Amplify Your IT Business Marketing Like a Champ by Unifying Online & Offline Strategies

Amplify Your IT Business Marketing Like a Champ by Unifying Online & Offline StrategiesThe average IT business owner has multiple options in their marketing toolbox for getting their message out. There’s social media, online advertising, local radio, postcard mailers, and so on. But often these strategies are done in silos without any real integration, which can lead to missed sales opportunities.

Consumers are already integrating their shopping habits, which means your message should follow suit. In a survey of 1,500 shoppers of all ages, 83 percent say they use their smartphones while shopping at a physical store.

By combining the power of your offline and online marketing strategies, you can amplify both to get better results and drive more of the types of leads you’re looking for to boost your IT business.

Why Harmonizing Your Sales Message is Important

Not only can the integration of online and offline marketing help you create a cohesive message across your marketing channels, it can also keep you from making major marketing mistakes, like McDonald’s did back in 2012.

Integration Fail

A lack of offline integration was one of the reasons McDonald’s had to stop a major online marketing campaign in its tracks shortly after its big launch.

McDonald’s wanted to encourage followers to tweet out their inspiring stories about experiences at their restaurants using the hashtag #McDStories, but as soon as they launched this online effort, the hashtag was quickly converted to use for McDonald’s horror stories instead.

Had they done an offline connection by explaining more about their concept in stores, for example on their drink cups or bags, perhaps consumers would’ve had more guidance and the effort wouldn’t have gone horribly wrong.

Getting Started with Unifying Your Message

Before we get into tips on how to bring your different marketing channels together, we need to start with the buyer’s journey. Thinking about where your buyers go and what you’d like them to do will give you the road map you need to plug online and offline channels into the mix.

First, begin with understanding what your customers are doing and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my ideal buyer route? (i.e. Find my IT shop on Google > look at my website > visit or call my shop)
  • How do leads initially find you and where do those touchpoints lead them?
  • What influences your customers both online and offline (i.e. your store signage, your social media posts)
  • When people visit or call your IT shop, how did they first hear about you?

Next, look at your marketing from their perspective by going through your marketing channels with a fresh eye. For example, start from looking at one of your social media posts, click the call to action, where does that land you and does it match the message just clicked on?

Here are some things to consider that can help you provide a more cohesive experience for the consumer:

  • Does your messaging match when they move through the marketing chain?
  • Are leads being given enough information before being asked to purchase?
  • Do you give them a chance to identify their needs in your sales funnel?
  • Is a visitor’s online and offline experience with your IT business consistent?
  • Do you offer a smooth transition if someone finds you offline and want to purchase online, and vice versa?

Tips for Unifying Your Online & Offline Marketing Worlds

Once you see the power in presenting a unified experience between your offline and online marketing worlds, you’ll realize that it’s actually easier to present an integrated campaign rather than trying to do your marketing piecemeal, a channel at a time.

Here are tips to get you started with a fully integrated marketing plan.

Make Use of Teaser Advertising

Teaser campaigns take advantage of people’s natural curiosity by building anticipation of a particular event. They also offer a perfect way to integrate both offline and online marketing channels.

For example, if you wanted to promote a new mobile device management software that you just became a partner reseller for, you could do it something like this:

  • Create your teaser message series and accompanying graphics
  • Add a call to action to be “the first to hear the announcement” and give a landing page or email address
  • Send those out on postcards
  • Put up in store banners
  • Advertise on social media
  • The day of, use a dedicated landing page as well as in store banners for the announcement

Here’s a great example of a teaser message from the hotel industry.

Teaser marketing example

Use an Online CTA in Offline Campaigns

The Call to Action (CTA) is one of the bedrocks of any good marketing, whether it’s done online or off. By using an online CTA on offline campaigns that directs people to a URL either through text or a QR code you can fluidly integrate the two mediums.

Over 90% of people that read your headline also read your CTA.

A big benefit of driving those offline leads to a specific webpage is that you can more easily track your marketing campaigns and see what’s working. Just make a specific page for each campaign, rather than using your main website pages. This also gives you the ability to create an easy-to-remember URL that may be shorter than your SEO-optimized ones.

Here are some examples of driving offline connections to your online landing page to give them more specific lead-converting info:

  • Adding a QR code to a postcard or paper brochure
  • Podcast advertising offering a coupon if they visit “yoursite.com/special”
  • Adding an online URL to your sales receipt that offers a special deal on a future repair or upgrade
  • Pre-loading a desktop link to your Office 365 or Cloud Solutions landing page onto any refurbished PCs you sell

Want to do the reverse?

Here are some examples of driving traffic in the other direction, from online to offline:

  • Adding a printable coupon to a webpage to be used “when you bring in your PC”
  • Making an offer of an “IT security chat over great coffee… on us!” on a social media post
  • Using a CTA with your phone number (You’re probably already doing this one!)
  • Offer a way for a visitor to schedule a house call or on-site visit from your website.

Bring Offline Events Online

Do you give Office 365 workshops or trainings for cybersecurity in your IT shop? Expand your reach by also offering an online version of the same class. All it takes is someone to run video and watch for any online comments during your Q&A.

This is a great way to take advantage of Facebook marketing through their live stream video feature and gain more traction on social media. It also means that you can basically offer unlimited seats at your workshop, getting more lead potential from your time and effort.

video marketing

Here are some eye-opening statistics from Tech Jury related to the benefits of video live steaming:

  • 96% of people say they’ve watched an explainer video for a product/service
  • 79% of consumers say that a brand’s video convinced them to buy software or apps
  • 40% of people say that video increases their chance of a purchase on mobile
  • Videos generate 1200% more engagement on social media than text and images
  • Over 1 in 5 Facebook videos are Live and watched 3x longer than pre-recorded ones

Create a Mobile App

A great way to marry your online and offline marketing is by offering a mobile app that basically will follow your leads around and be with them pretty much wherever they go.

There’s no denying the power of mobile in today’s retail and sales environment. 79% of smartphone users made a purchase using their phone within the last 6 months.

Through a mobile app, you can do things like:

  • Allow coupons to be used on a mobile device at your shop instead of having to be printed out.
  • Make it easy for a customer to take a photo of a computer issue and automatically email it to you with a service request.
  • Include a store locator with GPS directions to your shop.
  • Give customers easy access to reviews about your business or a particular software or hardware.
  • Allow guests to take photos of in-store experiences and share them with a click on social media.

88% of consumers doing a local search on their smartphone visit or call that business within 24 hours.

You can also offer advertising on your app from other local businesses, for instance, make it easy for your app users to find a great cup of coffee or bagel nearby.

Use Online-to-Offline (O2O) Commerce

Have you ever ordered something online at Walmart or Home Depot and then went and picked it up in the store later that day? Then you’ve experienced O2O commerce.

It’s a simple, but effective way to offer a consumer the convenience of shopping how they like and making the whole process as time efficient as possible.

You have to wonder why online retail giant Amazon wanted to purchase Whole Foods and get in to the “brick and mortar” business when their online sales are so strong. It’s a testament to the importance of the physical shopping experience and how important it still is, no matter how many gadgets we have.

To take advantage of online-to-offline commerce at your IT business, you could offer the ability to purchase online the following:

  • Refurbished computers/devices that can be picked up same day
  • Home or office on-site tech support visits
  • Managed IT packages
  • Memory or other hardware parts and the installation fee
  • Fee for computer training classes

Doing Online/Offline Right

In order for your integration of online and offline marketing to work well, there are a few rules of thumb to follow that will ensure you do it right.

Use Consistent Branding

It’s important that you keep your branding consistent across all marketing efforts, whether someone’s on your website or in your shop. That means having your own style guide that dictates the colors, fonts, images, and “voice” that you use in all your marketing.

Whenever you see Lego online or off, you can instantly recognize the brand, and that’s exactly the feel that you’re going for. Find some great tips on branding here.

Use Hashtags Wisely

Hashtags are the new calling card for marketing campaigns these days. From Coca-Cola’s #ShareaCoke to #TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin, hashtags can go viral and get your business noticed if you do them right.

They’re also easy to print on brochures, postcards and flyers to have offline customers take your message online. For your hashtags, you want to:

  • Use one that you attach to your business, i.e. #NeedaGeek2Go
  • Use them for a specific marketing campaigns, i.e. #FixedMyiPhone

Track Cross Channel Conversions

Knowing how your customers are finding you is vital to understanding what’s working and what’s not in your marketing efforts. If someone comes in your shop, simply ask them how they found you. They could’ve seen you on Twitter through a hashtag you used, and that online to offline lead source is important information to know.

Google Analytics is a great help for tracking your online conversions from a variety of different sources.

It’s All Marketing… So, Don’t Over Think It!

Once you’re more mindful about the connection between your online and offline marketing, planning for both to coincide will come naturally and will give your leads and customers a better experience.

How do you connect online and offline marketing & sales? Let us know in comments!

The Amazing Power of Infographics to Educate & Generate Leads for Your Tech Business

The Amazing Power of Infographics to Educate & Generate Leads for Your Tech BusinessIt’s hard to beat the power of visuals when it comes to getting your message across in an engaging way. Studies have shown that internet readers pay closer attention to images carrying information than to plain text only.

Infographics can transform a boring step-by-step guide into something more engaging and easier to understand. Beyond helping to educate, Infographics make an excellent addition to the content marketing toolbox of any tech business.

Do you think infographics are too complicated to do yourself? Not so! Many new online tools make it simple to create stunning infographics that you can use to strengthen your content marketing strategy and to help brand your business.

Getting Started with Infographics

Infographics predate the internet itself. The combination of text, statistics, and images to relay information has been used for things such as explaining the economy of England in the 1700’s and promotional signs at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Today’s infographics take multiple forms, combining text, visuals, and information in a variety of ways to give us information that’s easily digested and in a way that is perfect for today’s shorter attention spans.

The use of infographics is about more than just data visualization, they’re often used as lead magnets, educational aids, and as sharable content meant to take your company’s name and URL along with it wherever it ends up.

Infographics have been shown to increase website traffic by up to 12%. (HubSpot)

So, how can you work infographics into your content marketing strategy? What are some of the benefits you’ll see from investing your time and effort?

We’ll start with some tips on how to create infographics, then discuss where you can use them in your IT business marketing strategy.

How to Make Infographics

You don’t have to be a graphics pro or even know how to use Adobe Photoshop to make infographics. There are multiple tools online that offer a drag-and-drop style interface and let you edit pre-set templates to make attractive infographic visuals.

First let talk about some of the elements you’ll need to consider when creating an infographic:

  • Type of Information: Is it a step-by-step? Office 365 benefit statistics? The type of information being displayed will dictate the best format to use.

 

  • Audience: If you’re writing to a residential audience, you may want to use friendly icons and fun images (like a happy computer). If it’s a commercial audience, you’ll want the infographic to look more business-like.

 

  • Colors/Fonts: These will go along with the audience type, but also consider colors that reflect your brand. While they don’t have to match exactly, you don’t want your infographic colors to clash with your own logo either.

 

  • Branding: Make sure there is room in a corner of your infographic to display your IT business logo and website URL. You want your infographic to be shared, so you should have your company displayed on the graphic itself.

 

There are several online tools you can use to make infographics from pre-built templates or from scratch. Many of them are free, and some offer a free trial or secondary paid “premium” tier for more features.

Here are some of the top sites that offer the ability to design infographics pretty easily (no design experience required!):

  • Venngage (Free option, Premium is $19/month)
  • Canva (Free option, Pro is $9.95/month)
  • Piktochart (Free option, Pro is $24.17/month)
  • Adobe Spark (Free option, Individual plan is $9.99/month)
  • Infogram (Free option, Pro is $19/month)

Ideas for Types of Infographics to Make

Once you’ve decided to give infographics a try to bolster your IT business marketing, your next decision is what to make. Here are several ideas to help with infographic content targeted to IT customers.

Educational Content

Visuals have been found to improve learning and retention by 400%, which make them an excellent way to relay educational content, which is one of the most popular types of content searched online.

People use the internet to learn just about everything, and the “How-To” topic has steadily remained in the 90th percentile of search interest (measuring level of popularity of a search term between 1 and 100). According to Google Trends, the search term “How to make my computer faster” has a popularity that consistently ranks in the 85-90 range (out of 100).

By creating educational infographics, you can both add value to your website by offering “self-help” content, and you can draw more visitors looking for technology related how-tos.

Some ideas for educational infographics you could make for your IT business:

  • How to install memory
  • Steps for making a computer faster
  • How to customize your Windows 10 Start panel
  • How to create a business continuity plan
  • Using Accessibility Settings on Windows/Mac
  • Steps for checking if an email is real or fake

Comparison

A comparison infographic can help give people the information they need to make a choice between two or more things. These can be product or software focused, like a Microsoft Teams vs Slack comparison, or one that compares the costs of break/fix services versus having a managed IT services plan.

IT business example of comparison infographic

Comparison infographic example from Venngage.com

You can use a comparison to both educate and promote products and services. For example, if you’re a reseller for particular anti-malware software, do an infographic comparison with that product and a product with less features.

Statistical Infographic

People love to reference statistics to back up a specific point, so statistical infographics and very sharable can help you get backlinks to your website for SEO purposes while also putting your brand in front of more eyes.

Think of some statistics that your clients might be interested in, such as the latest cyberthreat data or the most popular mobile phones by market share.

One way to create a statistical infographic is to pull data points from a recent publicly available report, then cite the report source at the bottom of the infographic. Some you can try are:

Tips & Tricks

Tech tips are a great way to grab someone’s attention and position yourself as a trusted expert. An infographic format makes the perfect way to serve up bite-sized pieces of information. Tips will also have sticking power as a “go to” reference for doing something faster.

Some ideas for tips & tricks you can use for an infographic include:

  • Google search tips
  • Top keyboard shortcuts for Windows/Mac
  • Windows 10 tricks for (insert a target market, like Accounting Firms)
  • Tips for setting up social media security

Using Infographics to Your Advantage

Once you have your infographic completed, it’s time to deploy it to help generate more business. Here are some of the ways to use your infographics.

Social Media Content

The visual style of infographics make them perfect as sharable content on social media and can help your message and business name reach more people.

According to SearchEngine Journal, infographics are liked and shared over social media 3x more than any other form of content.

If you’re making an infographic for social sharing, keep in mind the image requirements for a particular platform. If you’re using one of the longer style infographics, then you may want to make a thumbnail image to post on social media with a link to your page with the full infographic.

Lead Magnet

Lead magnets help you build up your email marketing list by asking website visitors to exchange their email address for the chance to access your great content. All styles of infographics work well as lead magnets.

lead magnets for IT sites

Email marketing has one of the best ROI’s of any type of marketing method, generating approximately $38 for every $1 spent. So, the more you can build up your email list the better chance you have at bringing in qualified leads and new business.

Email Newsletter

And speaking of that email newsletter, it’s a great place to introduce a new infographic and offer additional value to those that subscribe. Including an infographic with a product comparison can help you generate repeat business by introducing current clients to a new software or service offering you have.

Press Release

If you’ve put together a particularly informative infographic, then it could be worthy of a press release, which can get your business mentioned in local media, magazines, and other publications.

An example of a press release worthy infographic would be if you created an original report and infographic about technology challenges that’s based upon your own data collected by surveying over 100 businesses or fellow IT service providers.

Blogs

Website blogs are one of the main cogs in any content marketing and SEO strategy and infographics fit in perfectly with the blog format. Use your blog to discuss the items in the infographic in more detail (being sure to use plenty of related keywords). Your readers get the best of both worlds, an easy-to-read infographic version of the content and a more detailed text version.

Brochures/Presentations/eBooks/White Papers

Once your infographic has been introduced and is out there generating some traffic, a great way to repurpose it is to add it into pertinent sales brochures, presentations, eBooks, or industry white papers.

An infographic can help you break up long areas of text, add a pop of color and interest, and provide helpful back up information that fits in nicely with larger marketing pieces.

Expand Your Content Marketing with Style

The human brain can process entire images in as little as 13 milliseconds. So, why not take advantage of the power of infographics?! They can market your business in a whole new way and nicely compliment your longer-form content.

What’s your experience with infographics for marketing your IT business? Share your story in the comments!

Why You Should Segment Your Tech Business Email List (and How to Do It!)

Why You Should Segment Your Tech Business Email List (and How to Do It!)You just received a sales email meant for electricians, but you’re an IT business, so you hit “delete” without reading more. That’s just one example of the problems with a non-segmented email list. Speaking to each subscriber’s distinct needs can make your emails and newsletters a more successful sales tool.

Your tech business customers aren’t all the same, so your emails to them shouldn’t be either. Some may be seniors with residential IT needs, others may be virtual working professionals with tech needs closer to those of small businesses.

Segmenting your email list matters when it comes to ensuring your email efforts are as successful as possible. According to online marketing firm HubSpot, emails designed to match the needs of the subscriber generate 18 times more revenue than generic broadcast emails. [Read more…]

How Can I Create Effective Sales Funnels for My IT Business?

IT Business Sales FunnelWhen sales funnels are done right, they can mean a smooth transition from leads to customers through your sales pipeline. But if they’re disjointed without any type of master plan, it can mean lost deals and marketing efforts that don’t seem to bring the results you want.

A good sales funnel for any IT business should address these key questions:

  • How do leads find me?
  • What is their next step?
  • What triggers them to become a customer?
  • What happens after the sale?

Matching your marketing and nurturing strategies to a well thought out sales funnel can reduce the gaps that sales dollars may be slipping through and can help you integrate all your marketing efforts into a cohesive strategy to drive more business. [Read more…]

How to Generate Visitors to Your MSP Website (Without Paying a Dime for Ads)

Tech Business WebsiteYou’ve finally got your website up and open for business, but instead of people knocking down the virtual door, you’ve got crickets chirping. How do you get people to see it if you don’t want to pay a bundle in paid search ads?

Just putting up a great tech business website isn’t enough to make it magically show up in front of the right customers. But there are several ways of driving traffic to your website without having to pay a dime. All it takes it a little know-how and digital elbow grease.

93% of people never go past the first page of a search result.

While it can seem daunting to try to compete for that page one Google space in the organic search listings, if you have a little patience and follow the right strategies, it is possible to get your website in front of buyers without having to buy those paid Google ads.

If you’re trying to keep overhead down but need to generate more website visitors and sales, read on for our best tips to get your website noticed and visited regularly by more people. [Read more…]