There are many compelling reasons to get your hands dirty with your first digital marketing campaign. Digital partner marketing offers huge cost, reach and scalability advantages over traditional offline tactics. It also plays into the new social realities of post-pandemic remote working and an increasingly virtual buyer journey.
Even before the pandemic hit, there was a steady shift in buyer preference from in-person interactions to digital channels – the past couple of years have seen a dramatic acceleration in the trend. According to Gartner research, B2B buyers spend only 17% of the total buyer journey in face-to-face interactions with sales reps – and typically only 5% with individual reps when there are multiple suppliers involved. Furthermore, 44% of millennials prefer no sales rep interaction at all in a B2B setting. And according to Forrester Research, 8 out of 15 content sources influencing B2B buyers are online.
Whatever the reasons for embarking on a new digital marketing campaign for the first time, it can seem like a daunting task. However, following these five key steps will get you on the right track to success.
1. Set objectives
Any marketing campaign needs to contribute to overall business goals and specific sales targets, so it pays to set very clear, and measurable, campaign objectives. These could be ‘increasing sales of product line A by X percent’, or ‘improve brand awareness by Y percent’. These objectives need to be backed by metrics that will help you measure results, which might include:
Traffic to your website
Mobile traffic volume
Social media stats (such as number of followers, likes and engagement)
It pays to set different objectives at different stages of your digital campaigns. For example, measuring traffic volume or number of social media followers makes sense when you’re starting out. However, these become more of a ‘vanity metric’ once you have built up sufficient website traffic or social media followers to make likes and engagement more metrics as drivers of conversion.
2. Create compelling content
In the context of partner marketing, content encompasses not only the messaging itself but also the format/vehicle in which the message is presented. Whether we’re talking infographics, video, animations, podcasts, white papers or eBooks, the appropriate vehicle depends on the message and the target persona. Content needs to hit the right buttons first time in a digital world where there is no human interaction. This means you need to:
Ensure you have a variety of content to fit the different stages of the buyer journey and different buyer personas – for example, relevant blog posts and events for the start of the journey, educational and explanatory material (such as white papers and case studies) for the middle part of the journey, and suitable customer reference material to help close the deal. It’s important to note, however, that content consumption is not a strictly linear process, so it’s important to have the various types of content well organized and easily to navigate for any potential buyer who is interested.
Localize content – English does not work for everyone, so it can pay dividends to invest in translating vendor-provided content or even creating your own content to distinguish yourself from the competition.
Pay special attention to your website – whatever digital marketing tactics you use, it is very likely that your leads will end up researching you and your offerings on the Internet. It is vital that your website is clear, well-functioning and offers something extra in terms of content, as well as an effective way for a customer to buy. As an example, one partner bChannels worked with was getting 1,000-plus visitors to a landing page driven by a Google Ads campaign, but none of them were downloading the gated piece of content. A review of the campaign revealed that the call to action was written in red (the company’s brand colour), which gave the impression it was an alert. There were also formatting issues, and the content request form was more than one page long, meaning prospects had to scroll down to see and fill it completely. By using normal text, better formatting and a much shorter form that included only essential information, the partner got its campaign back on track.
3. Plan your campaign
The success of any campaign, digital or not, requires proper planning, as we covered in a previous post. There are a few fundamental questions you should answer as part of the planning process:
What is the best timing to execute your digital campaign? Consider holiday periods, and ensure all teams involved in the campaign are available (for example, to follow up on leads).
Which elements should the campaign include? Clearly, you should only include the digital marketing elements that you have the capability to deliver successfully. For example, if you don’t have some form of nurture engine with good content in place, there is probably little point in driving the generation of early-stage leads with big-budget advertising.
How is the campaign being funded? If the campaign is funded by vendor funds which need to be claimed, you need to be clear up front about the requirements, documentation and proof you will need to provide, and by when. For example, it is common for the vendor to require that its logo is included in the campaign material, and that its branding requirements are met for colour palette, style, typography, logo sizing and positioning when other logos are also included. If the material does not pass such branding filters, the campaign won’t get approved.
Who should be involved? It pays to involve anyone in your business who can add value to your campaign. As a marketing manager you will be coordinating the campaign, but your sales team should at least be aware of what you are planning, and senior management needs to see how the campaign supports the overall business plan. If you are planning a telemarketing campaign, for example, the product team will give you valuable input and feedback on the script, so it makes sense to validate it with them. It is also important to ensure that everyone’s expectations of the campaign are realistic, and that they know what success will look like.
If you have in-house resources with the knowledge, experience and capacity to execute your campaign then you are good to go. However, if your team lacks experience or does not have capacity available – often the case for smaller partners that work across multiple vendors –you may need to bring in a specialized agency for campaign execution.
There is plenty of choice out there, but we recommend basing your selection not just on price, but also on:
Language coverage – if your target market includes multiple countries, now or in the future, you should choose an agency with a wide spectrum of language coverage. This way, you won’t need to keep finding new agencies for each new regional campaign
Experience with the vendor – an agency that has already worked with the vendor you are supporting will already be aware of working processes, brand guidelines and other requirements, which can be a huge advantage
Guaranteed outcomes – while it may be tempting to go with an agency that appears to favour novel or trendy marketing tactics, it is results that count. Agencies that combine innovation with guarantees of results are a safe bet. Some marketing tactics – like telemarketing or syndicated content – allow quite robust forecasts of the number of leads that can be generated according to certain lead criteria and a target database that is big enough. On the other hand, results from some tactics – like digital ads – are harder to forecast accurately, and may result in a large number of impressions but relatively low clicks and opens. The various tactics have their own advantages, and can reach different audiences; it’s a matter of finding a balance between lead generation and awareness.
5. Measure, analyse and adjust
Once your digital marketing campaign is up and running, it is vital to analyse its success through ongoing measurement, and make adjustments based on this to optimize results. Ask yourself:
Was the content relevant and attractive enough to generate traction? Which pieces captured more clicks, opens, registrations or leads … and why?
Was the target audience correctly identified?
Did the lead flow work smoothly?
Was the actual ROI good enough?
Should we carry on using the same digital tactic or should we move away?
Were results in line with expectations, and clearly communicated to the team with an indication of how they might be improved next time?
bChannels helps partners plan, create and deliver digital marketing campaigns through its Digital Partners service. To find out more contact us.