24 July – Understanding your partners social media capabilities- Part 1 of 3

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When you rely on partners to sell your products, you are also relying on them to promote you too, in the most favourable way possible. No pressure.

 

Invariably there are unavoidable issues with this, and at the same time you don’t want to miss out on your products/ services receiving a social media presence.

 

It’s all about understanding your partners capabilities and supporting them where possible.

Here I will be discussing the main issues channel marketers face when sharing content through their partners. Do you share these pain points?

 

The main Issues

 

Punctuality is important

 

If you give your partners some content, how do you know when they are going to post it – and therefore keep it relevant? The last thing you want is for them to post out of date content which is no longer valid.

 

Being consistent

 

Let’s also not forget about the importance of a consistent brand message. This can often be diluted when partners share content. Or even worse their post title does not portray your brand very well at all, and they do not include a crucial piece of information.

 

Socially educated – knowledge is power?

 

Some of your partners are smaller than others, each with their own demands (dealing with your competitors) which unfortunately delay or even stop your posts being a priority. And let’s be straight here, some may not really even understand the importance of social media, and are not utilising it to its full potential. You then come in with your content, expecting them to share it, and they are left feeling a bit over whelmed by it all. Do they really know the true benefit of completing this task? Or perhaps even how to complete this task efficiently so it is not the bane of their life? Will all partners know/ like/ trust social? Do they care? What’s in it for them? These are things that they say, when they have lots of sales people and not many marketing people… and social is marketing, right?

 

But don’t worry there is a solution, and I plan to inform you of this in my next blog post. Stay tuned, and I will reveal all.

24 July – My top tips on how to manage social media if you’re a channel marketer

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For those of you who operate within a complex channel, relying on resellers, distributers or other partners to promote your brand to end users can be a real challenge. So I have outlined below some of the common issues/scenarios faced in the channel, and have suggested some ‘Top Tips’ on finding a resolution:

 

  1. ‘My resellers don’t share my posts’

 

Let’s not forget, your resellers do not only work with you, but with your competitors, who like you, are fighting for their attention as well. It’s not surprising that your social media posts are probably not receiving the attention they deserve. Especially when sharing your posts is not the most straightforward task, nor top of the priority list!

 

TIP 1: MAKE IT EASY, USE A SOCIAL MEDIA PROGRAM

 

If it was simple and straight forward – and only took three clicks, then your resllers would be more inclined to perform this task. Not only will this benefit you through increasing your potential reach, but it also allows your resellers to be socially active. Let’s not forget it will also help them to develop their ‘thought leader’ status helping boost their sales potential.

 

There are a range of social media programs out there for you to try, each with varying levels of success. I obviously favour my own, socialondemand, but you could try Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social too. Explore this market further and see what works for you.

 

  1. ‘The post doesn’t sound like my brand’

 

So your resellers finally get around to posting content onto social media about, for example, ‘your new product launch’, but their post title does not portray your brand very well at all, and they do not include a crucial piece of information. This is an issue I hear time and time again.

 

TIP 2: CREATE PRE-POPULATED POSTS FOR ALL SOCIAL NETWORKS

 

I’m sure you’ll agree portraying a consistent brand message that cannot be diluted is highly important. As previously mentioned, a social media program is a great way to achieve this. Alternatively, why not create an email newsletter where articles can be shared to their social media accounts? The slight issue with this is your posts cannot be scheduled throughout the day, and instead will rely on each post being manually shared. A task that may be forgotten. But let’s not be pessimistic, it’s a step in the right direction.

 

  1. My resellers are sharing out-of-date content’

 

So by the time your resellers finally manage to find the time to share your posts, the content is out of date. This is a real bug-bare, particularly if the post was to, for example promote an event/ sale that has been and gone.

 

TIP 3: DISCONTINUE POSTS

 

To ensure this does not occur, by using a social media management system, you can discontinue posts that are no longer appropriate. If however the management tool you have adopted does not enable this feature, a simple approach of labelling posts with the end date could stop this from occurring. Simple but effective.

 

  1. ‘I want to reach a wider market’

 

Resellers, distributors or other partners, whatever channel it is that you sell through, you want to get your message out there to the widest possible market, so that it can be heard by all of your target audience, but how?

 

TIP 4: ADOPT EMPLOYEE ADVOCACY

 

If you have not attempted this before, this is a great way to increase your potential reach. Simply put, it’s the promotion of a brand through its employees. When done correctly, these key influencers, who have huge social networks, have the opportunity to sway potential customers’ decisions to buy or not to buy from a brand. This is a fantastic avenue that you must explore further to see how this could work for your brand. Read this article to discover more.

 

So if you are a channel marketer, there really is an easier way – but it does take time and effort. Try these tips, and discover an easier way to encourage your resellers, distributors and other partners – and maybe even your employees – to share your content, and reach a wider audience. It will all be worth it in the end.

15 July – How to inject a new lease of life into social media marketing

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Social media, as we all know can be extremely valuable when you use it effectively. The space has changed dramatically over the course of 10 years, but have you changed with it? Isn’t it about time you took charge and injected a new lease of life into your social media marketing approach.

 

Which social networks should I focus on?

But first let me start by asking you…What do you use social media for? Is it to attract a B2B or a B2C audience? This may alter which social networks you pay special attention to. I mainly focus my attention on Twitter and LinkedIn, however if I was in the B2C space I may favour Facebook or Pinterest. You know which receives the best engagement so my first piece of advice is…

 

TIP 1: FOCUS ON A MAXIMUM OF THREE SOCIAL NETWORKS AT A TIME

 

Everyone needs a goal

So it’s okay to keep plodding along, but do you really know how you are performing on social media? Only when you realise how you are performing, can you set an achievable goal. Not only is it rewarding when you achieve it, but it also helps you plan the steps you must take to reach it.. Plus it  encourages you to regularly keep track of your performance. These are all actions that should occur on at least a weekly basis, so you can make changes where necessary. Hence in a nutshell…

 

TIP 2: SET AN ACHIEVABLE GOAL TO REACH

 

Being visual makes you stand out

Why not take it one step further. As we all know images can say 1000 words, but what about videos? They are a great way to truly engage your audience. And what’s more they can easily be measured, with networks such as Facebook clearly listing how many views each video has. They don’t need to be long, but they will make you stand out. Be aware though as viewing three seconds of a video on Facebook is counted as a view whereas on YouTube it’s around thirty seconds. So be different…

 

TIP 3: IMAGERY: GO ONE STEP FURTHER – CREATE A VIDEO

 

Don’t just share your own content

I read an interesting article this week that talked about the 5:3:2 rule. This basically means that if you post 10 times a week to social media, five of them should be content from others, three posts should be content that you have created, and two posts should be something a bit personal, something to humanise your social networks.

 

I think this is a really good strategy to apply as it will generate a wide variety of content to be shared. You can’t be arrogant and think your customers only want to hear about your content. Instead think about complementary topics that may be of interest to them. For me, I try and include posts about, for example, updates to social networks, email marketing, channel marketing news, etc. That way you are adding value to your connections/ followers/ friends. Remember…

 

TIP 4: VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE

 

Ignorance is bliss

Come on now, no-one knows everything, and you can’t pretend to do so either. Rather than talking and sharing a little bit about everything, focus on a few chosen topics, and become a recognised thought leader for that subject area. It also means that if someone asks you a question or comments on a post that you shared, from your experience you can advise and answer accordingly. Be honest and…

 

TIP 5: DON’T PRETEND TO KNOW IT ALL

 

Social is in the title for a reason

I know this may sound obvious to some but socialising and communicating on social media is what it is all about. Ensure you adopt common social media etiquette such as thanking networkers for following/ connecting with you. You never know this may even spark up a conversation, and lead to a pipeline being achieved. Also when sharing, or retweeting someone else’s post, this is a great opportunity to interact with the creator, whether that be by saying ‘great article by John Smith’, or whether you share a thought leader comment. It’s a great way to get recognised. So my last bit of advice is…

 

TIP 6: THEY ARE NOT CALLED SOCIAL NETWORKS FOR NOTHING -YOU NEED TO INTERACT WITH OTHERS

 

Yes I know these tips may seem obvious, but if we are truly honest most of us could be doing a much better job on social media. Well now is your chance. It’s a great channel to increase your reach so take advantage of it, before you lose out to a competitor.

08 July – Is email marketing outdated for channel partners?

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The short answer to this is… it depends!  Cue large groan! But on what exactly? Well on your own personal approach to email marketing for channel partners for a start. Just like everything, it is your email strategy and activities that need to be updated and revamped and given a new lease of life. Here’s how.

 

Why email marketing

Email marketing has dramatically evolved over the years, allowing organisations to regularly connect and update their recipients with new information.

 

This is still a great way to send useful information about your brand to your partners. This could include product updates, new promotions or maybe updates to your partner program and portal. The content is completely up to you. Whatever it is, it is designed to equip recipients with relevant content to stay in tune with your brand.

 

When adopted correctly, it can achieve significant results.

 

‘Correctly’ is the critical word here.

 

How things have changed

The major change within this space is the accessibility, volume and technology. Whether you receive emails at work, on your tablet, or mobile device, nowadays communication is a lot easier, cost effective and accessible. It has allowed many brands to increase their global reach as geographical location is no longer an issue.

 

And with the advancement of technologies, creating bulk email newsletters, such as for your channel partners, has become a lot simpler and achievable.

 

The issues

So you adopted an email marketing strategy one, two, or maybe three years ago… but have you updated it much since? How many times have you actually reviewed what you are doing and thought, ‘I know what changes I need to make here’? The chances are not very often. It’s a bit like a new kitchen, it looks sleek and pretty at first but over time the walls need a paint, and things need to be replaced in order to bring it up to date and functional again. Trends change, we move on, and so perhaps it’s time you did too.

 
Competition

Let’s also not forget about the high level of competition you’re dealing with here, each fighting for their email to get noticed. Remember your partners don’t only receive your newsletters! So the main aim here is to ensure your emails and newsletters stand out from the crowd. You want them to get opened, and be the favourable ones that partners actually engage with and take the time to read.

 

So evaluate your current email stats, such as open, click and unsubscribe rate and come up with a plan of what you want to improve. Leave the how up to me.

 

Where many go wrong

It’s all about targeting. If you send a generalised email newsletter to all of your partners, with half of the content not even relating to their interests or needs, engagement levels are unsurprisingly going to be low. One size certainly does not fit all, it needs to be adapted.

 

And once more, if your channel partners are located globally, have you considered that some partners may be averse to reading your newsletter if it is not in their first language? That’s if they actually take the time to read it, which they probably won’t due to their busy schedules.

 

Getting with the program

So here’s what you need to do. Let’s first tackle targeting. Your email needs to be adapted to your recipients’ requirements and interests. Software programs such as newsondemand allow this to be easily achievable, and cost effective.

 

The recipient simply selects what they want to receive (you create a list of categories that they can choose from) and when they want to receive it (time and frequency). No HTML coding is required. All you need to do is upload your articles, and based upon the recipients’ preferences, a newsletter will be created and sent to all subscribers. Each newsletter therefore will look slightly different, appealing solely to the receiver.

 

Since using this program, SAP’s newsletter open rates are now up by 49%, and the average click to open rate is now 5.9%, with some reaching 17%. Impressive I know.

 

Or there are other programs that will make your life that little bit easier. For a simple approach, creating a one size fits all newsletter, you could try Mail Chimp. They have some great analytical features to really help you identify how you are performing.

 

If however you are looking for something a bit more advanced, there are other solutions where you put your recipients into specific groups and create newsletters specifically to appeal to these groups. So you could potentially be creating 5 or 6 newsletters each time. This unfortunately will be very costly, hence why I would suggest, and yes I know I am biased, that you look at newsondemand! It really does eliminate all the physical newsletter creation tasks.

 

It of course depends upon how targeted you want to be, how much time you want to spend on email marketing, and how diverse your brand really is. It’s definitely worth looking into all of these options and seeing which would work best for you.

 

Images say 1000 words

The visual element of your newsletter is crucial. A dull and dingy newsletter will quickly be ignored. Similarly so a newsletter with reams of writing. Boring! An interesting newsletter is always one that contains lots of images, enticing the recipient to read on. Ensure this is a key element to your email strategy. And please whatever you do, ensure it complements your brand. Adopt your brands colour scheme within the newsletters so straight away the recipient knows exactly who the newsletter is from.

 

Let’s be clear now

Clarity is an essential element to newsletters. Your recipient wants to be able to grab the essentials and move on. Expecting the recipient to just magically find essential bits of information and tirelessly read through everything is an unrealistic expectation. For this reason the essentials should always be at the top, in prime view for all to see. If using software such as newsondemand, you will be able to preference which articles appear at the top, without requiring any re-work of HTML coding. But alternatively you can select these yourself and alter the layout accordingly.

 

So together, let’s update our email newsletters and defuse this outdated myth that they don’t work. It’s not true! Try my tips above and see what a difference this makes to your channel communications. You’ll wish you’d done it sooner.

02 July – How SAP deliver targeted newsletters to all 13,000 partner organisations

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So how do SAP deliver targeted newsletters to their wealth of 13,000 global partners? This is a goal every brand would surely love to deliver, but it’s expensive and time consuming, yes? Wrong. In their recent webinar with us, purechannelapps, SAP explained exactly how they manage to achieve this.

 

Who are SAP?

But before we start, let me first begin by providing you with a little more information about SAP. They are the market leader in enterprise application software, with a global presence through their significant network of partners. SAP is built around helping originations simplify their processes to generate innovative opportunities for growth.

 

Kathleen Lopez, Senior Director, partner marketing communications at SAP says, ‘It is always a challenge, no matter what industry you are in, to reach your target audiences’ attention in a cost effective, targeted way.’

 

Targeted newsletter issues

Up until 2013, SAP often sent up to three newsletters a day to their partners, each about its own set of product focus. This is clearly because they wanted to provide targeted content to their partners. If however partners fell into more than one category, they would receive more than one newsletter, often containing duplicate information. As I am sure you appreciate this caused engagement levels to fall.

 

Can you imagine how time consuming it would be to create three newsletters daily? With each content created needing to be approved, translated into multiple languages, HTML coded and then newsletter template formatted, the turnaround of content was incredibly slow. It’s then not surprising that partners were receiving old content that was no longer relevant.

 

Growing pressures for partners

SAP’s partners work with other vendors as well, so managing and engaging with their content and competitors is a challenging task to undertake. But how do you get your partners to make yours the favourable one, the one they choose to read?

 

‘Everyone wants to talk to partners these days, they see partners as the growth engine of their business.  Everyone’s story is super important so it is essential to be ahead of competitors,’ admits Kathleen Lopez.

 

What does SAP use?

So what did SAP do about it? They opted for newsondemand, offered by purechannelapps to solve their growing issues. This software allows SAP to create a 100% targeted newsletter that can be sent to all partners. Partners select what they are interested is receiving information about, how often they want to receive it (weekly/ monthly) and when.

 

The software will intelligently create a newsletter based upon their preferences. What’s particularly beneficial for SAP is that they do not need to do any HTML coding, just simply upload articles and select which category it is appropriate to. The software does the rest.

 

‘We give our partners the choice on content areas and how often they want to hear from SAP. A lot of companies do not do this in the tech world,’ confirms Kathleen Lopez.

 

Isn’t it pretty?

SAP’s newsletter is now also more physically appealing to all readers; something slightly different from what I believe you will have ever seen before. It looks more like a magazine article, with three columns, and an image allocated to each. SAP can also prioritise the order of articles so more important ones appear at the top. Clever, I know J

 

The all-important results

Engagement levels have significantly increased. Open rates are up by 49%, with the average click to open rate being 5.9%. Some newsletters even receive 17%. This is a dramatic improvement and shows the real difference targeted newsletters have made to SAP’s partners. This is calculated per newsletter article.

 

Outdated content is now a thing of the past, as HTML coding is not required, meaning each email does not need to be individually created. This ensures content is relevant, up-to-date and useful to partners. And let’s not forget partners now only receive one email with all the relevant information they need. Duplication is a thing of the past. No wonder engagement has increased.

 

‘My team was not the size it was 10 years ago. It’s smaller, yet we are expected to do more so we need platforms like newsondemand to help us achieve that,’ concludes Kathleen Lopez.