In a previous blog, I talked about the most important aspect of successful channel partner programs: utilization. Of course, utilization isn’t the only partner program success factor. In order to maintain a partner program that continuously engages, educates, and boosts revenue, you also need to nail these partner program best practices: savvy campaign execution and consistent, accurate measurement of the program’s performance and ROI.
Make sure the partner program is powerful enough to deliver your messaging.
All TCM programs are designed to send marketing messaging. But it varies from provider to provider how accessible messages are to partners, how well you can segment the messages’ audiences, to what degree you can automate them, and how easily the program integrates into other channel management platforms. These all affect how well you can execute and manage your channel marketing campaigns.
Channel Partner Segmentation
Segmenting your channel partners is a crucial first step in personalizing and tailoring marketing campaigns to be relevant and engaging to partners. When Salesforce looked into B2B personalization, they found that personalized offers/discounts influence the loyalty of 65% of B2B consumers and 66% of B2B buyers prefer personalized products/services.Segmenting your partners allows you to selectively send promotions, updates, and campaigns where they will have the biggest impact. This will not only yield higher revenue and marketing cost-efficiency for you, it will endear your partners to you, and endear your users or customers to your partners. It’s a win/win for everyone!
Marketing automation allows marketers to reduce manual, repetitive tasks by setting up automatic actions performed by the software. As we mentioned earlier, marketing automation isn’t as broadly useful a tool for channel marketers as it is for direct or B2C marketers. But it’s still essential to partner program success.In a joint study, Smartinsights/Communigator surveyed channel marketers, who identified these top four benefits of B2B marketing automation:
- Improved user experience and communications relevance (60%)
- Lead qualification (59%)
- Lead generation (57%)
- Improved conversion rates (52%)
The partner program or TCM platform you use should allow you and your partners to automatically send messages triggered by actions such as form submissions, content downloads, website activity, sales, or product interest signals. This keeps customers moving through the buyer’s journey, making the experience more convenient and engaging.
Channel Software Integration
Channel marketers already have a wide array of technology options, with Forrester’s Jay McBain identifying at least 36 key companies in the channel software industry, a growth that’s double over the previous and shows no signs of slowing down. Some of these platforms offer a variety of uses within one solution, but many are specialized. A tech stack can quickly become more of a time burden than an aid if data and functionality are spread across disparate, disjointed platforms that don’t share cross-functionality or data.Integration is an incredibly important feature for partner programs, one that helps to future-proof your marketing and sales processes, while raising the value of all integrated platforms involved. By integrating your partner program with your CRM, CIM, or PRM system, you raise the performance and value of all these platforms. For ex:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) system is more useful when it contains historical engagement and performance data taken from the TCM, helping to build a more complete partner profile.
- A TCM program is more powerful when you incorporate channel incentive management (CIM) software to boost product launches, promotions, and give rewards for engagement such as submitting sales/customer data or updating interests, providing feedback, etc.
- Performance data from TCM campaigns can show potential knowledge or training gaps. Identifying these opportunities can help steer the strategies you execute with your channel learning or channel sales enablement software.
An integrated channel partner program not only makes the program easier to use, it helps yield greater data and insights that can become major competitive differentiators.
A partner program’s campaign execution capabilities should be powerful but flexible, so you have the ability to reach your entire channel plus the freedom to pivot your strategies and develop increasingly effective solutions.
Performance Data & ROI Measurement
You need access to data and analytics that prove your program’s success.
The final key ingredient to a successful TCM or partner program is the ability to prove the program’s success, or return on investment (ROI) with performance data. Not only does performance data show how well the program is working, it shows how effective marketing campaigns are, validating channel marketers’ hard work with attributable revenue.
There’s a difference between just providing performance data and providing the right data in an easily-accessible way.
If you ask a TCM program provider if their platform features performance data, almost all will quickly say “Yes.” But there’s a difference between just providing performance data and providing the right data in an easily-accessible way, with dashboards, visual aids, benchmark comparisons, filtering, and integration capabilities, so you can gain valuable insights from that data and make better channel marketing decisions. Specific data points and features that make program data useful include:
How often do partners log in to your TCM program? How much time do they spend on it? Which sections do they visit? Does their activity spike during certain times of the day or year? Having the answers to these questions will help you refine your partner experience and push certain campaigns or pieces of content when they’re most likely to be seen.
Campaign Engagement Data
Partners should be able to assess campaign engagement data such as opens, clicks, replies, etc. in real time and at the campaign’s end. They should be able to compare individual messages and campaigns to one another, as well as comparing them to past performance. It’s important, too, for partners to be able to segment customers and compare their engagement and performance levels to other customer segments.
Lead and Partner Qualification Data
It’s not only important to know how campaigns perform; it’s important to know who should be in which campaigns. Your partner program should have features that track and update customer data based on their product interest and intent signals.If a customer downloads a data sheet about a new product, for example, your partner should know about it immediately. This data can be combined with the automation tools mentioned above to allow partners to instantly send customers more information to drive them through the funnel.Not only should your program tell partners about specific changes in a lead or partners’ interest, it should have an overall scoring or grading system that allows them to sort leads into sales-qualified (SQL), marketing-qualified (MQL), high-value, low-value, etc.
Which partners drove the most revenue in the year’s first quarter? How much revenue comes from specific regions, business sizes, or partner types? Answering questions like these, you can paint a complete picture of a partner’s value, invest marketing dollars more efficiently, and prove the ROI of your partner program. Your program data shouldn’t stop at the showing you which leads made it to your pipeline: it should give you complete insights on which campaigns, assets, and strategies ultimately led to sales.
Comprehensive performance data will help you tie partners’ campaign performance directly to their sales, showing the ultimate ROI of your program. Even better, when you attribute revenue directly to campaign performance and engagement, channel marketers can show their own worth by putting a provable dollar amount on the business they helped drive.
The core components of a successful partner program is how much channel partners utilize the program. But program success is also determined by how well campaigns are executed, and to what degree program data leads to attributable sales numbers and actionable insights to drive business. With these capabilities under your program’s hood, it won’t be just another necessary piece of an ever-growing channel technology stack, but a source of insight, efficiency, and competitive advantage.