As Senior Manager of Channel Engagement for Zift, my focus is on understanding a channel program in order to cultivate strong partner relationships and grow partner Channel Marketing and Management (CMM) adoption. My overall goal is to ensure channel program success, which is always dependent on the partners.

The Communication Conundrum

The majority of people that I work with are marketing professionals. As such, they tend to develop campaigns focused on messaging to their own customers and end users. They’re not thinking of their partner base as a group to which they should be marketing.

While we often hear that it’s difficult to capture partner mindshare, the fact is vendors are not doing a great job staying in touch or promoting available tools and campaigns to partners. At most, they may send an occasional newsletter. Rarely do vendors fully utilize the tools available to them to segment and target their partner base to actively promote campaigns or analyze results. Doing so can make a significant and almost immediate impact.

Real Life Success

With a little help from Zift, a large power management company recently sent out a targeted marketing communication campaign promoting a brand new web plugin to their channel partners. They tied a small incentive to the campaign to embed the new web plugin within two weeks. Prior to the first email, only seven partners had taken the initial steps to install the web plugin on their website.

Email #1 – Announcement (Week 1)

A brief message was sent to partners who had not yet activated the new product showcase announcing its availability and providing the incentive to do so within two weeks. The results were nearly immediate:

  • 286% increase in activated showcases
  • 20 new partners activated the product showcase
Email #2 – Reminder (Week 2)

We sent a quick follow-up email reminder encouraging partners to activate the product showcase with the incentive. Once again, the email elicited a fast partner response:

  • 63% increase in activated showcases
  • 17 new web plugin’s activated
End Results

With just two emails in two weeks and the promise of a $25 gift card, we saw:

  • 528% increase in activated showcases 37 showcases activated
  • Campaign cost under $1000

By sending two simple emails and spending less than $1,000 on partner incentives, the vendor now has nearly 50 partners syndicating their product showcase on their websites, potentially reaching thousands of end users.

The fact remains: You can spend thousands on your channel program, design and integrate the most advanced Channel Marketing and Management platform, but if you’re not communicating and selling the value to your partners – they won’t buy in. However, with just a minor outreach effort and a little incentive, partners will and do engage.

Every Little Bit Counts

Every effort that you make to connect with your partners counts. Clearly, just putting a couple of emails together can make a huge impact on what your partners are doing – and can have a measurable and positive effect on their engagement and the overall success of your channel program.

Take time to examine your partner base, take stock of what your partners are currently using today and identify gaps. Then tailor your content and communications to your partners to fill those gaps. Be sure to use your CMM platform’s reporting and to-partner communication filtering to help you segment and determine what type of content will be relevant to different partners.

Blanket emails and newsletters won’t do the trick anymore. If your communications are targeted and clearly demonstrate the available tactics, tools and campaigns you’re making available to partners, they are much more likely to read them, engage in your channel program and establish the very behaviors you’re hoping to see.

Over to you…

What tactics or strategies have you employed to increase partner engagement? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.