2015 channel marketing trends2015 arrived faster than many of us expected! If you haven’t already done so, now is the time for fast reflection on 2014 channel marketing program results and strategic planning for the year ahead.

What’s topping the trend list for channel marketing in 2015? The short answer is marketing infrastructure investments. I believe that forward-thinking channel partners will accelerate their investments in building out their own marketing infrastructures this year. Moreover, the most successful channel programs will recognize this shift, and provide direct support within the channel partners’ infrastructure.

Behind the Trend: Self-Empowered Buyers and a Shifting Sales Landscape

As we’ve previously discussed here in Channel Chatter, there has been a transformational shift in how buyers are making purchases today. In the past, prospects, would spend time early in their sales process with sales professionals to gain insight and jointly determine which solutions would benefit their organization best. Now, prospects are increasingly unlikely to make or take calls from sales people, preferring to do their own research independently. In fact, according to some sources buyers may be as much as 65% to 90% through their journey before reaching out.

A Strong Online Presence Requires a Stable Infrastructure

As channel partners are seeing traditional sales approaches become less effective, 2015 will be the year that many invest in a new approach. Now that a company’s introduction and sales story is no longer led by the sales team, it must be delivered through marketing. A strong online presence has never been more important to drive inbound marketing and connect with self-empowered buyers. And channel sales organizations require a stable infrastructure like that provided by marketing automation products (HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, etc.) to develop, manage and support their online presence.

What we’re seeing in the marketplace is that some channel partners are hesitant to visit and use a vendor’s portal to engage in collaborative marketing. They simply don’t want to leave the familiar environments on which they already rely. And why should they? Inbound marketing is most successful when one infrastructure delivers a complete view of prospects’ digital interactions. Many vendor portals lead to independent silos of information, which undermines collaboration along with successful channel marketing and sales.

Channel Success in 2015 and Beyond

Channel programs focused on success in 2015 and beyond are recognizing this dynamic, connecting into their channel partners’ marketing automation infrastructures, and delivering collaborative support by extending those environments to make channel partners more successful.

What other trends do you think we’ll see in 2015? Please share them here via comments. Also, if you missed these, here are two recent posts with links to SiriusDecisions Research Briefs that will also help you succeed in 2015:

Channel Marketing: Planning Assumptions for 2015
Channel Sales: Planning Assumptions for 2015