Change of Plans

Channel marketing trends 2021 and beyond

“As business leaders adjust to new ways of operating, what was once thought to be a temporary solution for the current environment, is likely to be adopted as a permanent change.”

Budget adjustments, changes in purchase patterns, consumer sentiment and behaviour.

In 2020 there seemed to be more questions than answers. Nothing was certain and channel marketers needed to
remain highly responsive to market changes locally, regionally, and globally.

Companies had all but abandoned their carefully developed 2020 marketing plans. How long this ‘new normal’ will
last is the great unknown. But it seems businesses will never operate the same way again. Although that’s not
necessarily a bad thing.

To expand reach and engagement, IT vendors and channel marketers will be more strategic and targeted in how
they communicate with partners, resellers and affiliates. And moving forward, will become more closely aligned
with the business goals of partners.

It was great to virtually see you

Live events and conference seminars are the biggest drivers of business development for IT vendors. While
transitioning from in-person events to virtual events wasn’t what everyone had in mind at the start of 2020, it has
forced marketers to re-evaluate their approach and adopt new ideas. It has also provided a raft of new opportunities.

Hosting a virtual event enables people that may not have had the time or budget to attend can now do so. They also
have the option of watching the recorded event at a more convenient time with their team and colleagues.

It has also been suggested that future live events will have a virtual component to expand attendance options.
Additionally, as people have become more familiar and accepting of speakers that are not in the room, it opens up
more opportunities to have guest speakers that may have been unavailable due to other speaking or travel

The Negative

  • Face-to-face events were at most every six months

  • Now it seems like there’s a virtual even every week.

  • This has caused webinar burnout.

  • Too many webinars to attend with too little takeaways is leading to disengagement.

The Positive

  • Hosting a virtual event where guest speakers are delivering their keynote from home or other location, strangely adds a greater sense of authenticity and closeness.

  • By mixing up your format, and doing things a little differently you stand out from competitors, and make attending well worth the time investment.

Keep talking, I’m listening

Although budgets may have reduced in some areas, channel marketers know they still need to provide partners with
campaigns and an efficient way of sending them to their customer network.

In an economic downturn the knee-jerk reaction is to reduce investment in marketing campaign development. Yet all
the data points towards companies that continue to maintain their market presence through multi-tactic campaigns
and brand storytelling, emerge in a far stronger market position than those that went completely silent in order to
save on costs.

A marketing automation platform with a well designed portal provides an avenue to drive highly personalized,
targeted campaigns to end-users across local, regional, and global markets. It allows partners to access and co-
brand sales and marketing collateral and customize campaigns that can be launched from a single location that
leverage multiple tactics.

To get partners actively using your channel portal, it needs to offer a great Partner Experience (PX) and be regularly populated with new or refreshed marketing campaigns and content collateral.

Having no, or being inconsistent in the amount of content available for partners can mean the difference between
adoption and abandonment of your channel portal.

The Negative

  • Many IT vendors only provide product focused sales oriented campaigns once a quarter at best.

  • This limits engagement as not all partners will offer all products.

  • If partners visit your portal a number of times and there’s nothing new for them, they’re unlikely to return, significantly impacting your channel portal ROI.

The Positive

  • A portal populated with new or updated product campaigns, and brand agnostic campaigns offering business advice, the top technology innovations to be aware of or industry trends to follow have high net worth.

  • These campaigns maintain customer engagement between sales campaigns and are especially sought after by partners with a small or no marketing department, limited resources and reduced budgets.

Content continues its reign

Content is the critical lifeline between vendors, partners and customers.

Personalized and highly targeted multi-touch marketing campaigns with the right message to the right target
audience rather than mass communication campaigns drive sales opportunities and are more cost-effective. These
campaigns will also generate greater brand recognition and loyalty as messages are tailored to the various stages of
the buyer’s journey.

Give your channel partners content that empathizes with end-users, understands their business challenges and
frustrations. Positioning your products as the hero to overcoming any pain points increases channel engagement and
delivers a high rate of return.

High performers focus on developing new partner-friendly content every month and providing a channel portal that
delivers a great partner experience.

The Negative

  • Some vendors only offer partners corporate branded sales and marketing collateral with a small space to add their business details.

  • This is often the same collateral used by company sales teams and just added to the channel portal.

The Positive

  • Partners are actively seeking thought leadership pieces, e-Books, infographics, whitepapers and animation videos that can be customized with their company branding and incorporated into their marketing strategies.

  • Maintaining or increasing the amount of collateral available for your partners when competitors are reducing theirs will build your reputation as a partner-centric industry leader.

New opportunities

Market expansion and reach will also be a focal point for channel marketers looking to achieve greater ROI as the economy emerges from the slowdown.

To get partners actively using your channel portal, it needs to offer a great Partner Experience (PX) and be regularly populated with new or refreshed marketing campaigns and content collateral.

With so many current and future changes, 2021 is set to be the year of the strategic channel marketer.

The Negative

  • Some vendors only offer partners an email to a gated asset.

  • In today’s hyper-personalized environment partners and their customers are expecting and demanding more as they look for relevant information.

  • It’s no longer acceptable to just have a marketing campaign in your portal with a space for partners to add their logo

The Positive

  • Marketing strategies that may not have been considered pre-pandemic, but have since proven valuable and viable, will lead to companies being more creative, agile and receptive to new ideas and approaches to campaigns.

  • This will drive campaign adoption and deliver a higher ROI.

Creating partner-friendly, customer-centric content is challenging and time consuming.

In the current climate of reduced budgets and personnel, the challenge for channel marketers is maintaining a level
of campaign and content development output with fewer resources.

That’s where the team at Elastic Digital can help.

We’re excited to help you get started on your next project.

Get started now

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