Recap: Leading a Digital Transformation: 5 Keys to Help Your Partners Succeed


We live in the 21st century and enjoy its benefits. We take the Internet for granted, for the most part. During my recent trip to Peru, not a day went by when I didn't check my smartphone for messages and updates.

Social media is the name of the game; emails are bread and butter. Serious businesses without websites are a thing of the past.

To have a presence where potential customers are, marketing departments have embraced digital media for sending out the messages.

This digital marketing, at its core, is a method of interactive marketing using digital technologies to convert leads into customers.

Challenges of Digital Transformation

But it goes well beyond change of technologies. The interactive nature of this medium is transforming the whole marketing paradigm. 70% of decision makers use social media to help make decisions. 60% of typical purchasing decisions happen before customers talk to sales teams!

Gone are the days when businesses make a sale largely by reaching out. Customers need to be convinced by other means even before the first contact is made.

When you are in channel marketing, your marketing efficacy is only as strong as the weakest link in the channel. It is important to help your channel partners help you.

5 Tips for Effective Digital Marketing

Meaghan Sullivan, VP Global Indirect Marketing, Ecosystem & Channels at SAP, presented us with 5 steps to take for helping our channel partners. At SAP, she targets partner-lead demand generation. Meaghan is among CRN's Top 100 Power Women in the Channel for six years straight, from 2009 to 2015. CRN also awarded Meaghan #2 most influential sales leader in the channel.

Tip #1: Get Educated

As in any major endeavor, the first step is to get familiar with what's out there and what is seen to work.

  1. Read Extensively. Visit news sites, blogs, twitter, LinkedIn etc.
  2. Actively Partcipate. Get your own social voice on twitter, LinkedIn etc.
  3. Learn the Terminology. Get comfortable with industry jargon.
  4. Test New Tools. Try out new technologies.
  5. Seminars/Webinars/Events. Sign up for key events for networking and learning.

Tip #2: Develop a Strategy

PipelineStrategyBased on what you learn in step #1, formulate a plan for what you will do with digital marketing. This will be a long term strategy for your company where resources are allocated to the new tactics that drive revenue.

This new strategy should cover all elements of the marketing funnel: awareness, interest, desire and action.

It is important to have clear goals and a way to measure ROI. Only then consistent execution of the plan will lead to desired results.

The strategy should include several different digital marketing tactics such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google SEO, blogging, video content, and digital PR.

Tip #3: Drive Traffic

There are a number of tools and tactics to nudge potential customers to your solutions. But by far the most important, core idea in developing this inbound traffic is SEO, search engine optimization.

Optimization of your web site, linchpin of inbound marketing strategy, requires a careful analysis of your entire site, making sure each page is tuned to attracting visitors with interest in your offering.

Driving traffic is not limited to the tuning of web sites. An effective social media campaign built around a well tuned site is a great way to add traffic, for instance.

Many companies have programs and offerings for their partners to overhaul their site and social media to attract additional web traffic in this manner. SAP, for example, has purchased a block of LinkedIn Navigator licenses to provide to their channel partners to help establish their social selling.

Tip #4: Become a Thought Leader

Being a thought leader can separate you from the pack, in any industry, and put you in a leadership position. This, in turn, aids any of your calls to action in delivering better response.

Blogging and creating strategic content can dramatically change the way your company is perceived. Often, this literally drives in more business.

According to HubSpot, 57% of organizations that write their own corporate blogs have acquired a customer through a blog-generated lead.

A key advantage of blogging is to provide fresh content to your site. In addition, they provide a natural path to your other offerings: products and services pages on your web site, your social media pages etc.

To make the most of blogging, blog smart and blog often. Engage with key thought leaders on Twitter for social conversations. This will increase your followers, your relevance in the market, and thought leadership for your company.

Tip #5: Resource Accordingly

While the first four tips provided step-by-step recipe for building up your digital marketing presence, this last tip is not about yet another step afterwards. Rather, it is emphasizing the importance of vendor buy-in to this mind set and proper allocation of resources right from the start to end.

MondoSneakPeekThe infographic on the right provides a glimpse of where digital marketing is headed, as captured in the guide The Future of Digital Marketing prepared by Mondo (available for download here).

Mondo study points out that digital marketing departments of the future will find that technical and creative skill sets are equally important. Their perfect marriage will drive innovation, engagement and speed to market.

Technical side of marketing will focus on Analytics, Digital Ops, and Web/App Development whereas the creative side will take care of Content Creation, Graphic Design, and Social Media. Clearly, all of these specialties must work together for success in marketing.

Vendors must allocate resources themselves, but should also take steps to help their channel partners do the same for mutual benefit.

In Summary ...

Studies indicate that companies that have embraced the transformation to digital have seen a 9% increase in revenue creation, a 26% increase and profitability, and a 12% increase in market valuation.

It behooves every vendor to acknowledge the trend and use the five tips to streamline their own digital marketing operation as well as help the channel partners do the same.

Follow Meaghan Sullivan on LinkedIn.

Check out upcoming NorcalBMA events and talks here.

Posts on past NorcalBMA talks are archived here.

2 replies
  1. Puneet
    Puneet says:

    Thanks Meaghan, do you have any inputs on a social media plan to increase traffic.? I mean instead of random posting and expecting people to click, how should you go about devising a well thought out social media plan that would earn long term dividens?

    • Meaghan Sullivan
      Meaghan Sullivan says:

      That’s a great question, Puneet! The best way to increase traffic with your social media is to create a high engagement model with your followers and who you follow. It’s not about simply putting up a “tweet” or a “blog” but also participating in an ongoing conversation with those that are taking an interest in you. In addition, make sure you are following influencers in your particular market and engage with them also. The more participation you have in the social sphere, the more traffic and responses that you will get in turn. Be Social!

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