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Purechannelapps CEO Dissects The Partner Engagement Dilemma

500x753_olivierNew communication touch points and tactics are emerging on a daily basis, but one hard fact remains: It is becoming increasingly challenging for vendors to stand out and effectively engage with partners.

Although capturing partner attention and engendering long-term loyalty is a consistent dilemma, why hasn’t more movement been made? More importantly, what best practices can vendors implement to tackle this issue head-on?

In the below Q&A, Olivier Choron, Founder and CEO of purechannelapps, shares how vendors can stand out by sending targeted newsletters and embrace social media to drive engagement. Purechannelapps’ clients include Adobe, Avnet, Microsoft and SAP.

Channel Marketer Report (CMR): What are the top challenges channel marketers face when communicating with their partners?

Choron: Any organization with more than one partner faces the challenge of “customizing” or “targeting” their communications to partners. We all know that not all partners are equal — they work differently, employ different people, resell different products, and they don’t work in the same territory. They all have different requirements, and of course, the more partners you work with, the more critical this problem becomes.

One of the (many) tasks channel marketers have is to make sure communications to partners remain relevant and timely — and this is tough. To provide timely news, you need to have processes in place that minimize the time it takes from news to publication. This is a challenge when having to also localize everything into many languages — true for most corporations out there. To provide relevant news, typically, you must know who your partners’ employees are, what they are interested in, how much and what the company sells, etc.

Let’s also not forget about the high level of competition organizations are dealing with here, each fighting for their email to get noticed by their partners. Partners don’t only receive their newsletters. So it important that emails and newsletters stand out from the crowd. Organizations want them to get opened. Most importantly, they want their emails to be the favorable ones that partners actually engage with and take the time to read.

CMR: How are channel organizations performing today when it comes to communicating to their partners?

Choron: For 99.9% of the people I meet, not very well at all, to be frank! This is because these companies actually know little about (or cannot report on) their partners. They also do not have the people and systems to do “proper” targeting of news, and instead send “one newsletter” or “one email” for all partners all at once. Not good.

If they are operating on a global scale, they often translate these communications into core languages, which is fantastic if only this did not create such a delay in the news being published to partners. This often leads to monthly newsletters being full of content that is two months old, which is absolutely meaningless for 90% of partners, especially if they can find this news online or via their account managers.

So, in summary, the news is old, it is not relevant to partners and they also cost a fortune to publish due to each version having to be physically hardcoded. It truly is a loss-loss scenario for all involved.

CMR: Can social media help?

Choron: I get asked this question and my answer never varies — social media is a fabulous “through” tool. Social media amplification platforms like our own socialondemand allows vendors to share content with their partners who can publish this content themselves on their own social networks to attract end-users. It’s a great new distribution mechanism.

As for using social media as a “to partner” tool, this is simply not viable. You may want to create your own “restricted access” social networks, but you would only create a duplicate version of your partner portal…and you know how difficult it is to get people to register and engage with that sometimes.

To answer your question, while email marketing is often overlooked for sharing updates to partners (because vendors do it so badly), it is the right mechanism to execute partner communications.

CMR: So, how can this be done better?

Choron: For us, it’s simple and it comes in two parts:

1. Don’t second guess what your audience wants to hear about: We think users / readers of your news — whether they are channel partners, employees or customers — should decide what they want to hear about, when and how frequently they would like to be updated.

This is what we have done with our newsondemand platform. The main advantage of asking the audience for their own preferences is that it will guarantee better engagement levels from your audience in terms of readership. You also do not need to tie up 20+ databases together to “target” news.

2. Automate the news publication process: Employing HTML/email marketers and creating multiple versions for multiple audiences is a very expensive process. It also delays the publication of news.

With newsondemand, news publishing happens automatically. Vendors enter their news articles, one by one (or by batch), set tags for each (language, remit countries, groups of applicable partners, product, news type, date of publication, etc.), and the system will automatically create and send the relevant newsletters to the relevant users at the relevant date. A “news publisher” is not required.

If you would like to know more, listen/ watch our latest newsondemand webinar with our customer – SAP.

CMR: How do you see the partner engagement space changing or evolving in the near future?

Choron: We currently don’t see anyone delivering this type of targeted communications to their audiences, but we think more can be done:

  • Some (not all) partners would find receiving news via a mobile app very useful.
  • Partners would love to share some of the content they receive via social media to their prospects.
  • Partners would like to utilize and share this content via their own co-branded newsletters.
  • News should be archived (on a partner portal).

So, watch this space.

 

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About Alicia Fiorletta

Alicia Fiorletta is Senior Editor for Channel Marketer Report. Working closely with industry analysts and experts, Alicia reports on the latest news, technologies, case studies and trends coming to forefront in the channel marketing world. With a focus on emerging marketing strategies, including social, mobile and content for demand, Alicia hones in on new ways for organizations to market to and through their partner networks. Through her work with G3 Communications, Alicia also acts as Associate Editor for Retail TouchPoints, a digital publishing network focused on the customer-facing area of the retail industry.

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