“A strong headline,” I hear you say. If you are a channel marketer and are planning to add ‘through channel social media syndication’ to your existing portfolio of content and web syndication programs, I would like you to think very carefully as to how you are going to do this!
Content syndication – the remit.
Through content syndication, you are offering your channel partners the option to select ‘campaigns’ as well as co-brand and use assets for this campaign.
This works well for those partners who are willing to ‘play the game’ with you. To do so, they need to be willing to align themselves with your content and ideas and to have some staff/ resources in place to do the work. You may be able to make it easier for them by providing co-marketing services, in the form of a partner marketing helpdesk, and offer co-op/ MDF funds to incentivise them to run your campaigns.
But, typically, the only people who can ‘play this game’ are marketing teams, and many partners don’t have such dedicated units. Furthermore, many partners don’t want to be perceived as being ‘too aligned’ to a certain vendor.
The result? Content syndication is limited to ‘the few’. Results can be astonishing for these, but for 90% of your partner network, content syndication is not perceived as worth the effort.
You need to also think about the ‘campaign’ element of these activities. Content syndication works, essentially, with campaigns. It’s all about aligning activities (email marketing, direct mail marketing and telemarketing, typically) with certain quarterly or semi-annual campaigns. Content syndication is not about ‘time-sensitive’ or fast-paced industry news.
Social syndication – why it is becoming widely used.
Through social syndication, you have the option to socially enable your channel partners. By sharing real-time product / company news, and more importantly, value-added content and thought leadership / opinion pieces, your partners can generate interest and awareness about both you and them to their followers.
For this reason, the social media content you require, that will bring you the best results, needs to go beyond the ‘campaign’ content you have created for your content syndication program. The ‘best’ content to use for social media has to be real-time and responding to market needs and situations. It should include market research reports (Gartner Magic Quadrant-based content always win!!!), case studies, market analysis, and essentially content that goes beyond fixed/ quarterly/ semi-annual ‘campaigns’.
Secondly, social media syndication programs should not be limited to ‘marketing’. All sales, technical and marketing staff within your channel partners should be seen as influencers and advocates. Social media syndication platforms are simple to use (or should be) and should be made available to all these users, for maximum impact. So, how will you manage the integration of content and social media syndication programs, if one is addressed at marketers and the other at everyone?
Extending this concept further, you can use social media syndication to amplify your social media content and reach to your employees. Employee advocacy programs are getting a lot of interest right now, and for good reasons. Leveraging the social reach of your sales staff by sharing content with them makes a lot of sense. Centralising the content creation and reporting for all your advocates also makes a lot of sense, but how will you manage the distribution of content, seamlessly, if your platform is only valid to partners?
The conclusions are simple: there is a need, albeit limited, for content syndication programs. But bundling it, directly, with social media syndication doesn’t make sense. The audiences are dissimilar and the content should be different. Keep these two programs separate and look for the best of breed in each area.
That said, there should be ONE place where the results are tracked and visible – you should clearly measure your ROI or view/use your results, whatever channel activity you are running.
Social media has many uses, but one of them should not be to ‘communicate to’ your channel partners. This is where many brands are getting it wrong – trying to set-up partner-only LinkedIn Groups or Twitter accounts. Why would you want to ask partners to visit more sites for news… shouldn’t your partner portal do this? Why let the whole world know about information which is only designed for the eyes of your partners?
Instead, consider using social media as a ‘through-partner’ marketing tactic, to attract end-users to buy your products. Here is a thought: use your partners to advocate your brand! Isn’t it what you are trying to achieve when you sit down with them and write your joint business plan?
Why not invest in a social media amplification platform like our own socialondemand where you can create posts, and your partners can share these posts as their own to their connections on social media? Not only will this increase your reach and exposure, but it will also allow you to potentially increase annual revenue through social selling.
But I want to communicate to my partners?
Engaging with your partners can be hard enough, especially when you have a range of different partners, each with different needs, interests and ties with your company. Your channel partners are more than likely all different sizes, each with a different product focus, and perhaps you have grouped them into particular partner tiers. How are you then expected to send targeted news to all of these partners, and keep them engaged?
Email marketing with a difference
Using emails and HTML newsletters can be a great method to achieve this, but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you have all the tools to perform this task efficiently. Who wants to create more than five variations of the same newsletter? Not only will this be hugely expensive, but with so many different types of partner, are some recipients going to be sent the same information more than once? And how quickly will these newsletters have to be created before the news is out of date? How many of you really even know what information your partners actually want to receive?
The answer to all of these questions is our own newsondemand. I know I am biased but ask SAP and Adobe what they think of this platform, which both companies now use globally. It allows partners to select the topics they are interested in and the tool does the rest (no HTML coding required), sending them a 100%-targeted newsletter based on their preferences. Partners can decide how often they receive newsletters from you (daily/ weekly/ monthly), at what time and in which language. And what’s more, the newsletters will be presented like a sleek magazine article, with three columns, and an image allocated to each. This encourages the highest engagement possible, allowing you to effectively compete with your competitors and become the favourable vendor they push end users to.
So don’t get me wrong social media is great, but use it to attract end-users, and use your channel partners as a means to achieve this. As for communicating to your partners, HTML newsletters are still the way forward. But I would recommend only attempting this if you are willing to invest in the right tools. Otherwise prepare to be disappointed by the results.
Email marketing, well, where to start? For many companies this is a method which has slowly but surely become less and less effective, with the unsubscribe rate steadily increasing. On the consumer side, this is not surprising, as consumers who have already bought from yourselves require no further interaction… for now that is. And let’s face it, who else is fed up of receiving hundreds of ‘junk’ or ‘spam’ emails every day? Engagement rate unsurprisingly is low.
But for brands that operate within the channel, that’s right I am talking about B2B marketing, this is an exciting communication method which I will prove to you still works.
That said, the main issue with email marketing relates to brands’ inability to target their audience effectively in a cost effective way.
The good news – You don’t need to spend so much time and effort anymore!
Typically, you used to require several communications managers to manage the process, graphic designers to come with nice designs and HTML developers to code your emails. You also relied on finding, and segmenting your partner data, for each newsletter you sent. This was especially true if you attempted to ‘lightly’ target each partner type, such as by grouping partners by their membership level – Gold, Silver and Bronze, or perhaps by the products they sell.
You previously spent vast sums of money to export info from one source and load it on your email system, as each newsletter would need to be different, to embody content specifically designed for certain partners.
But even this still left some gaps: what happens when you have a gold partner that sells many of your product ranges? You either risked sending them five copies of duplicate information, or you create a newsletter specifically for them, an unrealistic and very costly task.
I’m sure some of you probably are still doing all of this. Don’t worry, we can stop this headache once and for all!
Take it from me, it is no longer necessary to spend this much valuable time and resources to run your email marketing program.
Use best-of-breed software to send 100%-targeted newsletters to your partners
I’m not sure if you have yet come across newsondemand, you’d know it if you had. It has been a life changer for many brands. Take SAP for example, they used to send up to three newsletters a day to their partners, each containing duplicate information. Their targeting strategy consisted of breaking newsletters down by product focus, so if their partners unfortunately fell into more than one of their product focusses, they would be sent more than one copy.
Not only was this time consuming for SAP, with content needing to be approved and translated into multiple languages, but by the time all content had gone through this vigorous process it was out of date. It’s not surprising partners were unengaged.
How it worked for SAP
newsondemand has enabled SAP to create 100%-targeted newsletters for all partners, without the need for any HTML coding. All SAP have to do is insert articles into the platform, decide on their priorities (high priority articles will appear at the top), and a beautiful magazine-like newsletter will be produced. What’s also great is that partners can choose what topics they would like to receive information about, and even how often, e.g. weekly, daily or monthly. This guarantees they are receiving precisely what they want to read, when they want to read it. Are you doing this today?
SAP’s email open rates are now up by 49%, with some emails receiving a click to open rate of 17%. Very impressive! The reason? Content is targeted and provided as/ when required by partners!
More importantly for SAP, the turnaround of content being approved is now considerably faster as no HTML coding is required; so sending outdated content is no longer an issue. It also takes them much less effort to produce fantastic-looking newsletters, with each article targeted to their recipients.
If you would like to find out more about this how this worked for SAP, I suggest you read this blog post or watch this webinar.
So if you have overlooked email marketing, it’s about time you re-visited it, but that’s only if you use email marketing software. Not only will this make the task easier for your brand, but it is also cost-effective. After all, a targeted approach is the best strategy and you will certainly receive it here.