The top Microsoft Partners of 2018

The top Microsoft Partners of 2018 ranked by their digital marketing quality

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  • We are launching the fourth edition of our Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report
  • The Top 50 showcases the best digital marketing across the Microsoft Partner Network
  • Forward by Gavriella Schuster
  • The results will be announced when we launch the report at Inspire in Las Vegas, NV in July 2018

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[mks_separator style="solid" height="2"][mks_dropcap style="letter" size="52" bg_color="#ffffff" txt_color="#20a1d6"]I[/mks_dropcap]t’s that time of year again. To coincide with Microsoft’s annual flagship partner conference, Microsoft Inspire, we are launching the fourth edition of our Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report.

If you haven’t heard about our report before, this blog is a great place to start. It will serve as an introduction to the Top 50, answering several key questions and highlighting its wider importance for the Microsoft Partner Network.

What is the Top 50?

Every year we rank the digital marketing efforts of Microsoft Partners and present the results in our industry-acclaimed Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report. The report analyses and assesses the top Microsoft Partners’ blogging output, website quality, and social media engagement. We use three independent tools to measure these scores: Maya for blogging, Sitebeam for websites, and Kred for social media.

The Top 50 showcases the best digital marketing across the entire Partner Network. But don’t take our word for it. In her foreword of this year’s report Gavriella Schuster has celebrated the report in its ability to drive exceptional digital marketing:

“The content marketing examples in this report show how organizations are positioning themselves as thought leaders and industry experts, which strengthens their relationships with customers… The report showcases the best marketing going on in Microsoft’s partner channel and celebrates the hard work of the teams using inbound marketing to engage their audiences and provide real value and insight.”

This year, the report is bigger than ever before. For our fourth edition we have increased the number of partners analysed – assessing the marketing of 39,000 companies this year. All the big names you’d expect are in there – plus a few dark horses that have had great success during the past 12 months with a content marketing strategy that has engaged and inspired their target audience.

But it’s not just about finding the top Microsoft Partners

The Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report is much more than just a league table. It’s also a guide for partners to help improve their inbound marketing. Not only can partners use the blogs, social channels and websites of the companies that made the Top 50 as benchmarks to follow; there are also insights and advice from the Fifty Five and Five team and other marketing experts.

As mentioned earlier, the Top 50 also includes a foreword from Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President, Commercial Partner Channels & Programs, and an interview with Mitchell Feldman, Chief Digital Officer at RedPixie, who reveals what it takes to build an unbeatable marketing strategy.

The Top 50 showcases marketing excellence, highlighting what partners should be doing to improve their digital marketing. As Gavriella says in the foreword:

“We are living through a period of digital change like the world has never seen… It is time to be bold and loud.”

If you are looking to be ‘bold and loud’ over the coming year, then grabbing a copy of the Top 50 is a great place to start.

What can we tell you about this year’s report?

Unfortunately, we can’t say much until Monday 16th July. We keep the results under wraps until we launch the report at Inspire in Vegas, NV.

What we can say is that, as always, there was a lot of movement in the Top 50. This includes some big new entries right at the top. But you will have to wait to see for yourself.

Microsoft Inspire 2018

Microsoft Inspire takes place from the 16th - 18th July in Las Vegas. You can pick up a copy of the report from Fifty Five and Five at booth #1622. Or, if you won’t be attending Inspire in person, you can register here to read the report online once it is released.

Chris Wright, Founder of Fifty Five and Five, will also be giving several talks at Inspire, exploring many of the themes touched on in the report, including the specific marketing challenges facing Microsoft Partners, the science behind marketing and a special talk about the value of social selling. The talks will take place on Monday 16th July at 12:00PM and 1:00PM and on Tuesday 17th July. We hope to see you there.

Who are Fifty Five and Five?

Fifty Five and Five is a digital marketing agency based in Central London that specialises in working with Microsoft Partners. We know the Microsoft Partner Network back to front and understand that partners face a unique set of challenges when it comes to B2B marketing.

Fifty Five and Five helps partners communicate more effectively, reach new audiences and drive more leads. Our services include SEO, social media management, web design and build, email marketing/automation, analytics, marketing strategy, PPC, video, design, research and more.

You can read more about the team here.

 


Fifty Five and Five specialise in B2B marketing for tech companies around the world. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you multiply your leads with proven B2B marketing tactics.


bluesource case study

bluesource A services brochure that is as engaging as it is informative.

bluesource are a globally trusted business IT consultancy whose main objective is to help customers unlock their potential through technology; maximising business productivity via digital transformation and cloud computing.

Business services brochure design

bluesource’s list of services are numerous and varied. They required an engaging and visually appealing overview of the services they provide—something that could be given to prospective customers at a conference and as a downloadable piece of marketing for their brand explaining in detail the value they create. Before working with us, bluesource were struggling to unify the story of their brand in a simple and coherent way.

Telling an appealing story

To help bluesource broadcast their message to a wide range of potential clients we put together a high-end, A5 folding brochure that elegantly compiled all the business-critical services they provide. We worked closely with the relevant stakeholders to understand bluesource’s vision. This allowed us to produce content and design that brought together their numerous services into a single, engaging narrative.

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Interested in learning more?

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Dimension Data case study

Dimension Data Content strategy and promotion

Dimension Data are a global Information Technology Services firm headquartered in South Africa. With a global annual revenue over $7.5 billion, they help their customers do great things in the digital age. Dimension Data bring together the world’s best technology to help clients grow, compete and serve their customers better wherever they are in the world. The company is especially well known for its use of technology to aid in the conservation of rhinos, and for their support role in the Tour de France.

Expert PPC campaign management

Dimension Data run multiple marketing campaigns each year around their research reports and thought leadership whitepapers. They were looking for a partner to help with strategy and promotion of that content and so engaged with Fifty Five and Five to support the management and execution of their digital media strategies - on the likes of Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

We now work closely with the Group marketing team at Dimension Data at the planning stages of each campaign, advising on the best channels for promoting their content. We actively manage a raft of paid media campaigns for them, allocating budget, monitoring impressions and clicks, as well as writing copy and designing creative assets.

For each campaign, we provide in depth reports to give them a transparent view of how the budget is being spent and the impact the campaign is having. We are proactive, reallocating spend and rewriting ads on different platforms to ensure the greatest success for each campaign. We make use of our close relationship with Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Facebook, and can pick up the phone to their reps to resolve any issues and queries.

Our relationship with Dimension Data saves them a significant amount of time when it comes to planning, running and monitoring their campaigns. Our expertise in paid media means their spend is allocated in the most effective way, and we have helped them achieve or exceed their targets for clicks and downloads for all the campaigns we have worked on with them.

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Interested in learning more?

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Inspire social strategy

Your Inspire social strategy: an interview with Rachel Braunstein

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  • Rachel Braunstein of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner organization shares the perfect Microsoft Inspire networking and social media strategy
  • Advice on the power of LinkedIn and Twitter in your Inspire social strategy
  • What new and returning attendees should aim to get from Microsoft Inspire

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[mks_separator style="solid" height="2"][mks_dropcap style="letter" size="52" bg_color="#ffffff" txt_color="#20a1d6"]W[/mks_dropcap]ith Microsoft Inspire around the corner, we’ve been speaking to Microsoft to help partners (us included!) prepare for Microsoft’s biggest event of the year. We spoke with Rachel Braunstein—Partner Marketing Manager with the Microsoft Partner Network—on the spectacle of Microsoft Inspire and how to take advantage of the event through networking and social media.

Thanks for talking to us Rachel. Can we start with a bit of info on you and what you’ll be doing at Microsoft Inspire this year?

“Of course. I’m part of the One Commercial Partner organization, which harnesses Microsoft’s partner expertise and knowledge, from technical to marketing, business development, and programs. Microsoft is not just partner-led, it’s partner-first. And nothing showcases that as much as Microsoft Inspire.

“Last year I ran the social media for Microsoft Inspire, but this year, I’m speaking, attending sessions, and hosting podcasts onsite in the community hub. What’s great about Inspire is that we have incredible people from across the globe coming together, from business decision-makers to thought leaders and Microsoft employees. There’s a lot of great content there, so it’s a perfect place for podcasts. My session on Thursday morning is on how to connect with customers through modern selling and LinkedIn, something I’m super passionate about. So, lots of stuff going on as always! I love being an active participant like our partners—listening to the Corenotes, attending sessions, exploring the commons, and enjoying all the networking events at night.”

For those that haven't attended Inspire before, can you briefly break down what it is and why it's such a great opportunity for Microsoft Partners?

“Microsoft Inspire is where Microsoft connects with its partners on the largest stage of the year. We connect at many small events around the world but Inspire brings together nearly 18,000 people to talk about how we can build businesses, go-to-market and sell together.  It’s all about partnership and unlocking new opportunities.

“And this year, Inspire is being co-located with Microsoft Ready—our major internal sales conference. With both these audiences in the same place, there’s sure to be even more opportunities for Microsoft Partners to talk to Microsoft directly. The community is unified in a way that’s only done once a year on and on such a scale, so you’re bound to learn and create opportunities no matter what. And if you’re a first-time attendee, we have specialized tours starting Sunday and programming to help you find your way, connect with others and have an incredible time.”

If there was one thing that Microsoft Partners must do while at Inspire, what would you say it is?

“It’s hard to say! Some conferences are solely about digesting information and attending sessions. While you can do a lot of that at Inspire, if I had to choose one thing, it’s networking. And social media, particularly LinkedIn, is key to that. So maybe it’s more: network as much as possible, but make sure you use the social platform to help you!

“There will be greater functionality on the My Inspire app during the event to make it easier to network with people digitally and connect with attendees through LinkedIn. There are many opportunities to use LinkedIn to create conversations and potentially create new business. For instance, I always suggest people connect with session speakers on LinkedIn right after attending their session, and send a note saying how you attended their session and what you learned; or follow-up with them before or after the session to show that you care. That’s what networking is all about. It’s these special ways to build relationships with potential clients or partners that makes LinkedIn the perfect tool for your Inspire social strategy. It’s also important because when you speak to so many people, you can quickly lose track and you can refer back to the notes you send.

“With that in mind, you want to make sure your personal and company LinkedIn profiles are as engaging and up-to-date as possible. Include imagery, a summary description, rich media, your qualifications, and anything to draw someone in and relate to who you are. First impressions count, and your profile could be the first impression people have of your company before they actually meet you. So, be sure to post on your company pages before, during and after the event. If your profile is in top shape, you can be ready to meet as many new people as possible and give yourself the best chance at finding new leads and building relationships.

“It all comes down to networking and relationship building, and LinkedIn is your digital method of doing that.”

That’s really useful. Beyond keeping your profile fresh, how should Microsoft Partners approach the show on social channels like LinkedIn?

“There are two sides to social at Inspire: personal and brand. They’re both different and alike.

“If you’re bringing a team to Inspire, you’ve got a small army of advocates. As an individual, you’re representing yourself and your company. That’s what employee advocacy is all about. So, from a personal social standpoint, I would focus on Twitter and LinkedIn—those are my social platforms of choice. At an event like Inspire, you can post a lot of content every day—videos of the Corenotes and Sessions is a great way to capture the atmosphere of Inspire. Every time you post, you’re representing your company. So, including hashtags like #MSInspire and #MicrosoftLife, and ‘@’ mentioning the people you’ve met, are good ways to do this. It’s about creating an authentic experience around what you’re learning and participating in—that’s the best thing you can do. Show your credibility and differentiate not only yourself but your business by talking about the cool stuff you’re doing.

Show your credibility and differentiate not only yourself but your business by talking about the cool stuff you’re doing.

“The other side is thinking about the impact on your company brand. This should require a bit more of a framework. Of course, you still want to use images, video, and hashtags to give your posts the best visibility. But each post should have thought behind it. It’s not just about the experience—leave that for the personal side—but about sharing thought leadership with your audience. Let them know why the company is there, and the benefits of attending for your clients.

“But there should, of course, be fluidity between personal and brand in your Inspire social strategy. On your corporate account, re-post and share any great messages shared by employees (and vice versa). They play off each other. There’s nothing better as an employee to know they’re having their content broadcasted, while the business gets to extend its reach further. It’s a win-win!

“Social is ultimately about driving the conversation. It’s not supposed to be a static tool. That’s what’s so great about events like Inspire because there’s so much to say and do.”

And, even though Inspire hasn’t started, that should be the case now, too. Right?

“Frequency picks up the most at the event for sure. You can’t exhaust your audience before they even get there! At Microsoft, this month is all about inspiration. We’re trying to engage the partner network with inspirational quotes on our social channels—we want everybody to get in on the conversation and get people excited about the event.”

 

We’d like to thank Rachel for sharing her thoughts and expertise with us. Don’t forget to follow Rachel on Twitter (@rkbraunstein) and LinkedIn (rachelbraunstein). Keep up with the Microsoft Partner Network (@MSPartner) on Twitter for all the latest around Inspire, and make sure to visit Fifty Five and Five at stand #1622 at the event!

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