A bold headline, right? Well this was born from a meeting I attended recently with a large channel-centric organisation. I was explaining exactly what we do, and the concepts behind our socialondemand® solution (which enables our customers to communicate THROUGH their intermediaries, i.e. their channel partners and employees, TO their end-users / consumers). This led a senior member of their team to ask me, “But can we also use social to communicate TO our partners?”
It’s a good question
Yes you can, but it’s really not the best way to do it. Apart from the rather obvious difficulties like restricted character count, there are numerous other problems. For example who are you sending your message to? Do they all have a social media account? Do they want to receive business messages through their personal accounts? Do they always check their accounts? Are you sending the right message to the right person? How do you track open rates? Click-thru rates?
There is already a better way and it’s been around for 20 years
Email is still undoubtedly the best way of communicating with your partners. I’m sure your Head of Marketing has been looking at his/her partner email results for the past few years and seen them steadily decline, and assumed that the type of communication (email) was to blame. I suppose this same person looked at other types of communication like social media as a way to ‘stop the rot’ and move that partner engagement dial up, instead of down.
The unfortunate truth is that this Head of Marketing wasn’t asking the most important question first, “Are we just really bad at communicating with our partners?”
Email still works, but doing what you’ve always done won’t get you better results
As a channel marketer, I know that companies often find a successful groove, a routine if you will, and that’s where they stay. Often five years down the road they’re still doing the same emails every week, with the same message, sent in the same way, to the same people. It won’t surprise you that after a while your results are going to plateau at best, or more likely decline as time goes on.
Add to this that typically organisations don’t really know who their partners are and what they are interested in.
Finally, everybody sends too many emails. Full stop!
In my meeting, I explained all of this, to which the Head of Marketing asked, “You’re saying we need a new creative?”…No, absolutely not! Marketing starts with data, and as such your starting point should always be to ask “Am I communicating with the right people?” The next step is to see if you are communicating with the right people, at the right time, with the right message. This isn’t an alien concept to marketers, it’s called segmentation.
Segmentation and personalisation will get you results, but they are also hugely time consuming and it is unrealistic to believe you will get to the “nirvana” of all marketers – personalisation down to the single customer level – or is it?
For example, if you are a channel marketer looking to send a newsletter to a global partner audience in 3 different partner segments, in 9 languages, you are going to need to produce 27 different versions of the same newsletter. That’s a lot of work… and money!
Here’s the simple solution
Let your partners (or customers) decide exactly what they want to be informed about and exactly how often they would like to receive your news. Don’t try to guess this for them. Let them decide.
Our e-communications platform – newsondemand – allows marketers to personalise content right down to the single customer level, without having to produce more than one version of their content.
Too good to be true? Not this time. Here’s how it works;
- Your customers/ partners choose the content they are interested in hearing from you, what language they want it in, and the frequency they want to hear it.
- You create small articles, or long articles, and tag this content (by country, language, product interest, partner types/ tiers, etc., the list is endless).
- newsondemand will then take this tagged content, and from the filters your customers or partners have chosen, will build specific HTML email newsletters for them based on their preferences (it’s all automated, so you won’t need additional HTML developers to do the work).
- The newsletters are personalised to the single customer level, and are uniquely timely and relevant. Your recipients are involved in your marketing process, and are more engaged as a result.
- Your newsletters are opened by up to 50% of your database, and have up to a 20% click-thru rate (these are results Adobe achieved with newsondemand).
It’s that simple.
Keep social as a THRU communication/ amplification/ syndication method
This in turn frees up your social media channel to be used for what it really should be used for; generating leads and sales. This doesn’t mean filling up your social media networks with bland sales and marketing messages, there’s a lot more to social selling and brand awareness than that, but it does mean that you are not wasting opportunities in the biggest shop window on Earth, and using precious marketing resources on interacting with your partners on social media.
No of course I am not saying you should avoid all interactions with your partners on social media, far from it, but it should be seen as an addition to your social media efforts, and not an integral part of it.
We still have email, it still works, but you need to use it in the right way.