How Fortinet drove success in the Microsoft commercial marketplace
Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, with more than 7,000 employees, Fortinet develops and markets cybersecurity software, appliances, and services to empower its customers with intelligent, seamless protection. With 16 solutions available on Microsoft Azure Marketplace and 13 Co-sell Ready solutions, Fortinet uses the global reach of the marketplace to increase awareness of its offerings and gain new customers.
New and seasoned partners alike often ask, “How can we be successful in Microsoft AppSource or Azure Marketplace?” For Fortinet, a Microsoft partner since 2016 and 2020 Partner of the Year Award winner, success in the commercial marketplace has come from an iterative process with an emphasis on understanding the buyer journey, educating customers, and investing time and energy into constantly improving its approach.
“We knew we needed to find a strong partner to help us go-to-market via marketplace and meet the increase in customer demand for self-service cloud applications. Microsoft and Azure Marketplace came to mind first, and they delivered. Through deep collaboration, Azure Marketplace brought not only prospects and buyers, but also the data and analysis we needed to optimize our buyer’s journey and marketing spend,” said Frederick Harris, Fortinet Director of Cloud Self-Service Programs.
Fortinet published its award-winning FortiGate Next-Generation Firewall - Single VM
solution on Azure Marketplace to reach IT professionals and cloud developers who need to secure their data and applications. FortiGate enables broad protection and automated management for consistent enforcement and visibility across hybrid cloud infrastructures. Fortinet collaborated with Microsoft, starting in April 2019, to deliver the Advanced Threat Protection Azure Marketplace campaign designed to increase pay-as-you-go (PAYG) revenue. Harris noted, “We were excited to partner with the commercial marketplace team on the campaign to build awareness, drive increased engagement via free Test Drives, and gain new customers.”
Building a best-in-class campaign
The Advanced Threat Protection Azure Marketplace campaign targeted the cloud IT security, cloud architect, dev ops, and security operations audiences. Fortinet mapped the buyer journey and then developed compelling content for each audience for each stage of the journey. The team created co-branded collateral including a FortiGate on Azure video, an on-demand webinar, and a co-branded campaign landing page. Additionally, Test Drive and free software trials provided simple ways for those customers to try FortiGate.
Fortinet implemented a broad marketing campaign including YouTube ads, LinkedIn ads and InMails, SDxCentral search and display ads, and Google search and display ads. The team reviewed detailed campaign results weekly to determine which ads were doing the best. They constantly shifted campaign dollars to optimize for the best performing keywords, messaging, click-through rates, and targeting. This rigorous review and iteration helped achieve strong click-through rates leading to more Test Drives and purchases. “When working with the Azure Marketplace team, we found it helpful to dive deep into the campaign data to analyze what was working and what was not. We kept learning and optimizing along the way,” said Harris.
Digital ads directed targeted users to both the co-branded campaign landing page as well as the FortiGate listing on Azure Marketplace. The campaign landing page showcases how FortiGate works with Azure and highlights its unique differentiators before redirecting prospects to the Azure Marketplace listing. Both the campaign landing page and the Azure Marketplace listing provide resources to nurture customers through the buyer journey, including the Test Drive, a deployment guide, videos, and details about the Azure Resource Manager template on GitHub.
In addition to the Microsoft-supported marketing campaigns, Fortinet also qualified for technical, sales, and marketing benefits from Marketplace Rewards. Fortinet used its Marketplace Rewards benefits to amplify the tactics it was already employing in its PAYG campaign, including to-customer and to-seller webinars, featured app placement on the Azure Marketplace home page, and social media promotions, to increase awareness of FortiGate.
“Marketplace Rewards has provided new and creative avenues for promoting our solutions and for reaching a broader market. As our products have gained traction, Fortinet has been rewarded new benefits—a win/win both for Microsoft and for Fortinet," said Daniel Schrader, Director, Product Marketing, Fortinet.
Fortinet’s 12-month Advanced Threat Protection campaign, featuring FortiGate Next-Generation Firewall - Single VM on Azure Marketplace, drove more than 12.6 million ad impressions, including 188,000 views of the FortiGate on Azure video and 42,000 visitors to the FortiGate listing on Azure Marketplace. These efforts resulted in 2,712 conversions to Test Drives or purchases. Harris shared, “The bottom line – Fortinet’s PAYG revenue on Azure grew by 82 percent over the previous 12 months and we saw an amazing 10X return on our campaign investment. Strong results, strong partnership.”
Although success in the Microsoft commercial marketplace cannot be boiled down to a simple, easy-to-duplicate formula, the familiar idea of “you get out of it what you put into it” certainly applies. Fortinet’s success in Azure Marketplace highlights the importance of understanding, educating, and actively engaging target customers while continually tuning efforts to facilitate a seamless experience throughout the buyer journey.