By David English, president, TSL Marketing
Building customer-centric websites that rank highly on search engines is a challenge for most B2B companies. The leaders in their fields – especially those with highly recognizable brands – tend to dominate many search terms. But even many big brands don’t have the resources to ensure that their offerings are being discovered by customers in local markets or niche segments using longer tail search terms.
This leaves the door open for vendors to work with their partners on search. When search initiatives are coordinated with channel partners, brands can cover a more comprehensive set of searcher needs.
Vendors have an opportunity to view their partners as search term teammates, not competitors. If the partner is successful at generating leads through organic search, it benefits the vendor. If prospects find the partners’ websites and they convert on an offer, it can result in new business for the vendor.
Channel marketers for vendors may have great success appearing at the top of Google search for industry keywords. But reaching every segment of their potential audience can be a heavy and expensive lift. Partners, however, can more efficiently and effectively optimize their site for discovery to customers and prospects in niche market segments.
A partner may cater to a specific geographical area, ranking highly for long-tail keywords that refer to a region, such as Southern California or a specific city, such as San Diego. For example, a business partner might rank well on Google search for “CRM service providers in San Diego.” A vendor might not have the time or money to focus on a specific region of the U.S. market.
Partners may also specialize in specific industry verticals and lines of business. For example, a partner might have strong subject matter expertise in working with accounts payable teams in the construction industry. Some partners work on maintaining compliance certifications for highly regulated industries, such as finance, manufacturing, and health care.
When website content is built around long-tail keywords related to an industry, such as “data protection for health care organizations,” it is more likely to appear higher in search engine results for health care and data protection-related queries. There may be less competition for these long-tail keywords, and they can increase the chance that the right customer will find the partner’s website.
Instead of using their own websites to be all things to all people, vendors can rely on their partners to reach out to niche market segments. Supporting their partners’ SEO efforts saves money on marketing while extending reach into unexplored areas. Supporting partner organic search can also save vendors and their partners money on paid search.
In most cases, vendors are never going to have enough quality content for niche market segments. This is where partners come in handy. The marketing team at a partner company can create case studies for target industries that can be published and promoted on a vendor’s website. These case studies show niche use cases for products, creating opportunities to link back and forth between the vendor’s website and the partner’s site.
Vendors can also publish and promote thought leadership pieces created by their partners. Such pieces may include eBooks or white papers that give detailed treatments of issues surrounding a vendor’s products. Supporting partners’ content efforts can save vendors the time it would take to research, write, and design long-form content pieces.
Channel partners may also create niche offers that convert prospects and generate new business. These offers may include on-site workshops, gap assessments, or discovery sessions in specific regions of the country. Another possibility might be tailoring a demo for companies in a target vertical. Industry-specific offers can help progress prospects toward a purchase of your product.
Jointly developed content is particularly important because a vendor’s influencer partners might not want to push vendor-branded product content on their websites. After all, partners do work with other OEMs, or at least often need to appear to do so, and some position themselves as vendor agnostic. If vendors wants to ensure they figures prominently on partner websites, investing in these joint content efforts a way to accomplish this.
By producing and promoting joint content, channel marketers can help partners build out their websites and create content pillars for OEMs. SEO and website success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes research and time to build content, and content takes time to produce results. However, with the assistance of channel marketers, both vendors and their partners can benefit.