

    Agencies working with internal client marketing teams is an essential part of a successful online marketing engagement.  When the agency can work with internal marketers on strategy and planning together, they are able to determine top ranked objectives and can then tailor the solutions to meet the unique needs of the situation. That’s how top agencies (like TopRank) work with clients vs. providing ala carte or commoditized services.

    One of our clients is a leading software company in the recruiting industry.  This client wanted to increase their qualified lead inquiries by at least 100% a month.  A qualified lead was defined as a prospect submitting a request for information, setting up a demonstration, or contacting the company directly.  Through a combination of what we call a “push and pull” communications strategy we were able to significantly exceed initial projections.

    Push communications were implemented with the intention of increasing brand awareness of the client as a leader and respected source within their industry.  Pull communications included a series of tactics aimed at educating and encouraging prospects to begin making inquiries regarding their software solutions.

    The tactics that were used to draw in prospective customers included:

    Many corporate marketers can get tunnel vision when it comes to marketing their software. They may prejudge integrating channels like search or social media and discount the value of outside expertise because of concerns about effectiveness or the idea of change. Whatever the barrier to getting outside expertise is, there are many situations where it can make a world of difference – especially with situations like the one above where a division of an international software company spiked sales and now has processes in place that would have taken years to do on their own. Ongoing online marketing consulting continues to provide value and more than pay for itself with increases in performance, efficiency and effectiveness.

    The simple approach of Situation, Objetives, Audience, Pain Points and Differentiation seems straightforward but so many companies are still on the “Features and Benefits” hamster wheel. An outside online marketing service can break free of those confinements and duplicate outcomes with less effort in the long run.

    The process and marketing mix above isn’t limited to software and technology of course. What approach does your company take towards software and technology marketing? Are you integrating channels like SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing?