At last month’s B2B Marketing Exchange – Next-Level ABM, CMR had the opportunity to follow up with Jennifer Judy, Senior Director of Global Partner Experience at Poly, on the 2020 launch of a new portal to support a merged channel ecosystem. Out of the gate, the capabilities of the new personalized portal were pretty impressive, but Judy promised there was more to come. Here is some of the conversation CMR had with Judy at B2BMX
CMR — When we talked last year, you mentioned that one of the reasons you decided to build and maintain a personalized partner portal was to demonstrate to partners that Poly understands what their business models are, what they’re trying to achieve, and to make it easy for them to find what they need to succeed. You kicked off the initiative by personalizing experiences by region. Can you update us on the progress of the portal and the changes you might’ve made since then?
Jennifer Judy — Yes, absolutely. As you know, the new partner portal is a true partner relationship management tool. And with that, we didn’t just want a portal to be a repository where you store all of your information.
Segmentation and personalization are absolutely critical to the success of an organization. At Poly, we have three theaters — EMEA, APAC, and Americas/LATAM. And with that we have different audiences. So we wanted to personalize that experience helping partners find content that was dedicated to them instantly — queued up so they didn’t have to filter through all the different information.
We’ve personalized the portal by partner type too. We have different partner types in our organization and we wanted to make sure if they were a certain type of reseller, that information was up front and center. It really personalized that experience. We’re now adding more personal entry points for different partner alliances offering a different face to our partner portal that is truly queued up for them.
CMR — When we talked, you said it’s absolutely critical that you don’t try to create a partner experience in a vacuum. I’m sure that many of your partners have been eager to indicate their preferences, but do you rely on them to define what the experiences should be or is a lot of the personalization being determined by your team?
Jennifer Judy — That’s a fantastic question. You don’t design a portal to what you as the vendor think it should be. It should really stem off of input from your partner community. And don’t forget about your internal account managers. That is pivotal to the design of your partner portal.
We have our framing, but we talk to partners, we use our advisory councils, I go to staff calls for account managers and really listen to what are the main points that they hear about. Where can we improve? We take that to heart here at Poly. We design things based on what our partners need. And we’ve come up with some really great things specifically from feedback from our partners.
For example, partners wanted our partner newsletter, but they said, “Why do we have to just get it in one timeframe? Can’t I pick how often I want it? Can’t I pick what type of content I really want to read about rather than filtering through your news?”
We now have news on demand where it is done exactly the way our partners want it done. As a result, we have a 93% conversion rate on partners going in and it’s because we listened to them on tailoring how we go to market with them and give them the content they need.
CMR — Tell us how you’re using the portal to ensure the partners have the information they need for the segments that they are prioritizing.
Jennifer Judy — There are three areas that facilitate that. Tailor to your audience, make it easy to navigate, and help with what they need.
The first thing about getting the information to your partners – especially if you are a global company – is to localize your content. When we launched, we were only in English; mid-year we added on five more languages. In the next couple months, we’re adding six more languages around the world.
The feedback that we’re getting from our partners whether it’s about marketing, driving demo gear, or just being able to access content, is that we really need to make sure our user interface and content is localized.
The next is navigation. You may have to make sure that you know the different segments that partners are looking for, whether it be verticals, tools they need, a campaign in a box.
We have tiles on our partner portal where they can get this information, quick links to access all of our new product introduction. And in these individual pages are campaigns in a box, sales training, technical information. It’s got all of the information for them — no matter what role that they have in their organization — to go to market in those particular areas.
The last one is to provide help when they need help: always be there. We launched what we call support cases — having the ability to have experts on the backend if an individual comes in and has a question on a specific segment. We then tie them into a subject matter expert where we get them their answers very quickly.
The next thing that we’re going to be adding in the next month or so is live chat. All of these things will foster that environment for our partners to make sure that they can accomplish what they’re needing to do.
CMR — Can you comment on the effort it takes to maintain that personalized experience? Is it a heavy lift for your staff to create the content or is a lot of it just making sure that the right content is delivered to the right people?
Jennifer Judy — Yes. And again, I’m going to give you three points here that I want to focus on. One, don’t go into a partner portal lighthearted — “Oh, we’re just going to throw our content in there and hope our partners can just get it easily.” This is a full-time job. And always keep in mind, you’re never going to be done fine tuning it because everything is so mobile when you’re dealing with enablement. That’s the thing I love about enabling partners, is that it’s constantly fluid. You’re always building out capabilities. So you need to really make sure that you have the right investment and resources to support it.
Another key point is that quantity of documents does not equate to quality. One of my pieces of advice is build a governance practice around your content. It’s absolutely critical because you don’t want a buildup of documentation – especially out-of-date information — that could impact your search engine. When you have partners search for assets on your partner portal, you want them to find the latest and current content.
Another thing you must understand about your partner portal is that analytics is your godsend. You need to understand every movement your partners are making in your portal. Which pages are they going to? What documents are they viewing? Which ones are they downloading? If you have certain initiatives and you’re not getting traction, why?
When you use your analytics, it really guides you into asking your partners what’s working, what’s not working, what can we do to improve it? So these are areas that we definitely, you need to focus on. It’s not put stuff in a portal and you’re done. There are so many components that it is a full-time job. Leverage your analytics, and remember quantity does not equate to quality, fine tune your content.
CMR — How are your partners responding? Is there an uptake in participation and engagement on a portal?
Jennifer Judy — From the beginning to now, we’re seeing around 22,000 visitors each week and an individual is coming back about seven to eight times per week. That really gives you the ability to watch your traffic. We’re constantly seeing traction as we start launching things and more people are coming. New functionality is also bringing more people in, as well. When we adding these six new languages, we’re opened the net to get more partner participation in their local language. So we’re absolutely seeing traction and very excited to see the feedback that we’re getting. We’ve gotten feedback that “your partner portal is a godsend, it really helps me find the Poly content, great job.” So we’re excited where we’re going with this and it’s just getting better.