Digital marketing is crucial for IT companies to hit their B2B goals.

But marketing requires many skills that don’t come naturally to info tech teams.

Digital marketing enables IT companies to connect with potential customers via the internet and other forms of digital communication. Also known as online marketing, digital marketing utilizes blog content, email, social media, web-based advertising, and website copy, as well as text and multimedia messages.

Modern-day marketing is all around us. Every day, we jump into our social media world of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, sharing blogs dutifully written by experts in various fields while “selling” ourselves and our lifestyles with pictures, posts, and reels. No wonder everyone thinks marketing is easy. 

But does having access to marketing tools mean you know how to use them? If you hand over your car keys to an emu, would you trust it to drive on a cross-country road trip safely? Probably not. So maybe you shouldn’t let a team of engineers start a TikTok account in the hopes of finding your target audience.

The ubiquity of marketing tools makes everyone believe they know how to run a marketing campaign. From the CEO and the CMO to the accounts payable department supervisor and their spouse and children—everyone thinks they know exactly what the company needs to do to sell a product or service. 

The reality is that marketing is about so much more than posting a photo at the right time or jumping on a viral TikTok dance. Marketing is actually a data-driven effort built on strategic messaging and a solid, targeted content strategy. And just as engineers should be handed the reins of tech design, professional digital marketers should be relied upon to pilot all-encompassing marketing campaigns.

Why Marketing is Important for Tech Companies

Taking a 30,000-foot view of marketing, the goal is to inform and engage with your target audience so that they conclude your product or service is the best solution for the problem they’re trying to solve.

In B2B marketing, business buyers are catered to specifically, with the goal of improving lead quality, sales acceptance of leads, and conversion rates. 

For the information technology industry, the need for a superlative B2B marketing strategy is as crucial as ever. Global IT spending is projected to total $4.5 trillion in 2022, an increase of 5.1 percent from 2021, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. This massive dollar amount reveals that while competition is at an all-time high, so is market opportunity. 

There’s a good chance that if you get in front of your target audience at the right time, with the right message, you will succeed. But how?

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What is Digital Marketing?

First, it’s vital to understand what digital marketing is. Some might think that marketing simply equals advertising—web ads, social media ads, print ads, radio, and TV spots—but that’s not quite what we’re talking about. Paid advertising is just one channel for increasing reach or amplifying elements of a more extensive marketing campaign or strategy.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is all about marketing efforts that flourish on the internet. 

An end-to-end digital marketing strategy leverages digital channels such as social media, search engines, web pages, email, text, multimedia messages, and other collateral to connect organizations with current and prospective customers. 

For business growth and brand awareness, digital marketing is one of the most effective tools you have at your disposal. The purest way to get your story out there, digital marketing connects you with customers where they spend the majority of their time: on the internet. 

So, while digital marketing is about the message, it’s also about how it is presented and the different channels used to spread that message.

What Happens when IT Designs Websites

Nobody knows more about information technology than those who work within the industry—and no one knows your business better than you and your team. 

But while you should leverage in-house expertise, it can often take the form of a raw and unfiltered knowledge drop. Which, unfortunately, could turn out to be a detriment to your success. 

Like many other industries, IT is loaded with jargon and technical speak that doesn’t exactly constitute a universal language. It’s true: The companies that require IT assistance do not necessarily speak that same technical language. This leads to marketing messages being lost in translation and potential customers going elsewhere for technical assistance. 

When an IT company writes and designs its own website, there’s always a danger that the end product will rely too heavily on that in-house expertise without any of the digital marketing finesse. One common feature of this kind of “expertise-heavy” site can be referred to as “tech messaging.”

Tech Messaging

The minute you start sounding like you’re merely trying to sell a batch of products and services, there’s a good chance you’ll steer some customers away from your company. 

A winning digital marketing strategy begins with identifying your customer’s problems, explaining why they are worth solving, then relating how you can go about solving these problems. This approach leads to engagement from your target audience, extending the conversation and growing your business. 

Conversely, bad content marketing will try to pitch products and services without mentioning problem-solving or anything else that might make a prospective customer’s life easier. This prevents any engagement—if customers wanted to read a sales pitch, they would subscribe to a product catalog.

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Why Only One Marketing Channel Can Hurt You

There’s a reason why people still say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” That old idiom crams a lot of wisdom into only a few words, especially regarding a digital marketing approach for IT companies. 

The IT landscape is crowded, and, as mentioned earlier, companies are willing to spend a lot of money on information technology. Fierce competition only increases the need for an agile, robust, and diversified digital marketing strategy.

A single-channel marketing strategy is tenuous at best, mainly because:

 

  • It takes time. Different digital marketing tactics require different amounts of time to generate results. For example, without additional channels to support it, an “organic” content strategy can take anywhere from 12 – 18 months to generate ROI.
  • It overlooks potential customers. What happens if your main customers don’t frequent the one marketing channel you’ve chosen? You miss out on those customers, that’s what. There are too many options for customers—if you miss your opportunity to hit them with your message, it’s over. 
  • It’s one and done. When you invest all of your marketing dollars in one channel, the fate of the marketing department (or team) tends to ride on the success or failure of that single initiative.

A more holistic approach to digital marketing is safer and, overall, more effective. Utilizing a marketing strategy segmented across an array of channels helps tailor your message to more customers at all stages of the “buyer’s journey.” The most common marketing channels include:

 

 

All the channels listed here are time-honored digital marketing tools leveraged by millions of companies across thousands of verticals—with IT no exception. However, these tools are just that—tools. A successful digital marketing program isn’t just about the tools you use; it’s about the strategy they support.

Focus on Marketing Strategy, Not Just Marketing Tactics

Tactics are simple tools you can learn and deploy without knowing what you’re doing. 

Describing the tactics inside of the marketing toolkit doesn’t sound all that complicated—there are emails, social media posts, videos, blogs, and maybe even a cute infographic or two. 

Strategic marketing constitutes a business’s overall plan to reach prospective consumers and transform them into active customers. Any solid marketing strategy will leverage your company’s value proposition, brand messaging, customer demographic data, and other elements.

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Why Brand Management is Important for Tech

A successful company reaches a broad audience, converts prospects to leads without blowing the budget on advertising, grows revenue, and is scalable. 

The good news is that you can achieve all of those goals through brand management—an offshoot of your greater strategic digital marketing efforts. 

Brand management goes beyond your name, colors, and logo. While it includes those three crucial details, it also encompasses your customer touchpoints. Successful brand management takes great care in calibrating how your brand looks, sounds, and feels across all marketing channels, content, customer service, and communication.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in brand management, but perhaps the most essential points in the process include:

  • Ensuring brand positioning and values are aligned
  • Monitoring brand reputation
  • Centralizing brand material
  • Measuring and analyzing brand performance

For tech companies, increasing competition makes brand management imperative. In a highly competitive marketplace, IT companies with a strong brand presence and promise to deliver value have a better chance of leaving an impression. 

Now, there are excellent brand management examples and some not-so-great brand management examples.

In fact, some of the biggest names in tech have fallen completely flat in the brand management department. The mere mention of some of these big tech companies—Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, for example—often elicits groans of resentment. These are some of the most profitable tech companies of all time, yet their brand management has been arguably awful.

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The Consumer Decision-Making Process for Technology

Recent history saw a drastic change in the consumer decision-making process for technology. In days past, a consumer would read an ad, see a commercial, or pass a billboard. Then, the consumer would seek a quote from the company, mull over the purchase, shop around with competitors, think about it some more, then decide whether or not to fork over the cash for the product or service.

It was a long process, often with a decreasing chance of a sale with each step in the path.

In the era of digital marketing, the consumer’s decision-making process has been streamlined. Consumers can access a wealth of online information that helps them research quickly, find precisely what they need, and make a snap purchasing decision that’s greatly influenced by customer reviews.

While customers are more informed than ever, some industries like IT are still characterized by impressively long sales cycles.

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The Long Sales Cycle for Technology

A 2018 Gartner survey of more than 500 corporate technology buyers demonstrated that buying teams could spend close to 17 months on average to complete a new IT purchase. According to the study, there are a few factors at play:

  • Buying teams are often comprised of more than ten individuals, all bringing a complex set of priorities, ideals, and perspectives to the buying decision.
  • These teams perform extensive research with partners, analysts, vendors, and external peers, leading to more diverse opinions.
  • Examining cost and risk causes buyers to frequently change plans, altering the business case and requiring multiple resolutions.
  • Buyers typically juggle multiple projects and are often forced to make numerous purchasing decisions simultaneously.

Making individual sales and building overall revenue are undoubtedly among your primary business goals. So the question becomes, how do you align those goals with your marketing goals of website traffic, likes, and clicks? And what happens when your business goals are not aligned with your digital marketing efforts?

 

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When Marketing is Not Aligned with Business Goals

If the connection between marketing and business goals is severed, it will be impossible to measure the success of your digital marketing efforts. Without clear benchmarks, the chances of launching a successful marketing campaign is slim to none. Aligning the two requires elevated communication and diligent planning.

Marketing Should Build Toward Business Goals

A strong marketing campaign might not lead to immediate, measurable results. However, a sustained digital marketing effort can help build forward progress toward your ultimate business goals. 

In digital marketing, there’s a constant stream of new information about strategies that work—and don’t work—with your target audience. Unfortunately, making split-second decisions based on data that hasn’t had a chance to mature can make you lose sight of your business goals. 

This is why a digital marketing team must know the importance of data and how to measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in service of your long-term business goals.

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