4 ways to turn visitors into opportunities for your MSP

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There’s a growing and worrying pandemic emerging in the digital marketing space.  One which will starve all but the most creative and progressive marketers, and could see pipelines dwindle, if not treated swiftly and effectively.  I’m talking about the “one hit prospect”.

It shouldn’t be a great surprise.  There’s no onus on anyone to show loyalty to an managed service provider they’ve never before been connected with, let alone shoot their hands up on the first touch and request a consultation.  More reason, then, to employ a more savvy approach when it comes to encouraging your site visitors to become legitimate, qualified leads.  Here are 5 ways you can do just that...

1. Use a Call-to-Action

We still see a large number of MSP’s getting busy with their content marketing - blogging and actively promoting their content on social media - but failing to present an “ask” after they’ve captured the visit.  Your blog posts are prime real estate for a well-crafted banner-style call-to-action, linking to a relevant offer - be it a lead magnet or other means of starting a conversation.  When I say relevant, consider the context of the post you’ve written, ensure that your offer provides a natural follow-on from the piece.  For example; writing about the latest email scam or high-profile security breach?  Why not link to your latest downloadable report, which outlines the "10 greatest threats to business data, and how to protect against them”.

eBooks and reports of this type are waning in their appeal, when compared to more interactive and creative content formats, so consider your audience, and create offers that meet their specific demands.  Tools like BuzzSumo will show you which channels and content types have performed well for others, on a specific topic.

2. Turn IQL’s into MQL’s through lead nurturing

There are a number of boxed to be ticked in the mind of a prospect, before they’ll be ready to make a solid sales enquiry for your services.  We talk a lot about the “buyer journey”, but for simplicity’s sake, let me boil it down to 3 key stages through which you wish your good-fit visitors to travel:

IQL - Information Qualified Lead

If a visitor registers for your webinar, downloads that report, signs up for email newsletters, or any other variety of “opt in”, then they’re deemed an IQL. This effectively proves nothing more than they are looking for information related to the topic you covered in that form of media.  At this stage, no need, no pain, no desire to purchase has been expressed, and there’s still work to do.

MQL - Marketing Qualified Lead

The next step in the journey would ideally be some form of branded content, which talks more openly about the solutions you provide.  This could be vendor product or comparison sheets, a services brochure, or a high-level case study, for example.  The logic dictates that if your prospect gains access to this information, they are further qualified (more likely to make a later purchase) and are considering options to satisfy a particular need.

SQL - Sales Qualified Lead

An expressed desire to talk about solving the challenge they face.  For example, for those suffering poor service from an incumbent supplier, or looking for a specialist to support their expansion into new technological areas, the enquiry at this stage can be considered nothing less than a sales opportunity.

The definitions and stages of the journey vary, depending on who you ask, but the principles are the same.  So how to get more of your IQL’s to take that all-important and often illusive next step of showing an interest in your offering?  

Today, lead nurturing is often performed with the assistance of marketing automation tools, such as HubSpot.  After the initial opt-in, the new lead is enrolled in a sequence of pre-planned communications, designed to provide more useful information and content offers to them, and gently nudge the through the buyer journey.  Don’t get caught in the trap of relying on email alone, however.  Effective nurturing goes beyond the inbox, and employs other channels, such as the one covered in the next section...

3. Employ social selling at the right time

You’re a leader in business, so I feel confident in making this educated guess:  You get a lot of invitations to connect with complete strangers in LinkedIn.  Correct?  I’ll go one further.  I would guess that, depending on certain aspects of their profile, industry and location, you may even accept that invitation - envisioning some way in the future, that you can be of assistance to one another.

The chance of our acceptance is only strengthened when there has been a significant exchange, online or offline, beforehand, and one such exchange could be the download, registration or subscription that brought about that information qualified lead.  Try reaching out to those new leads via social channels - not just LinkedIn (though that’s a great start), but also Twitter.  Facebook might be a stretch, unless you’re feeling very friendly indeed, but why not seek out their blog?  Subscribe, and offer comments on one or two of their recent posts.  Like and share status updates that you feel will be of interest to your own network, and perhaps make reference to their work in your own content.

All these touch points will go to increase brand recall, and keep you top of mind, for when that IT challenge they face becomes just to painful to bear any longer.

4. Use Personalised, smart content

Pro Tip!  More than 95% of your competitors will be taking a relatively static approach to their site content.  Whichever region the visitor comes from, whichever sector they work in, whichever device they use when visiting, however much information they hold in their CRM about the visitor, each page looks exactly the same.  Same language, same wording, same calls-to-action - many of which may have already been acted upon by that same visitor.

It’s a sad fact that many in the technology sector can be the last to “eat their own dog food” and use the technology at their disposal, to dramatically improve their chances of creating more sales.  

Web personalisation is nothing new, but a staggering number of companies fail to employ any of its features.  Let’s reverse the scenario above - the one where every visitor sees the same “stuff” - and consider a scenario where personalisation is being used effectively...

Our visitor today is one that is known to us.  A previous visitor, that has downloaded our recent report on “Considerations for IT security in the regulated industries”.  We know that they work in the Financial sector, and that they have offices on 3 continents.  A cookie, stored on their desktop device, tells us that this is the returning visitor.

One - Certain portions of the copy on the site are replaced with specific references to the Financial sector, and where there first resided a call-to-action offering our “Considerations for IT security in the regulated industries” report, there now sits a similar CTA, this time for a case study, specific to an International Financial Services client for whom we delivered fantastic results, earning them compliance at the highest level.

Two - When they are directed to the download page for the case study, the form fields they have already submitted are removed from the page, and replaced with optional fields, that offer us the opportunity to learn more.  We include an open-ended question, such as “What is your greatest compliance challenge”?  The answer to this question will arm our sales team with valuable insights and enable them to position the perfect solution, later.

Three - That cookie triggers a revisit notification, regardless of whether the case study is downloaded, enabling us to follow up by whatever means necessary and available to us.  Some social selling could follow, or even a telephone conversation, should we feel the  strength of connection and sequence of events warrants it.

Personalisation of this kind boosts conversion significantly, and can dramatically reduce the sales cycle, versus the “static” approach.  The technology is there, and with the right help, any MSP can access the strategies and tactics required to make it work effectively.

So there we have it.  Employ these 4 tactics in your MSP marketing, and you too can turn more of your site visitors into genuine sales opportunities.

Social prospecting workbook for IT firms

Matt Hodkinson

About the author: Matt Hodkinson

Chief Exec Agent, veteran inbound and social marketer, having spent the prior 17+ years spent in the Tech industry. Matt is often annoying colleagues with classic house music and 80's movie quotes. Family and friends delight in exclaiming... "Haven't seen you on TV for a while, Matt"!