Marketing companies focused on a customer acquisition model of advertising face a few unique challenges that companies marketing their own brands do not. The largest of these challenges is finding a method to utilize the latest content channels to reach customers of a particular brand that drives their own sales funnel, and not that of another company.
An effective sales funnel for online retailers attracts customers with rich content while walking them through their own sales funnel, whatever that might entail. No knowing this before hand can lead such companies to develop digital marketing efforts that cost them significant money and effort with little to show for it.
Here, we’ll talk about some things to think about and potentially avoid while developing new marketing efforts for your partners.
Modern Digital Marketing and Content Generation
It’s no news to anyone working in marketing that content is king. Depending on your products and your business model, having killer content in front of the customer can be the difference from a profitable push or a complete waste of time.
However, as more retailers stretch their marketing efforts to encompass more modern approaches to content delivery and customer acquisition, it can be easy (and costly) to see every media channel as a new opportunity to grab customers.
They are, by the way. Just not out of the box.
Not all customers shop the same way on different media channels, and not all customers will engage the same way at all points of your acquisition funnel. This is especially true if you have several unique and distinct aspects of that funnel (for example, if you are combining SEO, paid search marketing, traditional print marketing, and a call center).
When it comes to acquiring customers for brand partners, this becomes even more challenging to manage because you want to drive customers through your own sales funnel, and not drive them to a competitor (even if that competitor is your brand partner). You want them to buy from you, which means keeping them in your funnel for their entire purchasing journey.
With that in mind, it is important to note the following things when pulling together a content marketing strategy:
- Represent the brand, but don’t funnel to that brand. More likely than not, your revenue depends on you closing sales. It doesn’t matter how amazing or creative your campaign is, however, if you are just driving customers to buy directly from your competitors.
- Educate by setting your own company up as experts on the product and the industry. It isn’t enough to simply sell the product. If you want customers to trust you and keep coming back to you (especially if they don’t buy right away) then you need to be able to answer questions at any stage of their buying journey.
- Have the right people in the right places so that a sale can close at any time. Develop CTAs to grab customer information where they are at, using creative assets that are tried and tested. If you field calls or use online chat, make sure that those people can close a sale.
While these aspects may seem obvious to any marketer, they are even more important for the online retailer who sells for a partner.
Brand Representation is Not Customer Acquisition
One of the more challenging places we’ve seen for retailers is social media. That’s because social media seems to work best for companies pushing their own brand.
Take a marketing firm selling widgets for Wally’s Widgets through a digital campaign. This firm decides to start running ads through Facebook video and YouTube ads. In itself, this plan isn’t a bad one: Google recently reported revenue of over $15 billion dollars, most of which comes from serving advertisements.
So this firm decides to run some banner ads for Wally’s Widgets. After spending several weeks and man-hours developing strategies and creative assets, they launch a campaign and let it run for 30 days.
After that 30 days end, they garnered thousands of ad impressions and paid out upwards of $7k for clicks. And they made roughly 20 sales total.
Not a good return.
After some fallout research, this firm learns the secret of this kind of advertising: people aren’t going to stop watching videos or browsing their media to go shopping. They weren’t already shopping and they aren’t going to stop their browsing for shopping. Instead, customers (if they were interested) noticed the brand, filed it away for later, and most likely Googled the brand from memory to check it out later.
This marketing firm essentially spent thousands of dollars and a month’s worth of time to advertise a product for free.
If you are a retailer for a partner brand, then this kind of scenario is not acceptable. You need to sell products, not sell a brand.
Approaching New Advertising for Partners
With that in mind, there are a few basic approaches retailers can take towards developing content strategies for external brands:
- Use the Brand to Market. Yes, you are representing that brand. But that brand should, if it has any recognizability, help you sell. Their logo, their branding identification, their language should all be tools to help you sell that product.
- Organize Marketing For Sales, not Awareness. A retailer shouldn’t raise the profile of a brand. They should get advertising assets in front of people that their partner brand hasn’t. Using more creative, targeted marketing can put you in a unique position to develop a sales funnel that pulls sticky customers for that brand in a way that they normally wouldn’t have.
- Never Guide Customers Away from Your Assets. It can be attractive to provide links to your partner’s website. Once they leave your ads or your website, however, the chances that they are going to buy for you plummet. Unless you get paid a flat fee to drive traffic, make sure your sales efforts pull customers to click, call, or buy.
- Quality and Honesty Trump Fluff. SEO has come a long way, and we are long past the time when keyword-stuffed websites could pull huge numbers for traffic. It’s also quickly becoming apparent that huge markets are opening up for “prosumers” who have some knowledge about the product they want to buy. Give them real, useful information, and avoid the sales jargon.
- Know Your Strengths and Develop a Strategy Around Them. Are you great at running large-scale paid search advertising? Maybe you have a U.S.-based call center that can handle sales calls like no other. Whatever it is that you have, your entire sales effort should be using those assets as a way to leverage profitability.
Once you’ve hammered out these details, you can start to develop a real strategy for new and customized advertising efforts for your partners. For example, instead of producing advertisements for videos, maybe you start to produce your own video content to push on your own website and that you share online. A targeted video with all your sales information is more likely to catch individuals looking for that product or service rather than just browsing around. Or, you may build a secondary blog as a knowledge base for your partner’s industry and use it as a way to funnel customers to your sales assets.
In either case, develop sales that target your strengths and don’t encourage customers to browse elsewhere.