How SAP Partners Use Inbound Marketing To Drive New Business
We are Hubspot Certified Marketing Partners. We also happen to be focused on SAP BW Consulting and related services. We've been using Hubspot's Inbound Marketing methodology as well their Marketing and Sales Platform since 2011. The reason we use the Hubspot platform coupled with the Inbound Marketing methodology is that SAP's SAP MENA marketing manager recommended it to us way back in 2011.
This year, we wanted to find out how we compare to other SAP Partners as far as website benchmark ranking performance goes.
We Found 179 SAP Partner Companies Already Use Our Website!
We knew a lot of SAP Partner employees had visited our site over the years, but we didn't realize just how many! Though we have been able to identify over 28,000 mostly SAP Customers who have visited our website and downloaded content that we produced, we had never really focused on SAP Partners, except as potential Inbound Marketing clients of ours, of which we already have quite a few. We also know from using another company that allows us to go beyond the Hubspot tracking code that, in fact, 300,000 plus companies have visited our company over the years.
Hubspot's Competitor Analysis Tool Really Helped With This Exercise
Though we have helped many, many Inbound Clients over the years, we had generally only ever used the Hubspot Competitor analysis tool in the initial phases of the project. This is because it only allows you to identify up to 10 competitors at a time - but you can, if you so desire, delete one and add another, which is how we were able to work through the benchmarking exercise.
The competitor analysis tool provides 3 key pieces of information (it stopped providing Facebook Fans halfway through this study):
- Current Website Rank per Alexa
- Number of Inbound Links
For any individual company you want to study, you can also drill down into it using this tool. This is an especially useful capability when you are developing your own content strategy.
For our purposes, which was to benchmark ourselves against our competitors, the tool is an extremely simple, fast, reliable way to get the information we need - in a consistent fashion.
It does not allow bulk competitor uploads
The tool only allows you to enter one URL (website address or Uniform Resource Locator) one at time. This is fine but does mean you have to spend a lot of time adding and deleting the competitors into the tool to get the complete dataset you need for a benchmarking study such as this one. This process took us approximately 3 weeks, though we could have gotten it done faster if we had just wanted to run the numbers. But we wanted to jump out of the tool and look at the actual websites for each competitor to see what we could learn.
What is More Important for Higher Website Rankings?
Our first question was whether and to what extent, Inbound Links really mattered when it comes to achieving a higher website ranking. The largest SAP Partner in the study, IBM, had by far the largest number of Inbound Links. However, it was not actually the top ranked site within the study, though it almost achieved the number one pole position.
The site rankings are determined by Alexa which is widely recognized for this type of data. In the case of the Hubspot Competitor Analysis tool, it stops measuring a site's ranking when it falls below 30,000,000. This is a website ranking scale that goes from 1 upward to 30,000,000. The thing to know is that it gets very difficult to move up the ranking toward number one, when you already rank very high.
Moz score versus Website Ranking Highly Correlated
Unsurprisingly, we found a high degree of correlation between the Moz score and Website Ranking score as denoted by Alexa within the Hubspot tool. We also found a high degree of correlation between the number of site pages and Moz rank and Alexa rankings.
This doesn't mean the highest ranked sites are necessarily ranked highest on the Hubspot Marketing Grade, which is a marketing grade provided by Hubspot. We didn't include this score in the SAP Partner Website Ranking Benchmarking report as it isn't always clear whether the website is actually designed to generate leads.
For those companies that do not intend to have their website generate leads, the Hubspot Marketing Grade wouldn't be relevant. However, we haven't yet found a SAP Partner that isn't trying to generate leads using their website, so it is a worthwhile statistic to know and we would be glad to have a discussion with you about yours and how to improve it.
Many Sites Have Easily Fixable Lead Generation Issues
We did do random sampling of the top, middle and bottom tiers of sites to see if there were easily fixed 'gotcha's'. Our goal was to see what we could design and implement on our own website, while potentially gathering information we could use to help other SAP Partners who might want our services. For the very lowest ranked sites, those at 30,000,000 (where measurement ceased), often times, the site was too small to really be considered a lead generation site.
The largest sites, which universally also had an element of online sales and support, also had a mixed bag of optimization issues. Using spyfu, you could see that some did very well on organic traffic generation, generally the highest converting traffic, while others seemed to be more reliant on paid traffic. Given that paid traffic works best when the site has a high quality score as granted by the gods of google, then we were able to determine more easily which ones were the best targets for further study.
SAP Says They Have Almost 20,000 Partners
In addition, according to SAP insider, in 2016, they signed about +_8,300 net new customers. Of these, the pattern is normally that about 2/3rds are Small and Medium (SMB) enterprise customers. The rest of their license sales are extensions of existing license footprints. That means that most partners do not sell many SAP licenses, though they may well sell either their own solutions or a variety of SAP Add-Ons.
Competition for Leads Among SAP Partners is Fierce
Translated into using your website for Lead Generation purposes, it means the competition for leads is very, very tough. For example, if you look at the typical website fully hosted and optimized on Hubspot's Inbound Marketing platform, you would see:
- Somewhere between 5000 and 15000 Unique Website Visits a month after they have been at the Inbound marketing game for at least six full months of effort if not much more.
- Somewhere around a 1 to 3% Visitor to Contact Conversion Rate
- At a 3% conversion rate and 5000 unique visitors a month, that works out to about 150 new leads a month (which is what we typically see from organic).
- Most likely, they have around 250 to 350 pieces of downloadable content available on the website - not an easy hurdle for many firms to overcome.
- Possibly one to two customers a month are being generated from these leads
- Given that complex sales cycles such as SAP can run from 6 months to 18 months and longer, then you know that the pipeline has to be not only full of highly qualified leads but that as they are continuously consumed, they have to be replenished constantly.
This also means that a SAP Partner will need to, much as SAP itself has to, keep a continuous level of pipeline coverage, typical 3X the annual sales quota of each Account Executive.
- You also know that given the number of net new license sales SAP is reporting, that most SAP Partners, even though they handle a large part of what is known as channel sales, aren't really closing a high volume of business.
Room for Improvement Exist Within the SAP Partner Eco-System
Our goal for this study was twofold:
- Benchmark our own performance against other known SAP Partners
- See if we had something of value to pitch to both SAP Partners and SAP Customers.
As far as the first goal goes, we know we fall within the top tiers of SAP Partners, even though we are tiny by comparison to the likes of IBM, Accenture and TCS, three of the partner firms who have visited our site more than 250 times each and which have consumed vast amounts of our educational content.
We Help SAP Partners Create Lead Generation Machines Using Hubspot and Inbound Marketing
As to the second goal, we already have a number of existing SAP partners as customers, at least 2 of which have either been bought out or are in the process of being bought out. So we think the answer is a resounding yes.
If you would like to review the results of our 2017 SAP Partner Website Ranking Benchmarking Report, you can do so by clicking the button below.