How Channel Partners Can Stay ‘Connected’ with Digital Marketing

We live in a world that is increasingly becoming tech-dependent and it is a constant challenge for marketers to understand the ever evolving customer, predict his consumer behaviour and attempt to influence it. Technology no longer controls the buyer’s journey. Customers search for brands, products and services online, engage with businesses on social media and make buying decisions based on online peer review and discussions on digital forums. Social media is a peer influencer when it comes to making buying decisions as 71% of consumers are likely to purchase an item based on digital media referrals. About 74% of business buyers report that they conduct over 50% of research online before they make an offline purchase, according to Forrester Research.

With nearly five to eight people involved in a single decision, channel partners have to deal with multiple individuals who have varying degrees of knowledge. Hence, there is a need for channel partners to step up their digital marketing to reach out to the ‘Connected Customer’. In order to engage the Connected Customer, the brand must showcase relevant content for the user. The digital marketing tools that can help build channel partners in controlling costs and increasing the efficiency of their marketing processes are:

Email Marketing: This tool has the lowest costs per lead but comes with deeper returns. To foster brand engagement and analyse the power of consumer intelligence, one has to make it content perfect, pictorially conversational with a context-based message that is sent in a certain timeframe. It offers tremendous reach, strategic targeting, excellent engagement and higher RoI.

Social Media: Social media is the new age mantra. Channel marketers rely heavily on social media particularly Twitter, hashtags, retweets and links shared. It is the right medium to engage and motivate channels, differentiate oneself as a partner, measure partner potential and performance. Channel marketers engage in conversations most often about #marketing, #social media, and #contentmarketing. For example, to enable channel partners to use digital channels to promote their presence, Cisco will offer “pre-packaged” tweets or thought leadership around technology to help partners promote themselves or their brand as expert. They help build partnerships, alliances and collaboration in the field.

Content Optimization: Today, content need not necessarily mean articles or blogs alone. It could be in the form of videos, images, infographics, GIFS, webinars etc. Channel marketers tend to share content from their own brand's website, blog or partner community. They tend to rely more on visual content, with many sharing content from YouTube.

Repurpose Content: Recycling existing content like blogs, videos & customer stories into multiple forms helps to increase brand recall. It also helps to reach new audience, brush up old stories/brand experience. Repurposing content can be like creating video tutorials of past webinars, converting a series of tutorial blogposts into guides, transforming internal data into case studies, PowerPoints into slide shares, interviews into expert advice books, stats into tweets etc. Majority of these activities are low-cost and don’t burn a huge hole in the company’s marketing budget but can go a long way to build that brand connection.

The right channel partner is important to establish presence in any new market. Connecting with them, collaborating with them, predicting their behavioural patterns and influencing them is pivotal to market products and reach end customers. You might have the best product in the market but if the messenger who will channel it to your end customer is not proper, your product will not have any route leave aside a market presence. Hence, building the correct relationships with the channel partners counts as it is the best way to trade up the ladder.