By Daniel Nissan, Founder and CEO, StructuredWeb
It’s no secret: 2022 presented a rocky path for businesses. Many challenges to marketing and sales have cropped up — some expected, some surprising. But there’s good news: Those challenges make channel marketing more valuable than ever. Plus, channels are growing and ripe for business.
Let’s review the channel marketing trends from 2022 and set the scene for 2023.
1. Hyper-personalization of the partner experience (PX)
In 2022, more companies invested in their PX by upgrading systems, providing channel partners with smoother, low-friction experiences. Everyone enjoys apps like Uber, Spotify, and Airbnb. They add value to our busy lives. And it doesn’t matter who’s using an app — vendor, distributor, or channel partner. Every channel user expects the same utility and ease-of-use from their channel tech-stack vendors.
Bringing the partner experience closer to the customer experience is a formula for success. Those who embrace and employ these improved core components, such as enhanced partner user personalization and interactive user-journey workflows that guide users through the entire sales and marketing process, will win in the marketplace and reach corporate objectives. A positive partner experience brings loyalty, retention, and growth to marketing channels.
2. Unleashing video marketing to partners
When it comes to marketing trends, 2022 was definitely the “year of the video.” TikTok captured the center stage in social media and content consumption — and influencer marketing skyrocketed as well. Video is becoming the most important communication tool available for brands and their channel partners. The year saw many more vendors adopting video tools to bring content marketing messages to partners. Vendors also shared personalized videos and began enabling partners with searchable video libraries for sales, marketing, and support.
New video syndication tools and access to personalized and co-branded video libraries empower partners with easily customized and shareable video content. Along with email marketing, sharing targeted videos with prospects is a channel marketing strategy sure to grow in the future.
3. “High touch” automation for strategic partners
Focused and extensive automation didn’t materialize in 2022 as much as we expected. For 2023, brands should give it a higher priority. Managing high-touch strategic partners through emails and one-on-one phone calls doesn’t provide the best digital experience. And these partners represent the lion’s share of vendor revenue. That kind of business potential deserves the latest and greatest technology and attention. With high-value process digitization, marketing spend is better focused to create substantially more value with strategic partners. No matter what shape the economy is in, providing a cost-effective way to reach customers makes good business sense.
4. Syndication goes beyond social and website
As video soared, video syndication, whether by single-email or through a complete video portal, became the fastest-growing partner marketing activity. Data syndication saw some progress as well, along with online ad syndication. But these two activities debuted in 2022, so they are still evolving. Amplifying content through syndication is a great SEO tactic that can generate high-quality links back to the vendor’s home site. We predict a much stronger adoption once partners embrace this way to drive awareness for vendors on partner sites. We consider this an aggressive stance, but not a risky one.
5. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Even though ML is growing fast, there were fewer advances in channel AI usage. The majority of ML use was for extracting knowledge from big data and search engines. That resulted in additional advances in recommendations for leads and partner marketing activities. For 2023, ML will continue to help deliver the right marketing messages to the right user at the right time. Although ML and AI are still in their infancy, their future in personalization will certainly grow. Savvy marketing leaders should embrace these new ideas and technologies to drive strategic selling in today’s highly dynamic markets.
1. Generative AI
AI modeling advanced quickly in 2022. The sprouts of machine-generated marketing content have taken hold in the fertile ground of our digital age. We expect that the upcoming year will see major improvements to these AI modules. Channel marketing platforms should be quick to adopt these new technologies and integrate them. Vendors can benefit by creating and sharing marketing assets with partners faster and at lower costs. As partners apply automation to customize and personalize these assets for their end customers, the customer relationship profits as well.
The TikTok platform is turning out to be much more than a social network with entertaining videos. People in general, but mostly Generation-Z, turn to TikTok for answers on many topics — personal, as well as business. It’s a tremendous shift among social media channels. TikTok is growing into the most-searched site, challenging Google as the go-to place for answers and content. In 2023, we expect many B2B marketers will adopt TikTok for brand marketing. That will include marketers supporting their channel partners with proper content, automatic customization, and TikTok syndication tools.
3. “High-touch” automation for strategic partners
Our prediction for 2022 stands. Partners will increasingly come to realize the many benefits of automation and its ability to drive revenue. We fully expect adoption of specific targeted automation to increase in 2023.
It will always be important to build an engaged community of partners, and we’ll continue to be asked to do more with less. Those conditions only increase the value of better tools and data. The channel is the most cost-effective way to reach customers in a down economy — and really any economy. Again, we consider this an aggressive strategy for people who want to be big winners, but not a risky one.
4. ML-powered lead distribution
Brands continue investing tens of millions for lead generation and distribution to partners. But the tools used to distribute, assign, and track those leads haven’t seen much improvement in the past few years. New customers, as well as existing customers, can be overlooked or neglected. Lately there have been major advancements in ML/AI, plus increased data sharing and collaboration between many brands and their partners. It leads us to expect serious changes in lead distribution, nurturing, and tracking — dramatically shifting current practices.
5. Marketing Automation
We expect to see more pre-configured marketing workflows that integrate data, creative, marketing tools and smart scheduling. This will enable vendors and partners to take advantage of the customer data they collect during and after sales. While partners collect plenty of data, many are not capable of using it to improve their marketing automation processes. Meanwhile, vendors have the analytics and ML knowledge and expertise, but lack access to local data about end customers.
We predict that vendors and partners will further invest in systems and solutions to share and collaborate on such data. A high-quality TCMA platform also will protect user privacy and help to maintain compliance with local laws.
Marketers should focus on adopting and deploying the tools we mentioned. This will help marketing programs stay competitive in the market and be attractive to partners. And we suggest a closer collaboration between channel marketing teams and their CMO office. This should further leverage corporate strategies and practices in channel marketing. Automation, collaboration, personalization, and syndication are the road to a successful future.
About the author: Daniel Nissan is Founder and CEO of StructuredWeb. The company adds exceptional value to channel marketing programs by providing a TCMA on an innovative platform, support for best practices, and intuitive training.