What Nobody Wants to Tell You About Paid Ads for Managed Services Providers

As the founder of Tech Pro Marketing, my background working with managed services providers and other tech-related businesses dates all the way back to the fax marketing days at my first computer repair shop job in 1998.

Since that time, I've seen the very idea of marketing continue to change and evolve. I've also seen a number of myths develop that, despite the better judgment of everyone involved, seem to rear their ugly heads time and again. But perhaps the most essential—and relevant—myth that we need to shatter for all time as soon as possible is the following:

Paid ads are not nearly as helpful for your MSP as you've been led to believe.

The Problem With Paid Ads

With paid advertising, as the name suggests, you're talking about any type of ad that you have to pay for—versus the type that you either own outright or earn. You're essentially paying the owner of a particular space for the use of that space—like when you pay Google for prime placement on relevant search keywords in your area.

While it’s true that 93 percent of all online experiences begin with a search engine, it’s also true that when it comes to search, Google owns between 65 and 70 percent of the global market share. Sadly, this is pretty much where the power of paid ads on Google begins and ends.

Consider any one of the following statistics for proof of this concept:

  • According to one study reported on by Search Engine Journal, roughly 70 percent of all links that search users click on are organic—meaning NOT paid ads.
  • More than that, between 70 and 80 percent of search users go out of their way to ignore the paid ads entirely, instead choosing to focus on the organic results that they believe to be more relevant.
  • In fact, as of 2013, a massive 33 percent of ALL clicks for a particular term go to whatever the first organic search result happens to be at the time. 

But perhaps the most relevant statistics of all are the following: there are approximately 615 million devices—both in terms of desktop and mobile devices—that now use some type of ad blocking software. This breaks down to roughly 11 percent of the global Internet population.

This means that people aren't just ignoring those ads you paid so much for—they never even see them to begin with. They don't want to see them. They're actively disinterested in them. And, since adblock usage grew 30 percent globally in 2016, these numbers are only going to get more severe as time goes on.

The Solution

None of this means that "all hope is lost" in terms of your marketing. It just means that it's getting harder and harder to "buy" your way to the top.

People don't like to be sold to any longer—especially when you think about the type of people who do business with an MSP and tend to be savvier than most. Instead, they want to be educated. They want to be informed. They want to be empowered.

So, your solution to all of this is a simple one: do just that.

There's a reason why people continually refer to content marketing as "today's marketing," especially in terms of tech-specific businesses like MSPs. Creating helpful, relevant and high-value content allows you to check all of these aforementioned boxes. Consider any one of the following statistics for proof of this point:

  • According to a recent study by Kapost, when you judge content marketing directly against paid search, content marketing gets as many as three times the number of leads for every dollar spent. 
  • Keep in mind that content marketing also costs roughly 62 percent less than something like paid search while generating those same results. 
  • Not only do roughly 77 percent of all Internet users say that they enjoy reading blogs that they find helpful and relevant, small businesses that have blogs tend to get as many as 126 percent higher levels of lead growth than those without. 
  • But techniques like content marketing don't just help bring your MSP more leads—they also turn those leads into customers. Content marketing brings with it a conversion rate that is roughly six times higher than other methods!
  • Anecdotally, we’ve seen educational content consistently perform better in the organic search results than commercial content for our clients. For example, this blog post explaining the difference between intrusion detection and intrusion prevention receives close to ten times the organic search traffic than the same MSSP’s commercially focused intrusion detection services page.

So again, anyone who tells you that paid ads are the be all, end all solution to your MSP's marketing needs is probably trying to sell you something—and that "something" is likely paid advertising space.

Make no mistake about it: your audience has spoken. They want you to stop selling to them and start educating them, informing them and helping them throughout their daily lives. They want to see that you understand what they need and what they want and, more than that, that you know exactly how to give it to them for the long-term.

Paid ads really aren't how you do that anymore. Only inbound methods like content marketing and your larger SEO efforts are powerful enough to get that particular job done.

Your Next Move

While paid ads certainly have a place in the modern era to a certain extent, they're simply not the "silver bullet" solution that you may have been looking for. Only by focusing on the messaging itself and the real, tangible value that you can provide to your audience will you be able to unlock the most important benefit of all: being able to spend more time growing your business and less time lost in the daily marketing grind you've found yourself in.

As a marketing professional who spends his days helping IT-related businesses get their message out to exactly the right audience at exactly the right time, I know paid ads can sometimes be confusing at best.  If you'd like to find out more information about running—or not running—paid ads for your MSP, or if you have any additional MSP marketing questions, I’d be happy to hear from you directly at Tech Pro Marketing today. 


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