2020 Digital Marketing Insights for Professional Services
As a professional services provider, you are part of the B2B segment, and yet you lack a tangible product. You sell your knowledge, experience, and expertise. You sell solutions to your clients’ pain points and challenges. This can make it difficult to find traction in the digital marketing world. Can you use the same tactics and methods that manufacturers and retailers utilise to connect with their audience? What about digital marketing methods used by B2C firms?
The truth is that digital marketing can be incredibly powerful when it comes to fostering growth and profitability for professional services providers, but it can be a challenge to determine the “how” of it all. With the right steps, the right strategies, and a firm understanding of how all the pieces fit together, you can reach your audience, engage them, drive traffic to your website, build interest in your offerings, and position yourself as a leader in your segment.
In this guide, we’ll explore the most important digital marketing insights for professional services firms in 2020 and help you understand how to harness the immense power and potential here.
- Invest in a Quality Website: Your website is the primary tool for digital marketing and will form the hub of all your digital marketing efforts. From social media ads to Google AdWords to blog marketing, the point of it all is to drive targeted traffic to your website so they can learn more about how your services can answer their challenges. However, not all websites are created equal. It’s imperative that your site is modern, laid out properly, and delivers a positive user experience. Anything less will result in visitors bouncing out and visiting a competitor, which is not something you can afford.
- Responsive Design: When it comes to modern website design, nothing matters more than responsive technology. Mobile Internet traffic is now more common than any other type – most people visiting your website will be doing so from a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet computer. These devices have much smaller screens than desktop or laptop computers, meaning that your site may not display properly if it is not designed correctly. Responsive design ensures that your website is able to detect the size of the screen being used and automatically resize to fit, reorder content, reformat headers, and ensure the best possible experience for each individual user.
- Pay Attention to UX: As mentioned, user experience is becoming more and more important today. Make sure that your website is designed to facilitate the best possible experience for your visitors. The navigation should be simple and intuitive, images should be optimised, the layout should be logical, and the content should answer the query that brought them to your site in the first place as quickly as possible. If you cannot deliver on the UX premise, you’ll lose traffic to competitors who can.
- Build Out Informational Web Content: Your website will act as the hub of your digital marketing efforts, but it is essential that you go above and beyond when it comes to offering information to visitors. Your website’s content should be remarkable – it should be insightful, engaging, illuminating, and more. Most of all, it needs to go beyond selling your services. Yes, sales-oriented copy is an important part of the website content, but you need more. If your site is strictly sales-related, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Invest in remarkable content that encourages visitors to share it, comment on posts, and to return to read more.
- Content of Interest to Your Audience: While creating an information-rich website is important, you must ensure that the information you offer is actually of interest to your audience. Sure, you can dig into the nuts and bolts of the services you offer, but is that really something that will engage your audience? Make sure that your content drives interest and incites curiosity. Your goal is to engage them, and the way to do that is to address their interests and/or needs.
- Ensure Your Website Speaks to Client Challenges: Website copy – the text on your home, about, and other sales-oriented pages, serves many purposes. However, the single most important is that it addresses your clients’ core challenges. This is where many professional service providers drop the ball. They mistakenly assume that their website copy is about them. It’s not. It’s about your clients. It’s always about your clients. If you cannot speak to the challenges they face, rather than the benefits you offer, you’ll lose out to competitors who are more adaptable in their messaging.
- Correctly Place CTAs: Calls to action, or CTAs, help your visitors understand what action you want them to take. It can be something like “call us today”, or it could be “sign up now”, or “find out more”. Whatever the case, you need clear calls to action throughout your website pages. Don’t be afraid to use different CTAs in different parts of the same page, either. It shouldn’t all be about calling to set up an appointment. Use your CTAs to:
– Get visitors to read other content
– Encourage visitors to follow you on social media
– Get visitors to sign up for an email list
– Get visitors to download lead generation materials, such as reports or ebooks
- Blog About It: Yes, blogging has been around for what seems like forever at this point. However, for all that venerability, it remains one of the most important elements of content marketing. Blogging allows you to go beyond the sales copy on your website and show a human face, which is an increasingly important consideration today, even in the professional services world. Blogging allows you to position yourself as a thought leader, share important information and insight, and a great deal more.
- Articles Help Draw in Your Audience: Content marketing doesn’t consist of just off-site activities. In fact, it’s largely focused on your website. Article creation should be a key part of your content marketing strategy. Each article should be structured around search terms that your audience uses to find services like those you offer or the need that drives them to search for your services in the first place. Solid, informative content helps create an information-rich website that ranks well in the SERPs and answers user intent when it comes to searches.
- Create Case Studies: As a professional services provider, you are in a unique position to highlight your value to new clients by exploring the results you have been able to achieve for previous clients. Case studies allow you to do this while simultaneously enriching your website with additional keyword-optimised content. Case studies establish your authority with website visitors, as well as with Google. They also help to position you as a professional who can achieve results and potentially as a thought leader, as well.
- Don’t Neglect Testimonials: While case studies can be tremendously powerful tools, you should not neglect client testimonials. A sentence or two from a satisfied client testifying to your capabilities and the results you were able to generate for them can be tremendous social proof. However, make sure that your testimonials are genuine, that they’re attributed to real people, and that they speak to the pain points your clients experienced, not just the services you provided.
- Differentiate Yourself from Competitors: No matter how small your niche might be, you have competitors. You need to ensure that you’re able to differentiate yourself from them. What do you bring to the table that they do not? Is it experience? Expertise? Knowledge of specific topics, tools, or technologies? Take a long, hard look at your competitors and figure out what it is that sets you apart. This is your USP, or unique selling proposition. Make your USP the cornerstone of your digital branding and marketing efforts. It should infuse everything from website copy creation to how you interact with your social media audience.
- PPC Campaigns: Like blogging, PPC campaigns have been used for many years at this point. Despite that, they remain invaluable for their ability to deliver targeted traffic. Of course, they’re not a replacement for organic SEO, but they can help provide traction while you wait for your website to gain traffic and can be used with specific marketing campaigns. If organic SEO is a sword, think of PPC as a scalpel, allowing you to reach your audience with a razor-sharp edge.
- Build Landing Pages: PPC campaigns are great and all, but you cannot afford to direct traffic generated by your ads to your homepage, or any other page of your main site. You must create dedicated landing pages specific to each campaign. This allows you to track traffic, conduct A/B split testing, and more. However, you cannot just create a generic landing page, as that will backfire. The copy on the landing page needs to match the copy of the ad, including the keywords used. That doesn’t mean copying the text from the ad to the landing page, though. It means using copy that incites curiosity in the ad, and then building on it and positioning yourself as the solution to a challenge within the landing page copy, concluding with a powerful CTA that drives clicks, calls, or opt-ins.
- Landing Page Forms Are Your Friends: Your landing pages must do more than just provide information. They need to generate leads. They can’t do that if you’re not using them properly. In addition to compelling copy, each landing page also needs to include a form that can be used to collect lead information – name, email address, etc. This information can then be entered into your database and used in further marketing activities. Be aware that many leads won’t part with their information without some sort of incentive, though. This is where additional content creation comes in. Ebooks, reports, guides, and other options offer value to your leads and help to convince them to part with their contact information.
- Track Performance with Analytics: In order to track the performance of your digital marketing efforts over time, you’ll need data. Analytics tools provide you with in-depth insight into how various ads are performing, how leads are converting, and a great deal more. Analytics can go much deeper, too. They can help you understand website performance (or a lack thereof), where your traffic is coming from, what pages they visit, how long they stay on each page, and when/where they bounce out.
- Go Deep in Ad Groups: When you create PPC campaigns, you’ll need to segment your efforts by ad groups. It’s important that you go deep here. Rather than trying to optimise your efforts for all services that you offer your clients, you should create one group per keyword/service. This allows you to better target keywords, reach specific audience members, and build traction without spending a fortune on bids.
- Invest in Accurate Keyword Research: Keywords – they’re the cornerstone of all your digital content, from website copy to blog posts to PPC ads. Without the right keywords, none of your other efforts will amount to anything. This is why it’s absolutely critical that you conduct in-depth keyword research, identify the right terms to use, and then insert them into your content in a natural way.
- Explore Competitor Keywords: No matter what niche you occupy within the professional services industry, you have competitors. There is a chance that those competitors are successful, too. You can use that to your advantage. Competitor research can shed light on the keywords that they are using, allowing you to make them part of your own campaigns. You can also target your competitors’ audiences through Facebook ads, YouTube ads, and other methods, enhancing your reach within an already targeted audience.
- Explore Related Keywords: In most instances, the keywords you target will be the services you provide, often coupled with a specific industry or business type. For instance, “accounting services for manufacturers”, or “graphic designer for sportswear”.
However, you should not neglect related keywords. Many of your primary keywords may be heavily targeted by competitors, making it harder to rank with them organically, and more expensive to target them with your PPC campaigns.
Related keywords can help you ensure specificity in search results while improving your chance of ranking and reducing the cost of your campaigns. Examples of related keywords could be the services you offer plus a geographic area (graphic designer Cork, for instance), or they could be longer phrases, such as “how to balance small business books”.
- Identify Your Target Audience: In order to target the right keywords and create compelling content, you’ll need to ensure that you have a good understanding of whom you’re targeting. Who is your ideal client? Are you marketing to small business owners and entrepreneurs within a specific geographic area? Are you focusing on serving the needs of mid-sized businesses? Perhaps you specialise in working with enterprise-level companies? Know your audience, know their challenges, and then base all of your efforts on that understanding.
- Invest in a Chatbot: Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise-level company, you cannot afford to miss out on modern technology. In the world of digital marketing, chatbots have been at the leading edge for some time now. You’ll find these bots used in many different areas, from professional services provider websites to Facebook Messenger. When used correctly, these bots can engage with your audience, answer questions, provide information, and even drive sales and success. Make sure you are using them to your advantage.
- Automation Tools Matter: Successful digital marketing involves significant effort, some of it more than a little mundane. Automation tools allow you to save time and hassle while still moving your business forward. You’ll find a host of such options out there, from free to freemium to paid, and they all bring something different to the table. To choose between automation tools, you’ll need to know:
What tasks you need to automate
The value of those tasks to your bottom line
The budget you have to spend on automation software
- Pay Attention to Lead Segmentation: The leads generated by your social media marketing, your PPC efforts, and even your website are not all the same. Each lead is at a different point along the sales funnel. What that means is you cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to engaging with your leads. You need to segment them by position within the funnel, as well as other factors, including their challenges, needs, business size, services required, and more. The more segmented you get, the better able you will be to market to individual clients and the more you will stand out from competitors who do not segment their audience.
- Educate Your Leads: Along with lead segmentation, you also need to invest in lead education. In many cases, your leads start out not really understanding the solutions to their challenges. You need to educate them about what can be done to address those pain points, how those solutions work and slowly position yourself as the natural answer. By educating your leads, you slowly walk them through the sales funnel, moving them from outside the funnel all the way through conversion.
- Be There Afterward: The professional services industry is incredibly vast. Many service providers here take a once-and-done stance due to the nature of the services they provide. However, you cannot afford to follow that example, even if your clients rarely require your services more than once. Be there for them afterward. Nurture the relationship beyond the close of the sale or the provision of the service. Forge strong, lasting relationships that will help to ensure repeat business, as well as recommendations from your clients.
- Power It All with the Right CRM: A customer relationship management platform provides you with vital tools and capabilities. Not only does it make it simpler to manage relationships at each touchpoint within the sales funnel, but many also offer process automation, tools to unearth insights in your digital marketing efforts, and more. However, not all CRMs are the same, so you’ll need to ensure that you’ve made an informed decision about yours.
Keep reading to discover three additional insights to inform your digital marketing efforts in 2020 and beyond!
- Base All Decisions on Hard Data: Professional service providers cannot afford to make decisions regarding their digital marketing efforts based on sentiment. The industry is simply too competitive for that. All of your decisions, from which social media platforms to utilise to the type of content you create for lead generation purposes, should be based on hard data.
- Focus on Continuous Improvement: There is no such thing as “done” when it comes to digital marketing. Your website will need to be updated regularly. New content will need to be created to drive interest. New leads will need to be nurtured. The key to all of that is being dedicated to continuous improvement. How can you create better content? How can you better address your clients’ pain points through your website or social media presence? Commit to continuously improving your digital marketing efforts and you’ll be rewarded with greater stability, improved reach, and better profitability.
- Don’t Rest on Your Laurels: At some point in your digital marketing efforts, you’ll be tempted to step back. You’ll think that you’ve done enough. You have all the pieces in place, and now they’ll work together to build your brand and engage your audience. Don’t fall victim to that mindset. Measure everything. Find out where you can improve. Identify new ways to reach your audience or to deliver your services. Evolve with the market so that you remain relevant.
Contact digital marketing professionals
Digital marketing is an essential consideration on matter what part of the professional services niche you occupy. However, for all that it is vitally important, digital marketing can be an incredibly challenging thing to wrap your head around. That’s understandable – you’re an expert in your niche, not in social media, PPC, content creation, or website design. If you’re struggling here, we can help. Contact Emarkable today by calling us on 01 808 1301 to schedule a free consultation.