The past few years have taught many businesses just how disruptive global events can be. No amount of planning can completely protect a company against a worldwide pandemic, onslaught of natural disasters, and international conflict all happening at the same time. Consumer behaviors, supply chains, travel capabilities, and labor productivity all suffered across many industries. Many feel like we’re still in the eye of a storm, while others are optimistic about a future where big changes represent big opportunities to come out on top. Whatever the future holds, it’s certain that businesses that most readily respond to change and unexpected difficulties will be the most successful.
Channel marketing, like any other function of tech B2B companies, will need to adopt new, efficient focuses and processes to ensure future success. With the right resources, technology, and strategies, channel marketers can survive and even return positive revenue in tough economic conditions. Let’s look at some of the most helpful channel marketing strategies and technology B2B brands can utilize:
Integrated, Streamlined Data
An article published in Grant Thornton gathered useful insights on the industry’s future from three tech and financial experts. They recommend that tech companies focus on “streamlin[ing] operations to drive efficiency and effectiveness,” as well as “profitability and unit economics and build a plan of sustainable revenue growth.” What does this mean for channel marketers? They can’t risk leaving important sales and customer data to fall between the cracks of disparate channel management technologies.
Wise tech leaders will shift to channel platforms that are multi-faceted and easy to use, with data integration capabilities. From your customer relationship management (CRM) to your marketing software to your channel incentive management (CIM) technology, all your sales and marketing data should filter into one place so you can have complete customer and client profiles, a single authoritative source on customer and reseller behaviors so you can reduce lead cost and create highly effective channel marketing strategies.
Knowing the location of your data is only half the battle, though. You should be able to easily interpret the story your data is telling you and quickly adapt channel marketing strategies, partner experiences, sales promotions, and campaigns in response.
At Extu, our unique approach to channel marketing combines data, services, and technology—each of these three things amplifies the other. When they’re all working together, you have the best of all worlds. With a marketing platform that’s easy for channel partners to use and provides detail campaign analytics, we were able to reduce one client’s cost per marketing qualified lead (MQL) by 80%.
Transparent, Real-Time Reporting
As the previously mentioned Grant Thornton piece points out, tech companies should “focus on embedding, consolidating and optimizing existing processes” and re-evaluating the “underlying strength of their operations.”
Marketing in particular will come under harsh scrutiny during a recession or economic downturn. Although marketing budgets are often first on the chopping block when it’s time to cut costs, that doesn’t have to be the case if you can prove with accurate reporting and analytics how much channel marketing contributes to the company’s success. Extu channel technology has helped clients prove that investment in their channel marketing increases revenue significantly, even during the 2020-2021 period hit hard by COVID-19 fallout. Channel partners participating in one client’s channel marketing program outperformed other partners by 2.5X, for example.
The more corporate budgets tighten, the more crucial it will be to use channel marketing software that saves time with highly efficient usability and performance data that makes it easy for marketers to convey return on investment (ROI).
Most channel marketing software comes with the ability to measure audience engagement and sales pipeline growth. But that’s not enough. Marketers need to be able to show which of their channel marketing strategies result in the ultimate success: closed sales and revenue.
Closed-loop reporting and attributable revenue models will help marketers prove the value of their work while expanding audience reach and repeating success. Using this feature, we’re able to show a 22:1 average ROI of our channel marketing program—in attributable sales, not pipeline!
Engaging Channel Marketing Content
Revenue from channel marketing cannot be driven by technology and data alone. For channel marketing to survive harsh economic conditions and retain customers or resellers, that marketing must be highly engaging, relevant, and personalized to your audience. Companies in B2B sectors already struggle with this compared to B2C, with an average customer experience index of less than 50% vs. B2C’s 65%-85%.
Content creation services is one of the crucial components of our channel marketing software. Many of our program users are small to mid-sized businesses (or vendors who work with such businesses) who have limited to no marketing bandwidth. We create award-winning content that includes not just product marketing but thought leadership and industry news—subjects that are highly relevant to tech companies and increase their valuable with customers.
Engaging channel marketing content should be not only engaging, but part of cohesive and compelling marketing campaigns. Working with a company like Extu, vendors and resellers can deliver curated campaigns to their audiences. This frees marketing teams up to collaborate and align with sales on big-picture strategies that ensure the brand’s success.
No one likes to foretell doom and gloom for a business or for an entire industry, but economic downturns are best faced pragmatically and realistically. Whether or not a recession is on the way, the last few years have proven that markets can shift dramatically in a very short amount of time. Preparing now by integrating data for more streamlined operations, creating effortless access points to revenue-based ROI data, and developing engaging content marketing plans will help ensure sustainability or incremental growth, even in the toughest market climates.