Businesses really come down to sales. If you do everything right, but can’t bring in revenue, the rest ultimately will not matter. You need to generate brand awareness, turn traffic into leads, and turn leads into customers.
Building a brand requires understanding yourself, your customers and the available channels of communication. Your strategy has to fit your business, industry and location. Turning leads into customers requires follow-through, metrics and focus.
Technology firms are in a particularly powerful position to use the connective power of the internet for this purpose.
However, for any business to use the internet successfully, there are a number of techniques that you need to keep in mind — and every business should stay open to the use of more traditional channels to make sure that they take advantage of every available opportunity.
Here are 9 things that businesses (tech businesses in particular) should be doing to increase revenue.
Sometimes the old ways are best. Building a traditional network of people you know is a powerful tool for delivering sales results. People like to buy things from people that they trust. Even in the age of social media, we rarely feel closer than to the people we have met in the real world. The personal touch of outbound calling, even, can still deliver positive results if tactfully applied. The internet often supplies the first source of contact. But, don’t be afraid to call people.
If you provide expensive B2B services or sign long-term contracts, getting to know your customers can really pay off. You will decrease customer turnover, gain opportunities to upsell, and develop a network of people who will recommend your business.
If serious about this strategy, be prepared to invest your time and resources into customer relationships. You need to listen to their specific needs and be willing to be flexible when it comes to your products and services.
Something critical to developing customer relationships (along with a long-term successful business model) is delivering on promises. Having a great product is important, but it absolutely has to do what you say it will do. If not, you will be unable to resell, upsell or depend on referrals. Deceitful marketing makes unhappy customers.
2. Remember About Referral Marketing
Referrals are some of the most effective types of leads. They have a low direct cost and high conversion rate. Make sure that you have an official referral programme in place.
On a basic level, that simply means asking for referrals. The next step is to make it easy for customers by creating a landing page for referrals. The last step would be to provide incentives.
The pitfall you need to avoid is low-quality referrals. You don’t want to waste your time chasing worthless leads. Worse, you want to avoid being required to provide incentive rewards to people making referrals that won't result in sales.
At a minimum, require details with any submission that include: job title, industry and the size of the company. That will allow your internal teams to pick out what is worth their time. Next, make the prerequisites of a good referral clear, and explain that incentives will depend on results.
The internet is important. Internet sales strategies generally fall into two categories: high volume marketing funnels and selectively targeted online content. Successful internet strategies generally involve doing both.
Either way, driving revenue through the internet starts with having a good website. And that doesn’t just mean a website — it means a good website! You need slick aesthetics. You need detailed information revealed along intuitive paths. It means being mobile friendly, but also filling up a widescreen desktop monitor.
Something you might rarely think about is developing a low bandwidth or backup HTML version of your website that will automatically kick in for customers attempting to access your services through poor internet connections. If you sell to the developing world — absolutely think about that.
Bring in outside IT support if needed. Website construction isn’t the specialism of every tech business, however, a tech business with a poor website looks like a barber with a bad haircut. And, a bad website will let you down no matter the industry!
Having a website isn’t enough. You need to bring in traffic. Content marketing is a great way to improve brand awareness, drive traffic, build trusted customer relationships and generate leads.
Content marketing also brings the benefit of a compounding return on investment. As you publish more content, all of your material will slowly climb in search results. Unlike pay-per-click online advertising, content marketing sticks around long after you stop paying for it. The whole self-supporting system could provide a stream of inbound leads for years to come.
What this means for most businesses is starting a blog. You just have to write about what you already know. If you can provide genuinely valuable information about your business’ specialism, you will attract and engage with the exact people you are looking to make customers. You will also provide continued value to your existing customers.
What do you think you are reading right now?
The next step when it comes to content marketing is ‘gated’ material. Gated material is something that is valuable enough that customers will provide you with their contact information in order to access it.
What this generally means is an eBook, template or product trial. For an example of a ‘gate’ and more information about how to use eBooks to generate leads, check this out.
For technology firms, SaaS companies particularly, providing product trials is also a good way to showcase your capabilities while collecting contact information for follow up.
When considering a product trial, you need to remember two things.
To effectively market premium content and product trials, you often need a larger web presence of ‘open’ content or an already powerful brand. For businesses seeking to establish themselves, premium content should be a step in an online sales funnel that starts with a website and ‘open’ content marketing.
Having a website and published content isn’t enough. You need to make sure that the right people actually find you online. A lot of this comes down to search engine optimisation (SEO).
In short, what you need to know is that popular, active websites rank higher for any given search. Part of a coherent SEO strategy is simply to be active online. Start a blog, tweet, regularly, update portions of your website and build interactive sections for customer feedback. This will all help the entire interlinked network rank higher in search results.
There are two broad categories of SEO: on-site SEO and off-site SEO. On-site SEO covers the basics mentioned above, in addition to any other techniques over which you have direct control. This includes keywords, embedded links, landing pages, meta descriptions and the load speed of your website. Links and keywords are worth summarising specifically.
On-site SEO links are important. They are the links embedded on your own pages. Arrows pointing to the most highly ranked websites on your topic will slightly improve your overall ranking. This is also easy to do. But, don’t go overboard.
Long tail and short tail keywords are common and useful SEO strategies. The idea is that part of how Google determines the relevance of your website or blog to any given search is to cross reference the search terms against your content.
Long tail keywords are more accurately described as phrases. They are a set of keywords that are likely to be used by people actively searching for your products or services online. Using long tail keywords increases your visibility to your target market audience by focusing your efforts to rank on search terms that are less competitive and hyper-relevant to what you do.
Short tail keywords are more generic. If you can compete for ranking, they bring through higher traffic volumes. These results, however, will almost always have lower conversion rates because of lower relevance.
Make sure to bake keywords into everything you do online. Pay particular attention to:
For SEO keyword help, see our guide.
Off-site SEO is important, but it is something over which you have less control. It basically covers everything about how the wider world relates to your web presence and impacts your search ratings.
Chief among these are shares, likes and links, along with traffic volume and comments. Links are particularly important if coming from reputable, popular and relevant sources.
A shady technique that was once popular involved employing people to link to your website or content in the comment sections of other people’s blogs or articles. The efficacy of this has been nerfed by algorithm changes. If transparent, it also looks bad. The only real way to build up off-page links is to create good content and wait.
Building comments, shares and likes, similarly comes down to generating quality content, optimising the things over which you have control, and waiting.
Although SEO charged content marketing can create organic inbound leads, sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes you are competing for SEO longtail niches that are still too competitive to break into without help.
Millions of people click on search engine ads every day. You should invest at least some money in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC is flexible, you can increase or decrease spending on a daily basis. It has predictable results that you can test through easy to set up trials.
Consider both long tail and short tail strategies when purchasing Google AdWords.
Technology firms, and SaaS companies particularly, often find great value in co-marketed campaigns with other companies that offer complementary products. This can benefit the lesser known business by supplying the visibility and credibility of an established brand. It can benefit a more established partner through opening up reselling opportunities.
For example: Imagine you are an established business that sells cybersecurity software — malware, antivirus, firewalls. You also provide maintenance and installation services. However, you don’t provide active response capabilities.
Partnering with a company that specialises in active response to cyber breaches (so long as they don’t also sell software) provides you three opportunities:
If you are the lesser known partner, the results are even better.
Even if it doesn’t come off the tails of a co-marketing campaign, remember to resell to your customer base. Never forget that those are people who needed your product enough to buy it, and trust your brand. Keep your customers updated about your latest products and services — just don’t get on their nerves.
Try to provide your customers with added value when contacting them for re-selling purposes. That could include a content marketing blog/newsletter or co-marketing information. You can provide your existing customers with direct links to otherwise ‘gated’ material.
If you can’t measure spending and results, you don’t know what is working and what needs improvement. If you know what channels bring people to your website, for example, that tells you something about both your target market audience and your marketing strategies.
Being able to quantify the conversion rate of customers that download an eBook can tell you if it was a worthwhile investment. Being able to compare that to your more traditional relationship sales strategies can provide perspective on how important the internet is to your target market audience.
At the very least, you should define sales goals, track key performance indicators (KPIs) including revenue, customer retention and total purchases — and then track the originating source of the leads.
Maximising revenue means taking advantage of every opportunity at your disposal. That means building sustained relationships in the real world and taking advantage of online connectivity. In both cases, don’t forget about the power of co-branded marketing campaigns.
Content marketing is a particularly useful tool that bridges the gap between relationship marketing and mass advertisements. Although published online and available to everyone, it is tailored to add value to the personas most likely to make up your base of potential (and established) customers. It is a great way to generate leads and build your brand — it is an opportunity to show off your expertise.
Appropriately executed content marketing creates a network of self-supporting web-pages that collectively build brand awareness and increase search rankings. They also provide numerous entry points to your core website, gated material and other funnels. Each of these pages allow you to experiment with different long tail SEO strategies and target different personas.
No matter how you go about generating leads, you must remember to follow through. Create the ability to segregate marketing-qualified-leads (MQL) and sales-qualified-leads (SQL) and provide the right people with the most effective information to turn them into customers. Once you add them to your customer base, remember your ability to resell. Delivering a great product or service is key to that continued success and your long-term business strategy. Always deliver on your marketing promises.