Riverbed steps up digital marketing to support mainstream networking push

A key component of the new strategy is Riverbed Reach, a new marketing program the company announced at its Partner Summit event.

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Subbu Iyer, Riverbed’s Chief Marketing Officer

SCOTTSDALE AZ – At its Partner Summit 2016 event here, top Riverbed executives laid out both their intent to leverage their advantages in SD-WAN to make a breakthrough in the mainstream networking arena, as well as their strategy for dealing with digital transformation, responding to a fundamental shift in how mainstream IT services are being deployed and how new capabilities are being built. Riverbed’s marketing arm gets to play a key role in crafting the tools that the company and its partner will use to drive these strategies, and has unveiled both a new program and an aggressive campaign to get partners to leverage their resources.

Subbu Iyer, who took over as Riverbed’s Chief Marketing Officer on January 1, discussed several key data points referencing digital transformation and how they impact on opportunities for Riverbed.

“B2B buyers are changing the way that they buy,” he said, citing Forrester data that indicate that 59 per cent of B2B buyers prefer not to interact with a sales rep, and 74 per cent find buying from a website more convenient.

“It’s important for us to have an aggressive presence online,” Iyer said.

Riverbed’s strategy goes much deeper than that, however

“75 per cent of business will be digital or have digital transformation underway by 2020, but only 20 per cent of these will be successful,” Iyer said.. “It’s because they don’t have a digital strategy aligned to their business.

“Businesses need our help to make them successful on their digital journey,” Iyer told partners. “This is also a C-level conversation, so being able to make it allows you to call much higher in an organization.”

Iyer explained why Riverbed thinks the company and its partners have a major competitive advantage here.

“At the heart of digital transformation is applications, and the DNA of Riverbed is really applications,” he said. “Riverbed’s success in WAN optimization was all about understanding applications and application behavior.”

Moreover, Iyer emphasized that the technologies at the heart of Riverbed’s strategy going forward, including a major announcement that will be made in just under three weeks, accelerates this advantage.

“The Riverbed application platform can be connected to the customer needs – end to end visibility which is very differentiated, app-defined networking and the software-defined edge,” he said.

Not being first in the space he said is an advantage as much as a disadvantage.

“Sometimes it’s best not to be the MySpace,” he said. “We learned from the mistakes of others with our product coming out on April 26th.”

Iyer then laid out more details on what Riverbed’s marketing is doing to assist partners.

“We are building out marketing campaigns, designing them with partners in mind, as we want you to embed our campaign kits in your demand generation,” he said.

A key element of this is Riverbed Reach, a new and mainly digital program which is open to Riverbed’s Premier and Elite partners.

“Digital First is a key strategy here,” said Danister de Almeida, Riverbed’s VP of Global Channel Marketing. I’m not saying that round tables, telephone calls and trade shows aren’t relevant, but digital is critical. That data point from Forrester that 59 per cent of B2B decision makers now don’t want to deal with a sales rep necessitates us to not just be digitally savvy, but to transform our marketing mix and our approach to the market.”

De Almeida said this includes ramping up what percentage of their marketing investment goes into the nurture track even before the customer is ready to make a decision.

“We are making specific determinations based on those data points, and are doing that next week, in fact,” he said.

The Riverbed Reach program has already been successfully piloted in two markets, in South Korea and Australia. It has six main components.

“One of them is the provision of access to digital assets for partners, but that’s not even a major component,” de Almeida said. “Much more significant is value proposition development, where partners get to develop their own value proposition, taking their own proposition and embedding us within it. To succeed with this embedded solutions strategy, we have to enable partners to develop their own value proposition – and in the digital space this becomes far more significant.”

A third component is localization of the program.

“We have 29 local sites, of which nine are local language sites,” de Almeida said. “We piloted in Korea because of the local language. Partners there are very independent in terms of wanting their own messaging.” Australia was chosen to pilot for the same reason that Canada is also a popular pilot site for many vendors, because it is a smaller English language market. Two more pilots in South America, In Brazil and Argentina, are coming in the next 3-4 weeks. A U.S. pilot with four partners is coming before the end of May.”

The fourth program component is marketing automation.

“Many of our larger partners have their own automation tools, but many smaller ones use regular Outlook emails, so have no way to track or see the results in order to take buyers through the buyer’s journey,” de Almeida said.

The other elements of Riverbed Reach are outbound calling support, to create scale (and which Riverbed itself outsources), and the one non-digital aspect, adding personal contact though one-to-one and one-to-few roundtable events to provide a more personal touchpoint.

Learning more about Riverbed Reach and acting on it is one of the three calls to action on which Iyer closed.

“We also want you to collaborate to execute your joint engagement and account plans, and to engage with Riverbed channel marketing, to leverage Riverbed campaigns,” he said.