Only 12% of IT channel partners use brand-provided marketing platforms

Independent study: brands need to provide partners more support

AUSTIN, Texas (March 5, 2019) — Extu, a leader in through-channel marketing solutions for global IT partners and brands, today announced the release of Empower Your Channel Partners With A Service-Led Approach to Through-Channel Marketing, a February 2019 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Extu that shows IT brands are still failing to engage a large percentage of channel partners in brand-provided marketing programs.

Partners were asked about their plans for using brand-provided through-channel marketing platforms. Alarmingly, only 12% of partners are already using brand-provided platforms. Other partners’ plans for usage include:

  • Piloting: 35%
  • Evaluating: 20%
  • No plans to use: 33%

“IT brands are increasingly turning to through-channel marketing because they recognize that partners can’t be expected to craft and execute marketing campaigns on their own,” said Extu CEO Joel Montgomery. “And yet, through-channel marketing (TCM) is falling short  because almost 90% of partners are still disengaged.”

Partners cite difficulty integrating, navigating platforms

The Forrester study sheds light on the barriers that channel partners face when they try to execute a brand-provided marketing platform. Among the top challenges are a lack of co-branded content and materials (25%), a lack of marketing resources (22%) and a lack of automation in executing brand marketing activities (18%).

“Clearly, brands need to do more to help partners use their platforms,” said Montgomery. “SMB channel partners are already severely time-constrained, so anything brands can do to help them integrate and navigate the platform more quickly can make a big difference in terms of engagement.”

Partners are not extracting maximum value from TCM programs

Even channel partners who reported using TCM programs are often missing out on their key benefits. Instead of using TCM to generate additional demand, many partners report that the main advantage they have experienced is in customer retention (59%). Among the top benefits cited by partners of brand-provided marketing platforms:

  • Improved customer retention (59%)
  • Increased customer lifetime value (49%)
  • Increase in customer references (47%)
  • Shorter sales cycles (45%)
  • Growth in new markets (37%)
  • Increased sales revenue (35%)
  • Improved consistency of brand messaging (33%)
  • Greater coverage across regions (31%)

The importance of combining services and technology making it simple for channel partners

When asked what would encourage their organization to access and execute brand-provided TCM campaigns, partners mentioned among others easy access to reporting (72%), content customized to partners’ specialty (66%), and minimal time and effort in using TCM platforms (65%)

Which of the following are challenges faced by your organization in accessing vendor-provided marketing platforms? (listed in order of importance with the most important listed first)

  1. Easy access to reporting & leads (72%)
  2. Availability of downloadable sales & marketing assets on brand-provided platform (71%)
  3. Ease of integrating brand-provided platform with organization’s existing systems (68%)
  4. Easy access to brand-provided platform (67%)
  5. Content customized to your partners’ specialty (66%)
  6. Ease of navigating brand-provided platform (65%)
  7. Minimal effort & time in using brand-provided platform (65%)
  8. Access to topical, unbiased industry content (59%)
  9. Access to funded or partially funded marketing programs (33%)

The results indicate a major opportunity for brands to provide a combination of services and technology that will make marketing as easy as possible for channel partners. Services include providing non-branded content for marketing campaigns and helping partners to prioritize leads and generate additional demand. Meanwhile, the technology should allow for the mass-customization of campaigns that partners can easily approve and schedule.

Encourage early adoption through incentives, help partners generate value for the long term

The study also noted that 72% of channel partners might be willing to engage with a brand-provided marketing platform in response to incentives. That suggests a major opportunity for brands to invest upfront in incentives that will boost partner marketing. Over time, however, partners will begin to generate business from their marketing efforts and they will no longer demand incentives in return for their participation. At that point, brands will be able to reduce incentives without fear of seeing a major drop in partner marketing.

“The most recent study dovetails with what we’ve found in our own annual “Pulse of the Channel” survey,” said Montgomery. “The evidence is clear: Brands need to fully-fund their TCM solutions as well as invest in meaningful incentives to activate their channel partners, though the ongoing incentive for partners will be the new business generated in the long run.”

About the study

The survey was conducted in December by Forrester Consulting and included responses from 100 North American companies, both channel partners and brands, in the IT, Finance and Insurance industries. Source: Empower Your Channel Partners With A Service-Led Approach to Through-Channel Marketing, a February 2019 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Extu. Extu will be hosting a webinar discussing the findings of the study, which will feature Jay McBain, Principal Analyst, on March 7, 2019. Click here to register.

About Extu

Extu is a platform-enabled marketing solutions provider unlocking the power of the indirect marketing channel and supercharging a brand’s return on investment. Extu offers channel partners hands-off, sophisticated marketing services fully funded by some of the largest brands across the globe. Through a mix of high-quality digital marketing, innovative content, promotions and insights, Extu helps channel partners acquire new clients and engage their existing customers.

The company was founded in 2008 in Sydney, Australia and has operated in the US since 2015, when it opened offices in Austin, TX. Extu serves more than 2,500 channel partners in North America, reaching 3 million IT buyers each month.