Are You Creating Customers for Life?
Are you digitally tuned in to your prospects’ buying journey? If not you could be missing out on tons of opportunities.
Word of mouth and referrals are important to your reputation and brand, but with the explosion of cloud and digital it’s not enough to just be talked about. These days, you have to tune in with digital marketing. While most solution providers know this, it seems that many of us in the channel are slow to adopt a viable digital presence. At least, that what findings by research firm IDC show.
The study “Digital Marketing: Helping Partners Succeed” points out that the “digital marketing gap is most evident” in the websites of many channel partners. Sites are not up to current standards, and cannot be found by digitally savvy customers who research online.
SAP recently partnered with channel consulting firm PartnerPath on a project to help our partners become better digital marketers. We found three striking statistics that served as a wake-up call:
- 70% of decision makers use social media to make their decisions.
- 65% percent of the buying decision is made before talking to sales.
- Partners executing digital marketing see 4x more pipeline than those who don’t.
Forget the Funnel, Embrace the Wheel
Most modern marketers feel that the classic marketing funnel is an outmoded approach because the buying process is no longer linear. A Harvard Business Review article titled “Marketing Can No Longer Rely on the Funnel” argues that, in a digitally connected world, prospects no longer enter at the top of the funnel—they enter at any and every stage of the buying cycle.
The funnel model doesn’t work anymore because it assumes that marketing stops after the sale. Watch this quick SAP video: “Business is Changing. Are You?” Here we make the case for dropping the funnel and embracing the wheel approach, where the customer is at the center and the touch points to the customer are continuous before, during and after the sale.
My colleague Jennifer Schulze hits the nail on the head in the video: “… Instead of a funnel, consider a wheel, a continuous cycle. If you don’t maintain that consistent relationship with your customer, you don’t get that reoccurring revenue, which really is the way your business will stay in business” and is incredibly important, especially in the case of cloud software and renewals.
The IDC study calls on vendors to “bridge this gap with programs that make it easy for partners to implement effective and efficient digital marketing campaigns.” The study noted some vendors (including SAP) that are helping their partners with this shift by delivering valuable digital marketing enablement and resources.
At SAP, we recently launched a comprehensive digital marketing resource area on our partner website that provides partners with education, tools and content on all aspects of digital marketing. Our partners are learning that smart digital marketing is an ongoing effort, and that they can execute it successfully at their own pace.
Are all of our partners executing digital marketing tactics effectively? No. I see it as an adoption process, a change in thinking that we as vendors need to support. But the partners that do get it know that digital marketing is the right way to pull in prospects, build relationships and create customers for life.