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The Comprehensive Guide to MSP Marketing for 2022

The Managed Service Provider (MSP) industry is thriving. With companies worldwide dependent on increasingly complex IT infrastructure and focusing on digital transformations, enhancing and streamlining operations, as well as complying with industry regulations, MSPs are more crucial than ever to support IT departments.

According to Markets and Markets, in the first half of 2021, the global MSP industry was worth $242.9 billion, and it is expected to reach $354.8 billion by 2026.

Although the demand for outsourced IT services and MSP partners is at its highest worldwide, there is fierce competition in the industry. Some MSPs are stars in their areas of expertise, while others struggle with building a strong and reliable portfolio of customers, even if their operations can help thousands and thousands of corporations and institutions to keep up with the 21st-century business landscape.

One of the biggest pain points for global MSPs is marketing, as many confirm that they have yet to learn how to make the most of it to generate sales leads and attract new customers.

If you want to create a marketing strategy to promote your business, this MSP marketing guide has everything you need to get started. We will walk through key marketing terminology, as well as the effective tools and tactics on which you can capitalize to grow your market share. Even more, this information will help you assess different providers, showcasing what to ask from MSP marketing agencies to choose the best for you.

What is MSP Marketing?

Marketing is important for an MSP  to create interest for its services among current and new customers. To do this, the MSP needs to create and deploy strategies that blend traditional and digital marketing techniques and tools.

The main goal of marketing is to generate buzz among potential and existing customers and to promote products or services by communicating their main benefits and differentiators. Marketing helps MSPs win more business by positioning themselves uniquely and distinguishably in the market.

Some MSP professionals believe that marketing efforts and sales operations are interchangeable, but this isn’t true. They are companion efforts, each with a distinct value in driving new business. Marketing campaigns aim to generate interest in managed IT services in the form of leads that are later passed on to the sales department to convert those leads into new customers.

While marketing may not deliver sales on its own, it helps MSPs effectively engage and educate audiences, shortening the sales cycle and ensuring that sales representatives approach companies that have the potential of becoming customers.

Why do you need an MSP Marketing strategy?

You need an MSP Marketing strategy because it’s the most effective way to show what you do and why you are different; this is your chance to showcase your company’s strengths and engage with potential customers. By outlining what you want to achieve with marketing, who your target customer is, and what channels you will use to reach them, you can focus your efforts on areas that will have the most impact.

This strategy should include benchmarks and goals to allow you to track your progress, so you can see what’s working and what’s not. This way, you can make changes to your strategy as needed and ensure that you are always moving in the right direction.

Moreover, a well-established MSP marketing strategy should be thoughtful and not simply cast a wide net.  This reinforces company goals, as it enables you to expand your business in a functional, predictable manner and allows you to forecast how your company will evolve in the coming years while understanding the resources you need in the medium and long-term for ROI.

Important MSP Marketing terms you should know

If you have already begun researching or approached a marketing agency to help you with your marketing campaigns, you may have run into some unfamiliar terms. In the following, we will go through the most important of them, the ones that are crucial for effective MSP marketing.

Marketing Qualified Leads

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead that has been identified by the marketing team or personas having a high potential of becoming a customer. The criteria for an MQL vary from company to company, but they are generally based on factors such as budget, authority, need, and timeline.

Sales Qualified Leads

A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a lead that has been identified by the sales department as having a high potential of becoming a customer. The criteria for an SQL are generally based on the same factors as an MQL, but they are usually more stringent, as the sales department is more focused on closing the deal.

Demand Generation

Demand generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects into leads or people who have shown an interest in your services.

This is usually done through MSP marketing activities such as email, webinars, lunch and learns, content marketing, SEO, or social media.

Once you have generated a list of leads, you need to nurture them and help them move further down the sales funnel.

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with leads through continuous communication.

The aim is to build trust and credibility so that when the time is right, they will choose to do business with you.

This is often through email marketing, webinars, and events, as a good mix of cost-effective ways to stay in touch with a large number of people.

Landing Page

A landing page is a stand-alone web page that is designed to drive a specific conversion action. This could be signing up for a newsletter, downloading a white paper, or making a purchase.

Landing pages are an important part of MSP marketing as they are a great way to collect data from prospects and customers. They are also an effective way to track results, as you can see how many people took the desired action.

CTA

A call-to-action, often known as a CTA, is a marketing message that aims to generate a prompt response from a prospective customer. Some common examples used in marketing are “learn more,” “find out now,” “download now,” or “call now”.

CTAs are important MSP marketing phrases because they drive actions from prospective customers, and you can track how effective each CTA is at creating a conversation with prospects.

Lead tracking

Lead tracking is the process of monitoring and recording the journey that a lead takes from first becoming aware of your company to eventually becoming a customer.

This is important for MSPs as it allows you to see which marketing activities are working and which ones are not. It also helps you to understand what needs to be improved so that you can generate more leads that eventually turn into customers.

What makes a great MSP marketing strategy?

A great MSP marketing strategy should have a few key elements:

  • A focus on your target audience: who are you trying to reach with your marketing?
  • Consideration of your optimal target verticals and the type of companies you are best suited to supporting, if known.
  • A clear message: what do you want to say to your target audience?
  • A defined budget: how much are you willing to spend on your marketing?
  • A plan for how you will execute your marketing: what tactics will you use to reach your target audience?
  • A way to measure success: how will you know if your marketing is successful?

No matter whether your company is in charge of its own marketing services or working with an MSP marketing company, there are several fundamental steps that need to be performed.

It is crucial to start with understanding your customer base so you can understand your target audience, their needs, and their approach. Then, in the process of creating a marketing plan that delivers, you need to ask the right questions: what are the industries that need your services more, what is the ideal company size, who is the decision-maker, and what are their pain points, and which of your solutions solves their problems. It is only by analyzing your target audience well that you may create a strong lead generation strategy for your IT business, employing the best digital marketing tools.

By including these elements in your MSP marketing strategy, you will be well on your way to successful marketing for your business.

What marketing tactics are available to MSPs?

There are a number of marketing tactics available to MSPs, and the best approach will vary depending on your target audience, your budget, and your goals.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a combination of marketing strategies used to attract potential customers to your company and website through various channels. The idea is that, by providing valuable content, you will encourage prospects to take an interest in your business.

This is usually done through lead generation and lead nurturing, with the ultimate goal of converting prospects into customers.  It is a long-term strategy that requires time and dedication, but it is worth it as it helps you build trust and credibility with your audience.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is the opposite of inbound marketing. Rather than waiting for customers to come to you, you proactively seek them out. This type of marketing involves activities such as cold-calling, emailing lists of prospects, or attending trade shows.

Outbound marketing is often used in conjunction with inbound marketing, as it can be a good way to reach out to a larger audience.

PPC

Pay-per-click, or PPC, is one of the online marketing tactics that enables managed service providers to buy clicks on ads that they place on platforms hosted by publishers like Google.

PPC is an excellent way to target leads in the middle of the sales funnel, particularly those who are currently in the considering stage of buying the product or service. PPC is a highly cost-effective technique to create a solid first impression. It is estimated that for every $1 spent on PPC, the average business earns roughly $2.

However, PPC can be a complex and time-consuming marketing tactic to manage, which is why many MSPs choose to work with an agency that specializes in this type of marketing.

SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing your website and content to rank higher in search engine results pages, or SERPs.

This is important because prospects who are actively in a buying process will often turn to search engines to learn more about their available options before committing to a decision. Engaging prospects during this stage of their journey has a high chance of conversion compared to other sources of traffic for your website.

SEO is a long-term marketing strategy, but it is one that can have a significant impact on your business.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a type of inbound marketing that focuses on creating and sharing valuable content with your target audience.

Content marketing can have different goals, such as generating leads, boosting brand awareness, or increasing website traffic, and can take many different forms, such as blog posts, ebooks, infographics, or webinars.

The MSP target audience is typically well-educated and technical. By sharing helpful and informative content, you can build trust and credibility with your audience, which is essential for conversion. This is why it’s important to focus on providing quality content that educates them about your company and its services.

Content marketing is a versatile marketing tactic that can be used in various stages of the sales funnel, making it an effective way to reach your target audience. However, it is important to note that content marketing is not a one-time effort, but rather an ongoing strategy that should be incorporated into your overall marketing plan.

Email Marketing

Email marketing involves building a list of email subscribers and dispatching marketing-led emails on a regular basis in order to engage, educate, or excite the audience.

Email marketing helps providers constantly inform audiences about new products and services, updates, or offers. Sharing corporate news, product information, and educational materials is a cost-effective and efficient interaction method.

If you want to make this a successful element of your marketing process, you need to focus on several things: creating a high-quality subscriber list that complies with current legislation, having a content plan in place so you know what to communicate and when, and assessing results. Knowing who opened your emails and took action, you may understand who is a good fit to become a lead and go further in the MSP sales process.

To perfect your MSP email marketing, you may use marketing automation platforms that save you time and resources, while also providing access to valuable analytics.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is the process of using social media platforms to connect with your audience and promote your brand, products, or services.

With over 3 billion active social media users worldwide, it’s no surprise that social media has become a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. The most popular social media platforms for MSPs are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook – all of which offer a variety of features and marketing opportunities. MSPs can use social media to humanize their brands, build relationships with prospects and customers, and generate leads.

Online reviews

Online reviews are one of the most important trust signals for MSPs. They provide social proof that your business is credible and trustworthy, which can encourage prospects to do business with you.

There are many different ways to generate online reviews, such as asking your customers to leave a review on your Google My Business listing, setting up a review widget on your website, or sending follow-up emails after a project is completed.

To encourage customers to leave reviews, you can offer a discount or coupon code, enter them into a contest, or simply send a thank-you note.

Generating positive online reviews should be a key part of your MSP marketing strategy.

Best practices for finding the best MSP marketing agency for your business

As an MSP, you know that different customers have different needs and that not all your competitors may respond to them equally. The same goes for MSP marketing companies. While there are many excellent options out there, you have to ensure that the partner you choose understands your business and that it has the resources and expertise to help you achieve your goals. Here are some best practices you should have in mind when choosing your marketing agency.

Look for industry expertise

While digital marketing tactics and tools are similar, from one project to the other, different types of audiences will respond differently to each and require personalized approaches. When your agency has experience in your industry, they already know the ropes and may, thus, bring valuable insights to the table.

This ensures you benefit from a team of professionals that know what works to deliver a carefully crafted marketing plan that delivers.

Industry events may be a good place to find a marketing company with experience in the channel.

Ask for proven results and case studies

A chemistry meeting with your potential agency is always useful, but, even if the first impression is great, we recommend you go one step further and ask for case studies of the campaigns they have already deployed and their results. Although some information may be confidential, a good, reliable agency will be able to provide a credential with key projects to showcase their success.

Don’t fall for unreasonable expectations

It is always great to shoot for the stars and aim to become the industry leader in terms of market share, but that never happens overnight. If you feel that your potential marketing partner is promising things that are too good to be true, that might be a red flag. No company may ever guarantee success and, definitely, not instantly, so go with the marketing services provider that sets reasonable expectations that are consistently assessed. Your marketing partner should sell you KPIs, not dreams.

Choose a partner for your marketing efforts, not a supplier

There is no hit-and-run approach to marketing, so it’s important to work with an agency that shows an interest in your business and will be there for you in the medium and long term. A true partner will focus on strategies that support your long-term goals instead of promising quick, easy wins. They will want to know your operations and meet key people so that they generate a customized approach that may be implemented in layers. This is how they will foster brand growth, helping you gain awareness, build reputation, transform customers into ambassadors and generate recommendations and repeat purchases.

Wrap Up

To sum up, marketing can have an enormous impact on the growth of MSPs. It allows your business to reach new markets and conquer them by creating a long-term relationship with your target audience.

However, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid – and you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. An option is to work together with an experienced MSP marketing agency or your vendor partners, such as Axcient,  that offer co-marketing support.

Alternatively, you can download our comprehensive MSP Marketing and Sales Guide to get practical how-to help in launching your marketing programs.

FAQs about MSP marketing

Who is MSP Marketing for?

All MSP providers need to market themselves. This is because although the services are essential for businesses, potential customers won’t knock at your door by chance, asking you to help them with their IT operations. You need to showcase your differentiators and the main benefits of using your services, so your MSP is competitive in your market and can generate leads and drive new business.

How much should an MSP spend on marketing?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The amount you should spend on marketing depends on many factors, such as your company size, the markets you are targeting, and your marketing goals.

However, marketing needs to be an essential pillar of your business expansion, so you need to invest if you want to see results.

Important MSP Marketing terms you should know

If you have already begun researching or approached a marketing agency to help you with your marketing campaigns, you may have run into some unfamiliar terms. In the following, we will go through the most important of them, the ones that are crucial for effective MSP marketing.

Marketing Qualified Leads

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead that has been identified by the marketing team or personas having a high potential of becoming a customer. The criteria for an MQL vary from company to company, but they are generally based on factors such as budget, authority, need, and timeline.

Sales Qualified Leads

A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a lead that has been identified by the sales department as having a high potential of becoming a customer. The criteria for an SQL are generally based on the same factors as an MQL, but they are usually more stringent, as the sales department is more focused on closing the deal.

Demand Generation

Demand generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects into leads or people who have shown an interest in your services.

This is usually done through MSP marketing activities such as email, webinars, lunch and learns, content marketing, SEO, or social media.

Once you have generated a list of leads, you need to nurture them and help them move further down the sales funnel.

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with leads through continuous communication.

The aim is to build trust and credibility so that when the time is right, they will choose to do business with you.

This is often through email marketing, webinars, and events, as a good mix of cost-effective ways to stay in touch with a large number of people.

Landing Page

A landing page is a stand-alone web page that is designed to drive a specific conversion action. This could be signing up for a newsletter, downloading a white paper, or making a purchase.

Landing pages are an important part of MSP marketing as they are a great way to collect data from prospects and customers. They are also an effective way to track results, as you can see how many people took the desired action.

CTA

A call-to-action, often known as a CTA, is a marketing message that aims to generate a prompt response from a prospective customer. Some common examples used in marketing are “learn more,” “find out now,” “download now,” or “call now”.

CTAs are important MSP marketing phrases because they drive actions from prospective customers, and you can track how effective each CTA is at creating a conversation with prospects.

Lead tracking

Lead tracking is the process of monitoring and recording the journey that a lead takes from first becoming aware of your company to eventually becoming a customer.

This is important for MSPs as it allows you to see which marketing activities are working and which ones are not. It also helps you to understand what needs to be improved so that you can generate more leads that eventually turn into customers.

Carissa Kohn Johnson Axcient

About the Author: Carissa Johnson // Product Marketing Manager, Axcient

Carissa Kohn-Johnson has a background in behavioral and physical healthcare technology and information technology and currently works as the Product Marketing Manager for Axcient. She has a lot of MSP Channel experience from planning and attending hundreds of conferences and tradeshows, and found her passion in technology, and working with MSPs in particular. She serves on the Information Services Advisory Board for her community and feels most at home with other technology-forward people. Connect with her on LinkedIn – perhaps you can contribute to the Axcient blog?

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