Developing a marketing plan for your software product doesn’t have to be as scary as it may seem. You have a software product that could benefit certain people and businesses, so the next step is to getting them excited about it. As the world of marketing has evolved over the last few years, however, an effective plan for marketing your software product might mean saying goodbye to cold calling and mass emails, and hello to awesome content and interesting social media posts, also known asinbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is no longer an option for most software companies – it is essential. This means being strategic about who you are targeting by creating the right content to attract visitors, convert leads, close customers and delight promotors of your product. But before you jump in to blogging and social media, outlining a software marketing plan including the components below well ensure the best results in the long term.
1. What are your goals?
Arguably the most critical element in creating your marketing strategy is to create an endpoint. What do you want to get out of this campaign? The more specific your focus is, the better. For example, “generating more traffic to the website” would be a pretty broad goal – that’s something that every company strives for. An example of a more specific goal would be “get 200 downloads of our ebook by the end of the month.” Having a narrowed and detailed, SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goal in mind makes it easier to create steps to achieving that goal, and also makes tracking the progress of your goal a bit more simple.
For your product: The goals of your software company don’t necessarily have to be any different than other companies – the only difference will be how you implement your goals, which will be discussed later. In the mean time, think of a few short term goals, such as having 5 product downloads by the end of the week, or 20 new newsletter subscriptions. Outlining and achieving your short term goals will give you a better idea of what your long-term goals could shape up to be and the best way to achieve them.
2. What’s your budget?
Along with outlining your goals comes outlining your limitations, including your budget. Creating a financial plan for your software marketing campaign gives you a set of guidelines to work with, making it easier to outline your possibilities. Once you’ve defined a monthly budget for your campaign, the next step is to decide where to spend it. Luckily for new-age marketers, inbound marketing is a fairly cost-effective way of telling people about your product. While paying for an AdWords campaign could still be beneficial, more emphasis is focused on creating content that people will enjoy. That may include hiring a content specialist or producer, but generally inbound marketing is on the more cost-effective side of marketing.
For your product: Your budget will closely align with the short and long term goals that you set for yourself. For example, if one of your goals is to have 50 contact form submissions by the end of the month, you may want to allocate a budget to create a LinkedIn ad campaign that will show up for users interested in new software.
3. What are the specific details of your target audience?
If you’ve identified a target audience for your campaign, you’re halfway there. Outlining buyer personas and lifecycle stages is just taking target audiences to a new, more detailed level that you shape your content specifically for. Buyer personas outline the specifics of the lifestyle of an ideal buyer, such as their age, location, and hobbies. An example of a buyer persona for a active wear company would be Active Angie, who is a 25 year old New York City yoga instructor. A lifecycle stage is where specifically in the buying process a customer is – they may be just beginning their research about different products, or on the other end of the spectrum about to close on a deal. Specifying what stage your ideal customer is in is essential to shaping your content and marketing around them to entice them to pay special attention to your product.
For your product: The more specific you can get with identifying multiple buyer personas and lifestyle stages for your software product, the better. The most beneficial aspect of identifying specific buyer personas is that you’ll know what type of language to use when describing your product. If someone is toward the end of their buying journey, they’ll most likely be more familiar with more sophisticated jargon that applies specifically to your product opposed to someone just beginning to do their research.
4. What type of content do you want your audience members to engage with?
Chances are, you’ll develop a love/hate relationship with content creation. There will be days when you can’t think of anything to write, and days when you can’t stop your fingers from typing. Either way, having entertaining, interesting content is key to any inbound marketing campaign. Whether it’s generating weekly blog posts, designing infographics or filming YouTube videos, the more creative you get, the better. The essence of inbound marketing is creating content that appeals to your target audience – once you do that, you’ll drive traffic to your site and complete your outlined goals.
For your product: Don’t be shy with your content, and don’t be afraid to talk about how great your product is. However, be careful not to make the blog sound like one giant advertisement. Instead of writing a blog titled “Why (software product name) is Essential to Your Company” try something like “The Benefits of Using New Software Products Every Year for Your Company.” This will make the readers feel like it’s catered directly to them, instead of vice versa.
5. What’s the best possible timeline for this marketing plan?
Creating a timeline for your marketing strategy goes hand-in-hand with outlining your goals. It’s important to create a plan that states what needs to be done by when so that all members of your marketing team can stay on task and up-to-date. One effective use of creating a timeline is having an editorial calendar, which outlines what type of content to post on your social media platforms. An example of a weekly editorial calendar would be “Monday: One post to Facebook and one LinkedIn post. Tuesday: Publish blog post, post link to all social media channels” and so on. Having a timeline in place is beneficial for those who work well with deadlines in order to get their work complete.
For your product: Crafting a timeline takes, well, time. It’s important that you first outline your goals and then create a timeline surrounding those goals. The most effective way to use a timeline is to outline daily projects that will help reach your goal. For example, if your editorial calendar says that you should publish a blog post on Thursday, an effective timeline would be to brainstorm and select a topic on Monday, draft an outline on Tuesday, write it Wednesday, then edit and post it on Thursday. For more tips on creating a helpful editorial calendar, check out this step-by-step guide.
6. How can I track the effects of my marketing strategy?
One of the most important steps in any internet marketing campaign is to track and monitor your results. Using a third party monitoring system such as Google Analytics is best for tracking campaign progress. Tracking pageviews, bounce rates, conversion rates and referrals will give you more insight into which type of content and social media platforms are generating the most amount of traffic and conversion rates. If a landing page has a high bounce rate, for example, that may be a clear indicator that the referral site isn’t directed toward the right target audience. Analyzing your results is the best way to track your progress and complete your goals.
For your product: Before you begin with Google Analytics, it may be best to familiarize yourself with the site. Once you know how to use all of the tools, you’ll know how to control the results of your campaign in order to further progress toward your goals.