As a Partner Marketing Manager at Microsoft, I am seeing considerable change in the way that customers go about deciding upon purchasing a given product or service. Whilst this is particularly prevalent in consumer markets, where most of us do online research about a given product or service, read reviews, and consult our friends and networks, it is equally relevant in a B2B context.
We are seeing declining cut through for many of the marketing techniques that we have used to effect over the years. For example, getting the right number of the right people to attend events gets progressively harder and many partners report that they don’t get a return for the often monumental effort that goes into planning and running an event or roadshow. Email marketing as well is going the way of other forms of Direct Marketing with 95% of website visitors leaving without providing an email address1 and 80% of marketing emails now go unopened2. In short, the marketing we have known is no longer working.
As a result, the way that we market to customers is going through considerable change whereby companies are looking to attract potential new customers by providing value to that customer long before actually trying to sell them something.
This is often referred to as Inbound or Content Marketing and is achieved by targeting a specific set of customers (often in a B2B context this would be by job role and would include BDMs) with content that is highly relevant to them and engages them with a view to, in time, moving these prospects through the marketing funnel to becoming sales prospects. It does not involve ‘interrupting’ the prospective customer and is based on the pretext that if you deliver valuable information to prospects, they will reciprocate by ultimately giving your their business, but perhaps more importantly, their ongoing loyalty.
Increasingly, Microsoft will be investing in partner marketing efforts that utilise content marketing across digital channels and providing support to partners keen to better understand how this approach can drive tangible outcomes for their businesses.
In my next blog, we will look at the way professional agencies can help partners embark on Inbound Marketing campaigns and strategies.
1 B2B campaign conversion rates from 1-5% according to Serius Decisions Benchmark Survey
2 Ayaz Nanji, ‘Email Open and Click-Through Rates: Benchmarks by Vertical”, MarketingProfs, May 13, 2013
1. Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification (5 hours of online training on Inbound Marketing techniques). This is a great example of how the creation and availability of relevant content engages potential future customers without trying to sell you anything.
2. Partner Profitability Training – Evolving Your Marketing Strategy to Generate Self Educated Prospects (Microsoft sponsored training @$75 per ticket) – (Tuesday 17th March – Melbourne), Thursday 19th March – Sydney and Monday 23rd March – Brisbane. Requires a Live ID alias or email directly PartnerAU@microsoft.com to register.