There is no denying that your channel partners see social media as extremely valuable for increasing their overall online presence. The questions we need to ask ourselves are multiple; Are your channel partners really equipped to manage it effectively? And are you, the vendor, providing enough social media support?
We interviewed a number of channel partners, namely Benjamin de Vries and Terry Knight from Professional Document Solutions, Toni Gibiino, Marketing Director at Office Solutions Ltd and Graham Compton, Director of Business Edge Technologies, to hear their views. Like to listen to their live discussion? Click here.
Social media – how critical is it?
Social media has become a fundamental activity for driving increased brand engagement, and unsurprisingly channel partners share the same view too, seeing it as a way to be easily found digitally.
Toni states: ‘It’s like having a shop front; you don’t necessarily need to have an attractive shopfront. As long as it looks attractive online they tend to validate your business based on this.’
Research by Sirius decisions backs this up perfectly, showing 67% of the buyers’ journey is spent online and on social media. So without an active social media account or online presence, buyers could look elsewhere, even to your dreaded competitors!
Benjamin and Terry have seen the benefit in using social media as a way to drive traffic to their own website, generating interest this way, and being seen as industry thought leaders. They also have another very interesting tactic, as Terry explains: ‘Anyone that lands on our website we can re-market to. Our goal is to try and get them back to our website.’
This is a fantastic method for keeping potential buyers aware of your brand offerings, hoping to sway their purchasing behaviour.
What social network(s) to focus on?
Obviously this is highly dependent on the industry you are in, and whether you are in the B2B or B2C space. But for these channel partners, who are all in the B2B space, the social network they favour is LinkedIn, although Twitter generates a lot of clicks!
‘LinkedIn is our biggest means of generating opportunity, and we focus on training our staff to interact socially with people on LinkedIn’, says Toni.
When determining the type of content to focus on, video creation is recognised to be the best method for receiving high engagement, with Terry reporting ‘Videos have been the best, with over 100,000 views.’ Toni further goes on to say ‘People do not want to read huge great articles, when they can watch a 30 second video, and get the crux of it very quickly.’ For this reason, Toni will be focussing a lot of his marketing budget on this.
As you can imagine, time, content and resources are all limited, with many channel partners not having a dedicated team or even person to manage their social media accounts. Graham can relate to this, ‘Trying to find the right person to post the right piece of media is really time consuming and difficult to achieve, that’s why we love socialondemand because it does a lot of the work for us.’
Having a platform to support your channel partners’ limitations, such as their online exposure, is a great way to not only become their preferred supplier of choice, but also to increase your own reach and revenue potential.
Ben further goes on to say, ‘Xerox socialondemand produce some really great content and it’s really easy to share.’ For Ben, socialondemand minimises the challenge they face of finding and creating great content to share on social media, enabling them to maintain and build their online presence.
For me, this webinar was extremely insightful and I would highly recommend tuning in to discover just how you can better support your channel partners, to achieve the exposure you and your channel partners’ desire, via social media.
By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
Find me on LinkedIn
Email marketing automation, in my opinion, is largely over-played, certainly as a means to communicate to channel partners. Here I am going to uncover the cracks that will make you question its worth to your brand.
Marketing automation is great for prospect nurturing processes. It’s fantastic for targeting those users that are thinking of buying as it can track which customers have visited your site, what they’ve looked at, and send these individuals a series of messages solely targeted to their needs and behaviours.
Anything to help influence their buying decision further is critical.
This works well for prospective channel partners too, i.e. for those that are currently not yet working with you but are thinking about it. It could also work for your inactive partners that seldom purchase and resell your products.
What about after the purchase decision is made and after your partners have bought from you? This is where marketing automation software fails. Your buyers have now left your buying cycle, so the nurturing approach is no longer relevant.
The requirement now is to keep them engaged and loyal to your brand, by ensuring they are kept informed about your new products, promotions, offers and tools. The issue is, if your targeting approach consists of creating and sending content based on website traffic but they are no longer visiting your website, how are you going to target them? This is the loop hole. Marketing automation software is not designed for this form of communication. It is also very cumbersome and time-consuming to create ‘nurturing campaigns’ for every piece of partner news.
Marketing automation software, whilst great for the nurturing process, cannot support you in sending targeted channel communications. You will need to send emails and newsletters based upon who your audiences are; by product interest, by industry sector, by partner type, by partner tier, by country, by language. But what if an individual is interested in more than one product and let’s say speaks Spanish? How are you going to specifically appeal to this individual? The answer is you can’t; well not unless you’re planning on creating a multitude of different versions, and updating this every time your product/ service offerings changes. It sounds like a lot of hard work to me! And what for? Will it ever be as targeted as required to truly engage every audience?
If you are looking to achieve ongoing communication to retain brand loyalty and keep your partners up-to-date, you need to look for a different solution, such as newsondemand, our own revolutionary software designed precisely to cater for this issue.
With newsondemand you can target every recipient with specifically tailored emails and newsletters based on their accreditation and partner levels, industry focus, language, topic interest, frequency they wish to receive your email newsletters etc.
With newsondemand, you can make this happen easily: you, the sender, only need to input content into the system, categorise it as you go and the software will do the rest. It’s that simple to use and will save you a lot of time and budget, whilst ensuring your partner audience receives the news they want and need, when they desire.
So before you extend the use of your marketing automation software to your channel communications, ensure you perform extensive research, weigh up your end goals and establish exactly what you will be using it for. If it’s to retain and build relationships with channel partners, I believe this is not the system for you and you should definitely look elsewhere.
By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps
Find me on LinkedIn