The IT and High-tech industries are well-known for innovation. But having a great product is only half of the work of a successful go-to-market strategy. Now more than ever, it’s crucial for marketers to step up and add value, to help differentiate and stay ahead of the fierce competition in the sector. How do you do that? Read our steps to creating a winning marketing plan for your technology company.
Why invest in marketing for tech?
Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.8 trillion in 2021, an increase of 4% from 2020. Your marketing plan is more important than ever in securing your market share of that growth.
Now, as we know, marketing is all about the customer. But, did you know that in 2020, technology purchasing responsibility was shared almost equally — 54% IT and 46% non-IT? More importantly, does your technology marketing plan include targeting and positioning strategy?
Clearly, marketing plans for technology companies need to develop to take advantage of all the omnichannel tactics available to the modern marketer. In fact, in our latest digital marketing maturity benchmarks report, responders from the ‘IT, High Tech and Telecomms’ sector reported the greatest increase for all sectors in using technology for ‘demonstration to prospects’ and ‘onboarding customers’ in 2020.
The report also found that over 50% of responders reported an increase in digital marketing investment. Increased budgets may help you reach and convert more customers, sure, but only if you have a strong plan in place. So, now, let’s dive into the essential components that make up a strategic marketing plan for a technology company — so you can win and retain more customers.
Structure your technology company marketing plan with the RACE Framework
Insights from LinkedIn’s global B2B Technology Buying survey show many decision-makers are active in all stages of a new technology purchase; including problem identification, vendor research, shortlisting and purchasing. This means technology marketers need to implement an omnichannel approach to planning their tech marketing.
After all, your buyer may discover you while searching online for an answer to their problem (SEO), they may read about you on a social media post (yours or somebody else’s) or in an e-newsletter, they may hear your name in a board meeting and head to your website. All of these touch-points have been identified as valid start points for your relationship with your customer. So, planning your customer journey and nurturing your leads/prospects towards that all-important sale, is a must.
We recommend structuring your marketing plan for your technology company around the RACE Framework. This practical framework supports technology marketers to optimize their results from your digital marketing. Ultimately, it’s about using a data-driven approach, applying web analytics and recommended best practices to get more commercial value from your investments in digital marketing for your technology company.
As demonstrated in the infographic below, the RACE Framework covers how to improve your marketing across the full customer journey, from generating awareness to build your audience, encouraging interaction, lead generation, purchase, and then loyalty. All the tools and training you need are available for Business Members in the RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path.
Use the RACE Framework to structure your technology company’s marketing plan. Key goals and measures are explained at each part of the customer lifecycle. Each stage of the RACE Framework integrates a data-driven marketing approach, defining the KPIs that marketers need to set to measure their reach, interaction, conversion and engagement. Using this step-by-step process means you can confidently set targets, review your results and utilize data and analytics to inform your optimization.
Listen to your audience
Deciding to purchase technology is often a big decision, which has both emotional and rational factors. Your marketing plan must be informed by both. We recommend that marketers in the technology sector use social listening to inform their strategies. Thankfully, that’s not difficult to do, especially this year with digital disruption bringing more conversations into the social sphere. LinkedIn found a 173% increase in IT Decision Makers engagement in January — June 2020.
You can monitor what your audience is doing and saying online through social listening. This technique is defined in our Social Media Marketing Learning Path as ‘the management and analysis of customer data from social sources, used to activate and recalibrate marketing and business programs’.
To implement social listening for your technology company, we recommend you set up tracking on keywords related to your industry to monitor the following:
- Demographics: When people discuss your industry online, get to know their demographics and analyze the level of importance each segment could hold for your business.
- Where: Not just the social platforms that your audiences regularly use, but the blogs they read and the forums and groups they engage with.
- When: When is the best time to engage with your audience, when will you get better levels of awareness, engagement and response.
- What: What is already working with your target audience? What do they seem to be receptive to? What are they talking about?
- Attitudes: Include triggers in the buying process, pain points the audience may have that you could solve, hot topics they are discussing which you could piggyback or have an opinion on and finally sentiment, how happy, upset or neutral commentary is.
- Competition: Across some selected keywords, measure the share of voice against key competitors to understand how effective your social activity has been. Also to understand their Tone of Voice (TOV), the content they produce and themes.
Common KPIs for social listening include share of voice and brand sentiment. For your own individual pieces of content you can also track engagement metrics. Once you have worked out which KPIs are the most important for you achieving your vision (ie not ‘vanity metrics’), you can use these to inform your planning.
You may want to increase your share of voice for a particular keyword identified to build leads. Or you could aim to increase the conversion rate of a piece of a social asset. Once you have set your social goals, you can plan and monitor your social media marketing strategy using tools from our Social Media Marketing Learning Path to ensure you stay on track across all elements of the RACE Framework.
Personalization of marketing messages
We have established that getting to know your market is crucial to articulating their pain points. But we also know that one technology company may be offering tens/hundreds of solutions to different markets. So, considered personalization is a vital element of marketing planning for technology companies who want to segment their key messages.
One simple example is the size of the company making the purchase. The long story short here being — IT spending is driven by different things for different company sizes.
So, if the only thing we knew about a lead was the size of their company, serving content to address end of life drivers to small companies and upgrades/refresh cycles to large and mid-sized companies would be a good bet.
Company size is just one factor of many. It’s likely that once a customer is on your website their behaviour will tell you more about their individual situation. So, it’s important to capture and utilize as much of this personal data as you can. See below an example of a developed website personalization program taken from our Digital Experience Learning Path.
Web personalization is truly a lifeline for marketers wanting to put the right technology in front of their target audiences. We have identified 7 benefits of personalization that you can use to justify personalization within the marketing plan for your technology company. A full break down of how you can implement and benefit from web personalization, plus tools and templates to optimize your customer’s digital experience can be found in our Digital Experience Learning Path, structured over the RACE Framework.
- Improved customer engagement: Personalized offers, content, and calls-to-action create a more compelling experience for website visitors, mobile app users, and social media fans and followers.
- Better visitor understanding: The AI behind personalization can improve the accuracy of visitor data and persona-building. By more accurately understanding visitor needs, marketers increase content and offer relevancy.
- Stronger brand loyalty: A personalized experience can strengthen how visitors feel about the brand — both online and offline.
- Creation of brand evangelists and advocates: With digital personalization, marketers can more effectively identify loyal, returning customers and attempt to turn them into brand advocates by speaking to them in a way that is different than new customers.
- Account-Based Marketing (ABM) support: For B2B marketers, web personalization can identify known accounts from anonymous visitors and offer those visitors a more targeted experience based on what is known about the account and its decision-makers.
- Higher conversion rates: Personalized recommendations can increase conversion — whether a purchase, appointment or form-fill — nearly four-fold, according to data from Echidna Inc.
- Increased customer lifetime value: Using historical and behavioral data can help to personalize offers, messages, and content in cross-selling and upselling efforts across the customer lifecycle.
Create a marketing plan for your technology company to generate more qualified leads and sales
I hope you have found the above a useful insight into our recommendations for planning, managing and optimizing marketing for your technology company. Not sure where to look next? Our RACE Practical Digital Strategy Learning Path has everything you need to optimize the marketing plan for your technology company.
Once you’re confident using RACE, our additional Learning Paths (in this case, social media and digital experience) will provide you with supplementary channel-based training. The benefit of choosing Smart Insights is that all our Learning Paths are structured across the RACE Framework, to ensure your omnichannel marketing is fully integrated.
So, get started today so you can start applying the RACE Framework to acquire more customers and accelerate your ROI.
Gabrielle Wright is the Smart Insights blog editor, managing the company’s SEO and social media strategies. With specialisms in marketing for the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry, financial services, manufacturing, IT/high tech, brands and e-commerce, Gabrielle can generally be found in her second-floor Bingley terrace home office, with a cup of tea, reading and writing about marketing theory and its practical application in the global economy! You can connect with Gabrielle on LinkedIn.
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