Accelerate Your IT Company’s List Growth Using These Proven Tactics
Growing and maintaining an active audience is the most important part of building a successful sales and marketing funnel. It is also the area that we have found Managed Service Providers fail to execute the most. There is no instant gratification to building this type of list, since the audience you are building is likely not ready to buy and requires a lot of nurturing before they ever will be. This is what causes most IT companies to shift their efforts to the bottom of the funnel, using cold-calling, email, and direct response campaigns built to generate an instant response.
While these might bear fruit immediately, there is no longevity to these tactics. You have ultimately done nothing to build your prospect’s trust, thus making the sales cycle longer and sales conversion lower. These are the reasons why growing a “top-of-funnel audience” is so important and why you should look to execute this strategy first and foremost.
Use A Contextually Relevant Offer
By now just about everyone knows that using an e-book, webinar, or other free info-product will help to grow their email list. What can help accelerate this strategy even more is re-framing the same info-product in several different ways to increase the contextual relevance to your visitors.
Let’s use a free e-book on cyber security as an example since this seems to be the most common form of collateral used in the Managed Services Industry. Traditionally MSPs would name their e-book “Top 10 Cyber Security Threats To Small Businesses” or something of the like that is generic and made to please the masses. While this will convert well, customizing the title and cover of the book based on the individual prospects and verticals you are targeting will convert even better.
By using LinkedIn and Facebook to bring traffic to your site, you will be able to target specific Job Titles and Industries of your prospects. This information can be passed through on the destination URL parameters which can be set to trigger a specific form on your site. For example, your e-book now becomes “Top 10 Cyber Security Threats To Non-Profit Organizations” whenever the person comes from your “Non-Profit” industry ad campaign. These rules can be set using wordpress plugins such as hustle, optinmonster, or hellobar all of which can deployed and tested for free.
Deploy Exit Intent Pop-Ups & In-Content Embeds
The same plugins mentioned previously can also be used to deploy a variety of opt-in forms with different behaviors. In our experience we found the two highest converting form behaviors to be “exit intent” pop-ups and “in-content” embeds. These can both also be customized based on the page that they are showed on. While this is extra work up-front, the slight increase in contextual relevance will yield a higher conversion of the form and will be worth the extra effort in the end.
An exit-intent form is a pop-up that is deployed when a visitor attempts to exit your web page. The software plugin recognizes when the visitor’s mouse leaves the browser window and deploys the pop-up when the visitor attempt close the tab or hit the “back” button. While it does not prevent them from committing either of these actions, it will grab their attention at exactly the right time to prompt a conversion.
In-content embeds are forms that are located directly in the middle of your content. Visitors will encounter these forms as they are scrolling through your article or page text. We found that the more valuable the content is on the page, the higher these forms convert. The top 33% of your article text will be viewed substantially more than the rest of the article, so placing the embedded form around that mark will guarantee the most impressions without losing effectiveness.
Re-target Audience w/ Lead Form Ads
If a visitor leaves your site without opting into your list, don’t fret, all is not completely lost. You still have an opportunity to re-target the visitor after they leave, showing them ads on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. We recommend creating a campaign with a “Lead Generation” objective that will allow you to create an ad that has a form embedded directly in it. In doing so, the visitor can opt-in to your list directly from their social feed without ever leaving the page.
Another advantage of these type of ads is that typically the platform (such as LinkedIn) auto-fills the users email address and name directly into the form. This means that all the user has to do is click “subscribe” making it a completely friction-less experience. It also guarantees that the information is accurate, since people typically use a valid email address to sign up for services such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
These platforms will also allow you to integrate your form directly or indirectly (through Zapier) into your CRM. This way you can run these campaigns seamlessly, without having to manually upload lists and and maintain duplicate sets of data. This makes these type of ads almost an extension of your website, attempting to grab the visitor one last time before they move on.
Send Emails Routinely, Regardless of List Size
One of the biggest mistakes that I see IT Operators make in building their funnel is not sending routine emails early on. When you are just getting started and you have only banked a handful of email addresses, it can seem like it might not be worth the hassle to craft an email and send it out. On the contrary, committing to this practice, regardless of the size of your list is incredibly important for several reasons.
Developing a routine for both you and your readers is a crucial part of building a successful list. It is important for you schedule and set aside a specific time to create content each week that will keep your audience engaged and keep delivering them value. It is equally important for the audience to receive and read your email as part of their weekly or daily routine, which will create a high level engagement and decrease the attrition rate of your subscribers.
Organic growth of your list is also a crucial benefit of sending emails early on in the process. If you are serving up great content, your subscribers will forward and share your emails. In B2B, this is most commonly shared among coworkers, which is a great way for you to organically push your content up the ladder to develop more qualified prospects. If you are not sending emails regularly, then you are giving your audience nothing to share, thus making this type of organic growth impossible.