The secret recipe to partner engagement, it's out there…

Ian Hutchieson - Head of Channel Loyalty
07 April 2016
Every vendor I’ve spoken with recently is looking to increase their dialogue with their partners because we all know that engaged customers (partners) buy more and are more likely to become brand advocates.  And with partner recruitment and retention also on a top 10 wish list for vendors, the ability to engage with partners is a critical litmus test for a healthy partner ecosystem – if your current partners are not engaging, then it’s pretty clear you’ll have problems attracting new partners or maximize your existing partners’ capabilities. 

With so much interest in partner engagement, maybe it shouldn’t be a complete surprise how low the existing level of engagement is for many vendors with a large percentage of their partner base. Reviewing portal logins, webinar registrations and email CT stats can make for depressing reading for many a channel marketing manager. 25% or 30% CTR may be above industry average but that means a staggering 70/75% of contacts – partners who (supposedly) have a vested interest in your business - are ignoring you. 

It’s easy to dismiss those who are disengaged as less profitable, a drain on already stretched resources, the long tail or 50% of partners that only contribute 5% of revenue, etc.  However,  in today’s market where smaller and more nimble companies can be the key to future success, partners who have the most potential may not be known entities and may be lurking somewhere in the middle of your ‘pyramid,’ invisible to traditional or general channel marketing. How do you find them?

While there is no magic formula, the basic ingredients to drive engagement are available to every channel marketer: DATA. Partner profile data. Partner behaviour data. Partner sales data. Vendors have an abundance of it. It may not all reside in one neat and tidy database, but it’s available. Combining and analysing these different data sets will unlock insights about your partners that will help you create “all about me” (me being the channel partner) content and campaigns that do ‘speak their language’ and produce results.

Want to make your partners put their hands up, read an email, attend a webinar?  Use your data to segment your partner base so that you can engage them with communications and propositions that not only ‘speak their language’ and address a specific need or opportunity, but that also address the “what’s in it for me?” factor.  Deliver communications that are relevant, meaningful, and timely for each partner contact.  

Hey, it’s not easy work and it may not be as much fun as organising a Partner Conference in Monte Carlo or Cancun, but it is necessary. So put on your apron, roll up your sleeves and get cooking! 

For more recipes on how to engage your channel partners, download our latest e-book.