26 March – How do you drive demand and generate leads in a complex channel partner network?

As a channel marketer, marketing to and through complex routes to markets is very challenging. You have to make sure your partner programme and activities fit each category of partners, and god only knows (it seems) how many different types there are out there; all with different skills, resources, interests, reach, customer bases, etc.

 

One of the key issues you face is how to generate leads – for your organisation and partners – in such a complex ecosystem. AND you need to make sure these leads are passed to the correct partners, handled properly and closed!

 

It’s clearly not as simple as if your organisation was selling direct and if you were in charge of your own destiny. Oh no… it’s much tougher!!!

 

There are a number of traditional ways to generate business leads. I would like to highlight the issues each of these cause:

 

 

 

SEM – Search engine marketing continues to be the ‘go-to’ marketing channel for most marketers and businesses. Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns can be highly effective, but also expensive and very time consuming. But that’s not all, what do you do with the demand generated? Unless you have an effective way of capturing leads from SEM through your website, and share these leads with your partners (how robust is your ‘Partner Locator’?), then you are wasting time, literally. What I mean is that you are lengthening the sales cycle by a) taking these leads generated, b) qualifying them yourself, c) passing them on to your channel partners and d) letting them close these deals.

 

So is SEM ideal to drive demand? NO!

 

 

 

Email Marketing – Email marketing, another cornerstone of the marketers’ arsenal is still an effective marketing channel, but has a number of fundamental flaws. Firstly, unless you have a good database of customers and prospects, it is likely that you will need to purchase data, which is expensive, and risky. Then there’s how to target the data, and manage your campaigns. A basic stand-alone database with campaign management and analytics tools will set you back tens of thousands of pounds, and considerably more if you want something a little more sophisticated and refined.

 

With click-rates of under 1%, there is a danger that this type of marketing could actually do more harm to your brand than good, and with the same issue as SEM – what do you do with interest generated,-the results rarely reflect or justify the effort.

 

So are mass email marketing campaigns ideal to drive demand? NO!

 

 

 

Direct Social Media – Most companies typically start their social media voyage by creating their own Twitter handles, LinkedIn Company Pages, Facebook Fanpages, YouTube channels, etc. Sadly, because they cannot guarantee who is following them, and because they cannot restrict access or target content, they cannot use these tools as effective demand generation platforms. Engagement from followers is historically poor. Again as with SEM and Email marketing, should interest from buyers be generated, how do you deal with it and route this to your partners?

 

So are ‘Direct’ social media activities ideal to drive demand? NO!

 

 

 

Co-Branding with your sales partners – ‘Co-marketing’ is a classic channel marketing tactic. I’ve seen it work very well – for the ‘larger partners’ – but in all honesty most fail. They fail because they generally are expensive to do (for the brands/ vendors), and partners rarely have the time, expertise and resources to run these programmes, no matter how simple you have made them. Then there’s the issue of your partners not willing to share their prospect list with you (they still don’t trust you) or even organise a campaign around just your products and brand (they would prefer to market their own broader offering).

 

So is co-marketing ideal to drive demand? It COULD be (helping your partners create their own demand would minimise problems and delays).

 

 

 

So what’s the solution?

 

Something I’ve mentioned a few times before; social media amplification!

 

Think about creating social media content, sharing this with your partners (and/or employees), and letting them post this content to their own accounts as their own content (see diagram below).

 

This multiplies your reach exponentially, and supports your partners in the social space. And, if you do this well and if you make it simple for partners, like we do via our own and unique platform – socialondemand®, then you’ll guarantee a very high participation/ engagement rate from your partners.

 

socialondemand

 

Putting it simply, there are just none of the drawbacks with social media amplification as there are with your other marketing activities.

 

  • It’s cheaper that SEM, coming in at a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) of £0.06-£0.23.

 

  • It’s more effective than any email lead generation campaign with click rates of 5 to 20%. This is mainly because a) you are not spamming anyone, b) it’s social and c) you are leveraging the trust that already exists between your partners and their followers.

 

  • You shorten the sales cycle by generating interest where it matters, i.e. between the prospective buyers (the end-users who read your content) and the sellers (your partners).

 

If you would like to see how social media amplification could work for you, please send me an email, or call me. Alternatively, listen to my latest brief talk/ webinar about this topic.

 

 

07 March – Can social media amplification benefit your Search Engine Rankings?

I get asked a lot when we demonstrate our products, if there are any other benefits to social media other than the obvious. By the way, the “term” obvious means increased brand presence, customer engagement and interactions, as well as vastly improved sales.

 

The answer to the question in case you were wondering was, and is, “Yes”.

 

The beginning:

 

Let’s start at the beginning. How search engines rank their results is something of a closely-guarded secret. However, almost all search engines measure the quantity and quality of inbound links as a major part of ranking the importance of a site, and therefore how relevant the site is per each search term.

 

Effectively, part of a search engine rating of how important your site is, will be determined by how many inbound links or traffic your site has generated, and the relative importance of these inbound sites. The higher the importance, the better for your search rankings.

 

Logically therefore, generating lots of traffic through to your site from important sites is an incredibly important aspect of SEO strategy. Easy, right? Well yes, in principle, but in practice it’s a different story. In fact a whole industry sprung up in the late 90s and is still going strong today with the sole objective of building good quality links.

 

So how does this relate to us, to our products, to the original question posed by many of our customers?

 

The social factor:

 

Well, put simply, social media networks are, and have been for a long time, the most visited sites on the internet outside of Google. They are about as important a site as it is possible to get. Driving traffic from these sites through to your site clearly has great benefit. Maximising the traffic you get from social media networks is therefore crucial.

 

But you’re doing everything you can on social media to get people to share, distribute and click through to your site, right? Well what if I told you that just by adding in social media amplification, i.e. using your channel partners, employees and other influencers to automatically share your content, you could see your search engine rankings amplified too. Would you believe me?

 

The sell:

 

I may not write these blogs in some spike of altruism, but I do believe in social media amplification, and like any marketing activity, the benefit is seen in many other areas. What’s more, I know it works for our customers such as Microsoft, Adobe and McAfee, because I see the stats everyday. Click-through rates on social media of 19%, increasing impressions by a factor of 47, and driving 400 total interactions per post.

 

Finally, I believe it can work for you. If you’re interested in finding out more, contact me directly. My details are below, and I look forward to speaking to you!

 

Olivier

Sig

03 March – Could you be doing your channel partner newsletters better?

The newsletters that we create for our customers have open rates of 50% and click-through rates approaching 40%. If you are doing better, than clearly you don’t need my help. However if you aren’t hitting these figures, read on.

 

Picture the scenario; you’re in charge of channel partner communications with a large multi-national organisation. You’ve been set the challenge of improving channel partner communications. Current response rates are poor, and what’s worse, your newsletters take too long and cost too much.

 

What should you do next?

 

Stage 1: Personalise!

 

The more personalised your communications, the better they will perform, right? We all know this and there is a massive amount of research to prove it.

 

BUT. You have thousands of partners, they’re in different local markets across different global regions, and require different languages and local news. To complicate matters even more, you have different tiers of partners. Some are more important than others, and they will need different types of newsletters to reflect their importance.

 

As you can see below, 1 newsletter with a few tweaks can quickly turn into 21. Each version will have elements which will need to be planned as separate newsletters, built separately in HTML, tested and dispatched separately.

 

Newsletter Issues 2

 

 

 

So what do you do? You clearly have to personalise to create better responses, but personalising is looking like a very resource-heavy and expensive activity.

 

 

 

Stage 2: Process!

 

So to get as personal as possible, you need a robust process in place. The best way to stay in control, is to have one team, one template, one process. However, you then lose the ability to be agile, to create truly relevant and local content, as well as easy translation.

 

So what is the best way of managing the process? Centralised or Local? The below matrix lists the pros and cons of each process.

 

Newsletter Issues

As you can see, both strategies have their merits and drawbacks. What you gain with one, you lose with the other. Just like personalising content, process is a compromise.

 

 

 

The solution

 

Ultimately, most organisations have to compromise – personalisation vs. process and costs. With budget restraints being what they are, partner communications are often generic, untargeted, not on brand and irregular, and therefore unsurprisingly they generate poor results.

 

What if I told you that there was a solution which generated newsletters automatically, which was FULLY PERSONALISED, where your partners could CHOOSE the information they wanted to receive, and which did not require any HTML coding? Would you believe me? Would you then believe me if I said that this solution exists, and also that it is far cheaper to use per month than generating a single newsletter?

 

The solution is of course, newsondemand® from purechannelapps™, and here’s how it works;

 

YOU put the content, and articles in to the tool; you tag and categorise the content (by country, by language, by topic, by partner type, etc.)

 

YOUR marketing teams translate the content into native market languages.

 

YOUR partners choose what content they want to receive through the tags and category filters. They choose what language they want to receive the content in, and how frequently they want to receive the newsletters.

 

newsondemand builds and distributes each newsletter individually and automatically dynamically from all of the above content and preferences from your partners – no HTML coding required.

 

The results

 

Our partners are regularly seeing open rates on their newsletters through newsondemand of over 50%. They are also seeing click-through rates of up to 40%.

 

AND it saves you days. J

 

If you think that newsondemand is something you would like to know more about, then please call me, my details are below.

 

Sig