More and more businesses are increasing their online presence. This, amongst other digital marketing trends of 2021, is likely to continue well past the Covid-19 hangover of 2020. So, how important is it to have a software development agency digital marketing strategy for your own firm?
When it comes to marketing ethos, many engineering firms struggle with the problem of whether to spend time marketing the work being done, or to rather just do the work itself.
In software development, this can also the case. A development firm might consider marketing to be a tool to resort to when their client pool dries up. However, research shows that marketing can be an effective core part of your business that has multiple benefits besides online visibility. In fact, on average, most businesses see a 200% return on their investment when purchasing Google Ads (Power Traffick, 2019).
Creating a comprehensive marketing strategy can help increase your brand awareness, help bring new clients to your business, and turn existing and past clients into returning clients. Let’s take a closer look at what is needed for a software development agency digital marketing strategy.
Creating a Software Development Agency Digital Marketing Strategy
When creating a digital marketing strategy, your plan should include, amongst other things:
- Short + long term goals
- Who your customers are
- Where your customers are
- What the biggest drawing factors for customers are
- Which channels you will utilise
- Which tools you will utilise
As part of a holistic step-by-step plan to attract and hold customers, some deeper questions to look at might include:
- How will your marketing, sales, and development team work together to source clients and generate income?
- How will your long-term business model change, and in particular with regards to structural effects of Covid-19? How will the business need to adapt long-term?
Aside from these questions, you should become familiar with your competitors, being able to recognise what unique characteristics – or unique selling proposition – your business can offer to stand out from the crowd. After all, no business operates in a vacuum.
For established businesses, taking stock of your current position – how many customers you have, your sales conversion rate, doing a SWOT analysis, etc. – can help you understand where your business is now, before embarking on an entirely new strategy.
While there’s always room for improvement, as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Define your marketing goals, and how these will be measured
Short + long term S.M.A.R.T Goals as well as measureable, concise KPIs are key to making a strong positive impact with your marketing.
Some example goals might be:
- Acquire 50 new customers by June 2022
- Reduce cost-per-lead to $4.00 by year-end
- Up-sell 5 existing customers on an additional value-added service every month
Understand which metrics are important, starting with the fundamentals. These include:
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Landing Page Conversion Rates
- Mobile Traffic Conversion Rates
- Customer Lifetime Value
- Social Media Performance
By identifying these fundamentals, constructing and adjusting a data-driven marketing plan – and calculating the ROI thereof – should become easier and more accurate.
Prepare a portfolio
Having a portfolio of previous projects on hand is important as this is usually one of the first steps for a client in vetting an agency. For an established firm, this should be a no-brainer.
Aside from a portfolio, be sure to continue fostering positive relations with your existing clients after completing a project. While the immediate revenue may end with the project, the opportunities do not.
Ongoing communication has multiple benefits – allowing your clients to act as potential positive references for future clients, and also keeping the door open on opportunities for doubling down on returning customers.
Even if you are a new agency, creating short informative blog or video posts can increase your online presence. It doesn’t have to be complicated – clients are always looking for points that can add value.
View your client not as an opportunity, not a problem
Understandably, many clients are wary of working with software development agencies – especially those who are newer to the market or don’t have a strong online presence. It’s normal that there may be many questions asked which may seem unnecessary or irrelevant to the product, but which will help your client better understand your company values and establish a better relationship with them.
Some example questions are:
- What is the culture and vision of the agency?
- What is your communication style with clients?
- We saw this cool video on TikTok, can you do something like this?
Remember that at this point, the relationship-building is important to giving customers confidence and peace-of-mind in working with you. We’ve all come across someone who appeared to begrudge and genuinely want to punish their clients for, well, existing. Don’t be that person.
Now would also be a good time to mention negative reviews.
Address both positive and negative reviews
Always address negative reviews, regardless of their perceived legitimacy. There’s the age-old saying of “you’re only as good as your last job”, but often in the eyes of a client, you’re only as good as your worst review. Poor ratings lead to lost revenue, but do take this with a grain of salt.
Get your business listed
Using services such as Google My Business, Google Location Service Ads, and Google Adwords can make a significant impact on your volume of inbound traffic. In fact, businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords (Google Economic Impact Report).
Automate where possible
The wealth of marketing automation tools available to consumers today can help reduce daily workload, better measure and increase marketing ROI, as well as help capture revenue opportunities that might otherwise fall through the cracks.
This includes tools such as:
- Content posting automation (ie HootSuite)
- Automated content generation
- Google Analytics
Maintain a high quality landing page and website (don’t forget mobile!)
Getting your business listed on Google Location Services, and having stellar reviews on social media is a good start, but having an organised, clean and functional website with good UX fundamentals is crucial.
As mentioned earlier, including a blog on your website allows you to increase your online presence. Short, meaningful pieces of content that can be shared on social media – think infographics and explainer videos – work excellently for this purpose.
Clunky website design, slow loading times and poor UI/UX design leaves site visitors with a poor impression of your company and may damage your reputation.
Use tools like Google Analytics to measure user engagement on your website
It is now often said that data is the new gold, and with good reason. Did you know that of 700 marketing and analytics executives surveyed, leading executives are more than 50% more likely than the mainstream to have a “clear understanding of customers’ journeys across channels and devices.”
Using tools like Google Analytics can help you improve the efficacy and efficiency of your sales pipeline, allowing you to measure and fine-tune the process of converting site visitors to paying customers. While it is true that the business of Software Development is generally dominated by B2B interactions, understanding where your website visitors are spending their time, and how long they are remaining engaged for can help you pin down what is important to your customer and how this affects your funnelling and conversions.
Leverage existing knowledge within your development team for marketing
Some knowledge areas, such as game theory or agile development, might seem they are of no use in marketing, but do in fact can contribute. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), agile development lends itself very well to areas such as digital marketing, due to the short iterative nature providing plenty of room for adjustment to client feedback. I previously wrote about this and made a short video, if you’d like to learn more.
Keep the client involved
Depending on your field, your client may not be very knowledgeable about the software development process in general, or your team’s specific methodology. Throughout each of the stages of Analysis, Development, and Maintenance (regardless of production methodology) it’s crucial to keep your client in the loop. The earlier you and your client can get on the same page, the easier it will be to manage and meet expectations.Keep in mind that this will be a continuous process and your client may have ideas or expectations after product delivery that you may not initially be aware of, or that may crop up later.
More and more, digital marketing is becoming a core part of business strategies and a key focus point for growth within successful businesses. With marginal effort, by leveraging marketing automation technology and analytics, and defining what key selling points to market as well as how to market them, you too can build an efficient and effective software development agency digital marketing strategy.
To learn more about digital marketing and how it can help your team and business grow, contact the International Institute of Digital Marketing™ at www.thedigitalmarketinginstitute.org
About the author:
Ntsike Simon Magwaza
South African digital marketer and social entrepreneur involved in software development, audio, and emerging technologies.