First the good news. Firms that actively engage in online marketing grow up to 4X faster and are more profitable than those that do not.
We studied 500 professional services firms to better understand how they use online marketing and what the results are. As you can see, the news (at least for those doing B2B online marketing) is good. The less than stellar news, though, is that not everyone is on board; there are some striking differences between industries.
It makes sense that we in the marketing and communications world would be at the top of the list—this sort of thing is our bread and butter; it’s second nature (maybe even first). But a lot of A/E/C firms are missing the boat. It’s hard to say why this is, but, if we can get back to good news, it is remedied fairly easily. By integrating key areas of B2B online marketing into a cohesive marketing strategy, A/E/C firms and other professional services providers can create conversions and grow their inbound leads.
Let’s take a look at a few ways A/E/C firms can successfully do this:
- Blogging. This is the beginning of the sales funnel. By providing valuable, sharable content on issues that are important to target audiences, services firms can generate interest amongst those influencers and decision makers. And by providing offers (that is, actionable next steps… an invitation to subscribe or receive updates from the firm), blogs can lead to conversions. A conversion is anytime a website visitor engages in one of the sites’ offers.
- Email marketing. Once you’ve captured the attention and gotten the conversion, its time to nurture those conversions. If someone’s on your mailing list, they’re interested in you or your services—or at least they were in the past. Don’t let them forget that initial interest. Encourage them to take things a step further by offering them research content, industry reports—anything that helps position your firm as engaged, helpful, and expert in your field. The goal is to keep them engaged. While there are many email marketing platforms, investing in a Client Relationship Managment (CRM) software will make your email marketing easier and more powerful.
- Social media. Actively participating in social media not only increases your visibility throughout multiple networks, but it boosts your online visibility and reputation (benefits previously associated with SEO) through social signals, which Google deems important. Keep in mind, though, that a post or tweet or share once a week won’t do the trick. For significant results, you’ll need to spend about 30 minutes a day on each social media outlet.
- Online visibility and reputation (previously known as SEO, or Search Engine Optimization). In a nutshell, we are talking about attracting the interest of search engines for the right reasons – valuable content. This valuable content in turn helps boost your ranking in search engines. It can be done onsite by incorporating well-researched long-tail keywords into your website’s copy; or offsite, by high quality guest blogging or sharing content on social media sites.
- The more you put in, the more you’ll get out. Take a look at these two graphs:
We asked 500 professional services firms to rank the above online marketing tools in terms of the relative focus they give each, as well as the effectiveness of each technique. Remember those high growth firms from the beginning of this post? Turns out they put more effort into every online marketing tool than their average growth counterparts do—and they’re reporting higher effectiveness. Looks like their B2B online marketing efforts are working. Keep in mind that this applies to both growth and profitability—most online marketing techniques produce a lot more bang for the buck and this cost effectiveness really comes through.
Take a look at what the high-growth, high-profit firms are doing. They haven’t discovered a secret formula and they’re not necessarily any better at what they do than you are. But they’ve embraced this new B2B online marketing paradigm. It’s not rocket science, but the results can be just as astronomical. Get online, get optimized, start connecting, produce and share content. With a little time and effort, you firm will be well on your way to new levels of growth and profitability.
For more insights on online marketing, download our free book Online Marketing for Professional Services.