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Digital marketing for professional services: how to thrive in 2021

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Impression considers what a successful digital marketing strategy entails

Digital marketing is now a focus for many B2B professional services firms. Traditional approaches to sales and marketing once dominated in areas like law, corporate training and financial services. However, since the pandemic hit, the imperative to adapt has seen tech and digital rise in importance on everyone’s agendas: recent Salesforce research found that 87% of professional services leaders sped up digital transformation during 2020.

This blog is our response to the need for clear information on the best approaches to online marketing for professional services firms.

For a deeper dive into each of these sections, take a look at our complete guide to digital marketing for professional services. This guide explores each of the below sections in more detail, helping you to orient your organization’s digital strategy around the aspects that matter most in your sector.

SEO

As a professional services firm, SEO should form the foundation of your overall online marketing. Your organization’s website is at the core of this digital marketing channel – as part of your SEO activity, you’ll work to ensure the company has a technically sound site with optimized service pages that convey its offering in a compelling way. This digital asset is a natural precursor to your wider integrated marketing efforts, without which any paid online advertising or digital PR would be fruitless.

Wherever your business sits in the professional services sector, broader organizational goals such as raising brand awareness and generating qualified leads can all be achieved through your SEO activity. Attaining page one rankings across core service-related and informational keywords gets your brand in front of large volumes of users. What’s more, prospects who arrive on your site via organic search are typically high intent, having actively searched for your service offering to reach that stage.

The key is to focus your efforts on the kinds of improvements that deliver results for B2B professional services companies in particular. We recommend focusing on the following areas:

  • EAT (expertise, authority and trustworthiness) and the YMYL sector

  • Creating compelling service page copywriting

  • Nurturing leads through an informational content strategy

  • Improving lead quality by creating content to target your focus keywords

Digital PR

Digital PR is a highly effective tool for link acquisition and brand awareness in any industry, but can be especially impactful for businesses offering professional services.

If we think about EAT, it’s easy to see the value of getting featured in and acquiring links from highly relevant, authoritative publications to build up your own website authority. Not only is digital PR another means of getting your brand in front of a high-intent target audience, but receiving links from other websites is also effectively like receiving votes, each of which improves your chances of ranking in organic search. However, not all votes are equal.

Links to your site from relevant, high-authority websites are a signal to Google that your website is a trusted, high-quality source of information. Conversely, links from low-quality, spammy websites have the opposite effect, so it’s important to check regularly that your website is only associated with trustworthy websites.

Paid media

Paid media is often a highly effective channel for professional services firms, particularly for offerings with a longer decision-making period. Paid media complements SEO extremely well – although your organic presence may take more time to grow, running paid campaigns is a quick way to secure visibility for your business-critical keywords and to start generating the leads you need.

Increasing lead quantity

Many professional services firms have ambitious growth targets and need to generate a high amount of quality leads to facilitate this. There are several techniques you can employ to maximize the leads from your paid traffic:

  • Optimizing your landing pages continuously

  • Utilizing smart bidding strategies and keyword expansion

  • Leveraging lead form extensions in your paid campaigns

  • Bidding on your competitors’ branded keywords (proceed with caution)

  • Running targeted LinkedIn ads

Maintaining lead quality

Lead quality issues can arise for professional services firms when they start to bid on broader terms as part of their PPC strategy. Widening the net may result in more traffic and leads, but there is the potential to experience an increase in irrelevant or unqualified leads when trying to expand activity. When looking to scale up activity to increase lead quantity, you should be aware that your average lead quality may change in the short term.

To combat this, you will need to adjust your targeting settings to refine quality over time. Review your audience data, along with converting keywords and placements, to see where you should be prioritizing and deprioritizing your budget. You should also make use of negative keywords to filter out poor quality or irrelevant queries, as well as placement exclusions to prevent display ads from showing in placements that are high spending and non-converting.

Furthermore, reporting and optimizing leads based on their final value, rather than just a lead itself, provides a good way to narrow down on only leads which drive revenue for your business.

Remarketing

Your customers are likely to have a longer decision-making process, and remarketing is a great way to maintain top-of-mind brand awareness throughout the consideration period. During this time your prospective customers are likely comparing your offering to competitors, so it’s important to keep reminding them of your USPs and why they should choose you over other competing firms. By employing remarketing in your paid activity, you will be able to recapture leads that would otherwise have been lost.

Conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is used to increase the proportion of users visiting your site that take the conversion action you want them to complete. CRO has evolved dramatically in recent years and it is no longer a ‘nice to have’ as part of your digital marketing activity – it is essential for sustained growth within cost and ROI targets.

Following a CRO strategy on your website will benefit lead generation across all online channels. Some of the aspects that should be considered during the CRO process are:

  • How easy is it for users to complete the desired action?

  • Is your service offering clear and easy to understand?

  • How competitive are you regarding features such as free trials or live demos?

  • How compelling is your landing page?

  • Do the call to actions stand out from their surroundings?

  • Are you pre-qualifying users?

Integrated strategy for multi-channel success

From a multi-channel perspective, your digital marketing channels can and should work together to grow the quantity and nurture the quality of the leads your business receives through its site. No matter what type of company you are, sharing data insights cross-channel can be invaluable, helping to create a highly data-driven integrated marketing strategy.

Paid and organic search naturally go hand in hand when it comes to your digital presence, and organic content and paid social media marketing can also be highly effective in supporting each other. This guide shares several examples of how organic and paid channels can perform better together, driving growth for your business.

Key takeaways

A successful digital marketing strategy is one that is tailored to the needs of the individual business and backed up by data. The above focus areas will give any professional services company a good overview of their current situation, highlighting opportunities for improvement and growth.

Jonathan Theuring is SEO executive at Impression.

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