Don’t do Online Marketing unless you follow these 5 rules

online marketing strategy msp

Online marketing is a tough gig. Let’s face it, if you haven’t spent the last three years in the field, you can’t be expected to know all the tips and tricks to run a successful online marketing campaign that generates you high quality leads.

With more and more of your customers looking for you on the internet, it makes sense to start allocating some of your marketing budget to the online medium.

Whether you’ve tried online marketing before and it didn’t work, you want to start online marketing or you’re currently running some successful online campaigns – this post will be useful.

Today I’m going to take you through five rules I tell businesses to stick by when they try their hand at online marketing.

I stress it’s so important to follow these rules because there’s so much that can go wrong with your online marketing campaign.

By implementing these rules you can:

  • Stop spending way too much money on online marketing that doesn’t give you any ROI
  • Stop getting poor quality leads
  • Stop attracting prospects that aren’t ready to buy

A lot of the troubles businesses come across with online marketing can be put down to lead quality. Poor online leads are often the result of a non-existent strategy.

As a business pursuing online marketing to drive new leads and sales, it is important to devise a strategy that focuses on more than just acquiring contact details. Too many times do businesses have a tunnel-vision approach and don’t think about the bigger picture.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love contact details, but what I’m really emphasising here is that you need to make sure those contact details are actually prospects and not irrelevant time wasters.

I call these time wasters ‘fakesperts’they fill up your sales pipeline, waste all your time and drain your resources.

By implementing my five rules to online marketing, you can start avoiding these time wasters and start focusing your energy on targeted, high quality prospects.

1. Identify and know your target market

Most of you know your target market. You’ve been in business for a number of years and you understand your customers. If you don’t know your target market, I recommend reading this article.

It’s important that you use the knowledge of your target market when devising your online strategy.

Here are three quick questions you need to ask:

  • Where do my customers hang out online?
  • What are my customers biggest pain points?
  • What content medium would my customers enjoy?

By asking these three questions you can learn what websites you want to target, what messaging you need to use and what kind of content medium to produce.

Let’s break this down into an example for you. As an IT Company, you’re looking to target small-medium sized recruiting companies.

  • Where do recruiters hang out: They love LinkedIn! I know some recruiters who spend 1-2 hours on LinkedIn every day.
  • What are recruiters pain points: A pain point might be attracting high qualified job seekers.
  • What content medium: I’d say recruiters enjoy reading whitepapers/eBooks, and video.

So now you understand your market better and where they hang out online, it’s time to target your online marketing efforts towards those websites. Here you want to use the pain points in the messaging, whilst offering a solution that links back to your product or service offering, and is in the form of a whitepaper/eBook or video.

Remember, this is just a quick example I’ve put together. Your market will be different, that’s why it’s so important to know your market, and understand what they need.

One of the biggest benefits of online marketing is the ability to target your campaigns using demographics, geographics and interest topics. By doing your research upfront, you can ensure your marketing campaign will be more targeted and more successful.

Tara Banda from Reach Local wrote a great piece on identifying a target market for online marketing. She recommends asking yourself the five W’s: who, what, when, where and why.

The shift of consumer buying behavior to the online space means it is more important than ever before to define your target audiences. The good news is, this shift makes it easier than ever to learn about your potential customers.

In addition to basic information like their location and demographics, you can get a better understanding of the types of sites they visit to learn about local businesses, what content they are interested in seeing, and more.

2. Create detailed buyer personas

Buyer Personas, as described by Kim Goodwin in her book, Designing for the Digital Age, are “archetypes that describe the various goals and observed behaviour patterns among your potential users and customers.”

The benefit of creating buyer personas is that you can then segment different marketing messages towards your different types of customers.

buyer persona template hubspot

Hubspot has a great article that takes you through the full process of creating detailed buyer personas.

Understanding your buyer persona is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.

You can download their extremely useful template to help you create your buyer personas.

To summarise the process, what you want to do is identify three buyer personas. You probably have a good idea of who your customers are, but I recommend sitting down and really detailing it out.

You should do some research by giving your customers a call, talking to your friends and asking them questions to identify specific wants and needs. Once you understand each person’s wants and needs, you can group people into buyer personas.

For example, let’s have a look at some example buyer personas for a Managed Service Provider – there are two clear ones:

1. Small Business Owners experiencing growth

These guys are your small businesses that are outgrowing their existing IT provider. They have had their buddy Tim looking after their IT for the past two years, but now the business has grown and depend heavily on their IT systems. They need an IT provider that can keep their systems up and resolve any problems quickly.

2. Corporate Businesses with IT problems

These guys are bigger and currently have an IT provider. Unfortunately their service levels and response times have been below standard and some SLA’s have been broken. They need a new provider, someone they can rely on to keep systems up and resolve problems quickly.

You can see here that these two buyer personas are completely different. This shows you a great example of why you need to segment your online marketing campaigns so you can target both buyer personas.

3. Be strategic with your online marketing

I touched on a bit of strategy in the last point but this is really the business end of the blog post. Your goal here is to identify and implement some online marketing strategies that will appeal to your target market and be segmented to your buyer personas.

This is a three step process and includes choosing an advertising medium, setting up targeting criteria, and identifying your message.

Step 1: Choosing an advertising medium

Since you identified your target market earlier, choose the advertising medium that best fits them. Starting out, there are a number of options I recommend:

For an IT Company, your customers probably hang out on LinkedIn – so that’s going to be the best bet for you.

Step 2: Setup targeting criteria

In all the above advertising mediums, you can select your target criteria. Make sure you use demographic, geographic and interest targeting to reach your ideal customer.

Step 3: Identify your message

What marketing communication and sales pitch do you want to present? I don’t know about you, but I like new leads and sales. If you’re like me, try focusing on your customers’ pain points and resolving them through offering a free product or free consultation.

Depending on the goals of your online marketing campaign, your message will be different.

facebook ads sunset

If you’re looking at pursuing Facebook Ads, I suggest taking a look at Facebook Marketing for Small Business – a recent article by James from Kutenda. He does a great job of explaining why Facebook is a great option, what makes Facebook Ads distinct from the other mediums, and one big mistake a lot of companies make when doing Facebook Ads.

4. Use marketing automation

The fourth online marketing rule you need to stick by is marketing automation.

Marketo defines marketing automation as the use of technology to manage and automate the process of converting prospects to buyers which empowers B2B marketers to focus more on the strategic and creative activities that improve marketing ROI.

Basically, in layman’s terms, it means automating your marketing using software. Martin Tantow wrote a post in the Cloud Times which outlined five key benefits you can achieve through marketing automation:

  • Better qualification of incoming leads and productivity
  • Reduced costs and better ROI
  • Better relationship management
  • Better marketing campaign control
  • Ability to go beyond the usual marketing initiation

Here are my favorite marketing automation tools:

If you’re serious about online marketing, marketing automation can save you and your marketing team a lot of time. I highly recommend using one of the above tools.

5. Measuring, Tracking and Reporting

The number one reason I like online marketing is because it’s measurable. Unlike traditional advertising mediums like TV, Radio and Print – you can track every dollar. So when your director asks you how ROI is going, you’ll have a report that outlines exactly how many leads, what price per lead you paid and how much revenue you have generated.

Can you imagine walking into your next meeting with those numbers?

Before you get too excited, it’s important to setup your tracking and reporting correctly. Here’s a good how to guide on setting up Google Analytics for your site. Furthermore, make sure you setup goals in analytics to ensure you can track the effectiveness of each campaign.

When you originally start creating your online marketing campaigns, it is vital to think about your goals and objectives.

Use the goals to help identify the key metrics you want to track.

Here’s a good start for things I recommend you report on:

  • Compare leads and sales against campaign sources (measure leads)
  • Compare lead quality against campaign sources (measure quality)
  • Compare time on site against campaign sources (measure engagement and relevance)

Ellie Mirman from Hubspot put together a list of 12 critical marketing and sales metrics that I recommend you track.

This is what she had to say about tracking marketing metrics:

Sales and marketing should track shared goals and metrics to keep each team accountable to the other.

When your two teams get on the same page with these 12 metrics — that address both quantity and quality — you’ll find it’s easier to objectively evaluate your respective performances without devolving into unproductive blame games that don’t do anything to advance your company’s goals.

Here’s the the complete list of 12 critical marketing and sales metrics:

  • Reach
  • Leads Generated
  • Revenue Pipeline
  • Revenue
  • Visit-to-Lead Ratio
  • Lead-to-Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Ratio
  • Leads Presented-to-Leads Worked Ratio
  • Leads Worked-to-Leads Connected Ratio
  • MQL-to-Opportunity Ratio
  • Opportunity-to-Customer Ratio
  • Lead-to-Customer Ratio
  • Average Deal Size

For a more detailed explanation, check out Ellie’s article here.

There it is… my five rules to stick by when doing online marketing. With marketing budgets being moved to online, it’s important that your efforts remain focused on ROI.

By implementing these strategies, you can best position your online marketing campaigns for success and start generating fresh, high quality leads and sales.

Recommended reading:

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Photo credit: Hubspot

Tagged: MSP Advice

About Ross Beard

Ross Beard was on the marketing team at Client Heartbeat, the simple customer feedback tool. Learn how Client Heartbeat makes improving customer satisfaction easy.



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