Despite the fact that it is considered as one of the most innovative and fastest moving sectors, the IT industry is no better than most industries when it comes to digital marketing.
Although its easy to assume that anything "digital" can be easily picked up by companies dealing in technology, there are still many aspects of digital marketing that are sometimes lost from IT firms.
So where can IT consultancies, software houses, system integrators and many others start in the path to improvement?
Assess your IT firm's Digital Marketing
Before going off writing your plan or drawing up an online marketing campaign, its very important to do an assessment or a digital marketing audit to see where do you stand. From there you can find your weaknessess and see what you can do next.
Do you know who you're targeting?
Do you have "personas" that can help you tailor your online campaigns to? Even if you say you have a "target market" that isn't enough. This is the one of the important steps in how IT companies can assess their digital marketing efforts.
You need to have personification of your target market and you have to know the complete profile of this persona. Here's example of a persona for a vendor of an app that can support sales people during their meetings with clients:
"Maria is in her late 20s to 30s and is a deputy or senior sales manager. She typically handles 10-20 sales agenfts and is constantly finding ways to improve her sales team's performance. She browses mostly on her smartphone as she is always on the road and uses mostly her LinkedIn account.
Its important for her to find ways to shorten the cycle from pitch to closing a deal. She is concerned that her sales agents' workload and some leads could be forgotten and opportunities are lost. Because her department's hands are full, she couldn't upsell to past customers even if she wants to."
This is just a quick example where you can have a general idea of how to tailor your online campaign to your target. You can have several personas that each represent your various targets. You can be as detailed as you want but it shouldn't be mere assumptions.
You have to do research either from past customers or do some digging on your prospective customers. Once you have your persona, here are some metrics that you can keep track of for each persona:
- Number of online leads generated in total and for the month
- Number of customers
How well do your online channels fit?
Firstly, what online channels do you have or plan to use? List them and then begin the assessment. If you're just starting out, you'll definitely need a website and blog that's specifically designed to generate leads and some form of social media presence. This is an important part of digital marketing for IT companies.
You have to see how well they fit with your persona and critically look at whether these channels are designed to let your "Maria" give you her email address or contact you directly.
If you have already been running your website and social media accounts for some time now, then it's important to set benchmarks now. Here are some metrics you might want to look at and perhaps include in your future online marketing performance reports:
- Average monthly website visits and visits trend
- Average monthly social media channel visits
- Average emails/messages received monthly
- Monthly visits to contacts ratio (or monthly conversion rate in digital marketing lingo)
- Top 3-5 most popular pages every month
- Top 3-5 most engaging social media messages (those that received the most comments, likes and shares)
How well is your content ecosystem performing?
To properly boost lead generation and get more customers from digital marketing, you need to have content ecosystem of blogs, ebooks, reports, tipsheets, whitepapers, templates, videos etc. that can be used to attract more visits and "conversions" or those who visited and gave you their email address to be allowed to download some free content.
Here are some things to track on a monthly and annual basis:
- Top viewed pages
- Top downloaded content
- Conversion rates of each piece of downloadable content
- Number of customers produced by each content/page
Once you have these figures, you can easily see what kinds of content and means of delivery are the most effective in producing leads and making a difference in your bottomline.
How well is your site performing in search engines?
Appearing in search engines is an important part of digital marketing. Preferrably, you should at least make it to the top 10 or basically the first page of your most important search keywords such as your company name as well as keywords related to your line of business.
After that, you can list some keywords that your target persona would most likely search when trying to look for the services that you offer. Let's take the Maria persona we used as an example earlier. Based on her persona, she would most likely enter some of these search terms: "mobile apps for sales", "sales software", "sales best practices", "free sales tools and apps" etc. You get the idea.
Once you have some important keywords on hand, check online for some free Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools. Google Analytics will help you to get started but if you want some specific metrics, then you may have to search for more tools. Below are some metrics that you might want to look at:
- Keyword rankings or the position of your page vs. a keyword
- Organic search traffic
- Average time per page and per visitor
Are you taking advantage of your mailing list?
This can be a list of your customers or these can be visitors who willingly subscribed to your mailing list for future updates. This is used primarily to "nurture" your subscribers to become customers or for past customers to make more purchases and increase their lifetime customer value.
To be able to keep track of email campaign indicators, you'll need an email marketing platform that allows you to track these. There are many out there and some are even free.
These are some key metrics to look at when finding out the success of an email campaign:
- Sent (from your side) and received (from customers/subscribers side)
- Soft and hard bounces
- Email opens
- Email clicks on links or buttons (if applicable)
- Visits or content downloads resulting from your email
- Recipients of the emails that eventually made a purchase due to your campaign
But aside from the above, you'll eventually have to set benchmarks after you've made a few email campaigns:
- Average sent vs. received emails ratio
- Average soft and hard bounces
- Average opens
- Average clicks
- Average visits and downloads resulting from your email
These metrics can show you if there are problems in your campaign. For example, if there are fewer opens, this could be because you haven't been paying attention to the subjects of your latest emails. Lesser clicks could mean that maybe the copy on your email is not engaging enough or your link/button is not highlighted enough or is hidden.
While there can be a lot more metrics that you can include that could be important to you and your business, the indicators mentioned above are a good start to both set benchmarks to measure your IT company's digital marketing efforts. Be sure to include most of them in your report for your next meeting!
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