Expert POV: Tech Marketing That WorksFebruary 9, 2017 8:00 am ·
Reaching a demographic of tech consumers and professionals requires a whole other bag of tricks in marketing. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach guaranteed to meet these users, and not all consumers using your product will fit into a specific persona.
To highlight how marketing campaigns can be both successful and unsuccessful with this target audience, we reached out to an industry expert for her advice and guidance after many years spent in this realm of marketing.
Meet Elizabeth “Smalls” Eckels, President of Smalls Analytics. She has spent many years working with the technology professional, and her company works to provide best-in-class analytics for clients like Google (via Analytics Demystified). Check out her best practices in the Q&A below.
EE: Why do marketers have a tough time reaching tech audiences?
Elizabeth: The tech audience — developers especially — inherently do not like to receive marketing. I find the generalization that “technical personalities prefer information on demand” to be very true. They are more eager for “pull” vs. “push” information.
EE: What types of campaigns have you seen fail with this demographic?
Elizabeth: Brand-only campaigns struggle to elicit responses with this demographic; it may keep the brand name top of mind but the technical audience can be more scrutinizing when it comes to engaging with brands that lack a showcase of value. Value can be shown in many ways, so data points around performance tend to go a long way in capturing attention with this audience. Think “10x faster Widgets vs. XYZ” instead of “Best-in-class widgets”.
EE: What types of campaigns have interested and engaged this demographic?
Elizabeth: It is ironic that this demographic can at times be annoyed with email marketing, because I have seen in email and analytics performance data that email marketing does work to reach, engage, and convert them! So it just goes to show that how people feel vs. how they behave does not always line up. Some of the most engaging campaign content I have seen with clients is tips and tricks messaging, or brief how-tos with their product and service.
Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) campaigns can sometimes be enticing with this audience, but it really depends on the topic and perceived respectability or celebrity status of the person being interviewed by the audience. They’re really only temporary boosts for a company, and more of a branding awareness exercise that delivers fun and value to participants on a voluntary basis.
Message board and support sites can work really well as referral traffic. For example, if YourCompany engages in a relevant community on Experts Exchange by providing helpful answers, you can then link back to YourCompany’s website so a user can get more in-depth information if they so desire.
EE: Does the language used play a big role in the success of tech marketing campaigns?
Elizabeth: Huge, and it depends on what you want to accomplish with your campaign. It also depends on the level of expertise within the discipline, though. For example, it’s OK to use less-technical terms when engaging with a more novice audience or those are are “not-technical-but-hold-the-wallet”. Utilizing technical semantics can produce better results for advanced users, and know that it is okay to put campaigns out there that only a technical audience would understand. As mentioned before, tips and tricks campaigns and value-add messaging with absolute metrics in them work well.
EE: What advice do you have for marketers and companies looking to reach tech consumers?
Elizabeth: Be relevant. Only reach out (spend money) if you can show how your product or service will improve their lives — be very pointed with your data or messaging to support it.
Be reasonable. The population of technical people is a subset of the masses, so it may be helpful to adjust your expectations on the volume of people you can reach.
Experiment. Everything I’ve shared is non-specific, so it may not apply to your business. How do you find out? Testing! Experiment with your emails, campaigns, and website using A/B or MVT tools to find the best way to reach tech consumers. Make that a regular practice.
Be purposeful. Define the purpose of each of your channels and campaigns. Be very explicit on what you want to achieve and make sure to measure directly against that! Awareness (i.e. traffic volumes), engagement (i.e. PDF downloads, visits to Pricing pages, etc.), and conversion (purchases, lead form submits, viewed 5 articles/ads, etc.) are the three general measurement buckets I tend to use.
When it comes to online channels, you will likely find Organic and Direct traffic have higher engagement, so maybe you personalize your website for people coming from these channels to further engage or convert them. Paid search campaigns should be separated into two distinct groups of Acquisition (get new people to come to the site) and Conversion (get people to convert). Engagement is also a good bucket if you have the budget. Display is normally used as a booster to other initiatives — it’s rare to see high conversion through this channel. And Social can be used in too many ways to outline here. Again, the key thing is to define a purpose before you engage in a specific channel or campaign and measure against it.