When you combine a lack of marketing know how, with a complex product like ERP software, coupled with a long sales cycle, the struggle is real, especially for VARs trying to drive new ERP sales revenue. If you're a ERP VAR selling Oracle-NetSuite, Sage-Intacct, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor or SAP ERP products and not getting dozens of leads each month from your website investments this blog is just for you.
In this post I'll show you everything you need to know to start generating new ERP leads (and sales cycles) in short order. We've identified a handful of areas where we see ERP VARs struggle when it comes to their digital marketing and lead generation efforts. Let's explore each of these briefly:
ERP consultants across the board share in their frustration that they receive little to zero leads from the software publishers they represent. Even if you are in an ecosystem that does provide some leads, if that referral source were to ever go away, you would be in a difficult spot if you haven't figured out how to generate ERP software and service leads on your own. Additionally, many ERP software vendors such as Oracle-NetSuite, already have a large direct sales team.
It's practically impossible for ERP vendors to feed both their direct sales reps and their partners leads, therefore your only solution is to become fully self sufficient at generating leads for your business.
Website Not Optimized for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
The vast majority of ERP sales cycles begin with online research. There's Bing, Yahoo and Google, with Google being the dominate search engine.
Therefore if your product or service is not being ranked on the first page (ideally top 3) by Google you can pretty much forget about being found online. According to Backlinko, the top 3 Google results take 75% of all the clicks. Further complicating matters is Google's ability to provide "instant answers" to many queries without the reader ever having to leave Google's search page. So, how do you rank number #1 on Google's organic listings? And if you are ranking well, how do you convert those sessions and clicks into sales ready leads?
Blogs and other forms of content are great for gaining traction with keyword acquisitions. However it requires consistency. Google is looking for fresh content from websites and chances are your competitors are blogging with regular frequency. How do you make this a priority amongst all the other activities the business requires of you?
This is a big one. If you don't have a specific goal in mind for each blog post, don't even bother with blogging. For blogging to be effective, you need to be laser focused on a particular keyword/phrase for each blog you publish. A great example of this is right in front of you. Chances are you Googled something along the lines of "ERP software leads" or "EPR lead generation" and found this blog. I created this blog specifically for readers looking for help generating ERP leads. Are you providing value and answering the questions that your audience is looking for? Knowing which keywords and phrases to target can be a challenge if you are new to this. Keep reading for tips specially regarding keywords research, the types of keywords to go after and the ones you should avoid.
As you are well aware, selling ERP software solutions isn't like selling commodity products and services. Your ideal buyer is going to be much more business savvy and highly selective when choosing a ERP product, after all his/her credibility is on the line and it's the software they'll be living in every working day.
ERP is incredibly sticky, in fact ERP systems generally are with a company for 5-10 years or more.
Because of this, you need to fully understand your audience, their desires, their fears, and their objectives related to this substantial undertaking.
We've outlined 5 steps you can take advantage of right now to start growing ERP software leads for your business.
Getting ranked on Google begins with understanding what keywords and phrases your buyers are using for their online ERP research. Ideal keywords and phrases for ERP VARs generally revolve around what we will refer to as "The Big 5 Themes", which include the following:
These 5 themes are a good starting place to drill into the types of keywords/phrases a typical ERP buyer will query in Google once they begin online research. Once you've identified the ideal keywords you want to target, you'll need to determine if you currently rank for any of them. If you are not sure how to do this there are tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush to help with this process.
If you already rank for them, then it's just a matter of optimizing your existing content to increase your Google rankings. Or if you don't rank for the keywords, you'll need to create new content (e.g. blog) in an attempt to rank for that particular keyword/phrase.
Next you'll want to research and analyze what your competitors are ranking for and attempt to determine why their content is so effective in Google rankings compared to yours. Having a good handle on SEO fundamentals and SEO tools will be important in helping you to choose the best keywords and the type of content you should create to support keyword acquisition and top rankings. If you'd rather leave this step up to the pros, click below to start the dialogue about how we can help you with keyword research.
After the keyword research is completed, you'll want to create an editorial calendar mapping your ideal keywords to the future content you are going to create and/or optimize. You'll want to think through how to structure the content (e.g. Pillar & Cluster) and when you intend to publish it. Think of the editorial calendar as a blueprint for your inbound marketing program. This planning step is necessary to ensure you don't forget or miss anything, and it keeps you on track to hit your publishing goals and objectives which in turn will help you hit your revenue objectives.
Setting up an editorial calendar can be as simple as a creating a Google Sheet template to get your team organized or you may want to consider using tools like HubSpot's SEO tool to determine how to visually structure and link your content. In our industry, it's pretty easy to see marketing professionals write great content that's not properly optimized for search engines and the same is true of SEO professionals only writing content for search engines. For content marketing to be successful, you need to write content for both human readers and search engines.
When creating assets for real humans, it's important for your assets to be readable and relatable. Content that is overly stuffy or technical tends to be skimmed over or tossed aside altogether. You'll want to capture the readers attention by giving them info they are looking for in digestible bites that are enjoyable to read.
It's one thing to write content purely for human readers. It's another to write content for search engines. You cannot neglect either. Search engines have gotten really good at identifying content purely created to fool search engines. There was a time when unscrupulous marketers could simply stuff their pages full of keywords and rank highly in search results. This sort of behavior results in a poor experience for the reader, which leads to high bounce rates that happen to be a negative Google ranking factor.
On page optimization of your target keywords are still very important, but less so. Search engines now look for many other factors such as page load times, the authority of the pages linking to your site, and the time readers spend on your site (dwell time). These are all things that a search engine's algorithm will be taking into account when deciding to rank your page for a particular keyword.
Once you have published some high quality, SEO optimized content, the next step to increase your potential for higher Google rankings by generating high authority backlinks to your recently published content. In a nutshell, a backlink is just a hyperlink from website separate from your domain that links back to your website. You can think of a backlink as a vote of confidence in the eyes of Google's algorithm. Ideally, you want the hyperlink text to be something relevant to the keyword you are trying to rank for. The hyperlink text is referred to as "anchor text".
Some SEO's claim you don't want to overly optimize your anchor text so that it does not appear natural, which we agree to a certain extent. However the anchor text definitely needs to be relevant to the keywords you're trying to rank for. Here's a quick example:
Let's say you just published a "Pricing Guide" for Microsoft Dynamics 365 BC, and the goal of that blog was to rank for the keyword "dynamics 365 pricing". You'd want your backlink anchor texts to be something like this:
By having the anchor text tightly aligned with your target keyword and other SEO elements (e.g. URL, title, H1, meta description, alt text for images) tells Google very clearly which keywords to rank this content for. You can do link building on your own (very time consuming) by reaching out to your professional network to see if someone would be open to publishing content you create on their website with a link back to your domain or, you can completely automate this process by partnering with a company that specializes in both the outreach and copywriting aspect of your guest blog, as well as understand the nuance around anchor text density.
We suggest leaving it to the professionals so you can focus on what you do best.
Of all the 200+ Google ranking factors, building high authority backlinks is incredibly helpful when trying to increase your odds of getting higher Google rankings. There are many SEO tools available to keep an eye on the number of backlinks and referring domains linking to your website. We personally like tools such as Ahrefs for tracking referring domains and backlinks in near real time.
Now that you are dominating the Google ranking for your target keywords you should see an increase in web sessions. At this stage, these additional visitors are unknown to you. You'll want to turn this increase in traffic into known leads, sometimes referred to as Marketing Qualified Leads or MQLs.
It's commonplace for companies to use static forms with numerous required fields for leads to submit their information, but this causes friction. First because the prospect knows they are going to get spam or sales calls or both, which they may not want at this stage. Therefore you risk them moving on to the next website that can provide them the information they are looking for, more quickly and less intrusively. Therefore, we suggest other conversion tactics, for example Typeform which replaces the typical form with a more interactive experience with logic jumps that you can build into your form making it interactive with your online prospects.
Interactivity is key when it comes to lead conversions. Leads convert because they are looking for information that you posses, right now. Why not give them some of the information (e.g. product pricing) in exchange for some of their information (e.g. email address) instead of a static form with too many required fields that makes them wait. Online interactive quizzes and calculators are great at driving user engagement and conversion because it provides them the immediate information they are looking for right then and on their terms. Let's use the previous example from above.
Let's say you are ranking #2 for "dynamics 365 pricing" and you've seen an increase of 250 web sessions per month. In light of this, you have a pretty good sense that the additional web visitors are looking for pricing information related to a Dynamics 365 ERP initiative. Instead of a boring "Contact Us" button on your ranking URL why not try a "Calculate Your Dynamics 365 Price Now" button taking the web visitor to an interactive calculator moving them through which features/functions they might need and provide them a range of prices in exchange for their email address at the end of the process. In addition, consider including a ChatBot that can walk them through a similar exercise in a slightly different manner. Both of these examples can convert your web traffic into sales ready leads efficiently. Lastly, there are tools available today that can append and augment your conversion data upon lead capture requiring you to ask less from your prospects at the time of form submission.
Zoominfo has a good tool for this particular use. How great is it to only ask for an email address but be able to get everything you've ever wanted to know about the prospect (e.g. direct phone #, alternate email address, technographic profile, industry insights, revenue, employee counts and buyer intent)? The key is to give your leads the info they desire right away, combined with a "smaller ask" can really improve conversion rates for VARs looking to sell more ERP software and services.
Now that you are consistently generating more web sessions and more ERP software leads, you'll want to leverage some type of sales and marketing automation to help you score and route leads to the appropriate sales channels for timely and relevant follow up. To do this, you'll need technology to enable this level of sophistication. HubSpot Marketing Hub and CRM offer a great technology stack for helping marketing teams score and nurture leads, and empower sales teams with insights and tools to drive greater velocity and consistency throughout the sales cycles. In addition, by aligning your sales and marketing teams, sales reps will receive the type of leads they desire and marketing will get the credit they very well deserve for driving high volume and high quality ERP software leads to sales reps.
There are several online review sites that focus on ERP software and consulting services, where real customers can share their experiences with various ERP software applications and consulting organizations. Site's like G2Crowd, Capterra, Technology Advice and TrustRadius are just a few. Many of these sites are heavily investing in content and SEO to dominate Google rankings for bottom of the funnel keywords. Instead of competing with these websites for digital real estate on Google, why not work with them. How, you may ask? Here's a great example of how to leverage a review site like G2Crowd.
Let's say you resell NetSuite ERP software and provide NetSuite consulting services. If a potential NetSuite buyer were to search "Best NetSuite Partners" in Google they would see G2 ranking in the first organic result. From here all you need to do is get some of your existing customers to provide a review of your services to get featured on this list of NetSuite resellers, for free! And, by the way, G2 provides analytics tracking software so that you can see actual visitors that were referred to your website from G2Crowd to see the effectiveness of this strategy. This example is not limited to NetSuite, it could work for SAP, Sage, Infor, Dynamics partners and more.
Generating ERP software leads isn't for the faint of heart. It takes real skill and persistence.
At Hollinden & Smith, we have perfected the practice of helping ERP VARs drive more web traffic, more sales ready leads, and more customers with their website investments. We would be happy to discuss how our services can help your ERP consulting business grow.
Curious if it makes sense for your business? Let's discuss today.