Six MSP Problems Solved by True Marketing Automation
Many good MSPs today already have invested in a professional services automation (PSA) platform, such as Connectwise or Autotask. These tools are essential for growing MSPs. Labor costs are challenge for any service business, and PSA tools help automate and organize key tasks, such as time tracking and ticket handling. However, in our experience, PSA tools do not hold a candle to best-of-breed marketing automation platforms when it comes to genuine marketing functionality.
In the world of sales and marketing, partners should leverage a specialized tool that is purpose-built. The “marketing modules” and CRM tools in most PSA systems just don’t make the grade.
Here is a short list of popular marketing automation packages: Marketo, Act-on, Pardot, Eloqua, Hubspot, Constant Contact and Infusionsoft. Many of these tools have low priced or freemium on-ramps to the full-featured product, while several of the tools have won rave reviews from SMB customers due to their ease of use and simplicity. Many MSPs I know use Constant Contact, which is arguably the market leader in SMB marketing automation.
Here are five problems faced by many MSPs that are solved with a marketing automation solution:
1. List management
You need a house list. Any growing business will always have a list of all the key contacts from its existing client base. This is the foundation of your house list. But you can’t stop there. You also need a burgeoning list of “mere suspects” who could possibly do business with your firm. Perhaps you have a vertical focus–say, on dentists. And maybe your existing house list has all of your current dental clients. Wouldn’t it be great to try to add every dentist contact in the five county area around where you currently do business? Yes, of course. The problem is, most PSA systems are overly geared toward data from your existing client base. By building out your house list in separate system, you can cast a wider net, keep your PSA system pure and drive a more expansive business strategy with your house list. You need a marketing automation tool to do this.
2. Email campaigning
Email is the lifeblood of B2B marketing. Don’t be a spammer. Be an educator who needs to get the word out. You should have a growing library of content such as white papers, eBooks, blogs and newsletter pieces that need to get into the hands of clients and mere suspects alike. In many cases, you will need to slice and dice your email recipients with lists so that the right message ends up in the right hands. For example, you may want to use a different tone and different content with clients than with prospect accounts. Marketing automation platforms give you all the tools to create beautiful, professionally crafted emails that can be sliced and diced with different targeted lists. As your marketing efforts grow, you will have more and more events and marketing offers where targeted delivery will win the day. A true marketing automation software tool is vital when you reach this phase.
3. Event management
Marketing events are one of the easiest ways to do B2B marketing. First, education should be the goal of your marketing. Help take the prospect further down the buyer journey. Educational seminars, trade shows, speaking events or online webinars are all great events to entice your prospects. If they are interested in the topics you speak on, they are likely primed for your product, service or solution. Events can come in many shapes and sizes. eFolder loves lunch-and-learn and webinars, for example. They pay off for us every day. Free event management tools like Eventbrite often have very slick implementations with marketing automation tools. For instance, we use Eventbrite and Pardot together to do 50 lunch-and-learns a month. The event registration solution works seamlessly with the house list, auto populating registrants into a house or specified list.
4. Lead scoring
Not all leads are created equal. Some prospects will repeatedly come to your website, open and click on emails, and attend multiple events before they will consider talking with a salesperson even once. With lead scoring, you can track every step of the buyer journey and assign a score to every interaction. With a some simple business logic, you will know when the time is right to pick up the phone and reach out. No one likes being sold to, but every buyer is ready to talk to a professional or specialist when he or she reaches the point of maximum pain. No matter how you position your MSP practice, your typical new client will have a similar journey to the ones that came before, and you can use lead scoring to track and act on the insights gained from prospect engagement.
5. CRM integration
All good marketing automation platforms have slick integrations with the most common CRM systems. Salesforce rules the roost, and I am a huge fan. Using a marketing automation tool in tandem with CRM brings together the best of both worlds. The marketing tool handles the top of the funnel, while the CRM tool takes over when more individual sales action and involvement becomes necessary. The two together give you a marketing and sales system. Again, most PSA tools will lack the functionality and tight integration to bring these two areas of functionality together.
6. Social media integration
It is a social world, where prospects and clients are researching topics online and sharing information daily. If you are not engaged here, now the time to get started. LinkedIn is a great place to start. Dust off that LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is not about finding a job. Your profile is not your digital resume. Instead, think of your LinkedIn page as the long version of your business card, married to your personal and company mission statement. LinkedIn is a platform where you can connect with your clients and other like-minded professionals and share interesting content to help your clients or prospects succeed. Most of the good marketing automation platforms are integrated with social media platforms, so with just a few clicks of the mouse you can go from a prospect record in your system to the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. You can embellish and import data and social media information to enrich your profiles and contact records. All of this makes you smarter in plotting your plan of attack or outbound prospecting efforts. As they say, “Let’s get social.”
In summation, marketing automation solves many thorny problems faced by growth-oriented MSPs.
Ted Hulsy is vice president of marketing. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly and are part of MSPmentor’s Cloud-based File Syncing and Sharing Infocenter.