What is technical marketing?
Technical marketing may be a confusing term, with differing definitions.
In more recent times, it has been used to reference the technology increasingly used in the marketing industry.
Historically, however, it refers to a specific type of marketing that focuses primarily on the specifications and, of course, ‘technical’ aspects of a product or service. It’s this second understanding that we will be focusing on.
This type of marketing centers on exactly how a product or service works, and therefore the detail of exactly how it will benefit the user. This is typically more necessary in technical fields where the products are more complex such as engineering electronics, and equally in other complex areas such as finance.
Why is technical marketing important?
Technical marketing is a crucial part of any marketing strategy, particularly when consumers are very knowledgeable about the subject matter and have a detailed understanding of the product or service.
More generalist marketing, and providing more of an ‘overview’ of a product, is not likely to cut it with these consumers — they require more in-depth information. Technical marketing is therefore a necessary component of content strategy, in order to engage, attract, and delight a more technical audience.
Since Google’s Medic Update, there’s been a huge spotlight on EAT-ing, or content that demonstrates Expertise, Authority & Trust.
Positioning content that covers technical aspects of a service or product, then, should also help to improve rankings… if it’s done properly.
So, technical marketing is clearly a key part of your marketing strategy. But how do you achieve it?
Technical Marketing Skills
To successfully incorporate technical marketing into your content strategy, there are some key skills that your technical marketing team will need to hone.
Let’s break this down into content marketing as a whole, qualities required of a technical marketing manager, and those of a technical marketing writer.
Technical Content Marketing
Technical content marketing should play just as big of a role in your content strategy as any other marketing activity.
Marketing is all about understanding your audience’s needs and pain points, and navigating them towards a useful solution. Yet typically, this form of marketing will require an even greater dose of creativity, with a need to continually search for new avenues to make technical and complex products and services fascinating, and arrive in the hands of the right people.
To incorporate technical content marketing into content planning and wider strategy, we’ve put together some key considerations and essentials:
- Targeting a range of areas. Considered purchases such as those that require technical marketing might need content targeting multiple stakeholders, and various pain points, if your product affects several business areas. For instance, sales-driven technical content, marketing, accounts etc. For this reason, you’ll have to really contextualize and hone in on your personas pain points, and how best to approach them.
- Targeted content offers. Talking about in-depth topics through different content platforms and communicating about the product in a more thorough manner assumes a level of knowledge with prospects, thereby attracting a better fit and more qualified visits to your website. Consider technical readouts, product demos, user manuals, setup checklists, training materials, or online courses. Technical video tends to be a great format, but you’ll need to judge what works best for your market!
- Think about all of the buyer’s journey stages. Come up with consideration and decision-stage content or flesh out personas based on common specification questions. Case studies on specific use cases and scenarios will help build trust and establish fit, and help consumers to better weigh up the product or service. And don’t forget the delight stage content! Improve the retention of your products and services, and create real brand advocates through FAQ’s, How-to’s, and videos.
- “Versus” and “Or”. You need to understand and cater to comparison-focused searches such as “versus” and “or” in your content planning. “Your product vs. competitor product” is a key stage in the consideration phase of your prospective buyer’s journey. For example, prospective TV buyers might search for “OLED vs. QLED model benefits”.
- Think about how you can upsell. If customers are engaging with advice and help-driven content, you may be able to identify opportunities to upsell! For example, if an existing customer views or downloads information on higher product tiers, or functionality available in paid add-ons, your sales team might reach out to discuss potential upgrades.
- Work backwards. This may sound counterintuitive, but start from the feature. You’re probably used to the following formula: persona > pain point > search term research > advice-driven content > relevant product or service. Yet, if this starting information isn’t available to you, or your personas pain points aren’t well-defined, you can reverse engineer the process. For instance, let’s say you’re a HubSpot Partner and you want to better promote the chatbot software to your SaaS personas … you may write content about how automating routine support questions improves service team response times. This way, you can target your content around the product in the most helpful way.
Technical Marketing Manager
So what does it take to be a technical marketing manager and to implement all of the above into your content marketing strategy? There are certainly some key characteristics necessary to this role, and some definite skills to hone. Here are some of the most important aspects to consider:
- Public speaking skills. This may be unexpected, but it’s an incredibly important skill in technical marketing, as part of a wider content marketing strategy. Given that the content that tends to perform well are conferences, video, and presentations, a technical marketing manager must be able to communicate technical aspects in this thought leadership setting.
- Training skills. Similarly, another content form that lends itself well to this style of marketing is training courses on the products and services offered. Great training skills are therefore necessary, both for online and in-person technical training.
- Big picture view. It’s essential that a technical marketing manager has wider business knowledge, to understand the ROI for the specific product, as well as the product’s use cases. Wider industry knowledge is also a must, with an understanding of complementary or substitute products on the market. For example, if you think about your prospect’s existing subscriptions or tool stack, a detailed overview of the specifications and limitations of your product will highlight where your offering will complement or overlap with their existing tools.
- Deal with objections. With more involvement in business operations, your concrete understanding of your product’s specifications will be necessary to better explain where the features are adding value.
- Problem-solving. Ultimately, marketing is all about helping consumers solve their problems. It’s therefore important to be consultative and empathetic, allowing you to explore and further advise prospect’s decision-making processes by continually looking at specific needs, and aligning features and uses of the product to this.
- An honest and understanding approach. As well as being empathetic, it’s also important to be helpful so that prospects make the most informed decisions on product fit and commitment. Consider questions like, ‘Does the service offering tick all their boxes? How much time and money will they need to commit to adopt your product?’
Ultimately, all of this comes down to the technical marketing manager’s strategic planning ability. It’s not just about all of this information that you’ve gathered from the industry and personas, but what you do with it.
You have to think about how best to engage a technical audience, which takes real time, planning, and market research, as well as how this may fit in with wider business goals.
Technical Marketing Writer
So we’ve looked at how you incorporate technical marketing into your strategy, as well as who’s responsible for the overarching goals, but we’re forgetting one exceptionally key piece of the puzzle: the technical marketing writer.
A technical marketing writer has a real responsibility to commit these ideas to paper (or video, as the case may be). Their content will be the driving force behind better qualified leads.
Here are a few aspects of content you’ll want any technical marketing writer to understand:
- The content needs to live and breathe the product or service it’s related to, and the audience that desires it. Whether this be through product descriptions, web pages, or more general industry-related content that will drive traffic.
- It’s not just a strategist that needs technical knowledge — the writer themselves will need a full understanding of a product or services’ USPs, abilities and benefits. And this should outweigh the understanding of the customer — there should be no questions left unanswered.
- Similarly, this technical knowledge is essential for those that are putting pen to paper. They need to have the ability to best showcase the technical data of the product or service to position the company as an expert in the field.
- They’ll also need strong research skills to get up-to-date knowledge on wider market trends, as well as the ability to retain and communicate this information to consumers, and showcase it in communication such as newsletters.
- They will, of course, need to be an excellent writer. As we have seen, you need to understand your personas from a content platform perspective, but you’ll also need to know how to write for them. This includes tone of voice: is it appropriate to write it simplistically? Or will it be more fitting to include industry jargon?
Ultimately, technical marketing can be a really important component of your content marketing strategy if your industry or products and services lend themselves to it.
Technical marketing can help you attract more qualified leads and showcase your company as an expert in the industry. Create a clear technical marketing strategy so that you can cut through the marketing noise, and deliver an exciting and engaging message to your audience.
Originally published Jul 30, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 30 2020