A lot of brands have good intentions of helping the channel partners that sell their products and services create more inbound leads from online marketing. They help them with SEO, content syndication, customizable digital collateral, paid search, and set them up with social profiles. The excitement begins as their social profiles gain traction, partner page traffic is up, and mailing list subscriptions increase. When the six month or one year review comes around, traffic has stagnated and closed leads are not increasing. What happened?
- Too Many Unqualified Leads Are Being Generated
Brand marketers that embark on driving traffic to channel partner’s local webpages are often very motivated by the quantitative goal (number of visitors to partner sites) rather than more ambiguous, but very relevant, intent of those visitors. When qualified leads are not passing through the system, brand marketers can be anxious to increase volume instead of focusing on qualification of the visitors that land on partner sites.
How to Mitigate:
- When setting up partners to appear in organic local search results, make sure their local websites are listed in the right local and national business directories. Additionally, the organic keyword strategy for their sites should be ever-evolving, and always informed by search query data from that geographic region.
- Google PPC ads must undergo constant optimization to make sure the keyword phrases brand marketers use to promote channel partner sites are aligned with the search intent of users. Brand marketers must resist the urge to use that 85 characters of PPC copy to attract the maximum amount of clicks, and instead aim to disqualify as many users with the wrong intent as possible.
- Not Enough Qualified Leads Are Being Generated
Search behavior is ever-changing. Rather than just building campaigns based on a static set of keywords, smart marketers should be adding other keyword phrases that speak to a user’s intent, or what’s called semantic search. Google recently changed their whole search algorithm to incorporate for this new behavior, so it’s pretty much here to stay.
For example, a large mortgage lender might help their network of brokers with local marketing by publishing content and optimizing their websites for certain keywords, but seniors looking for reverse mortgages may not even know the product exists. They look for “income for seniors” or “how to survive on social security,” while never thinking to use the search term “reverse mortgage” for which partner pages are optimized – get it?
How to Mitigate:
- Have content and bid for keywords that reference pain points just as much as the benefits of the solution. Think about the different mental and subsequent language pathways a user might type into a search bar to find your product or service; develop content to snag customers treading those pathways.
- You Thought Your Integrated Marketing Software Was Going to Automatically Solve Everything, It Didn’t
There might be a great piece of software at your disposal that has more features then you know what to do with – therein lies the problem. You can carry out many local marketing tactics with your channel partners, but those tactics may not get the desired results you want. Without a human analysis of the program metrics, you’ll never know what worked, what didn’t, and what to fix or do more of.
How to Mitigate:
- Strategy before tactics is imperative. Your great integrated marketing software helps syndicate content over partner pages, run PPC advertising at scale for 500 partners, etc., but it doesn’t tell you what content to will resonate with consumers, or which keyword phrases should be optimized for organic and which should be left for paid. Software does not replace strategy, and the two (strategy and tactics) have to be dealt with in the correct order.
- Strategies have to pivot, especially in a fast changing marketing landscape. Marketing support (think a dedicated local marketing coordinator) for partners to be able to diagnose their specific local dynamics and select from a range of online tactics is best practice.
- Build in a human process to analyze all of the data you can, so you can continue to revise and refine.
- Multi-channel Marketing Is Not Aligned
Marketing efforts can easily get siloed; where goals, offers, content, slogans, colors, calls-to-action, etc. are not coordinated to support each other. Creating integrated marketing tactics (where the same basic message is broadcast over different channels, like email, direct mail and social media) often yields a whole that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.
How to Mitigate:
- Plan your marketing campaigns to support one another across the channels that make the most sense for your message and audience. And time them to hit in a way so that the messaging rolls over them in waves. Gartner mentions that “lead management campaigns integrating 4 or more digital channels will outperform single or dual-channel campaigns by 300%.”
- Nobody Really Paid Attention to How Target KPIs Were Crafted
Perhaps some KPIs have performance expectations that are actually based on goals or business objectives, but sometimes KPI targets are born of armchair quarterback style speculations. KPIs that describe general traffic patterns, user analytics, etc. are looked at as an end in themselves as opposed to the amount of leads and closed sales they actually generate.
How to Mitigate:
- Make sure the expectations for KPIs are based on something other than a gut feeling.
- Try to figure out the relationships between passive metrics like visitors or time on page and the actionable metrics like form conversions or closed sales. Getting the right people in the door and then converting them once they are on site is a constant dance of keywords and calls-to-action. Be realistic about how many leads the quantity and quality of the traffic on partner sites will generate, and how many they can close.
While online marketing is more affordable and adapted to buyer behavior (self-directed & always connected) than ever before, it is also more complicated and dynamic. Brands that challenge themselves to carry out the analysis, stay current of constant developments, and deploy well thought-out online marketing on behalf of their channel partners will reap the benefits.
About the Author
Jared is the Chief Executive Officer of SproutLoud. Since 2006, he has been primarily responsible for strategic direction of the Company, as well as the oversight of SproutLoud's Partner ecosystem. Prior to SproutLoud, Jared worked in Thomas Weisel Partner’s internet and online advertising investment banking practice in San Francisco. He served as the lead analyst on a number of Corporate Finance and M&A deals including Newscorps’ buyout of Intermix Media (Myspace.com). Jared graduated with a B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. Jared has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and is a member of the Young President's Organization (YPO). Jared has been honored as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneurs by South Florida Business Journal and a Top 50 Entrepreneur by Business Leader Magazine. Jared lives in South Florida with his wife and two sons.More Content by Jared Shusterman