As seen on The VAR Guy:
From Sherlock Holmes’ age-old tales of intrigue to today’s fascination with television dramas like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, we are drawn to solving mysteries – of following the clues to determine, “Who Done It.” We’ve also seen this love affair of detective work spill over into the tech space. When customers are choosing a vendor, they are following online bread crumbs to see if you are the right partner for them. They scour your website, blog, LinkedIn profiles, and even customer reviews. In fact, according to a 2014 study of B2B commerce, 94% of buyers do research online before making their purchasing decision. The study also revealed that 71% of B2B buyers prefer to conduct research on their own – without ever meeting a sales representative. These staggering statistics reinforce the need to ramp up and promote your business across the channel.
So, are you leaving the right bread crumbs for your customers?
Here are 5 powerful tips to improve your online marketing:
- Evaluate your brand. With so many vendors to choose from, potential customers will surely be weighing your brand, services, and support against the competition. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Would you want to do business with you? Why or why not? What brand decisions or online improvements could you make to ensure that your prospects decide they want to reach out to you? Is your site too busy or too blank? Make sure it’s designed with your potential customer in mind.
- Put your best foot forward on social media. LinkedIn is largely accepted in B2B as the go-to place for first impressions. So, if you’re meeting with a customer for the first time, chances are good that they’re going to look at your profile before your meeting. Keep that in mind and view your profile with a critical eye. Make sure you, your executives and sales team have a professional headshot, updated/edited profile links, complete contact information (IE Skype and Twitter), as well as short descriptions with keywords for each of your past positions. People are always looking for things you have in common, so the more you tell them, the more opportunities for discussion topics. Make sure that these same underlying principles are applied with 100% consistency across social media — from your Twitter profile, website, Facebook page, Google+ account, and YouTube channel.
- Rally the troops. Getting your employees involved is a great way to cast a wider marketing net. Encourage employees to update their profiles and write blogs on topics that matter to them. You can also create content on a weekly or monthly basis for your employees to post out across their social sites. This way, you have a unified message that has a much further reach. Just think of the possible retweets and click-throughs you can generate. Did you know that Google monitors this newfound traction and gives you higher search ranking as a result? Ultimately, employee involvement can be the key to making your company significantly easier to find online.
- Make your website a lead generating machine
All of your marketing activities, whether it’s an email campaign or a post on LinkedIn, should highlight your business and give a clear route via links to your website. But, is your website ready for those visits? In order to make your website a lead generation machine, you need to ensure that when prospects arrive they intrinsically know how to navigate your site, understand how you can solve their pain points and, finally, quickly see how to contact you. Also, today’s B2B consumers are tired of stock photography on vendor sites; they’d much rather see the real people they’ll be working with. It’s a little detail, but it can impact their evaluation of your site and your company.
- Continue to leave bread crumbs to gated content
Use gated content (white papers, e-Books or videos) in exchange for visitors giving you their email address and contact information. Gating some of your information will allow you to capture user data. You can then use that data to generate demand with lead nurturing newsletters and other email correspondence. Through our Partner Demand Center, VMware partners can use highly-customizable email campaigns with landing pages for demand gen while also driving traffic to their site. And, through website content syndication, partners can use high quality assets as additional sources of gated content for capturing emails or free product trials to generate leads. Just think of the time these resources can save your company.
Feel like there are still more clues to discover? VMware has partnered with Channel Maven Consulting to create 15 bite-sized videos to help you navigate your social demand roadmap. Visit the Marketing Resources section of the Partner Demand Center to view these insightful videos, learn marketing best practices and download toolkits to help build your business.
The VMware Partner Network Team