VAR Digital Marketing Playbook

6 min read
  • Sales

Throughout the buying journey, value added resellers (VARs) and solution providers (SPs) face the continuous challenge of staying top-of-mind with prospective customers. Faced with long sales cycles and crowded buying committees, VARs and SPs need to continuously engage with prospects while demonstrating that their product or service is the right choice. The right digital marketing plan can help you create an ongoing conversation with targeted audiences.

The Solution Provider Digital Marketing Playbook is a one-stop resource to help technology solution providers kickstart their digital marketing programs. It covers key channels, tactics and KPIs to help firms generate demand through digital marketing. It also outlines the three stages of the marketing funnel, explains buyer behavior at each stage and offers recommendations to help meet prospects’ expectations throughout the buying journey. Read an excerpt below to see why this resource is ideal for solution providers who are just getting started with digital marketing or want to optimize their existing digital efforts.

Top of Funnel – Building Awareness


At the beginning of the purchasing journey, technology buyers are looking for education, resources and insight to support the decision-making process. They may have just identified a problem they want to solve, but don’t necessarily know what software or solutions are available to help them. In some cases, they may not even know there’s a software category specifically designed to help them.

At this stage, it’s imperative to build awareness with prospects using ads and content that describe what your product is and how it can solve their pain points. To this end, you’ll be able to acquire new website traffic and generate new prospects in your database. This is a key part of educating prospective software buyers and guiding them through their purchasing journey.

Top of Funnel Tactics

Google Display Network

Display advertising is an effective way to generate awareness about your software solutions by placing banner ads on websites your prospects visit.


  • Hone in on a relevant audience using all available targeting: demographic, firmographic and geographic criteria. For example, on LinkedIn, you can target IT Directors in the Midwestern United States who work in the manufacturing industry.
  • Create ads that demonstrate your value proposition clearly and concisely. While the user may not click on your ad, the valuable brand impression can leave a lasting impact.
  • If you don’t have a design team, leverage the responsive ad capabilities within Google Ads. You just need to supply the copy, your business logo and images and it will create ads in various sizes across the internet.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  • Impressions, clicks, click through rate (CTR) and cost per mille (CPM) are the primary metrics to track with any display campaign.


  • Keep your ad spend manageable by leveraging all of the targeting tools within each ad platform including demographic, firmographic and geographic targeting. This will ensure your ads are being shown to the right audience without excessive campaign spend.
  • Always feature a clear call to action (CTA) in your ads — usually in the form of a button or line of text that gives the viewer a clear action to take. For example, the CTA in an ad offering an ECM software product demo might read “Get my personalized demo.”

Next Steps/Resources

  • Visit Google Skillshop to learn about the basics of Google Display Network and how you can get started.
  • Looking for high quality images to use in your ads? Try Unsplash which is a source of freely usable images.

Google Paid Search Ads

Paid search advertising can generate quality leads by targeting commonly searched queries that are relevant to your products and services.


  • Place gated content, such as eBooks or white papers, behind a lead form to create new prospects that are showing interest in your offerings.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Impressions, clicks, click-through rate, conversions, conversion rate and cost per action (CPA)


  • If using Google Ads to help drive traffic to your gated content, ensure that you’re targeting specific keywords that are central to your offerings. For example, you might bid on “Automating Government FOIA requests” rather than bidding on a broader term like “FOIA.” This will ensure higher performance and prevent overspending by bidding on broad keywords.
  • Keep your ad spend manageable by leveraging all of the targeting tools within each ad platform including demographic, firmographic and geographic. This will ensure your ads are being shown to the right audience without unnecessary marketing spend.
  • Keep your lead forms as concise as possible. Asking for too much information can decrease form submission rates. Only ask for the information you need.

Next Steps/Resources

  • Visit Google Skillshop to learn the basics of Google paid search and how you can get started.
  • This helpful Google Trends article teaches you how to use this free tool to spot trending searches for relevant topics.

Website and Blog Content

Optimizing your website for search engines by updating important pages and writing keyword-rich blog content is the single most effective way to get new traffic. Best of all, it doesn’t cost you any advertising dollars.


  • Create new blog posts that are optimized for commonly searched product terms. For example, if you identify that there is high search volume for the term “GDPR compliance software,” you might write a blog post entitled “How ECM Software Can Improve GDPR Compliance.”
  • Create a list of questions that you commonly hear in client discovery calls, user groups or trade shows, and write blog content that directly answers them. This will help your website show up in search results when other technology buyers research similar questions.
  • Update key product pages by optimizing them for commonly searched terms. For instance, if you have a page on your website that focuses on the keyword “business process automation,” but you identify that “business process management” has higher search volume, you might consider rewriting the page to focus on the latter keyword.
  • Leverage gated content from your marketing team and place it behind a lead form. This can help create new prospects that are showing interest in your solutions.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Search metrics: search ranking, impressions, clicks, CTR
  • Website metrics: page views, bounce rate, average time on page


  • When looking through your website, ask yourself if it’s easy to understand what your company offers. Are you using software-related product terms in your headlines? Is your navigation easy for prospective technology buyers to understand? Google analyzes all of this to determine your search rankings for your business.
  • As you write blog content, it’s important to use your target keyword somewhere in the title, meta description and first 1-2 sentences of your post.
  • Write about software industry topics you are an authority on so that you’re able to provide a helpful perspective. Google algorithms are adept in recognizing duplicate content, so write your content accordingly.
  • If you use phone numbers on your website, consider using a specific number so you can track calls generated from the website, versus other areas your number is found (online listings, print collateral, etc.).

Next Steps/Resources

  • Visit Google Analytics Academy to learn how you can take free educational courses to learn about Google Analytics and how to get started.
  • Visit Google University to learn how you can take free educational courses to learn about Google Search Console and how to get started.
  • Moz Beginners Guide to SEO has a helpful article from SEO experts

Paid Sponsorships with Partner Sites

Paid sponsorships with key industry websites or publications can help you reach relevant audiences, strengthen industry relationships and show expertise that matters to prospects.


  • Work with industry sites in your key vertical(s) to display ads on their site, participate in joint webinars or even collaborate on the creation of new studies.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Referral traffic to your website


  • This tactic can range from being completely free and only requiring your time, to costing tens of thousands of dollars and valuable staff hours. Weigh your business objectives against the value of working with an industry partner to determine if this makes sense for you.

Next Steps/Resources


Leveraging top of funnel content, you can run paid search campaigns targeting your specific industry (e.g. ECM for Government). Create a landing page with a lead form to send traffic from the ad.

You’ve learned that many of the state and local governments are researching the cloud, using searches like “Should governments use the cloud?” Write a blog that focuses on how government can benefit from migrating their ECM to the cloud, with a title that closely matches what people are searching like, “Why Governments Need to Leverage Cloud Content Management.”

Want to read the rest of this asset? Click here to download the full SP Digital Marketing Playbook.

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