Does your New Year's resolution include increasing mindshare for your managed service business? The answer might be as close as your PC. Here, Shapero, founder of ClikCloud, a digital marketing firm, offers suggestions on how to get the biggest bank for your marketing buck.—Jennifer Bosavage, editor
So you are trying to get off on the right foot for the new year. You quit smoking, swore off gin and decided you were going to be more disciplined about marketing your IT Managed Services practice. One way to crank up the lead generation quickly is to turn on your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad accounts. Have you tried Google Adwords? If not, here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of your PPC budget.
Tip #1 - Consider Google Adwords. Why should you care about Google Adwords? For starters, it is fast, easy, targeted and you only pay for results. On top of that, you can track all the results and measure performance of every dollar spent.
Tip 2# - Review your site first. Before setting up your first ad, take a quick inventory of your Web site to make sure you have a targeted offer to use as a response to an ad. I like to create an optimized landing page that has a strong “call to action” to match the offer in your ad copy (e.g., "free PC Tune up"). Make sure there is a quick and easy form for the visitor to fill out that is visible without having to scroll down the page (i.e., “above the fold”).
#Tip 3 - Create a budget. Consider how much you want to spend before you set up your first ad. Google Adwords has the flexibility of allowing you to limit your spending by day and set a maximum amount you want to spend per site visitor. You may need to experiment with your first ad to determine your own success rate. For example, if 100 clicks from your Google ad generates 1 conversion (i.e., landing page form completions), that lead cost you $100 if your Cost-Per-Click (CPC) is $1. Note: Your mileage may vary.
Also, factor in how many leads it takes to get a customer (i.e. your close ratio). I have always relied on spending 10 percent of my revenue target on marketing. Pencil out what is right for your business and budget. Keep in mind you can pause your ads at any time.
Tip #4 - Sign up. If you feel your site is ready and you have your budget in mind, sign up with Google Adwords at google.com/adwords/. Congratulations -- you have taken your first step in getting your digital marketing campaign going. You are minutes away from having your first campaign launched. Google Adwords will walk you through a campaign wizard to help you set up your first campaign.
Also, check in with your webmaster or digital marketing agency for freebies and promotional coupons. Chances are they will have some ad credits they can send your way to fund free clicks for your new account.
Tip #5 -Target ads to your service area. Most MSPs I have met seem to attract clients within a 1 hour travel distance or less. Let’s face it, occasionally you need to go onsite. If you need to travel farther than an hour drive, it will eat into your margins.
Google Adword Campaign has a cool map feature to target your ad within a 20 mile radius of your office. Google has an elaborate algorithm for serving ads that includes the geo location of the IP address where the search query originates.
Tip #6 - Target your ads to supported devices. This one is simple, if your website supports mobile devices (e.g. ipads, iphones) then consider turning on the mobile option(s). If your site doesn’t support these devices, then save your clicks.
Tip #7 - Write a compelling ad. Your challenge is writing a compelling ad with a limited numbers of words. The Google Adwords wizard helps you create a title and ad text that fits in the space. Consider including your location and your offer in your ad. It is also a good idea to include the keyword used in the search query string in the ad text as well (e.g. Denver’s best IT Support, specializing in computer repair. Free PC tune up. Sign up now!) .
Remember that landing page? Google will allow you to display a shorter version of your landing page (i.e. “YourWebsite.com” vs. “www.yourwebsite.com/offer”). Formatting your URL for readability will give your ad a clean and professional look.
Tip #8 - Target the right keywords. Chances are your ideal prospect won’t type “managed services” expecting to find you on Google. It is more likely your potential customers are looking for a new computer, advice on fixing their wireless network, struggling with their backup or antivirus updates etc. Try to come up with between 5 and 20 words per ad group (see tip 9 for “what’s an ad group”).
Tip #9 - Organize your ads within campaigns by ad group. Use ad groups as a way of organizing and managing targeted ads with their related keywords. For an MSP, that may mean an ad group for Remote Backup vs. PC Maintenance vs. Network Management. By grouping your ads and related keywords, you can manage your budgets and performance better. It will also make it easier to maintain the ads in the long run too.
Tip #10 - Track your ads' performance. Google Adwords will provide reports on your ad Click-Through-Rates (CTR), CPC and other ad-centric information. Also, consider using Web site analytics and tracking to measure conversion rates. Google offers Google Analytics which integrates directly with adwords. To find more options, Google "web site statistics" and check out the range of vendors advertising on Google!
It’s fast and easy to get your Adwords account going. It is a great way to boost your Web leads and get your marketing off to a fast start. Keep in mind, like losing weight or quitting smoking, marketing takes discipline and realistic expectations. Stick with it over time, and your managed service practice will grow.