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By Jeremy Balius
10 January 2022

Digital Marketing for Technology Companies: An Introduction

woman planning at whiteboard | digital marketing for technology companies

Digital marketing for technology companies, and those that work with them, needs to be able to generate leads to spark growth. Knowing where to start and how to get it right can be a challenge.

When it comes to digital marketing, it makes sense to have the fundamentals in place – tech marketers need a firm grasp of what technology marketing is, what to consider to get it right, and how to implement efficiently and successfully.

Digital marketing is a key part of any business’ growth strategy, so if you are looking to improve your digital marketing efforts, this introduction is a great starting point.

1) The complexity and diversity of the technology industry

The technology industry has many different types of businesses operating across complex ecosystems. The diversity of technology industry participants and company types can include:

  • Independent Software Vendors (ISVs),
  • Managed Service Providers (MSPs),
  • Value-Added Resellers (VARs),
  • As-a-Service providers, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and others,
  • Telecommunications providers (Telcos),
  • Hardware Retailers (both offline and online),
  • Emerging Tech and Startups, including Incubators and Accelerators,
  • Distributors,
  • Aggregators,
  • System Integrators (SIs),
  • Consultancy and Developer Agencies, and
  • So many more.

No matter which company type a business is, the products or services it provides to different customers, or the potential customers it is aiming to attract, the challenges remain the same:

  • How to differentiate offerings,
  • How to accelerate new business pipelines, and
  • How to execute on growth strategies.

As a result, while the foundation of technology marketing can be be the same for most companies across the industry, the individual marketing strategy will undoubtedly vary between individual technology companies and needs to be custom tailored.

2) What is digital marketing for technology companies?

Digital marketing is the process of attracting, qualifying and nurturing prospective customers through targeted marketing activities online.

Technology companies deploy a range of marketing strategies to generate demand, attract prospects, identify, qualify and nurture leads in order to convert them to customers. Effective marketing tactics will vary based on the type of tech company, the types of potential customers and whether the business is part of a channel partner program deploying through-channel marketing.

3) What is a buyer’s journey?

The buyer’s journey is a term for describing the pathway someone takes to becoming a customer. In order to map this pathway, it’s best to first build a buyer persona. This path to purchase for a buyer persona generally starts with someone identifying that they have an issue or pain point, they research potential solutions to solve that pain point, they assess different solutions against each other and then decide on a solution and purchase.

While a path to purchase can be impacted by a range of variables, it generally has three distinct stages.

Awareness Stage

The Awareness Stage of the buyer’s journey is where someone becomes aware of an issue or pain point and they are starting to research general information. They are not yet looking for specific solutions and may not know what questions to ask yet.

Consideration Stage

The Consideration Stage of the buyer’s journey is where someone is aware of their pain point, has completed research, and uses that research to look for potential solutions to resolve their pain point. They start learning about what types of solutions are available and identify the pros and cons between them.

Decision Stage

The Decision Stage of the buyer’s journey is where someone is ready to make a decision about buying a product or service to resolve their pain point. This means product or service specific details are now researched, as well as the company, its people, customer reviews and other factors. This is the stage where a prospective buyer will start engaging with pre-sales or directly with sales to identify the right solution for their needs.

4) What are the different types of leads?

While a buyer’s journey has three stages across a path to purchase, leads can be segmented in a range of categories. These categories enable businesses to understand where a lead is at in their buyer’s journey. Importantly, segmenting leads also unlocks significant business value, such as enabling sales forecasting, budget decision making and where to focus resources.

Leads are commonly segmented according to the following categories:

Lead

A lead is a general term given to a person or business who is not currently a customer of a product or service but may be in the future. Depending on unique lead definitions for diverse businesses, a lead may have already elicited some form of interest or intent in your product or service.

In other cases, a lead may be identified based on data gathered about a person or business which shows that the person or business may be a future customer.

Prospect

Prospects represent a valuable target that have been identified according to specific criteria. In some cases, a Prospect can be considered a Target Account. Prospecting refers to the activities of finding prospective customers that match an ideal customer profile and developing a database to systematically communicate with them in order to qualify, nurture and convert them to Opportunities and Sales.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are those leads who have taken some form of action or combination of actions with marketing activities that indicates interest or intent.

Their activities and level of engagement, like website visits, email sign-ups, or content offer downloads, show that they have the potential to become prospective sales opportunities according to marketing.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are leads who have been qualified to a point where the Sales team can work with these leads directly by nurturing them into Opportunities, and then converting those Opportunities into sales.

An SQL has already expressed interest or intent as an MQL, and also meets additional lead qualification criteria relevant to Sales.

MQLs vs SQLs: What’s the difference?

Understanding the difference between MQLs vs SQLs and having a defined handover process between marketing and sales will shorten sales cycles, accelerate Time to Impact and achieve greater revenue growth.

MQLs are those people who have shown interest in a business and are more likely to be converted to customers. They are not yet in the buying stage, but their level of engagement with the brand, such as website visits, email sign-ups, or content offer downloads, are strong indicators that they have the potential to be.

SQLs on the other hand, are those leads who have either shown clear intent to buy or are seen to be have the right potential and the right fit for the target market profile of the business. SQLs are nurtured by the sales team to identify Opportunities and then convert those into Customers.

Opportunity

An Opportunity is a qualified lead that has become a potential sale opportunity. An Opportunity is more than a lead but does not yet need to have been BANT qualified. Depending on your business and sales process, an Opportunity may have a known pain point that your product or service can resolve, the Opportunity has agreed to an introductory meeting with sales.

This meeting may have been achieved by outreach from a Sales Development Representative (SDR), nurturing SQLs or generated by third-party appointment setting service.

Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

Product Qualified Leads (PQLs) are those leads who have already experienced meaningful value from a product. This meaningful value has been identified by way of a free trial of your product partially or in full, or in the free tier of a freemium model. PQLs can be seen as being more qualified than MQLs and SQLs, and more data is available about the lead through tracking their usage of your product.

Target Account

A Target Account is a company that fits an ideal customer profile and is targeted by marketing and sales. Target Accounts are commonly used as part of Account Based Marketing (ABM). Target Accounts may have multiple decision makers and influencers involved in the buying cycle and purchase decision of your product or service.

5) Where do leads come from?

Leads are the lifeblood of any business growth strategy. B2B marketing and lead gen strategies are developed and tactics deployed to generate demand and acquire new leads to convert to customers.

But, where do leads come from?

It’s important to know which lead source channels perform best for your business so that you can focus your lead generation efforts and budget towards finding and nurturing quality leads with a higher propensity to convert customers for a product or service in a shorter period of time.

Common lead sources for your technology marketing include:

  • An existing database
  • Company website
  • Social media channels
  • Various digital ad channels
  • Traditional advertising
  • Referrals
  • Events and sponsorships
  • Networking
  • Prospecting
  • Sales team relationships

How does Google refer to lead source channels?

Understanding Google Analytics Acquisition Channels can provide helpful monitoring and reporting on acquisition channels.

The Google Analytics default channel groupings can include:

  • Organic search
  • Direct
  • Social
  • Referral
  • (Other)

These channel groupings can provide insight into the effectiveness of marketing activities.

6) How long does it take to get leads from digital marketing?

There are many variables involved in determining how long it takes to generate demand and acquire net new leads.

The timeline is affected by diverse factors, including:

  • The company type,
  • The target or niche industries with different buying cycles a company sells to,
  • Economic cycles,
  • Industry trends,
  • Competitive landscape,
  • Current brand awareness in the market,
  • Amount of lead generation activities undertaken to date by a company,
  • Size of marketing budget allocations,
  • Team capacity, and
  • Access to capability.

Different types of digital marketing tactics and activities have produces different outcomes and results. The length of time it takes for digital marketing activities to make a measurable impact for a business is its Time to Impact.

The Time to Impact for lead generation varies based on channel, media and tactic.

7) What are the types of digital marketing best suited for technology companies?

Since digital marketing is such a vast field, it can be segmented into different types of categories. While there is overlap between the types of digital marketing and their definitions, combining different approaches in a technology marketing strategy will drive the best results.

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a type of digital marketing that aims to attract prospects using a range of digital marketing tactics using valuable content to engage, qualify and nurture leads. Inbound marketing can be made up of many tactics along a buyer’s journey.

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is a type of digital marketing that proactively reaches out to target audiences and buyer personas. Where inbound marketing relies on prospective audiences to already be aware of a pain point or problem and be searching for answers or solutions, outbound marketing aims to reach audiences who may not yet be aware of their problem or aren’t actively looking for a solution.

Content marketing

Content marketing is a type of digital marketing that uses informative, relevant and high-quality content to attract and engage prospects and leads along a buyer’s journey. The purpose of content marketing is generally seen to address and resolve pain points or problems targeted audiences or buyer personas are looking to resolve by searching for answers online.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a type of digital marketing that uses email to engage with a list of contacts, database or individuals. The purpose of email marketing is varied and can be used for promotion, provide information or drive sales, as well as fulfill a range of other outcomes along a buyer’s journey.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a type of digital marketing that engages with audiences on social media platforms and networks to build brand recognition, articulate positioning, publish compelling content and attract visitors to a website.

Digital advertising

Digital advertising is a type of digital marketing that . There are many types of digital advertising platforms and channels, which can include Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), or Paid Search, social media advertising, also known as Paid Social, as well as advertising via media publications and other networks. The purpose is generally to drive website traffic.

8) Which digital marketing tactics do technology companies use to generate leads?

When looking to generate leads online, there are several approaches digital marketers can take. The reality is that when it comes to technology marketing, an effective marketing strategy combines them all together for an effective.

When looking to generate leads online, there are several approaches digital marketers can take. The reality is that when it comes to technology marketing, an effective marketing strategy combines them all together for an effective.

Marketers use a wide range of tactics to target buyer personas, generate demand, qualify and nurture leads, and convert them to customers, including:

  • Technology companies optimise their website for buyer personas as well as search engines.
  • Technology companies use content marketing to publish valuable information, education content and helpful content to generate demand and qualify leads.
  • Technology companies use email marketing to engage with their database.
  • Technology companies use digital advertising to reach net new audiences, gain traction, elicit website visitors and drive more traffic.
  • Technology companies use social media marketing to engage with their audiences.
  • Technology companies use referral programs to acquire high quality leads.

9) Why are digital marketing campaigns important?

A marketing campaign is a short-term plan of marketing communication that uses various channels and marketing assets to engage with target audiences and achieve set objectives.

Organising your marketing efforts into targeted campaigns is an effective way of ensuring all the parts of the lead generation machine are working as they should be. The essence of a successful lead generating campaign is the creation of interest around the product or service you are offering.

There might be several parts to producing a successful campaign. In order to generate quality leads consistently, you need specific essential marketing tools in your ammunition box, which can be anything from opt-in forms to landing pages which is great for collecting the leads to marketing automation, to nurturing these leads and guiding them along the sales route.

Structured campaigns enable real time feedback as you consolidate your efforts and ensure reach is effective.

Essential elements of a marketing campaign

The essential elements of a marketing campaign are:

  • Brand guidelines
  • Marketing objectives
  • Campaign theme
  • Buyer persona/s
  • Market research
  • Customer journey
  • Content deliverables
  • Timeline
  • Budget
  • Metrics and measurements of success
  • Reporting rhythm

Common marketing campaign assets

Common deliverables, collateral or assets utilised in an effective content marketing campaign can include:

  • Campaign plan
  • Content offer or gated content, such as a whitepaper, ebook, etc
  • Landing page
  • Call-to-actions (CTA)
  • Forms
  • Email, such as Electronic Direct Mail (EDM)
  • Interactive content, such as an online calculator
  • Video content
  • Blog post
  • Infographic
  • Social posts
  • Case study
  • Webinar
  • Ad designs

10) How to qualify leads

Qualifying leads is the process of identifying whether a lead has the potential of becoming a customer and is a good fit for your product or service.

Depending on the type of technology company, the sales model, the buyer journey and other variables, how you qualify leads will be unique to your business.

Some of the best practice processes to implement in order to qualify leads effectively include:

  1. Identify business pain points of leads
  2. A content strategy
  3. Define lead criteria
  4. Use lead scoring
  5. Nurture leads with email nurture sequences
  6. Complete a discovery call with qualifying questions
  7. Identify the decision making process.

The most effective way to qualify leads prior to handing over a lead into a sales funnel is to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform and some form of marketing automation.

11) The importance of a defined digital marketing process

Having a formalized process for your technology marketing ensures that you are mapping and tracking the activities to ensure they are sustainable and replicable. Without a process for generating leads online, leads can be won or lost without knowing which specific actions are working for an individual situation.

A defined process not only ensures that you are focusing your efforts on activities which generate the most results, but also makes it easier for employees to manage their day-to-day tasks.

The benefits of having a defined marketing process include:

  • Ability to track and monitor for effectiveness
  • A/B test tactics
  • Understand where leads drop off or where lead nurture bottlenecks may be occuring
  • Continuous refinement and improvement
  • Deliver higher quality or highly qualified leads into a sales funnel for sales teams to nurture
  • Faster onboarding for new staff
  • No key person risk or dependence, and
  • Increased customer satisfaction which means increased Client Lifetime Value.

One of the keys to a good is flexibility and experimentation. Digital marketers should always be testing new ways that might work better, or at least get them closer towards what works best for their company’s needs.

12) What are common digital marketing metrics?

Measuring for effectiveness is critical. At its most basic, know the total number of leads generated is the most common metric. Understanding how those leads are generated is also beneficial and it might be useful to explore what metrics you might track to measure if your lead generation campaigns are effective.

There are many different factors that will affect the way you go about lead generation and customer acquisition, which means tailored approaches for each business must take into account these differences as well.

Essential digital marketing metrics

The following metrics are essential for understanding the effectiveness of your digital marketing.

  1. Return on Investment (ROI)
  2. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  3. Lead Acquisition by Channel
  4. Qualified Lead Amount
  5. Website metrics
  6. Campaign metrics
  7. Email metrics
  8. Social Media metrics
  9. Click through rate (CTR)
  10. Conversion rate
  11. Time to conversion
  12. Cost Per Lead (CPL)
  13. Cost Per Click (CPC)

Metrics to identify marketing ROI

Business leaders are presented with a lot of metrics and understanding marketing ROI is a real challenge. There is an endless amount of detail and data that can accessed and it is difficult to understand the impact each of these has on a company’s bottom line.

6 important marketing ROI metrics include:

  1. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  2. Marketing Percentage of CAC
  3. Ratio of Customer Lifetime Value to CAC (CLV:CAC)
  4. Time to Payback CAC
  5. Marketing Originated Customer Percentage
  6. Marketing Influenced Customer Percentage

13) How much do leads cost online?

Determining how much a lead costs online varies greatly, is impacted by a wide range of factors and may change over time.

The cost per lead is a metric that helps determine the effectiveness of technology marketing activities and lead source channels. Put simply, cost per lead is the average amount of investment required to acquire a lead.

What factors impact the cost of a lead?

There are several factors within a total marketing spend that impact a cost per lead, which include:

  • Website and web maintenance costs
  • Digital advertising allocation
  • Content development
  • Measurability of offline activity where the original lead source may have been online
  • Time cost and efficiency of in-house marketers and filling any potential capability gaps
  • Agency costs
  • And a range of other marketing budget inclusions.

What’s your actual Cost per Lead (CPL)?

Calculating the CPL across the business is straightforward. Simply take the total marketing spend for a set time period and divide it by the total number of leads generated in that same time period.

CPL can help determine the effectiveness of individual lead source channels. Take the marketing investment spent on an individual lead source channel for a set time period and divide it by the number leads generated by that lead source channel in that same period.

14) What are different types of technology companies that use digital marketing?

No matter which type a technology company is, or what type of products or services it provides to different types of customers, they all face the same high level challenges in the technology industry, including how to differentiate their offerings, increase new business pipelines and implement growth strategies.

While the challenges are similar, how each company type solves these growth challenges and unlocks lead generation can be very different. These differences are the result of attracting and selling to different client types, with different types of products, services, pricing models and many other variables.

As a result, while there may be some similarities in lead generation approach, each technology company type may also need different lead generation approaches to spark growth for their business.

Digital marketing for Managed Service Providers (MSPs)

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a company that provides a range of continuous, regular management, monitoring and maintenance IT services, remotely or onsite. MSPs are typically Channel Partners in various vendors Channel Programs, and are increasingly providing As-a-Service model services to end user customer businesses.

MSPs utilise marketing to engage with businesses and customers of different sizes, locally or more widespread. Some MSPs specialise in working with an industry vertical or niche. Depending on the size of the business, the decision makers can vary between the Managing Director, a CIO, IT Manager or procurement.

Digital marketing for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company is a business that delivers applications as a service over the internet. Rather than installing and maintaining software hosted on-premise, i.e. your own servers, the software is hosted in the cloud.

Marketing for SaaS companies includes activities to promote and acquire sales of subscription-based SaaS products.

Digital marketing for other As-a-Service (AaS) Providers

As-a-Service (AaS) companies is a term to broadly categorise businesses that offer other types of cloud-based services. These can include:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
  • Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)
  • Function-as-a-Service (FaaS)
  • Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS), also known as Device-as-a-Service (DaaS)
  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)
  • Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS)
  • Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS)
  • Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS)
  • Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS)
  • Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UaaS)
  • And many, many more.

Marketing for AaS companies follows the same blueprint as SaaS marketing.

Digital marketing for Data Centers and Data Storage

Data Centres and Data Storage Providers are companies that offer physical facilities to organisations to house their critical applications and data across pools of physical infrastructure and into a multi-cloud environment. These facilities are made up of network infrastructure, storage infrastructure and computing resources.

Data centres and Data Storage Providers are an ecosystem unto themselves and utilise marketing to engage with a wide network of customers, including enterprises, cloud providers and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers, Government and public sector, carriers, ISPs and many, many more.

Digital marketing for Technology Hardware and Equipment Manufacturers, Distributors and Retailers

Hardware Manufacturers, Distributors and Retailers are technology companies that manufacture, distribute and sell physical technology products across complex supply chains. This category is broad and can include anythings from computer hardware and parts, sensors, data storage, networking, machines, energy, safety, biotech, robotics, vehicles, Internet of Things and many, many more.

While manufactures make the products, distributors deliver to the retailers, with the retailers ultimately delivering to the end user.

Marketing for Technology Manufacturers, Distributors and Retailers is complex and requires a range of B2B marketing strategies and tactics to achieve results.

Digital marketing for Vendor Channel Partner Programs

Channel Partner Programs are a sales model whereby manufacturers sell through third-party businesses called Channel Partners, which can include Value-Added Resellers (VARs), Managed Service Providers (MSPs), System Integrators (SIs), affiliates and other types.

Marketing for Vendor Channel Partner Programs includes through-channel marketing or channel partner marketing enablement, which is marketing that primarily enables its third-party partners to engage in marketing activities. Channel marketing can also include marketing to attract and convert new partners to the Channel.

Digital marketing for Fintech

Fintech companies, a portmanteau for financial technology, are businesses that offer technology solutions that improve and/or automate financial services. Generally structured as a SaaS offering, Fintech solutions can be B2B or B2C, or both, and helps better manage financial operations, processes. Fintech is generally seen to also include the field of cryptocurrencies.

Digital marketing for Insurtech

Insurtech companies, short for insurance technology, are businesses that offer technology solutions to the insurance industry. Insurtech can be considered a subset of Fintech. Generally structured as a SaaS offering, Insurtech solutions can be B2B or B2C, or both, and can deliver a range of efficiencies or innovations when it comes to provisioning insurance policies.

Digital marketing for Proptech

Proptech companies, otherwise known as property technology, are businesses that offer technology solutions to the real estate industry. Generally structured as a SaaS offering, Proptech solutions can be B2B or B2C, or both, and can deliver a range of efficiencies or innovations from planning, construction, renting, buying, property management or selling.

Digital marketing for Deep Tech

Deep Tech companies are broadly made up of businesses that are not delivering services to end users and are developing and deploying applications or technology solutions that can include Artificial Intelligence (AI), quantum computing, advanced material science, blockchain solutions, virtual reality and many other offerings. Deep Tech companies are usually backed by Venture Capital and/or startup accelerators.

Marketing solutions for Deep Tech companies vary based on technology solution and application, and will consist of brand, digital marketing and a range of other lead generation activities.

15) Why should Venture Capital and Private Equity firms focus on digital marketing for their tech investments?

At the core of Venture Capital (VC) and Private Equity (PE) success is the ability to accelerate growth from their investments, capitalise on opportunities, manage succession efficiently and create lasting shareholder value. But it can be challenging for VC and PE firms to unlock value and sustainable growth within each of their investments.

VC and PE firms needs to be able to rapidly fill gaps during transitions and quickly deploy the right systems, levers and processes to drive repeatable results.

This includes placing a focus on the digital marketing strategies and tactics of their investments. That’s why VC and PE firms partner with trusted marketing experts who can come in alongside their investments to spark growth.

16) Why is digital marketing important for technology companies after a Merger and/or Acquisition (M&A)?

Growing by merger or acquisition is a common inorganic growth strategy taken by technology companies. M&As can deliver significant benefits, including:

  • Increased market share
  • Exposure to new markets
  • Access to capital
  • New competencies, capabilities and resources
  • Opportunities for backend shared resource consolidation

M&As come with a series of challenges as well.

From a brand and marketing perspective, successful M&As need to be able to:

  • Deliver on an informative, multi-channel communication plan, which includes press releases, statements, website content, and stakeholder and client communications
  • Align value proposition between two brands
  • Identify functional competencies and capabilities for marketing team structure
  • Reduce duplication of resourcing
  • Market research and clarity around market perception
  • Maintain channel partner confidence
  • Identify martech synergies, including CRM and marketing automation integrations.
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