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How to Better MDF & Co-op Programs

How to Better MDF & Co-op Programs

Nearly $10 billion is spent each year in Channel MDF (Market Development Funds) and Co-op Marketing Funds. However, MDF and Co-op programs continue to struggle to generate measurable ROI, leaving channel executives feeling as though they are throwing money away.

Five Reasons Why MDF & Co-op Programs are Broken

1) Lack of Quantifiable Planning:

MDF and Co-op investments are not paired with quantifiable outcome forecasts to estimate leads generated, conversion to opportunities, proposals, and closed revenue.

2) Missing Partner Value Proposition:

Partners often view MDF Co-op programs to not be worth the hassle due to the requirements to deliver leads and uncertainty of vendor cooperative payments.

3) Lack of Clear Path to Partner Profitability:

Lots of partners don’t understand exactly how they’ll make money and are doubtful to invest money and time in brand.

4) Distance Between Spend and Return:

With long sales-cycles, there is frequently a gap between spend and return leading to a more difficult tracking process for MDF/Co-op ROI.

5) Too much Spending on Top of the Sales Funnel and Not Enough on Lower Half:

Partners tend to spend most of their marketing, MDF, and co-op funds on lead/opportunity generation, they have a difficult time pushing these deals through to close and into revenue.

How to Fix Your Ailing MDF/ Co-op Channel Program

Start by setting goals for your MDF/Co-op program that align with each participant’s priorities. Below are some examples of program goals that align with the individual interests:

Measurable ROI

MDF/ Co-op Sponsoring Vendor Program Goals. These programs invest in channel demand and revenue delivery programs where partners have a stake and investment in their success

Sustained Profitability

Partner MDF/ Co-op Program Participant Goals. Partners will confidently invest when they have confidence, they can build a profitable growth business with a brand. An MDF / Co-op program must keep both participants needs in mind if it is going to be successful. Partners don’t want to bother to participate in an MDF / Co-op program unless they are confident that they can build a profitable business, at the same time vendors want to put controls in place to make sure they are generating a return on their investment.

How to Meet Vendor ROI Goals and Partner Profitability Goals

There are 5 characteristics that will make your program and your brand more attractive to your partners, while allowing you to measure and report the success and ROI of your MDF / Co-op investments.

1) Partner Profitability Modelling:

Start by helping your partners understand how they can make more money with their brand. If they see a clear path to profitability, they will be more willing to give the vendor their time, staff, and resources to help grow their business.

2) Partner Marketing Investment and Impact Forecasting Modelling:

Providing partners with the ability to model marketing expenses will give them much more confidence in investing in your business.

3) Forecasted Direct and Derived MDF/ Co-op Impact by Partner:

An ROI forecast for the vendor is a natural byproduct of steps one and two.

4) Forecasted Direct and Derived MDF/ Co-op Impact Across all Partners:

These same partner-level forecasts can be consolidated in partner network forecasts for monitoring overall program performance reporting.

5) Ongoing Performance-to-Plan Measurement and Reporting:

Bi-directional integration with CRM systems (e.g., Salesforce.com) gives vendors and partners the ability to instantly monitor their performance-to-plan, as well as measure marketing’s contribution to revenue.

Read full article at: http://www.successfulchannels.com/5-reasons-mdf-co-op-programs-broken-fix-roi/

cover image from: http://www.successfulchannels.com/5-reasons-mdf-co-op-programs-broken-fix-roi/

Benefits of Cooperative Advertising

Benefits of Cooperative Advertising

Author: Sarah Nasir

Cooperative advertising is when a manufacturer and retailer share advertising costs. Cooperative advertising programs are usually offered by manufacturers to retailers or distributors. These programs are beneficial for both of the aforementioned entities. The four major benefits of cooperative advertising are described below.

Financial

Cooperative advertising costs are shared by manufacturers and retailers. A manufacturer that teams up with a retailer will get the same exposure as the retailer, at a lesser cost. For example, if a retailer chooses to advertise with a full page ad in a newspaper, the manufacturer will get the exposure offered by a full page newspaper ad, but will not have to pay the full price for that advertisement. Reduced costs are also a perk for local retailers who often do not possess the financial means to advertise the way large manufacturers do.

Exposure

A retailer that teams up with a prominent manufacturer will benefit from the manufacturer’s brand value. Advertising alongside well-known brands will add value to the retailer’s store and improve its reputation. Manufacturers also receive positive local exposure from retailers who know their customers well and advertise according to their customers’ needs. Local retailers often have loyal customers in their locale. Advertising with them enables big brands to reach their retailer’s loyal customers. Additionally, the costs of cooperative advertising are shared. This enables both retailers and manufacturers to spend the money saved by sharing costs onto other forms of advertising, resulting in more exposure.

Methods

Retailers may benefit from large manufacturers’ research and marketing methods. It enables them to learn from the experiences provided through these programs and apply them to their own advertising techniques. Lessons such as effectively targeting customers, catering to customers’ needs, methods of tracking results and utilizing research from results in order to improve advertising may be applied to other advertising efforts by retailers.

Growth

Partnering with local retailers enables manufacturers to reach new audiences and expand their customer base. Advertising with local retailers in new cities is an effective method to expand a company’s reach. Local retailers may also maximize manufacturers’ return on investment by providing knowledge of their customers. Local retailers know their customers’ needs very well and help fill the gap between central and local advertising. They know what their customers respond to and may recommend the most effective ways of advertising for their locale.

Types of Anchor Text

Types of Anchor Text

By: Sarah Nasir

Anchor text is the hyperlinked text that you click on. Anchor texts are significant for both external and internal links. There is not much that you can do about the anchor texts from inbound links as you have no control over how others link to your site. However, you do have significant control over how pages are interlinked within your site. Described below are 8 types of anchor text that may be optimized as part of your SEO strategy to interlink between your site or as outbound links.

1. Exact match

Anchor text that is an exact match is text that fits right into the flow of content. It is when the keyword used is definitely representative of the page that it links to. For example, “travel tips” linking to a blog with content about travel tips. Google values this as the content with the anchor text and the linked content is eminently relevant.

2. Partial match

Partial match anchor text also uses keywords related to the linked content. However, there are usually some add-ons or the text has been modified to fit into the flow of content on the linking site. For example “tips for traveling” or “things to do when traveling” are variations of anchor text that link to a page with content regarding travel tips. Because the content is relevant and the keyword is present, Google also values this anchor text.

3. Branded

The anchor text is the brand name. Google considers this beneficial because it increases brand visibility and the brand name hints at what the content is about. For example, using “Nike” as anchor text makes it evident that the content is about shoes or other sporting apparel. This should be used when the brand name is known.

4. Generic

This type of anchor text contains generic words or phrases. These are usually calls to action such as “Click Here” or “Sign Up.” This type of anchor text demands the audience’s attention and usually does not fit into the flow of the content. It is important to note that this type of anchor text does not indicate the content of the link to Google’s search engine bots.

5. LSI Keywords

LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords are keywords that are thematically related. LSI keywords are automatically associated with each other by Google. You may find LSI keywords by looking at Google’s autocomplete queries and related searches. To avoid using the same keywords as anchor text repeatedly, make a list of LSI keywords and use those instead.

6. Article titles

This is anchor text with the title of the article that the anchor text links to. It may be difficult to fit this anchor text into the flow of your content. However, this does provide both users and bots with an idea of what the linked content is about. If it provides an idea of how the linked content is relevant to the content that links to it, this type of anchor text is valuable for Google rankings.

7. Naked URLs

This is when a URL is used as an anchor text. URL anchor texts do not provide information on what the link is about. If this type of URL is to be used, it is better to use a short and concise URL rather than a long one.

8. Images

When an image is used as a link, instead of words or phrases, the image’s alt tag is considered its anchor text. The alt tag is read by engine crawlers. If an image is linked, it is important to fill in the alt tag.

To optimize anchor texts as an SEO strategy, keeping anchor texts and links relevant, quality-oriented and natural is essential. Try to mix up the aforementioned types of anchor texts in your content. Avoid sticking to only one type of anchor text as it indicates that the site is spammy. Also, it is crucial to use internal and outbound links only when content is relevant or helps the user. Do not spam your site with anchor text links.

cover image from: https://exposureninja.com/blog/what-is-anchor-text/

Anchor Text: Best Practices

Anchor Text: Best Practices

By: Sarah Nasir 

Anchor text is the clickable part of the hyperlink. It usually serves as an indication of what the link is about. Anchor text should be a significant part of your SEO strategy – it can increase the validity of your efforts to rank higher on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and more importantly, failing to modify your anchor text practices may get your website penalized by Google, if Google’s Penguin determines you have over optimized the anchor text. Described below are three ways to optimize your anchor text strategy for SEO.

1. Relevancy

Relevancy is one of the backbones of a good SEO strategy. Therefore, ensuring relevancy in your anchor texts being considered one of the best practices comes as no surprise. The content of the link must match its description in the anchor text. If it fails to do so, Google will be able to read it immediately and the particular site page may be penalized. It is a good idea to perform anchor text checks frequently on your website to ensure that the anchor text matches the content of the link.

2. Variation

There are various types of anchor texts. Avoid using the same anchor text for every link. Otherwise, Google’s spam filter may detect it as spam and penalize your site. To avoid over optimizing the use of a particular type of anchor text, keep a record of all anchor text used within your site and determine the ratio for the usage of the types of anchor text. Ensure that the anchor text fits with the flow of the content. If the anchor text is used organically, the ratio of usage will most likely indicate that.

3. Test and track your anchor texts

Tracking anchor text will help determine their impact on your site’s SEO over time. You may choose to use tools such as Anchor Text Categorizer Tool by Linkio or Moz anchor text tool. If you see a variety of anchor texts that help your overall SEO, then your SEO strategy for anchor texts is right.

Cover image from: https://www.semrush.com/blog/what-is-anchor-text-and-how-can-i-optimize-it/

A 10 Step Framework for Local Businesses – By DISTRIKT

A 10 Step Framework for Local Businesses – By DISTRIKT

DISTRIKT is a marketing solutions agency based in New York City. They leverage data, digital marketing and their 10-step framework to stitch together custom, digital marketing ecosystems that help companies acquire new customers and achieve growth.

Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that local companies use digital marketing to promote their products and services. That’s why the team at DISTRIKT has developed a framework to help local businesses navigate the complex world of customer data, digital media and jumpstart their ability to reach new customers across channels.

This framework helps companies like yours stitch together the numerous marketing components available into a custom digital marketing ecosystem.

STEP 1: Define Your Customers

Who are you selling to?

Before deciding if you should send emails, serve ads on Google or Facebook, or all of the above, you should first take time to define and discover your customers. This can be done by reviewing customer purchase history, taking note of who buys from your store, or conducting in depth customer analysis of the market you serve.
For example, are they males? Females? Millennials? Young parents? Why do they buy from you? How does your offer satisfy their needs better than your competitors? This information is extremely important and will shape how you plan your campaigns.
If you have products or services applicable to more than one type of customer, this is crucial to know as you will likely need to segment your creatives and audiences to reach them with appropriate messaging.
You also want to know the customer relationship with your product / service. Are they generally aware of you? Are they actively researching you? Or, have they decided to purchase from you?
Segmenting your customers in this way is the key to delivering relevant messages and continuing to drive them down the marketing / sales funnel towards the finish line.

STEP 2: Develop Compelling Messages

Why do people want to buy from you?

Based on the understanding of your customers and the unique value proposition your product / service offers, design compelling marketing messages targeting your specific customers. This message is a promise to your customers, where you pledge that if customers bring their business to you, you will satisfy their needs. Furthermore, this the message that will guide all creative and content development in step #7.
Based on how customers respond to your digital campaigns, this message can be revised to make it more compelling for current and/or future initiatives.

STEP 3: Map Customer Journey & Measure

The path to convincing people to buy.

With a plethora of information at their fingertips, customers – of any demographic background – have the power to manage their brand relationship with you as a product / service provider. The good news is customers want to learn more about you. However, the challenge is to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, when they are interested in information related to your offer. DISTRIKT addresses this challenge by mapping an engaging customer journey that is custom to each brand.
The purpose of the customer journey is to shape customer research and decision making in favor of your brand, throughout the entire lifecycle of each customer relationship – awareness, consideration, purchase, service and advocacy. The journey should also be designed to capture customer data during the course of the engagement. The data captured helps business owners answer questions such as, “Is there anything blocking customers from purchasing efficiently?” “Are customers satisfied?” “What happens after customers purchase (call, email, SMS follow-up, etc.)?”

STEP 4: Digital Strategy (Paid + Organic)

The guide to implementing the approach.

For most businesses, digital strategy includes two parts – paid media and organic media.
Organic media involves your website, landing pages and posting content via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google search results, blogs, articles published on publishers’ websites, etc.
Paid media involves setting up advertising campaigns and paying for these ads to be viewed / clicked on Facebook, Instagram, Google search, apps / websites, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp, CTV / DTV, etc.
Paid media helps you drive relevant traffic to your company’s digital door front (landing page, website, Facebook page, LinkedIn page, etc.), and continue nurturing and encouraging customers towards making a decision to purchase. This encouragement may include sales incentives, more detailed information about your offer, customer testimonials, industry trends, and much more.
During the course of the customer journey, new traffic will become your organic customers after searching more frequently about your company on Google, liking your Facebook page, following you on Instagram and LinkedIn, downloading your infographics, submitting requests, etc. This is where your organic content kicks in. For most businesses, there is no clear boundry set between paid and organic media. However, paid and organic media should work hand in hand to deliver relevant and timely content to customers when they need it most. This will help you acquire and grow your customer base so they are loyal, profitable and make repeat purchases.
For both paid and organic media you need to decide on which channels, to deliver what message, to whom and when. This decision is ultimately driven by the customer journey designed in step #3. It helps to develop a campaign calendar for both paid and organic campaigns. Try planning 1-3 months in advance to avoid scrambling for ideas at the last minute.
For organic media, we recommend posting on a regular basis to keep feeding customers new and deeper information about your offer. The goal is to keep them engaged, excited and informed. Similar to developing any relationship, it is a persistent and informative two-way communication. Although customers have the power to research your offer and ultimately make the purchase decision, it is up to marketers to shape the communication with customers and drive the relationship to the finish line.
For paid media, this is where you focus on selling customers, driving precise traffic to specific businesses and defining the marketing objectives be it awareness, form submissions, video views, promoting a discount coupon, cross-selling / up-selling additional business, etc. Although some marketers would prefer to drive as much traffic as possible, there is always a need to find a balance (or “sweet spot”) between paid media spending and business results. DISTRIKT has a precise formula to help marketers find this sweet spot and keep refining it through the initial outreach strategy of tailored creative and messaging, and further with the retargeting strategy.
Furthermore, based on your company’s business objectives and customer journey designed in step #3, some paid media campaigns will remain “always on”, while others will focus on short term boosts.

STEP 5: Campaign Goals, Duration & Budgets 

Define campaign parameters to fulfill the approach.

With the customer journey and digital strategy defined, it’s time to design the campaigns to fulfill the journey. Each campaign is a customer communication touch point that delivers a specific message to the target audience while they are at a certain stage of the business relationship (awareness, consideration, purchase, service and advocacy). Therefore, each campaign has a specific goal, such as driving a projected amount of traffic to a landing page, driving a specific number of form submissions, achieving a particular conversion rate, etc.
Both paid media and organic media are involved in all of these campaign types. For instance, an awareness campaign that is running through paid Facebook ads (paid media) will – in most cases – drive traffic to a landing page or Facebook Page (an organic channel).
With any paid media campaign, a decision must be made on how long the campaign will run and how budgets will be allocated towards each channel. The duration should coincide with any promos / offers you’re running, and creative swaps should occur monthly.
Budgets will likely vary by channel and should be allocated based on the audience you’re trying to reach and where most of your website traffic is coming from. If customers can purchase products or services from your website, Google Search will be a great channel as the people clicking on your ad have searched for keywords related to your business, and they’re likely ready to make a purchase.
Email campaigns are still a great channel for reaching people that have previously engaged with you and shared their email address. You can use email platforms to load customer data, develop email promos / newsletters and reach people that are familiar with your brand. These individuals are much more likely to purchase from you, so don’t miss an opportunity to reengage with them.

STEP 6: Select Your Target Audience 

Define your datasets to reach the appropriate audience.

Now that you have a clear definition of the different campaign types and customers you would like to reach out to, you will need to select target audiences from within the digital platforms you plan to run your campaign. This includes, but is not limited to Facebook / Instagram, Google Display Network, LinkedIn, etc. These platforms provide you with the ability to drill down into gender, age, location, demographics and interests. Please note that data segments are named differently for each channel and platform, so try to match them as close as possible and always be open to testing.

STEP 7: Cross-Channel Creative Set 

Define campaign content to fulfill your campaigns.

Another key campaign component in addition to the target audience is creative and content. You’ll need to develop creative and content for the digital channels you intend to run your campaign. This includes images, headlines, primary text and click through URLs for Facebook / Instagram, Google Search and the Google Display Network.
Email can be difficult to setup with no prior experience, but email platforms and 3rd party email tools are often helpful. That said, we recommend keeping a graphic / email content designer on call in case any issues arise. The last thing your company needs is to delay a time sensitive campaign due to rendering issues.
If planning to reach audiences via paid Google Search, you’ll need to choose keywords your customers are most likely searching for. Keep in mind that Google Search (often referred to as PPC), can be an expensive channel if budgets and keywords are not set up and monitored correctly. We recommend defining a reasonable daily budget, running some tests and then making a decision on whether to increase or decrease budget.

STEP 8: Tracking & Performance Review 

Run campaigns to achieve your goals.

As a data-driven digital marketer, you have the power to track customer demographics and behaviors during the customer journey. The insights distilled from this tracking is the competitive advantage that none of your competitors have because it is your data, from your customers, within your marketplace.
DISTRIKT helps by stitching together tracking data from multiple sources into one unified customer engagement story. The sources of tracking data could be digital ad platforms, email platforms, webinar platforms, your website, Facebook page, Instagram account, Linkedin profile, etc. It is helpful to review reports and learn from the performance of each individual platform. This information is very powerful as it allows you to discover end-to-end customer engagement insights.
Google Analytics is at the center of engagement tracking. When serving digital ads, you should be driving people to dedicated landing pages or your website. Google Analytics is an amazing (and free) tool that captures all traffic from your digital ads, and allows you to keep track of customer activities after they transition from the ads to your landing pages or website. This includes tracking efforts from both paid and organic digital media, and you’ll be able to see which channels are driving the most valuable traffic by analyzing conversion rates against the sources of your digital ads.
Furthermore, Google Analytics will show you key metrics such as number of sessions, session durations and bounce rates. This helps confirm whether your website content, page structure and/or user flow needs adjusting.
When all elements of your campaign have been decided and set up, its time to move forward and launch. Over the first few days, platforms like Google, Facebook and Instagram will monitor performance and work to optimize on your behalf.
We recommend checking in every 2 to 3 days to gauge spending, click performance, creative performance and website traffic. These data-points will help understand if any changes need to be made, and if so what to do next. However, it can take several days to gain initial learnings and weeks to truly understand what aspects of your campaign are / aren’t successful, so be mindful of this and don’t make any drastic changes.

STEP 9: Learn & Refine Future Strategy

Retrospect to be better.

After 30 days, you should have enough data to understand how to proceed for the next month. It’s important to consider which images, copy, display banners and audiences are performing best. Knowing this information will help you make decisions on how to increase ad / web performance, as well as business performance.
For example, if you learn that the most engaged audience is of a different age or demographic makeup than initially defined, you can use this information to shape future products and messaging.
Furthermore, every quarter, you should review the following:
• The overall campaign performance, and if it delivers the goals that have been defined in the customer journey.
• The customer journey design, and what can be refined to drive customers down the marketing / sales funnel more efficiently.
• The customer response to your message, which has been defined in step #2.
• The customer definition from step #1, to confirm / refine as needed.

STEP 10: Be Consistent

Build a trusted brand image.

It takes time to generate awareness, cultivate customer behaviour, and shape customer decision making through digital marketing, especially if you’ve never run campaigns before. It’s important to be consistent and continuously engage with your target audience based on the game plan defined in the customer journey and for your digital campaigns. That way, when it comes time to purchase, you‘ll have been top of mind to your customers and they’ll come to your business first.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please reach out to info@distriktww.com. Thank you!
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