Don’t let the title fool you. This article will not provide you with a quick-fix solution that will generate leads for your MSP overnight. Instead, you will better understand how niche marketing for MSPs works, and how you can make it profitable for your company and clients.
This guide was assembled based on a conversation we had with Devin Rose of eBridge, an expert marketing company that has been operating for 20 years. They specialize in working with MSPs.
To generate profitable leads and conversions, MSPs should employ the following impactful marketing strategies listed below:
- Understand the history of MSP marketing, as well as its current landscape
- Overcome challenges in marketing as an MSP
- Use a mix of marketing tactics
- Decide between broad vs. niche content
- Participate in online communities
- Learn strategies to stand out from your competition
- Differentiate between corporate vs. people-centric branding
- Garner word of mouth traffic or Google SEO traffic
- Create online content for Youtube and/or your website
- Establish geographic targeting
- Track the most important KPIs
- Publish paid ads for MSPs
- Decide if and when to hire a marketing agency
The History of MSP marketing and what works today
When we look back on the late 1990s, we can see the first MSPs that emerged and developed remote-powered management. Back then, the main marketing tactic was paid advertising, specifically banner ads. A decade later, affiliate marketing has emerged as a major staple.
Devin points out that there have been drastic changes since the nineties. Due to privacy restrictions and legal changes around affiliate marketing, there has been a decline in the effectiveness of digital advertising.
He also explains that the focus has shifted to SEO and content marketing. However, tracking conversions is becoming increasingly hard as a result of cookies being blocked by default. This is an obstacle for MSPs looking to perform an in-depth analysis of what marketing strategies actually work.
Overcoming challenges in marketing as an MSP
We’ve just laid out that the biggest challenges today for MSP marketing are digital advertising and the ineffectiveness of tracking results. This is why MSPs must ask themselves the following questions if they want to succeed:
- Should your MSP be generic or more niche in your marketing strategies? Depending on your demographic, there’s truly value in ‘generic!’
- Should your MSP participate in online communities, and what is the etiquette for engaging in marketing on social platforms?
- Is using paid ads a good strategy for your MSP?
- How can an MSP’s brand be unique and stand out from its competition?
- How can your MSP use a mix of marketing strategies to produce the best results?
Managed service providers must find a sweet spot between making their marketing tactics appeal to their potential clients, as well as appeal to Google’s algorithm. The latter is done via search engine optimization (SEO)–a content technique that will bring major results organically by performing well in Google search.
MSP content strategies for a specific industry vs. a general audience
Whatever marketing strategy your MSP uses, it’s important that your content wins over your audience and Google. As Devin points out, many MSPs are novices at social media and don’t know how to get eyeballs on their website. Making quality content takes a lot of time, particularly if you do it in-house. If you outsource to an agency like eBridge, that requires money.
To be efficient, it’s a good practice to post your content on social media, send a newsletter, and engage with your audience’s questions on whatever platforms you use.
What type of content brings the most marketing success for MSPs?
MSPs marketing to a specific niche or industry tend to have the best results, as there is less competition. If you are marketing to dental offices, for example, they will identify more with your content than others. They’ll feel like you’re speaking to them directly when you refer to their clients as “patients” rather than “customers.”
But you should still have general information in your content as well. A good practice for MSPs is to have a “Services” section on your website. There, you can have one page for each main service you provide. You can also create industry-specific pages and interlink the general pages with them. This will make it easier to find information on your website for potential customers.
Another benefit of making niche content is that it builds credibility. It creates more trust with your audience and raises your authority level in your field.
MSP marketing and how to engage online communities
“There is an intuitive way people feel out which company they want to work with, [and that’s by matching with a company] both culturally and operationally. The more you can resonate with your target audience, the better” says Eric Muth, founder of our company Support Adventure.
And he makes a lot of sense. Resonating with your target audience is the best way to market your company. When it comes to agencies and MSPs, there is a parallel between the two as they are both in the service industry. This means that they need to market their offerings to the right audience in the right manner. Social platforms and online communities are very strong spaces for that.
A lot of MSPs target their audience geographically, but this kind of specification can be lacking in an online presence. However, if you are in a specific niche, it is good to engage online before advertising.
For eBridge, Reddit was a revelation. There, they could connect with their target audience in an organic way.
So why is Reddit so fruitful for MSPs?
One reason is that there are a lot of decision makers on the platform, and they’re just hiding in plain sight behind obscure usernames.
How can MSPs further market themselves in online communities?
One goal of marketing is to produce leads, and there are a lot of potential leads on Reddit. That being said, it is not a good practice to aggressively advertise your services right off the bat. This can further separate you from your audience and damage any trust you’ve established. Instead, adhering to the following best practices will bring you more success:
- Respond to a discussion only when you can add authentic value.
- Don’t be shy to write direct messages to users.
- Feel out when you should post your content and connect with users, and on the contrary, when it is good to give them some breathing space.
- After that, use advertising to increase brand awareness.
The bottom line is that you must make sure that you’re participating in relevant subReddits and creating organic value before investing in advertising. Otherwise, your efforts will not be effective.
Paid ads on social media
The most important key for MSPs marketing with paid ads is to know your audience. That means understanding how to reach them and learning what they are searching for on Google. Reddit is a good place to get to know your customer.
The other awesome thing about Reddit ads is that you can pay for an ad and know that it will be shown to a large audience, much larger than organic content would allow. The downside is that many people are adverse to marketing, and they will not click on your ad. Even if it is something that interests them, once they find out it is a paid ad, they will not interact with it. This results in low conversions.
As our marketing manager Tal says, “Reddit is an amazing platform. [While] paid ads are not quite as good [at conversions, they are] still something to consider for most MSPs.”
At Support Adventure, we have had much more success with organic marketing by relying on SEO. We found strong niches in producing content about traveling and remote work. This has allowed us to use target search terms from our ideal audience and make quality content that reaches thousands of people.
Referrals, social media and reviews can also help you get discovered. But content, whether in video or article form, is what introduces an audience to you in a more in-depth way.
SEO content and word of mouth for MSP marketing
So far, we’ve covered some of the most successful marketing tactics for MSPs. But here are some more website-specific tips:
- Have a good website to present your company
- Focus on quality articles or blog posts with strong SEO
- Word of mouth is one of the biggest assets for website form sign-ups
Word of mouth is the main lead source for many MSPs, however, it doesn’t just happen by itself. It is reputation-based. That means that you have to build up to enough popularity and have the track record to justify it. People are going to Google your MSP and investigate it. They will also look at reviews, and scan your website’s ‘About’ page to see if your team is credible….And for that client journey to be a successful one, you have to bring the whole marketing mix together in order to generate reliable leads.
MSPs usually do more in-person marketing than other IT companies, so it’s important that your sales collateral is aligned with your messaging on your website, meaning you must have sufficient links and testimonials.
We at Support Adventure particularly strive at video marketing. When clients are deciding whether or not to work with us, they can see our company culture very well through our videos. That goes for potential employees as well since we are a contracting company. So you have to ask yourself, what is your MSP’s unique selling point and how can you brand your company well?
MSP Branding – How to stand out from the competition
Many MSP websites look the same, with similar stock images and text. So how can you be different?
One way is to avoid being too corporate in your vibe. What eBrigde recommends is to promote your MSP team instead. Show videos, pictures, unique portraits, personal items and quirks of your team.
This is especially crucial for the ‘About’ page. Metrics show that the second most visited page on any website is this page.
Most MSPs make the same marketing claims and offer the same services, so you must differentiate yourself. MSP marketing and digital advertising is important to spread your message and differentiate.
SEO optimization for MSPs: optimize text, pictures and videos
The goal of SEO for MSPs is to become an authority on your subject on Google.
Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world after Google, which owns Youtube. So knowing how to optimize your videos or website content to show up in search results is a game-changer.
For videos and articles, you should use titles that are SEO friendly–meaning you should use the exact phrases or questions that your target customers type into the search bar.
On our website, we even have a “Best Practices Guide” with an easy-to-skim layout using SEO friendly headers. We list all of our videos and blogs, and categorize them by specific topics that are important for MSPs.
If you’re worried about being slow to get the hang of search engine optimization, don’t freak out if you don’t see results in the first couple of months. It takes time for everyone. To help you grow, there are some key analytics that you can track.
MSP marketing analytics–the most important parameters
We mentioned that it has become increasingly difficult to track marketing. However, you can still use analytics to help with your SEO.
We stick to the basics because advanced tracking is difficult, expensive and not that accurate.
It is becoming increasingly harder to track analytics too, but the low-hanging fruit is contact forms submissions and phone calls from your website. It is important to set conversion tracking with your Google analytics so that you can figure out where your leads are coming from. For phone calls in particular, there are third party tools that can track conversions back to a specific source.
Other important metrics are the bucket of engagement metrics. These are the basics, such as time spent on a site, bounce rate and pages viewed per session. For these metrics, what is considered ‘good’ varies. But you’ll want to be within two minutes for a visitor’s time spent on your site, 70% or less for bounce rate and around two pages per session.
If your home page is very descriptive, viewers don’t need to visit other pages.
To find good keywords, you should search Google for phrases that are really important for your target clients. Take stock of what appears on the first page, as those are your competitors and they are doing something right to occupy those top spots. Analyze how long their content is, and what headlines and subheadlines they have. Don’t copy them exactly, but search for keywords to include in your own content based on those headers.
Make sure to avoid keyword cannibalization. That’s when you have repeat keywords and headers on multiple pages. Instead, make sure your target keywords are on your landing page and sprinkle any geographic-specific phrases across the website.
Should MSPs engage in remarketing?
Is remarketing for MSPs useful? Is it sensible to apply? Well, yes, as long as it’s done tactfully. You should limit the frequency of how often somebody is going to see your ad to no more than 20 times. You have to be respectful.
Youtube is great for remarketing because people tend not to skip ads. So it’s a good way to get re-engagement that is more meaningful than a banner ad.
eBridge likes remarketing because you can re-target people who watch 70% of your videos and get your ads in front of specific groups.
Just make sure you avoid the perception that you are a spammer with flashy, loud or annoying ads.
Choosing an MSP marketing company to work with
There are a few important factors to consider when choosing a company to work with. From your perspective, you wouldn’t want to work with someone who has an “everything goes” attitude. You want to work with a company that specializes in your niche.
Some marketing agencies offer templated services, while others have a tailored approach. Some services are more costly, and others include ads. So it all comes down to the cost, services and benefits of hiring a marketing agency.
If you need help with staffing a formidable helpdesk for your MSP, check out our MSP services page for more information about how we specialize in this. And for more marketing guidance, check out eBridge!