Worldwide IT spend is set to grow at 4% after a turbulent 2020 (Gartner, 2020) and as well as growing, it’s also becoming increasingly interconnected, with more and more technology companies working together (as discussed in a 2020 McKinsey report on eco system 2.0). To support this change, tech companies are also becoming more engaged in eco-system marketing – also known as partner marketing, co-marketing, ingredient marketing and channel marketing.
The eco-system marketers are collectively targeting B2B buyers who, in turn, are increasingly being influenced online: 92% of B2B purchases start with an internet search (Forrester, 2019) and 62% of B2B buyers say they can now finalise a vendor list – based solely on digital content.
With the pandemic, this trend has continued, with B2B buyers doing more and more research independently online. When making a purchase, B2B buyers spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers and when comparing multiple suppliers‚ they only spend 5-6% of their time spent with any one sales rep. It’s not a surprise that sales leaders in the Information Technology industry, on average, rate digital channels approximately twice as important now (McKinsey 2020).
Yet even with this shift to digital, many B2B companies still struggle with social media marketing. They find it hard to connect with business customers, especially because there’s typically a lengthier sales cycle and longer chain of command (Hubspot, 2021).
Systems integrators are often at the core of eco-system marketing, typically working with hundreds of suppliers and a handful of strategic partners. But many, however, are yet to fully embrace it in fear of diluting their own brand.
This is supported by new Coterie research showing that 46% of brand searches – for a Systems Integrator and partner name together – returned a poor quality SERP (Coterie, 2021). And those that did, sent prospects off to partner sites (often the homepage) with no context or further information.
This content, tailored neither for partners nor for prospects combined with a lack of conversion features, limits the opportunity – 46% will leave a website because of a lack of message (Nnaji, 2015). The lack of quality joint content is also a concern as more than 50% of all B2B buyers consume an average of 13 content pieces before deciding on a vendor. Of these, on average, 8 are typically vendor-created pieces and 5 from third parties (MartechToday, 2020).
There are many reasons for systems integrators to embrace eco-system/ingredient brands online, including higher margins, more stable demand, better cooperation with OEMs, longer relationships, shared cost of development and promotion, shared risk, and as an entry barrier for potential competitors (Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing – Aljafari & Brown, 2020).