Tracey Noonan and Danielle Vilagie started Wicked Good Cupcakes after taking a cake-decorating class together and enjoying it immensely. Wicked Good Cupcakes wanted to serve customers out of town. They came up with the ‘portable cupcake in a jar’ concept to safely ship their cupcakes. They hired C Squared Social, a digital agency, to run their online campaigns so they could generate new leads
and increase their reach.
C Squared, in turn, partnered with Facebook Business Partner Zapier. Zapier used Facebook’s innovative lead ad functions to stitch together CRM, email marketing, and team messaging tools. This was done to capture every opportunity for Wicked Good Cupcakes.
Through its channel partner Zapier, Facebook facilitated an end customer with a 94% lower average cost per lead, a 24% contact response rate from leads, and a 48x increase in leads in just 3.5 months from the launch of the campaign. This is the power of channel partnership.
But how did Zapier know what features from Facebook’s marketing offerings it could use to deliver amazing results for Wicked Good Cupcakes? It’s because Facebook has vetted Zapier to advertise, sell, and engage end customers with Facebook’s offerings. Facebook did this by using effective to-partner marketing.
Let us now explore channel partner marketing in detail.
What is Channel Partner Marketing?
Channel partners are intermediaries between your product and the end customer. Channel partner marketing
uses methods to promote products or services to channel partners or to end customers through channel partners. This kind of marketing considers the manufacturer’s expectations, requirements, and goals, channel partners, and their audiences.
In a recent interview with Media 7, Sam O’Brien, CMO at Affise, talked about partner marketing
Partner market has huge growth at the moment. It's really taken off, and still, it seems quite complex to people. We're giving companies a faster way to start Partner Marketing. Find the partners you want to work with, or the publishers, or creators, or affiliates, to promote your business.”
Sam O’Brien, CMO at Affise
If you use an effective partner marketing strategy, you want to make sure that everyone involved in a channel partnership is happy.
Why Should Channel Partner Marketing be a Priority?
54% of companies say partnerships drive more than 20% of total company revenue. (Source: Partnerize). To drive revenue, marketing is important. Here are some of the reasons why channel partners should make channel partner marketing a priority:
The way customers or businesses zero-in on a product or service has changed. When it comes to technology products or other professional services, audiences rely on finding the best alternative online.
This intensifies the competition for channel partners. They need to beat regional, national, non-traditional, online, and local competitors to land a sale.
Marketing technology has also evolved dramatically. It is a dynamic mix of thought leadership, search authority, and expert lead generation to create measurable results.
Channel partners need to focus on marketing and invest effort, resources, and time to keep up with the changing trends, or fall short in the market.
Benefits of an Effective Channel Marketing Strategy
Let us look at what an effective channel marketing strategy can do for your business:
Gain access to your partners’ audiences.
Channel partner marketing is affordable as compared to other forms of marketing.
Present value-added offerings (your partner’s) to your existing audience.
Access a bigger team that works for your success.
Use the unique resources that your partners have.
Increase trust in your brand by collaborating with the right partners.
Enhance your distribution channels with the help of your partners.
Look into These Factors Before Creating a Channel Marketing Strategy
A good channel partnership can help you scale your business. To enhance the results of your partnership, creating an effective channel marketing strategy is crucial. Here are things you should take into consideration before you create a strategy:
Help your channel partners grow their businesses! There is no better way to form long-lasting partnerships. To make this happen, you need to invest your time in getting C-Suite buy-in in advance so that you can secure their commitment and resources to develop and implement your partner marketing strategy.
Welcome your partners to your channel program with proactive communication and engagement. Creating a welcome kit as your first touchpoint could be a great idea. The contents of this kit can be based on the solutions you provide and your business model. Be a no-hassle channel partner.
For existing partners, identify their pain points like low partner engagement, abandoned campaigns, unutilized market development fund (MDF), ineffective campaigns, and metric measurement challenges. Other difficulties may arise, such as communication, effective lead scoring, and qualifying them. Your partner marketing strategy should offer solutions to these problems.
Amplify your brand with high-quality content. Generate interest and maintain mindshare using content marketing pieces like blogs, flyers, data sheets, case studies, e-books, whitepapers, videos, webinars and more. Automate your social and digital campaigns using content platforms, and create a content factory that can be managed using channel marketing management software. Help partners by providing them with marketing agency assistance so they can use good content to market your products.
Partner Marketing Strategy: 7 Crucial Channel Marketing Strategy Best Practices
Now that we have established what goes into a partner marketing plan, let us look at seven best practices that can make your channel marketing strategy successful:
Align Marketing and Channel Objectives
You can define the success of your partnership using factors like active, new, engaged partners, and channel revenue. They should be the foundation of your partner marketing plan. This way, you can align your marketing and channel goals and invest in your partnership resources better. Tracking the dollars invested in marketing and enhancing partner production gives an insight into where to invest. When there are partnerships that go across countries, working together well with the local channel manager and big business sellers is the key to success and output.
Decide Baselines & Metrics
For your channel marketing campaign, establish appropriate baselines and chase improvements in relative performance because campaign-level ROI measurements can be challenging. Metrics like partner adoption of created assets and content, and partner metrics in lead generation can be tracked using PRM tools. Email metrics and leads generated are other metrics that can help you measure the success of your partner marketing plan. The ultimate metric should be the end-user satisfaction rate because it directly translates to a low churn rate.
Become a Revenue Marketer
Invest your time in customizing and spinning your high-quality, professional-level content assets for your sales organization and channel partners. This can help you tap into the potential ROI of each of your content pieces. Over time, it can add up significantly to your marketing performance. Impactful content is greatly enhanced by channel marketing. If you use it to target partners, you can gain partner mind share and create revenue opportunities that you might have otherwise missed. You can pair this type of soft marketing with the hard marketing that the C-Suite prefers.
Map Partner Performance
Ensure that you map individual partner performance in your assessments to get insights into what is working in your partner program and which partner strengths you can bank on and focus. Check how many deals are closing through the channel, and how many new opportunities are coming through your partners. If a partner isn’t doing much for the program, that partner is probably draining your resources. Take notice of your new partners’ performance in your channel marketing campaign over a set period to see what they are doing for you and the partner revenue.
Keep Your ‘To’ and ‘Through’ Sorted
When you look at your to-partners’ side, you aim to drive leads, and market qualified leads from a marketing and sales angle. You are also considering the cost per lead, what the partner did convert or lose, and why the partner came to you or why they didn’t. As for the through angle, your only point of analysis is the customer engagement and the satisfaction the partner has achieved through the partnership. Ensure you know why some partners are more successful than others, how many campaigns run through your platform, and how many of your partners are active on your PRM platform. Once you know what you need to look at from both angles, you are sorted and can run your marketing strategy effectively
Embed Engagement into Your Program
Engagement is key to any partner alliance. Embedding engagement through to-partner marketing can enhance the channel partnership program. You need to plan, train, and gather feedback on your ‘to’ and ‘through’ channel marketing tactics. Some ways to embed engagement into the channel partnership programs are:
Creating bundled marketing campaigns with product training to improve lead follow-up
Co-partner marketing to drive thought leadership
Transparent to-partner communications
Partner advisory councils that focus on sales and marketing
Quarterly feedback surveys to enhance partner marketing processes
Executive sponsorship for key partners.
Constantly Enhance Your Strategy
Seek improvement in your channel marketing strategy by referring to your baselines and other KPIs. Measuring the baseline engagements will not only help you improve your strategy but it will also shed light on potential issues that may impede progress and growth. Keep an eye on what the partner revenue numbers look like, what kind of demand generation content they are leveraging, the webinars or events they are attending, and if they are mentioning you on their social media. Any big dips in numbers or engagement will help you redirect your efforts to what is causing the sudden shift.
Wrapping It Up
A channel partnership is a give and get kind of association. To get the most out of it, you need to focus on marketing strategies that target your partners and your end customers. Enhance your partnership by planning, reaffirming partnership goals, revamping your marketing strategy from time to time, and earning partner mindshare.
What is channel marketing?
Channel marketing includes to-channel marketing and through-channel marketing. To-channel marketing means recruiting and engaging sales partners, distributors, and their networks. Through-channel marketing means you market your products and services to end customers through your sales channel.
What factors should you consider before creating a partner marketing strategy?
Consider factors like abandoned campaigns, under-utilized MDF, ineffective campaigns, low partner engagement, and lack of visibility, measurement issues, lead qualifying and scoring, effective communication with end customers, and delivering professional marketing information to end customers.
How can you improve your channel marketing strategy?
Establish baselines to measure the success, look at partner revenue, demand generation content downloads, and partner social media mentions and find out the areas that need your attention. Revamp your strategy based on these insights.