Inbound marketing performs a little differently for various types of companies and industries.
This means that you need to be able to pivot and adjust to ensure that you get the performance you’re expecting from the program. Software companies, specifically, bring a handful of unique challenges to the program that need to be planned for in advance.
Despite the differences, software and technology firms still need a full pipeline of people who want to have active sales conversations around purchasing software, subscriptions or technology products. So, you need to create a set of inbound marketing tactics that deliver this type of behavior across their target prospects.
Here’s how we build inbound marketing for software companies and technology firms.
Strategy Before Tactics – Differentiation Is Key
I’ve heard from many CEOs of technology companies who think that because they’re a NetSuite or Microsoft Partner, this will carry the day. Forget it. It won’t. There are so many software solutions out there. If yours doesn’t stand out from the crowd, and if you can’t explain in the first 10 seconds of a conversation what you do and how you do it, you have work to do.
If your business isn’t remarkable, it's invisible – and I mean remarkable, not pretty good, very good or even great. If you don’t have something remarkable, you need to keep working on your marketing strategy. I don’t even want to hear about software features. How long until your competitor has the same features – one, two, maybe three months? Features don’t differentiate you. You need to look inside your business and find out what really makes you special.
Understanding The Competition’s Impact on Inbound
You have competition. Everyone does. When you’re executing inbound, what your competition is doing is extremely relevant. The more content they’re producing, the harder it’s going to be to rank on search engines, get attention on social sites and find places to publish your content. These issues aren’t show stoppers, but you need to be aware of the competitive landscape before you start – and before you plan your campaigns and 12-month program.
The tougher the competition, the more inbound marketing tactics you need to consider in order to cut through the clutter and grab your prospect’s attention.
Telling The Right Stories
A lot of technology companies are run by engineers or software architects. That’s all well and good, but this personality type typically loves to lean on the software, the technology and the features when it's time to tell your story. The challenge is that human beings are historically horrible at remembering this type of information. They can’t share it, they won’t connect with it, and it won’t help you emotionally connect with them, which is something that’s required in order for you to close your sales cycle.
Instead, focus on the benefit that the software delivers. Tell the story in a way that makes your prospect the hero. If you buy this software, you’re going to be in a position to save millions of dollars ... to double your efficiency ... to generate millions of dollars in revenue. This is the story people are going to remember.
Understanding Why The Demo Might Make People Nervous
The demo is where software deals go to die. Why? I’ve seen hundreds of demos. They all consist of people clicking around the software, starting and stopping, trying to explain complicated concepts – out of context and to people who are only partially listening. When the demo is over, almost everyone thinks to themselves: That software didn’t seem intuitive or easy to use. Honestly, they’re probably right. But, in what scenario would enterprise-level software be distributed to users without documentation, without training and without a lead-in from company leadership?
Why The Demo Or Free Trial Isn’t A Great BOFU Offer
The demo – the offer that most software companies love to lean on – actually does more to make prospects nervous than to make them feel safe, which is what your sales process should be designed to do. That’s why Free Demos or even Free Trials are often the wrong bottom-of-the-funnel offer for software companies.
Instead, make the bottom-of-the-funnel offer a personal conversation. Give your team the chance to establish a personal relationship. This helps prospects feel safe and get to know, like and trust your company. Software sales processes can be notoriously cold, and as we’ve learned, people make purchase decisions emotionally first, rationalizing with facts and figures after they’ve already decided they want to buy.
Companies marketing and selling software or technology products definitely have some challenges that other firms don’t have to deal with. Taking this into consideration when you plan, build and optimize an inbound program for a technology company means the difference between moderate and monster results.
Start Today Tip – If you’re running a software company, make sure you’re working with inbound professionals who have experience getting results from an inbound program designed for a tech company. If they’re not giving you the “no fluff” advice about your product or your marketing, consider making a change. You should be able to see how your marketing is performing right now, in real time, from your smartphone. If you can't, start looking for someone new.
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