Why Marketing Cloud Technology Needs a New Approach
The cloud has transformed the world of IT, but has your marketing kept up? We share four reasons for a new approach to marketing cloud technology.
Published: 22 Oct 2014
5 minutes read
If your business provides cloud services of any description, you may be facing a situation that is equal parts opportunity (84% of UK organisations were using the cloud in 2015, based on research by Cloud Industry Forum) and obstacle (old methods of sales and marketing no longer fit the bill).
The cloud has changed the IT landscape immeasurably - and the full impact of its arrival is yet to be felt. It's reshaping organisations (those that sell cloud services and those that buy cloud services) in every way imaginable, and the marketing function is no exception. If you provide IT services in the cloud and you're yet to align your marketing strategy with the cloud era, your results are suffering.
Here are four reasons for taking a fresh approach to marketing cloud technology.
You have less money to fund outbound campaigns
Before the cloud, elaborate outbound campaigns were probably the staple of your marketing activity. You'd launch new products in a flurry of advertising, direct mailshots, brochures and trade events. A costly exercise, but then each piece of software would probably bring in at least five figures in sales.
If you've shifted to providing services in the cloud, you've moved to a new revenue model. Customers make small payments periodically (typically via a Software-as-a-Service or licensing model) instead of bigger payments upfront.
This could have affected your budget and prompted a change in tactics, or you may have noticed your outbound tactics becoming less effective even before the money dried up. Either way, you still need to generate leads. You need a cost-effective method of marketing cloud services - one that costs less per lead and one that enables a certain degree of automation, making it easier to maintain.
Your prospects have more information and greater choice
The good news: people want to buy cloud technology. The bad news: they don't (necessarily) want to buy it from you.
It's almost become cliché to say that the cloud creates a level playing field, giving small businesses access to the kind of IT resources once reserved for large enterprises. However, it's true that the cloud supports a market for IT services that is more global and more competitive.
Customers are faced with a wider range of services in the cloud and they're increasingly able - and willing - to buy them without direct involvement from the IT department. Existing relationships between your technical staff and your customer's IT team, based on a shared understanding of product and historic installations, cease to matter here.
Today's cloud buyers are digitally savvy and knowledgeable, carrying out their own research online before considering potential vendors. You need to make sure they find you - and then demonstrate why you're the best company to provide the solution. That doesn't mean giving the hard sell, it means starting to influence their decision before you speak to them.
You don't have sales superstars at your disposal
The fact that buying habits are changing is often viewed as a challenge for IT companies, but it can also work in your favour. After all, you want prospective customers to find out about your company, gain knowledge of your products and services online and at least start to consider you as a potential supplier WITHOUT speaking to anyone. Why? Because your new cloud-based business model is unlikely to support a top salesperson who travels the country closing deals. You need a way of marketing and selling that is less reliant on human interaction.
Your prospects care about business outcomes, not technology
I said before that people want to buy the cloud, but that's not entirely true. In fact, few people want to buy the cloud. Most of them are interested in what cloud services can deliver. Cisco's Matt Light told CRN.com previously: "Customers are buying business outcomes and the value their applications bring forward. They don't care if it's cloud, or whatever name we put on it."
Product-heavy marketing may have been effective when IT customers were still interested in pieces of kit that were bigger, faster, stronger. Today, customers want to know what it can do for their business. That means you need to provide content that shows them what it can deliver - using all your expertise, experience and knowledge of their pains.
To learn more about how you should be marketing your cloud service, download our guide - it'll give you an in-depth overview in how to address your customer's changing wants and needs.