2017 was an interesting year for the cybersecurity market. As data breaches soar, regulations tighten and costs of mitigation increase, organizations of all scales and sizes are learning the importance of a multi-layered security strategy.
If you’re in the business of selling digital certificates, this is a great time to capitalize on strong industry demand and increase your market share in your region. Whether you’re selling digital certificates as part of an integrated services or you want to focus exclusively on being the sole digital certificate partner in your locality, now has never been a better time to reach out and grab that opportunity.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on the latest industry trends, you might have heard that Symantec sold their digital certificate business to DigiCert and Comodo sold theirs to the investment firm, Francisco Partners. Let’s Encrypt (with their free DV offering) have helped Google encrypt over 50% of the internet, but with that has come an increase in websites using SSL Certificates for phishing. That’s just to name a few of the things that have happened in 2017. Even when the year ended in a debate over the value of EV SSL and a sharp entrance into an unknown future of quantum computing coming our way, I have no doubt that Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) will remain the skeleton that holds our internet and IT infrastructures together. This year will once again be tumultuous for the industry because everyone will be working even harder to fight the bad guys and digital certificate providers will have even more of an opportunity to encrypt every endpoint, harden access and strengthen authentication.
With that being said, where does your business fit into this story? Only you can really say. But, I can share some tips that will help you become more recognized in 2018 and if used correctly, these strategies will help guide you into the position to be the number one reseller in your region.
Inbound marketing is where everything starts…it’s about bringing people back to your website and lets them know you are here. Being exposed to your website enough times when looking for solutions is a quick and easy way to influence buyers. A crafty marketing strategy is to reach out to people on various channels.
People will go looking for digital certificate solutions on multiple channels, so you should be available on those channels to meet their needs. This is what is known as a “multi-channel approach” and has become a common strategy in inbound marketing today. I will name a few of the main channels you should be using here and some of the main strategies for making those channels work.
Are you guilty of heading straight to Twitter when you want to complain about a company? How do you feel when that company isn’t there to respond or solve your problem? It seems social media has brought in an age of responsivity with businesses. It has compelled businesses to use social media, not just for brand awareness but for support, customer services, advertising, listening and just about everything else you can think of.
Social media is a platform where you can reach out to a much larger audience across the globe. It’s power to bring large communities of people together is useful because if you find the right communities, you can get your brand out there and improve your reach. You can also find influencers in your industry and build relationships with them so that they can do the promotion for you.
It can be difficult to take the leap in fear that it might turn into one of those social media horror stories. We have all heard about a company that said or did something they could not take back. The truth is, people will say something about you regardless of whether you are present or not. The trick is making sure you have built a strategy around your company’s tone of voice and you adhere to that when using social media.
You need to give the right training to the people in your company responsible for it and have guidelines to deal with negative and positive feedback. A social media policy that other employees can adhere to is also useful, but remember there is a thin line between a policy that stops people from doing anything to tarnish your brand and a policy that stops people from doing anything at all. One still allows employees the freewill to be creative and create a positive aura around your business, the other makes them scared to do anything at all.
There are an average of 500 million tweets a day...one of those is an opportunity for business waiting to happen.
Search engines are another channel that people will use to learn about digital certificates or where to buy one from. Google alone processes 3.5 billion searches a day. This is well over the number of people tweeting. And on the plus side, people searching in Google are often more specific about what they want.
‘Where do I find a digital certificate?’
‘Compare top Code Signing Certificate sellers in X region’
‘Who’s the best company to buy an S/MIME Certificate from?’
If you expect your company to be the top of the search results for any of these, you need to put the hard work in.
With Google being the number one search engine in the world, most marketers start here. I recommend signing up to Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics for your website, so you can start analyzing your organic search traffic and the keywords that you could be optimizing and creating content for. You should use this information to create a strategy around content creation and website updates.
For example, if you know there are a lot of people looking for ‘top SSL Certificate sellers in Italy’, you might want to create a blog called ‘Why we are the top SSL Certificate seller in Italy’. Or ‘How to find the top SSL Certificate seller in Italy’. Once you create this content and share it on social media so that your audience can find it and re-share it, you can start gaining some traffic for that search term. If you have created an easy to read and added value piece of content that your audience likes, Google will start to rank it higher and you will start to get a higher click through rate.
So, the search engine strategy really is as simple as:
- find out what people want to know about digital certificates,
- create content and web pages that answer their queries as best as you can and,
- promote them and analyze them to see if and how they can be improved.
Link building ties in very closely with search engine optimization but you can use a variety of strategies to make this happen. Yes, if you create great content that answers queries, you are likely to have external publications and websites link back to that content. But there are other strategies behind building links.
One of these is known as public relations (PR). Your region will have a few prominent publications in IT Security, technology and information security spaces. As part of building referral traffic and links back to your website, you should be engaging with the writers, reporters and editors at these publications and giving them the juicy stories behind your company.
You might be wondering what kind of juicy stories a digital certificate reseller could possibly have and rightly so. This is why people hire PR managers or agencies; to make things sound more exciting or help publications find interesting stories to publish about you.
Often, having your company’s leading industry experts speak at events or hold seminars is a great way to get your name out there. Being a sponsor or exhibitor at your regions top infosecurity events means getting on their website’s and being on their agendas and programs. It also means putting your company’s brand in front of a wide range of industry experts.
Other good examples of stories that could help you increase links to your website are:
- corporate social responsibility,
- an event you are running yourself,
- an employee in your company who recently published a thought provoking paper or research,
- a webinar that you want to invite people to or
- a merger, acquisition or change within your company.
There’s a wide array of activities your organization could be doing that will make a good story to someone. It’s just about finding the story and the right publication to feature it. Over time you learn which of these stories are more compelling than others and you become better at knowing who would publish them.
Another great channel for building and communicating with your audience is email. If you’re selling certificates to a European audience, you might be aware of the EU GDPR regulation to be enforced in May 2018. While GDPR is set to require a lot of work and investment from companies to comply, it spells good things for inbound marketing.
Rather than buying email lists and using ‘interruption marketing’ techniques to reach your audience, marketers draw organic sign ups through use of great content and sleek campaigns. People who want to hear more from you, sign up. In return you have higher email open rates and engagement rates. Your email lists might be smaller but the list is full of quality candidates who are much more likely to give you a return on investment.
Today’s email marketing platforms have a lot more to offer than just sending emails to lists. Getting people to open and engage requires being a little more savvy, especially when the average working person spends a third of their work time on emails; sticking out from the crowd and staying out of the spam box can be hard.
One of the last things we want is someone unsubscribing from your list simply because you’re sending them irrelevant emails. Marketing automation and email marketing tools can help you segment your lists to create groups of relevant interests so you can email only subjects that would be relevant to them. You can use your knowledge about each person on your list to send them emails that are personalized to them.
A great example of that in the digital certificate industry is a list of your customers, segmented by ones whose certificates are expiring within the month. You could send them a personalised reminder email to make sure they log back in and renew. You could segment further by people who only bought a one year certificate and encourage them to buy a two year with a discount deal. The possibilities are endless!
Having the Expertise
To be a great seller, you have to have knowledge of what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to. If you are selling digital certificates as part of a wider range of products, it requires a wider wealth of knowledge which can sometimes be difficult. This is why it’s important to always stay on top of industry news and product knowledge so you can always adjust your brand positioning and take advantage of market changes.
Product Knowledge Resources
So where does one go to get information about digital certificates? The internet is raging with places to get an in-depth understanding of PKI. Here’s a short list to get you started.
- GlobalSign’s SSL Information Center – starting off in the world of digital certificates? Our SSL Information Center has all the basics for you.
- GlobalSign’s Product Training Center – perfect training for an organization getting started on reselling digital certificates.
- GlobalSign’s Blog – our blog has a range of articles, from informative guides to guest blogs and industry updates.
Industry Knowledge Resources
In the digital certificate market, industry news also means regulations that both us and our customers have to comply with. Here’s a few ideas to keep up to date.
- Netcraft – a great place to get industry research and statistics. Regular studies on the SSL market share, phishing and hosting providers. You can even sign up to receive the latest reports straight to your email.
- CA Security Council - the CA Security Council is a no-brainer. Get subscribed and keep up to date with product information and regulatory updates.
- Mozilla Dev Security Policy – this Google group is where the PKI industry stays up to date with certificate issuance, important debates and latest news. You will start to see the same names crop up here from time to time. People like Ryan Sleevi who works on PKI in Google or Scott Helme, famous security researcher.
- CA/Browser Forum – this is where Certificate Authorities, like GlobalSign, and browsers, like Google, come together to set the policies and regulations that guide issuance of digital certificates.
- Google Alerts– set up Google alerts to monitor latest updates on topics you want to follow and get ahead of the game.
With increased inbound leads to your website from your marketing activity, a greater reactivity to industry news and updates and employees armed with expert product and industry knowledge, there is nowonly question…how to close the deal.
A great sales rep will know that listening is more important than talking. This tactic becomes even more useful as best practice teaches us to switch from selling products based on quantity to selling products based on their ability to solve problems. What I mean to say is, instead of wasting precious time talking about how much of a product is needed, we sell by offering a solution to someone’s problem.
A great way to arm sales reps to that this personalized approach is social selling. We spoke earlier about the benefits of using social media as a channel for brand awareness, customer services and lead generation, but social media is also a great place for building relationships and helping people solve problems; which is just the first step into making a sale.
A social selling strategy within your company requires onboarding of the right tools, training to use those tools and a way to monitor metrics and award those who are making the best use of it. Social selling isn’t something that happens overnight and often the biggest mistake people make when implementing this strategy is that they give up too soon. If you’ve created a path to correctly measure ROI, you won’t expect results right away. It’s important to give some time and plenty encouragement for sales reps to build those relationships and get used to marketing their own personal brand.
Partner With a CA
Last but not least, when working towards becoming the dominant digital certificate reseller in your region, it is important to make the right partnerships. Digital certificates can only be issued by Certificate Authorities (CAs), like GlobalSign. If you don’t fancy the regulation and investment that comes with being your own CA, partnering with one like us is the next best step.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this year has been a pretty crazy one for the CA industry. It’s becoming more important than ever that CAs do their utmost to ensure they uphold to the regulations and best practice set forth by the CA/Browser Forum and CA Security Council. With that in mind, partnering with a CA shouldn’t simply be about getting the most for less. You should also pay attention to:
- the CA’s vetting practices,
- how easily you can access their support staff,
- the CA’s platforms and tools,
- their longevity and history and
- their ability to innovate and automate.
The fact of the matter is, you already know how to run your business and you must be doing it well if you’re exploring the addition of digital certificates. Any new product is going to mean changes in your business. So, if there’s anything you should be expecting from a CA partnership, it’s that they make things easy for you.
That’s why we have created the Certified Regional Partner (CRP) Program here at GlobalSign. For businesses who are looking to dominate their region for digital certificate sales, we offer a program designed to help you adopt a range of product and industry knowledge and use of our Enterprise Partner Platform, allowing you to manage a variety of accounts from large enterprise businesses to smaller single retail certificate orders. On entering into the program you will receive:
- a dedicated account manager at GlobalSign,
- co-marketing programs that will help you with lead generation (based upon revenue commitments,
- extensive support and training,
- access to our partner community,
- tools to help increase your sales,
- API’s and automated technologies that help you differentiate your offering and
- discounted pricing and flexible licensing models.