In the last decade or so, managed service providers have become an integral part of the global digital landscape. Companies have started outsourcing various services to external entities as a way of reducing their IT expenses. Most importantly, through outsourcing, companies can fulfill their needs without having to build infrastructure and hire a full-time team.

The MSP model definitely works, and the numbers reflect this fact. In 2023 alone, US providers generated $9.492 billion in revenues, making America the global leader in this sector. But what most companies don’t realize is that these MSPs owe their success not only to work quality but also to marketing.

Managed service providers located in the US utilize some of the most advanced tactics for generating leads. The best MSP marketing strategies often combine search engine optimization, social media marketing, email marketing, paid advertising, and other methods. Through complex, meticulous workflow, their marketing teams can generate enormous numbers of leads while upselling with ease.

After analyzing dozens of the most successful MSP marketing campaigns, we’ve created a guide that will, hopefully, take your digital marketing to the next level. Among others, we’ve outlined the most popular tactics for lead generation, putting emphasis on the 2024 trends.

What Is MSP Marketing?

MSP marketing is a process of generating leads for your managed services brand. It revolves around various tactics and channels that allow companies to build awareness, generate interest, and showcase IT services. Besides closing leads, marketing is also vital for retaining existing customers and boosting overall brand authority.

Unlike some other companies, MSPs advertise almost exclusively online. Due to the nature of the service, providers can cater to international audiences, which often makes traditional marketing tactics obsolete. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for brands to outsource their managed services to other countries as a way of reducing costs.

In-House vs. Outsourced MSP Marketing

Before contacting an MSP marketing agency, we suggest you first consider all the advantages of outsourcing vs. doing things in-house. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, with entrepreneurs’ choices generally being predicated on timeliness.

Benefits of Marketing Outsourcing

  • You can spread your marketing message much faster without having to wait for months and months to train your staff. This is especially crucial for companies that need to generate quick leads to survive
  • Specialized MPS marketers have extensive technical expertise for this vertical, something that your new marketing team might lack
  • Most marketing agencies that have worked in this field have numerous connections that will help during outreach and other promotional tasks
  • Outsourced companies have well-polished workflows for streamlining their day-to-day activities
  • You can avoid enormous initial costs that may include software, office space, and utility bills

Benefits of In-House Marketing

  • MSP retains full control over the process. That way, you won’t have to worry about common outsourcing issues such as lack of transparency or poor communication
  • Having an internal team ensures that external companies can’t access your sensitive data
  • Having well-trained in-house teams also ensures that an unprofessional agency won’t ruin your past marketing efforts

Which One to Choose?

Generally speaking, MSP marketing outsourcing is a fantastic solution for brands that want to start generating leads ASAP. Creating an in-house team is usually tedious and takes a lot of time and mental effort for micromanagement. However, if done correctly, it might actually help you cut costs in the long run.

Another potential solution is hiring an external agency while you slowly create internal workflows. Given that agencies ask from $500 to $10,000 a month for their services, you can easily find a provider that fits your marketing budget. Most agencies work without a contract, ensuring that you don’t get stuck in something you don’t want.

Most Common MSP Marketing Tactics

When choosing a marketing provider, MSPs have different types of agencies at their disposal. Most of them offer all-in-one solutions, while there’s also a handful of brands that specialize in one specific area of marketing. The general companies are much better for MSPs looking for a comprehensive strategy, while specialized providers are better if you’re looking to focus on one specific marketing tactic.

Before you start calling numbers, you should have some inclination of what you need from a marketing agency. That being said, these are the most popular tactics MSPs use to reach their target audience!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is probably the most popular promotional method in the world. It’s a marketing tactic that introduces various improvements to your site so that it ranks higher in Google and other search engines. For example, an MSP SEO expert will improve your website speed, mobile optimization, website structure, and design and tackle any errors that might be plaguing the platform.

During a campaign, the marketing team will analyze various keywords that are potentially relevant to your business. After that, they’ll create blog content meant to rank for those particular phrases. The last step of content marketing is outreach, during which an agency will build links from various reputable sources.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

Pay-per-click is an advertising method where you pay each time a person clicks on your link. The great thing about PPC is that it positions your brand above all other organic results in search engines and social media, ensuring you occupy prime marketing real estate.

During PPC campaigns, an agency bids on relevant MSP keywords that are most likely to result in conversions. Your advertising budget should always be lower than the projected revenues from these campaigns. Once they click on the link, users are taken to your site, where you can streamline them to service pages.

The great thing about PPC is that it is lightning-quick. You can set up a campaign in no time, allowing you to generate new leads within days, if not hours, from posting the first ad.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

SMM pertains to all organic strategies implemented on social media platforms. Whether you’re using Meta, X, Instagram, TikTok, or some other site, the agency will help you garner attention from a wider audience.

It’s worth mentioning that SMM isn’t the best choice for MSPs. Like many other service providers, managed services providers struggle to increase their followership on social media, create viral content, and convert these leads into clients. Nevertheless, SMM campaigns can still serve as an ancillary tool for boosting other marketing efforts.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a process during which a company hires a renowned internet personality to promote its products and services. By tapping into their followership, these influencers can quickly boost your sales and increase brand awareness. Most importantly, this kind of partnership allows you to reap major benefits without having to create your own network.

Influencer marketing can be a great tactic for MSPs if you find the right person. Software gurus are the obvious choice for promoting your services as they already have a large audience of users looking for IT solutions. However, if you were to use this tactic, you need to be certain that the influencer is the right person for the job, as their assistance can be costly.

Affiliate Marketing

After signing an affiliate marketing agreement, your company can start sharing its message through third-party platforms. Similar to influencer marketing, you can partner up with entrepreneurs and various websites. However, instead of getting a one-time payment, your partners will earn a sales commission from each service sold.

MSPs that use affiliate marketing need to create proprietary software that would allow them to track influencers’ activity. Web entrepreneurs can also use this platform to track their sales. In other words, you’ll need some time and money to set everything up.

Email Marketing

During an email marketing campaign, a business scrapes numerous contacts and sends personalized messages in an attempt to establish communication and promote products and services. The great thing about emailing is that it allows you to establish a direct line of communication with a person you don’t know or barely know.

Alas, emailing is also hard to pull off. It requires precision targeting and great, customized messages that will pressure each user’s pain points. People are also suspicious of unsolicited emails, which is why this strategy usually has low conversion rates.

Emailing is rarely a stand-alone activity. Brands commonly use it as a part of a bigger marketing strategy, for example, when building links or promoting SMM content. Nevertheless, many businesses use it for newsletter campaigns and various other tactics that would boost customer retention.

Digital Public Relations (Digital PR)

Like traditional PR, digital PR is an activity that focuses on spreading a good word about your business. A marketing agency is looking to share relevant company news on as many outlets as possible and to create user-generated posts. They’re also pitching numerous influencers in an attempt to organic events and gain links and mentions.

The great thing about digital PR is that it works really well with other tactics. For example, it can be a fantastic vehicle for boosting your SEO and SMM efforts, although it also works well in a vacuum. On top of that, this tactic can also provide lots of quality exposure and direct traffic back to your site.

Content Marketing

Although content marketing is often mentioned as a separate marketing tactic, it’s most commonly used as a part of other campaigns. You’ll need great writers for just about everything you do, whether it’s writing emails, social media posts, or news. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need content writers, as most agencies use their own teams when running SEO and PPC campaigns.

Which One to Choose?

Approximately 93% of all web experiences start with search engines. Furthermore, 49% of marketers claim that SEO provides the best ROI out of all digital tactics. Based on all of that, it pays off to invest in organic search engine tactics. Even if you don’t want to use this strategy as the focal point of your marketing, you’ll still need SEO experts to optimize your site and create content from time to time.

We can also recommend paid advertisement as a viable option. However, keep in mind that this isn’t the best method if you’re looking to exponentially boost brand awareness over a longer period. Digital PR, email marketing, and content marketing all have their merits, while other tactics don’t provide great results for MSPs.

MSP Marketing Process

Although there are some minor deviations as to how a common MSP marketing process looks like, it usually comes down to the following set of steps:

1. Business Plan

The creation of a business plan isn’t specifically a marketing-focused process. Instead, we use this document to outline expected sales, revenues, and expenses, making it a vital tool for finances and budgeting. A business plan addresses the question of viability, predicting a company’s chances of survival in a specific market.

Entrepreneurs use business plans to secure financing from banks and grants from public organizations. However, we can also use it internally to determine whether or not our MSP model is sustainable. Among other things, a business plan shows us how much time a company will need until it starts making a profit.

In terms of marketing, the document establishes how much spare money we’ll have for promotional activities. Entrepreneurs who are serious about their MSP business should set aside a significant portion of their resources for digital marketing strategies like SEO, PPC, and SMM.

2. SWOT Analysis

An MSP marketing strategy starts with a comprehensive SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. During the process, a business tries to assess its market positioning compared to competitors. Here’s what these letters entail:

  • Strengths – Inherent advantages that a company has over its competitors
  • Weaknesses – Inherent flaws that a company has over its competitors
  • Opportunities – External market gaps that a company can exploit
  • Threats – External factors that can hinder your company’s growth

SWOT analysis is crucial during the early stages of business planning as it allows you to assess your procedures and goodwill against competitors. We commonly introduce it as a part of a business plan, but due to its importance, it was vital to mention it in a separate section.

3. Digital Competetive Research

Besides the traditional marketing research, where companies assess finances and positioning of other businesses, there’s another, a bit different type of analysis worth mentioning. Before opting for a specific tactic, whether it’s advertising, social media marketing, or search engine optimization, companies need to perform another type of research.

They need to perform digital competitive research.

So, what does this process entail? It varies from tactic to tactic that you’re using. Basically, you’re using all sorts of tools to check the biggest competitors in specific platforms. For example, here’s how the process would look like if you’re focusing on Google and search engine optimization:

  • The process usually starts by creating a list of the most relevant keywords for your vertical
  • Then, you will list the top-ranking brands for these phrases, looking for brands that are frequently popping up at the top of SERPs
  • Now, you’ll check specific SEO metrics such as domain authority, page authority, number of links, number of blog posts, and authority of best links
  • During this step, you’re trying to assess whether you can even compete against these businesses and, if so, whether you can penetrate the top 10 results for lucrative keywords

Besides assessing the viability of specific marketing tactics, you’re also trying to figure out what other players are doing right and if you can copy their marketing strategy. The good news is that the MSP niche isn’t as competitive as some older, better-established verticals, so you’ll likely be able to compete with other brands no matter the methodology you choose.

4. Marketing Implementation

After all this preparation, you’re ready to create a marketing strategy and choose a tactic (or tactics) that are best suited for achieving your goals. A good MSP marketing plan should be viable, prompt, and in accordance with your budget.

Although there are some differences depending on the tactic you’ve chosen (email marketing, influencer marketing, SEO, ads, etc.), a good strategy usually entails the following:

  • Creating a marketing team
  • Subscribing to software
  • Analyzing your target audience
  • Determining vital KPIs
  • Choosing optimal channels
  • Creating a content marketing plan
  • Creating or generating posts
  • Promoting content with various outlets
  • Repurposing content for other channels
  • Tweaking your strategy

A managed services provider needs to be very flexible when executing any strategy. Marketing is like a living, breathing organism always in motion. As algorithms and trends change, so you’ll have to change with them. This is especially true for MPS providers, given the speed at which technology progresses.

5. Sales Cohesion

Even the best marketing efforts fall flat if you can’t coordinate with your sales team. The main purpose of all these promotional activities is to build awareness and interest in your IT services, but that doesn’t necessarily mean marketers are the ones who should be closing. Instead, all leads should be forwarded to sales representatives so they can sign the contract.

The best way to do so is to implement joint channels of communication that would allow two teams to coordinate with each other. You can use just about any free tool out there, including Slack, Zoom, Skype, or WhatsApp. Additionally, we suggest you introduce project management tools like Trello that would help track where the client is placed in the funnel.

Speaking of funnels, they’re vital for slowly moving a prospect down the pipeline. Sales and marketing teams will slowly qualify prospects from their first interaction with a brand. In most cases, they will get introduced to an MSP business through different types of content, after which they will be pitched through direct messages.

Tips and Tricks for Boosting Your Marketing

Finally, we want to share a few actionable tips that you can share when setting up and running a marketing campaign. As these tricks are universal, you can implement them for just about any tactic and campaign!

  • Always put emphasis on your website. No matter which approach you use, the MSP website will be your main calling card and the channel through which you’ll convert prospects
  • Whichever strategy you choose, you’ll have to focus on your branding. Vanity metrics, followers, and links come and go, but your name persists throughout all challenges
  • Hire a financial and marketing consultant before starting a new project. Even if they’re expensive, they can provide a few valuable tips that will save you lots of money down the line
  • Set aside a big marketing budget – You’ll need it
  • The omnichannel approach is the best way to run your campaigns. Most of these tactics go well hand-in-hand, so by using several platforms at once, you’re actually saving money. Furthermore, an omnichannel strategy will allow you to repurpose content to gain some extra exposure
  • Learn about marketing tools. Nowadays, the majority of promotional activities are automated, so you’ll lose a competitive edge without proper software
  • Use online marketplaces such as Upwork to find the best, cheapest talent for your marketing staff. Invest extra time in vetting these professionals, as they’ll become the backbone of your team
  • Create joint activities for your marketing and sales teams. Put them in the same office and create cohesion between them. Many projects fail because these two teams don’t work well together, so that’s something you’ll need to address
Share This