Through-channel marketing programs that channel marketers will actually use

When it comes to channel marketing, brands can’t rely on partners to do the heavy lifting. Small to mid-size channel partners simply don’t have the time, resources and know-how to craft and execute effective digital marketing campaigns.

The good news is that brands are increasingly recognizing that they have to take matters into their own hands by putting through-channel marketing programs in place. The crux of through-channel marketing, as we explain in greater detail, is that the brand develops and executes a digital marketing campaign that it sends through each of their channel partners to end-buyers. Each partner, with minimal effort, is able to customize the campaign to include its own logo and contact information.

However, simply building a through-channel marketing program doesn’t guarantee success. According to Forrester Research, while “50 percent of brands have implemented through-channel marketing, only 17 percent are fully satisfied that they are getting the most from the systems.”

Many programs fail to achieve their goals for two reasons: Because channel partners aren’t participating or because the campaign doesn’t resonate with end-buyers. Of course, the two issues are closely intertwined: channel partners aren’t likely to participate in a campaign that doesn’t generate more leads for them among buyers. Here’s how to solve both issues.

The programs must be user-friendly

Designing the campaign, creating the content and compiling the products is the hard part, but you still need the channel partner to complete the crucial finishing touch: sending the campaign on to end-buyers. It’s imperative that you make that as easy as possible for them or they will end up not doing it at all.

You need to reach out to channel partners directly and help them understand how easy it will be for them to participate in the campaigns. Do the partners need to add an email list? Approve the content? Do they know where (and how) to do so? Any steps or instructions should be presented in a clear, concise manner, and should be conveyed in simple language, not marketing lingo that the partners may not understand. When we onboard a partner, we walk them through the exact steps, so that the partners can be self-sufficient for subsequent campaigns.

In addition to being understandable for the partner, the channel marketing process must consume as little of their time as possible. No matter how simple the steps or instructions, if a campaign requires them to spend significant time, it will often get pushed to the back burner. Partners should be able to enter the necessary information and approve the campaign in just a few minutes.

Provide content that is relevant to end-buyers and generates leads

To drive results for both you and your partners, the marketing campaign has to offer content that relates directly to end-buyers’ experiences and interests. The goal is to provide a monthly campaign that end-buyers will view not just as an advertisement for products, but as an educational resource that provides them a glimpse into the latest industry news and trends. One of the major benefits of OneAffiniti is the insights on end-buyer behavior that we have gathered through our campaigns and surveys of end-users. We know, for instance, that security is the number one topic for end-buyers these days.

Just as important is it to craft a campaign that appeals to different types of end-buyers. Try to include a variety of content in terms of subject-matter and format. Some end-buyers are happy to read a lengthy ebook about their industry, while others don’t have the time or attention span. Those end-buyers might respond better to shorter, snackable content, such as blog posts, short videos or infographics.

Buyers favor shorter format, consumable content
“Thinking about the content you prefer to read/use,
how likely are you to engage with the following forms of content?”

Chart by Visualizer

Base: 214 global IT and business decision-making professionals in the US, the UK, Germany, and France. Source: Forrester Consulting’s Q1 2017 Global Marketing Content Credibility online survey. As shown in Beyond the lead: How content marketing builds lasting relationships

End-buyers are not always looking to buy, so they’re unlikely to open an email that they believe will only be presenting them with products that they’re not in the market for at this time. However, if the monthly campaign is something that they find useful and interesting regardless of their purchasing plans, then you’ll be in the best position possible to win their business when they are ready to buy.

Last but not least, it’s critical that your content be geared toward end-buyers at different stages of the buying journey, including the consideration and conversation stages. Interactive content, such as surveys and quizzes, is a great way to engage with end-buyers and get them to provide information that partners can use to follow-up with them. The more leads that partners see being generated by the program, the more likely they are to continue participating.

Want to commit a minimal time investment, for maximum content creation?

Our marketing program only requires partners to spend five minutes per month to manage and approve their campaign. Contact us to get started today.

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