In this interview, Jotform affiliate account manager Yaren Büyükdere talks with Collin Belt, founder of Belt Creative, a digital marketing agency that helps its clients get discovered online and land more customers. They talked about how to build a successful partnership with other brands and how Belt Creative uses Jotform to expand its offering.
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Yaren Büyükdere: Collin, can you start by telling us about Belt Creative — its mission and vision, and its focused industry?
Collin Belt: Sure. Belt Creative is a digital marketing agency and our primary focus is on inbound marketing. So, helping clients get more leads through their website through any means possible. You know, search engine optimization, we do digital ads — basically, all of the different tactics to help drive inbound traffic to the website and then convert that traffic into actual customers.
As far as our primary focus goes, we really work with a wide variety of industries. But some of our most popular verticals are nonprofit organizations. We work a little bit with government organizations, and then, I’d say software companies. It seems like there’s a weird overlap there, but surprisingly, the tech stacks between those three tend to be about the same.
Yaren: Perfect. So, as a digital marketing partner of your clients, how do you determine which partnership programs to work with?
Colin: Well, really, it’s based on the solutions of our clients. So oftentimes, what we’ll do is build out the best solutions for our clients, and then we reach out to the partners that own those software. So we were using Jotform before we knew that Jotform had a partnership [program], where we’re using it for implementation for our clients. And then we found out we could probably do a better job working with our clients to get access to more resources if we were to partner up with the Jotform team.
Yaren: So it’s a win-win situation — for you and for us.
Collin: Yeah, exactly. We don’t plan our partnerships in advance, we usually are just implementing the right tech stack for our clients. And then, if we find that there’s a piece of software that works really well for our clients we will then reach out to the software maker and see if there are opportunities for collaboration so we can help everybody succeed.
Yaren: Perfect. How much importance does affiliate or other partnership marketing have for your company and its revenue?
Collin: Oh, I’d say right now, it’s not too much as far as affiliate revenue or partnership revenue. I’d say the bigger advantage there is having access to additional resources, having a direct line to the Jotform team, and being able to ask questions about particular implementations. Really, that’s sort of been the most important aspect that we’ve seen so far.
Yaren: Yes, having a dedicated account manager is important for companies and agencies like yours.
Collin: Yeah, especially when we run into a client who wants to use Jotform to collect data and maybe we don’t necessarily know how to do that particular implementation, it’s really great to be able to ask our account manager for particular resources — or if they’d seen other use cases similar to this so that we could replicate that feature inside of Jotform.
Yaren: Awesome, happy to hear that! What do you think makes you successful at partnership marketing?
Collin: There are a couple of components to it. I’d say the first is there just has to be a really good client fit. Like the software has to deliver actual, real, measurable, positive results for our clients. That’s step one. As soon as that’s sort of established, then we can move on to step two.
I’d say step two is the other thing that we established is providing really great resources. Having resources like, for example, checklists, guides, and training for our clients that we can share — tons of resources that we may not, as a smaller agency, have the time to create, or maybe not even the expertise. So being able to share those directly with our clients has been a really helpful result.
I’d say the third thing is the transparency of communication, knowing when updates are coming down the pipeline, and how those features are going to affect our clients so we can give our clients a heads-up and say, “Hey, you can take advantage of this feature. We’ve already learned about it and we’re just going to train you on how it can help benefit your business.”
Yaren: And I think one of the reasons that you are successful in partnership marketing is you’re always connecting with the brand, with your dedicated account manager for Jotform. We are always suggesting this to our partners: talking with their account manager, getting detailed information, and then promoting Jotform.
Moving on to another question, how do you promote Jotform as a partner, and how does this bring you conversions?
Collin: I would say it’s such a versatile tool that we’re recommending it directly to our clients all the time. Every business is a little bit different in terms of how they collect data and sometimes you need to be able to build basically your own low-code applications. Jotform allows you to do that.
I’d say that’s our primary channel — just direct communications with our clients. Our clients will come to us, and they’ll say, “Hey, we have this specific challenge around data collection that we need to solve. What’s the best way for us to solve it?” And oftentimes, we’re going to say, “Well, we can build you a custom solution with Jotform, so that you can solve that particular problem.”
Yaren: For the services, you offer as a partner with Jotform, who do you think your ideal customers or industries are?
Collin: Our ideal client in terms of who we suggest Jotform to would be, I think, well, there are two: business owners, people who run the business. Maybe they’re wearing a ton of hats, and they just need tools that can help them run their business a little bit better, or more efficiently.
And then our other target vertical is marketing managers. They actually have a similar problem to business owners, where oftentimes marketing managers are wearing a ton of hats. Like, they’re in charge of the website, they’re in charge of data collection, and getting leads over to sales, and doing all these things. And having a simple, easy-to-use form that they can direct their leads to collect the information and then pipe that data wherever it needs to go. Marketing managers could always benefit from using Jotform.
Yaren: Yes, and in these cases, automating processes is a really big plus.
Collin: For example, we use the HubSpot integration with Jotform all the time. Many, many of our clients are using HubSpot as their primary CRM, marketing software, email software, and everything. So being able to collect all that data inside of a form that’s much more complex than what HubSpot native forms can do. Just being able to collect that data inside of something that’s a little more interactive, a little more capable, and then pipe that data back over to HubSpot is extremely useful.
Yaren: Perfect. So to finish up, we’re going to do some rapid-fire questions with short answers. First of all, what is your favorite use case, feature, or product from Jotform, among the many that you use?
Collin: Oh, I guess it’s lead forms that pipe them over to HubSpot. We kind of already covered that, but we use that for ourselves and for our clients all the time.
Yaren: What would be the biggest piece of advice you could give to people or companies just starting out in partnership marketing?
Collin: Oh, that’s a good question. I’d say don’t be afraid to reach out. Don’t be afraid to chat with the team. At the end of the day, in an affiliate partnership, the partner that you’re working with, their goal is to help you succeed. So they’re going to get you the resources, they’re going to get you the information. So if you maintain that regular line of communication, they may be able to help you get ideas that you may not have thought of yourself.
Yaren: Who is your mentor or influencer? Whom do you look up to and get inspired from?
Collin: Oh, shoot! That’s a good question. I would say Bob Sparkins from LeadPages is definitely one of them. I just think he creates excellent content. He’s very focused on education and he always focuses on delivering value first.
Yaren: OK, I will check him out later! Can you tell us your favorite productivity tip?
Collin: Just block out time on your calendar. Literally, like just the scheduled time, no meetings, no calls, no nothing. Turn on Do Not Disturb. There are no hacks, there are no secrets. It’s just eliminating distractions and focusing on one reporting task.
Yaren: Awesome. Thank you for taking the time to talk!
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