- 2018’s Microsoft Partner Top 50 ranking is complete!
- Discover this year’s trends and get your hands on a copy of the report
The Microsoft Partner Top 50 for 2018 is almost here
It’s that time of year again, and we can hardly believe it’s been a whole year. Yes, this July will be one of the most anticipated months in the Fifty Five and Five calendar: the fourth release of the annual Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report. Designed to celebrate the marketing success of Microsoft Partners around the world, the report presents what we believe to be 2018’s most brilliant Microsoft marketers.
We are completely unbiased and transparent when it comes to the selection and scoring process. We use a number of third-party tools, as well as our own digital benchmarking platform Maya.
Over the years, our report has gained a wide following in the tech industry, which is why we use the annual Microsoft Inspire event to launch the eagerly awaited results.
The stakes are high in 2018
Before we get to the crunch, it’s worth knowing that we made some slight changes to our 2018 selection process. This year we chose to broaden our horizons, analysing 39,000 companies in total – a 56% increase from last year. And the competition got a lot more exciting.
So how do you get into the Top 50? Here are some tips to follow if you want to take your digital marketing to the next level and improve your ranking for next year.
Before we begin the analysis, we make the three following checks:
- You must be a Microsoft Partner
- You must have a fully-functioning company website
- You must have an active company blog and Twitter account
We then test your marketing in three major areas:
- Social media
We use these digital channels to benchmark your marketing, as we know from our daily business just how much power they can add to your brand. A website is the first place (prior to social media) a customer will look for information, so we start by testing your website, and the results have been very interesting.
Here’s how, on average, the results have fared this year:
On average, blog scores have stayed the same, website scores have increased by 4.3%, and social by 4.1%. It’s great to see partners realising the power of a good user-centric website as well as nurturing customer relationships with frequent social media posts and consistent messaging.
And just like that, the competition got heated
Scanning the websites of our initial 39,000 whittled the contenders to just 1000, with the top 250 making it into the report. So how do you know your website is doing its job?
1. Your Website – Keep it fresh
We found four common trends amongst the very best performing websites;
Freshness of content
How regularly do you update your website? The Top 50 post new content 5.58 times more than the average.
Keep your customers interested in new and relevant content every week to see some real changes in your brand image.
It’s official: there are more mobile devices on the planet than people, and if you haven’t realised the social media world emerging around you – where have you been hiding? Take heed of these statistics we gathered:
96% of our Microsoft Partner Top 50 had an active Facebook account, and a whopping 100% were using Twitter regularly. That’s a big green tick in our books!
Social media improves your visibility online. Amongst our Top 50, we saw a direct link between social impact score (which was how many likes and shares were made) to the overall success of the website. Now that’s food for thought!
Incoming links are also important. The amount of times a website link has been shared indicates the popularity and amount of traffic to/from your site.
Top 50 website links are shared 9.23 times more than the average, meaning you should use links to improve traffic and reach wider audiences.
Patience is certainly not a virtue when it comes to site loading times, as we’ve all probably felt the frustrations first-hand.
Top 50 websites are 28.5% faster to load than the average (2.8 seconds versus 3.6 seconds). Sometimes a single second is the difference between users staying on your site or navigating elsewhere.
38,000 of our 39,000 competitors lost out on the top spots at this point due to website issues (that’s over 97%!). Always keep your website in tip-top condition.
2. Your Blog – Keep it simple
When it comes to blogging, posting regularly is key to full audience engagement.
Days between each post
This year’s Top 50 blogged on average every four to five days. If you want to maintain popularity, once a week should do the trick. Making the blogs exciting and engaging? Now that’s a whole other story…
Online marketers must know the difference between the offline and online reader. Online audiences seek simple blogs with concise, bite-size information; and in readability tests, the highest-scoring blogs used language understandable by 8th-grade pupils.
3. Your Social media – Keep it visible
Your social media pages are a safe place for businesses to relax and let their human side show a bit more. In this light, a good social media account can maintain meaningful business relationships – even if they’re half-way around the world.
Making sure your social media links are visible seems like an obvious one, but it’s often missed. Culturally, people tend to use social media for bitesize news updates, so it’d be wise to make it as easy as possible for customers to follow you.
Boost your back-links
The success of your website is largely based on engagement, which is why we take backlinks into consideration. Backlinks are great ways to get your content out to external sites, getting it in the eyeline of different audiences and giving you another style of content to push on social media.
The full version of our Key Findings can be found in this year’s Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report. Where you can discover the Microsoft partners who practice the very best inbound marketing techniques.
The report is set to be released in July 2018 at the annual Microsoft Inspire event in Las Vegas, where we’d love to meet you in person to celebrate your place in our report.