What’s Your Web Strategy?
When you kick off your startup, one of the first things you’ll do is put up a website. But is there a pattern to a good tech company web strategy?
Obviously, some things will depend on who you sell to and what you sell, but there are 3 things you must have as part of that web strategy.
1. An Active Blog
Notice the focus on “active” here?
Yes, your tech company needs a blog. It’s not just for internet marketing firms anymore.
Your tech company needs to be teaching something. Teaching is critical to your web strategy. Whatever your keeps your target market up at night, you need to be writing about how to keep away the boogie man.
The pace and length of the posts depends on your market and solution. But generally speaking, my clients have to convince me to do it less frequently than weekly. When you blog weekly, you start to generate a pace of content that begins to saturate the space.
Make keyword research a critical part of your web strategy. Make sure you’re blogging about stuff that matters. Don’t just take the time to mouth off about the latest piece of research or statement in the press. You’re not a consulting firm or trying to be controversial.
Focus on the problem your technology solves. Write about the pain. Sure, mention the solutions, but save that for other content (see #2 below).
Spend time in your blog “needling” your market a bit. Make them feel the pain more than they already would. Show successes and talk about how they got there, but save the details for later.
In short, hook their interest.
Don’t miss a week (or whatever pace you choose). I’d take bad content over no content – within reason. Don’t let compelling titles or editing stop you from posting.
Post. You can fix it later.
What you can’t fix later is empty space. When the search engines don’t have anything new to index, you’re pretty much gone from the space. Recency and consistency are important in search engine rankings.
Action Item: Don’t know how to write well? I recommend checking out Copyblogger. It’s for writers and non-writers alike. Writing is a must-have part of your web strategy. The blog posts give you great information about how to put a good written piece together, but if you upgrade into their Authority program, they have a 20-part sequence to teach you how to do this right. Many of the best are associated with this group.
2. A Free Giveaway…the Right Kind of Giveaway
This also may sound weird for the tech space, but it’s absolutely critical part of your web strategy for two reasons.
The first reason is obvious: it’s a lead magnet. You use a free giveaway to convert traffic into leads. That’s why the giveaway needs to be focused on your target market.
The second reason is more important: it’s the beginning of a relationship. And how should you begin a relationship?
Well, let’s talk about how you should not begin a relationship:
Stop holding drawings for a free iPads!!!
There’s no focus there; anyone can submit their name – and fake e-mail address – in order to qualify. These aren’t good leads and they’re not your target market. It’s bad web strategy to cast a net too broadly like that.
So before you launch a Facebook contest to see how many likes you can get, think long and hard about this: what kind of a relationship are you building?
It should be one built on trust.
Find something to give away that solves their problems. You are blogging about their pain (see #1 above). Now it’s time to offer a solution.
Create some kind of information product whether it be a report, a white paper, a case study, or a tutorial. Give that away for free.
The beauty of your tech company is that – if you’ve constructed your problem correctly – you need your product to solve the problem. So the information product leads nicely into a purchase decision.
That’s what it’s supposed to do – lead the customer gently to buy.
You can’t do that with a free iPad or a Facebook contest. Don’t waste your time just getting names. Get a community.
Action Item: Copyblogger (see #1 above) can also help here, but if you want some great freebie ideas, I’d recommend you check out Gentle Rain Marketing with Mark Satterfield. His book, The One-Week Marketing Plan is focused more on service professionals than tech companies, but the first section of his book give you the template for a free report. It’s a great discussion of the web strategy of building trust to sell.
If you’ve craft the problem you’re solving correctly, his formula works perfectly for a tech company’s free report. (He even gives you an autoresponder sequence to follow up, although it might need some tweaking for a tech company. But that’s #3 below, so I’m ahead of myself now.)
3. An Autoresponder Sequence – That Teaches Something
Of course, once you’ve captured the lead, what do you do with it?
Put it in Salesforce.com and forget about it, right?
You should immediately follow up on the educational piece you just gave away and teach more.
An autoresponder sequence is a critical component of your web strategy. Set up an autoresponder sequence with your list provider to send a series – at least 6, maybe as many as 20 – e-mails that teach more about the topic you just introduced. It should span a series of time depending on your sales cycle.
Generally, your autoresponder should be about 150% of your sales cycle. If you typically close in 4 weeks, create a 6-week autoresponder. If you take 12-months to close, create an 18-month campaign.
Now you don’t have to e-mail every day. In fact, it’s usually a good idea to put a day in between (at least) for breathing room. And if you have a long sequence (like the 18-month campaign), then you’ll extend out the space between e-mails.
If you’re dealing with consumers (B2C), I wouldn’t email less frequently than weekly. If you’re dealing with businesses (B2B), I wouldn’t email less frequently than monthly – but every 2 weeks is better.
If you have that 18-month campaign, that’s between 18 – 36 emails. Totally doable.
Just take a topic or two and turn it into an educational campaign. Build a training curriculum. If you need help creating a training program, I highly recommend Sam Norberg, who runs the Trainers Academy. She has great material on how to build your own training curriculum. This content will become your autoresponder. As I mentioned before, teaching is a critical part of your web strategy.
Bonus: A “Smart” Autoresponder Sequence
If your sequence is more than a few e-mails, you may want to create an autoresponder sequence that is “smart.” In other words, it looks for particular interactions with your lead and changes what it serves up depending on those interactions. This is where your web strategy intersects your sales strategy.
For example, let’s say you were a B2B software company with enterprise sales that has three major phases of the sales process: intro, demo, and proof-of-concept.
You should include offers for a tailored demo as one of the links in your e-mails. When your prospect clicks on it, you should immediately change the content you send. Obviously, a salesperson will follow up and schedule the demo, but now your lead has indicated that they’ve moved to a new “phase” of their research with you.
At the very basic level, you should stop sending requests to schedule a demo, but more importantly, you should now startsending requests to do a proof-of-concept.
MailChimp might suffice for B2C – short-term sales cycle products while you might need something with a heavier CRM component like Infusionsoft for the B2B and longer-sales cycle products.
Action Item: Either check out your own mail server to see if you can re-direct the mail sequence based on user interaction, or just sign up for MailChimp or Infusionsoft.
Your To-Do List
- Start (or continue) an active blog. Blog at least weekly. Focus on the pain; save the solutions for later. Join Copyblogger.
- Write a free giveaway – preferably an education piece like a free report. Stop the Facebook contests! And no more iPad drawings (just send one to me..save the time.) Buy and read One Week Marketing Plan, at least through the free report section, but maybe even through the autoresponder section.
- Build an educational autoresponder sequence. Teach something. Have it span 150% of your sales cycle. Build a training curriculum with Sam Norberg’s Trainer’s Academy.
- (Bonus) Upgrade your autoresponder sequence to a “smart” one that allows you to manage changing needs of your audience. Check out MailChimp or Infusionsoft.
Note: some of these links are affiliate links, but I don’t recommend anything I don’t or haven’t personally used and recommend.