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How VARs Can & Should Drive More ERP Sales Through Online Marketing

Jun 2, 2020 1:01:12 PM

Let's face it. Marketing can be difficult. Especially when you don't have the time and resources dedicated to seeing it through.

I'm convinced that most ERP Value Added Resellers (VARs) don't have a good grasp on the fundamental basics of digital marketing, even the so-called "experts" don't know what they are talking about half the time.

When you combine the lack of know how, with a complex product and a long sales cycle the struggle is real, especially for VARs trying to drive new ERP sales. Not to mention they must cut through the noise in the marketplace which is very loud, lead by billion dollar software vendors.  

This blog will quickly outline the steps you can take to begin your own inbound marketing program to start generating new ERP sales in short order. 

The Primary Challenges ERP VARs Face:

Lack of Support (Leads) from ERP Vendors

ERP consultants across the board share in their frustration that they receive little to zero leads from the software publishers they represent.

And even if you are in an ecosystem that does provide some leads, once that referral source goes away you will be in a difficult spot if you haven't figured out how to market on your own.

Additionally, many ERP software vendors also have a direct sales team. It's impossible for ERP publishers to feed both their direct sales reps and partners leads, therefore the only solution is to become self sufficient. Where do you start?

Website Not Optimized for SEO & Conversion

The vast majority of ERP sales cycles being with online research. There's Bing, Yahoo and Google, with Google being the dominate search engine.

Therefore if your product and service not being ranked on the first page (ideally top 3) by Google you can forget about being found online. How do you rank number one in Google? And if you are ranking high, how do you get those leads to engage with your sales reps?

Inconsistent Blog Creation

Blogs are great for keyword acquisitions and driving brand. However it requires consistency. Google's looking for fresh content from domains and chances are your competitors are blogging on a regular frequency. How do you make this a priority amongst all the other activities the business requires of you?

Missing Keyword Strategy

This is a big one. If you don't have a specific goal in mind for each blog, don't even bother. For blogging to be effective you need to be laser focused on a particular keyword/phrase for each blog you publish. How do you know what keywords to target or which ones to avoid?

 

THE SOLUTION: 5 Steps to INBOUND MARKETING TO Drive New ERP Leads

1) KEYWORD RESEARCH

Getting ranked on Google begins with understanding what keywords your buyers are using for their research. Great keywords for ERP VARs generally revolve around what I call the big 5 themes:

  1. Price/cost: How much does your ERP product cost? How is it licensed? How about the cost to implement/integrate/support etc.
  2. Comparisons/Pros & Cons/Alternatives: How does the product you represent compare with other products in the marketplace? What makes your product better or worse?
  3. Reviews: How do customers feel about your product and/or service offering?
  4. Best of list or Top "X" List: Prospects like to see awards and social proof that what you claim online is backed up by others in the industry.

These keywords are generally aimed at the "bottom of the funnel" traffic. These are prospects that have started a research and/or buying cycle. And you should help them!

Once you've identified your ideal keywords to target, you'll need to uncover if you currently rank for any of them. 

Tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush can help with this. Personally, I like SEMRush for keyword research better, since they seem to have a larger database to work from.

SEMRush Screenshot

Then it's a matter of A) optimizing your existing content to rank higher or B) creating brand new content in an attempt to rank for that particular keyword.

This also requires some analysis to see which keywords your competitors are ranking and why. Having a good handle on SEO fundamentals will be necessary for this step to be effective.

2) Editorial Calendar & Publishing

After the keyword research is completed, you'll want to create an editorial calendar mapping your ideal keywords to the future content you are going to create or optimize. 

You'll want to think through how to structure the content (e.g. Pillar & Cluster) and when to publish.  Think of the editorial calendar as your blueprint for inbound success.  This planning step is necessary to ensure you don't forget or miss anything and keeps you on track.

This can be as simple as a setting up a Google Sheet template to get your team organized or you may want to consider using tools like HubSpot's SEO tool to determine how to visually structure and link your content.

HubSpot Pillar Cluster Image

3) Guest Posting (Backlinks)

Once you have published some of your content, the next step is to boost your potential for rankings by getting high quality backlinks to your recently published content. 

You can do this on your own (time consuming) by reaching out to your professional network to see if someone would be open to publishing content you create on their website with a link to your domain.

Or, you can automate this process by partnering with a company that specializes in both the outreach and copywriting aspect of your guest blog, as well as understand the nuance around anchor text density.

Of all the Google ranking factors, high authority backlinks are super helpful in driving Google first page rankings. 

You can track your backlink acquisition in near real time using tools like Ahrefs to see trends around referring domains and pages.

Backlinks Graph Ahrefs

4) Conversion Optimization

Now that you are ranking for keywords and driving new web traffic, you'll want to get that traffic to convert into raised hands, known as Marketing Qualifed Leads (MQLs).  Traditionally, companies have used static forms with numerous required fields which can create friction.

I recommend trying forms (e.g. Typeform) that are interactive and provide some give and take of information with prospects. Quizes and calculators are great at getting user engagement and conversion because it provides them immediate feedback.

Lastly, there are many tools available today will append and augment your MQL data upon lead capture requiring less info from your prospects at the time of form submission. Zoominfo has a good tool for this particular use case.

How great is it to only ask for an email address but be able to get everything you've ever wanted to know about the prospect (e.g. direct phone #, alternate email address, technology profile, industry insights, revenue, employee counts, and more)!

By giving your leads the info they desire, combined with a "smaller ask" can really improve conversion rates for most companies.  

5) Sales & Marketing Automation

Once you are consistently generating new leads (MQLs), you'll want to leverage some form automation to help you score and route leads to the appropriate channels for timely and relevant follow up.

To do this you'll need technology to enable this level of sophistication. HubSpot has a great technology stack for helping marketing teams score and nurture leads and empower sales teams with insights and tools to drive greater velocity and consistency in their sales cycles.  

Providing clear visibility to sales and marketing attribution is a game changer for ERP VARs looking to take their inbound marketing to the next level.  

Final Thoughts

There's much more to be said about generating new ERP leads and sales however we've briefly listed the steps we've taken to help ERP VARs drive more traffic, leads and revenue through inbound marketing strategies.

If you'd like to see how inbound can impact your lead gen efforts, let's discuss your unique situation at your convenience.

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