To-Do ListAs 2014 draws to a close and planning ramps up for 2015, channel marketing leaders looking for the best ways to apply their resources can turn to SiriusDecisions for guidance. One of the leading global B2B research and advisory firms has recently published an insightful Research Brief that identifies the five key issues that should drive the agenda of channel marketing leaders in 2015.

Channel Marketing: Planning Assumptions 2015 points the way toward better channel partner marketing programs, participation and results with the following five core initiatives for 2015:

1. Enhance channel partner portal experiences.

According to SiriusDecisions, less than 20 percent of partners consistently visit supplier portals. To drive partner traffic and improve portal relevance, suppliers should enhance portals by creating a cohesive content strategy that aligns with partner and prospect requirements, integrating new applications and empowering application mobility. We suggest considering pushing leads and content directly into the systems where your partners work today. We call that Embedded Access Apps and will be sharing more about it soon.

2. Establish successful alliances with other suppliers.

Supplier alliances hold great promise, but few achieve their intended results. Focusing on cross-organizational and cross-functional mindshare is critical to the success of alliance partners and should be fostered by identifying target marketing, establishing a joint sales strategy as well as joint rules of engagement from the start.

3. Implement or improve closed-loop visibility and reporting.

(Note: We believe this should be number one on the list.) Suppliers struggling to track partner progress and drive accountability should invest in Channel Marketing and Management (CMM) or Through Partner Marketing Automation (TPMA) solutions that can capture closed-loop data, deliver leads directly into partners’ existing sales force automation (SFA) systems, and automatically provide detailed data on lead activity and conversion rates back into supplier SFA systems.

4. Strengthen channel marketing competencies.

Developing specialized expertise in the areas of program development, measurement and ROI are required to increase channel marketing effectiveness and enhance partner results. Instead of simply focusing on delivering tactical support to partners, suppliers should identify knowledge gaps of both in-house channel marketing personnel and partners, then prioritize training needs to strengthen marketing skill sets.

5. Improve program delivery and performance.

Leaving channel partners to assemble and deliver marketing programs on their own is a recipe for failure. Channel partners need training on marketing fundamentals, end-to-end process guidance and pre-packaged, menu-based program execution to succeed. We also know that leveraging services to execute turn-key marketing campaigns for your partners is a great way to improve results. Here is a Managed Services Infographic we created that highlights some of the results we’ve seen.

Download Channel Marketing: Planning Assumptions 2015 to read the Research Brief in its entirety and tell us: What tops your 2015 channel marketing to-do list?