Cybersecurity is a growth industry. In fact, according to Cybercrime Magazine, “Cybersecurity Ventures predicts global spending on cybersecurity products and services will exceed $1 trillion cumulatively over the five-year period from 2017 to 2021.” Published in 2019, recent global events will likely push that estimate even higher.
With $1 trillion on the table, it’s no wonder that cybersecurity companies are scrambling for their piece of the pie. While there are many ways to differentiate a business, a strong marketing strategy is one of the best ways for cybersecurity companies to ensure that they are staying ahead of the competitive curve.
Cybersecurity Marketing Challenges
Unless you’re giving away free money or ice cream, all businesses face some level of marketing challenges — trying to attract the right customers with the right budget at the right time. For the cybersecurity industry, there are more explicit challenges that marketers must overcome, including large education gaps, a potentially long sales cycle, and the pressure to differentiate your solution from competitors.
There’s no way around it: cybersecurity is a broad topic that can get extremely complex. Even someone who considers themselves an expert in the topic can have many blind spots. Further, things are always changing as new technologies develop on the good and bad sides of the topic, meaning education must be ongoing.
The majority of cybersecurity customers are not subject matter experts, which leaves a lot of heavy lifting for marketers in the space. For instance, executives often present the biggest hurdle for cybersecurity experts, called by one report “the weakest link” due to their lack of understanding of the cyber threat landscape.
Without sufficient education on what risks they actually face and how to address them effectively, it can be extremely difficult for a cybersecurity company to close a sale with a prospect.
Speaking of sales, the sales cycle for many cybersecurity solutions can be quite long. Before investing in technology that they may or may not understand, people want to be educated, probably to shop around a bit, and to feel very secure that they’re making the right choice for their own business. This process takes time and keeping prospects engaged from the moment they decide they need better security solutions to when they’re ready for an invoice can be a major challenge.
Competition is a given, but the reality is that your business is not exactly like any other. Whether you serve a different type of customer, offer different price points, or have proprietary technology on your side, you’re not the same as even your most similar competitor — but your prospects don’t know that.
The problem with differentiation in cybersecurity marketing can often be traced back to the education piece. When a prospect is not educated about what will address their specific needs, they will be unable to differentiate between your service and another one. Luckily, there are tested marketing strategies that can address the challenges that many cybersecurity companies face.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a term that refers to marketing that provides excellent educational content and resources to targeted prospects with the goal of drawing them to you. It stands in contrast to outbound interruptive marketing that takes a much more scattershot approach, throwing your message at people while they’re trying to read, watch, or learn about something completely unrelated. (See our Inbound Methodology Growth Studio one-sheet here).
Content makes up a huge part of any inbound marketing strategy. The idea is that a company can and should be providing a lot of upfront value to prospects, long before they try to make a sale. Content can be anything from informational blog posts to downloadable white papers, explainer videos, or case studies.
Inbound marketing is also driven by buyer personas. The better you know the specific person you’re selling to, the better you can focus your message in a way that will speak to them. For instance, making a sale to a CEO requires a much different tact and messaging than making a sale to someone a more junior level, who may have to get approval on a purchase. There are many factors outside of job titles that differentiate personas, like level of education, years of experience, size of company, family background, age and gender.
Inbound marketing is not just about moving prospects through your sales process — it’s about creating an automated lead generation and nurturing process that adds value at every stage. By providing excellent education and service to both prospects and customers, you get more repeat business as well as invaluable word of mouth marketing.
Applying Inbound Marketing to Cybersecurity
Hopefully it is already becoming clear how the inbound marketing methodology could be effectively applied to the cybersecurity industry. To be clear, following are three key ways that the inbound marketing methodology can work for cybersecurity businesses.
Understand Your Prospects Better…
Chances are you are already familiar, if not an expert, on your key buyer personas. Inbound marketing forces you to think even more deeply about what is most important to your personas and develop marketing messages and collateral that are specifically targeted to these people. Cybersecurity buyers — whether they are CISOs, IT managers, or small business CEOs — all have unique needs when it comes to education, benefits, and closing a sale. By implementing inbound marketing that is organized around buyer personas, you force your marketing team to think about what your prospects want and how you can serve them effectively at every step.
The inbound marketing methodology is an ideal fit for industries like cybersecurity that have a lot of education to do for potential customers. Focusing your marketing energy on creating targeted educational content for prospects can do wonders for your sales pipeline in a few ways:
- Fresh, high-quality content is still the best way to improve the SEO of your website and attract more visitors
- When your sales reps can send targeted, branded content to prospects that answers their questions in detail, those prospects are much more likely to stick around
- The better your prospects understand the benefits of your solution, the less friction there will be in the sales process and they better equipped they’ll be to share your solutions with others in their network.
…And Keep Them Engaged
The long sales cycle that can be involved in the cybersecurity industry means that you need to have a way to keep prospects engaged. Fresh content in addition to strategic automated email nurturing, also part of any successful inbound marketing campaign, can get you there. It’s not just about reminding your prospects that you exist and “sending a quick follow-up” but continuing to add value that’s specific to their problem.
A hope-for-the-best marketing approach isn’t enough in this competitive environment. By implementing the inbound marketing methodology for your cybersecurity business, you will be giving yourself an advantage by serving your prospect and customers as best you can.