Channel Marketing Managers have a difficult task – help grow a group of partners through marketing efforts when all of them have different strategies. They often are left juggling trying to help communicate all of the new initiatives and programs, checking up on in-flight campaigns, and attempting to find a way to report and track all of it in a consistent manner.
The reality is every partner likely defines marketing success differently. Having the conversation up front around which metrics to track and what the desired end outcome should be is critical to both the partnership and driving tangible marketing results.
When it comes to reporting internally on if a partner program or initiative is successful, a different approach is required. Traditional marketing metrics such as leads and traffic remain important, but other factors such as engagement are critical to track. These parameters must be consistent – and should vary little from partner to partner.
Partner engagement is vital to track and measure over time. Revenue growth is very easy to default to when looking at the performance of a partner program, the level of engagement related to revenue growth can be more telling of what impact the program had. In addition to this, it can also be a key indicator of how likely that partner is to stick with your product line. A partner may be growing, but if they are not engaged and working side-by-side with your team, there is always the risk that they can leave without much notice.
One standard way to measure partner engagement is to use the model of reach, frequency, and yield.
- Reach: Percentage of channel partners participating in your program. Divide the number of partners that could participate with the number that are participating. This might include things like completing training or attending webinars. The target number is up to you and what you see as successful.
- Frequency: How often partners are participating in your program. You might look at how many months in a year, for example, so the tracked metric might be that 63 percent of partners participate at least six months out of the year.
- Yield: Activities generated by channel partners. This could be, for example, the number of leads a channel partner generates every month. You might want to compare this KPI with the two above and see if there is any correlation.
Program Utilization and Effectiveness
Are partners who are participating in your company’s program more successful than those who are not? If those who are participating are not seeing a larger return on their investment of time and effort, then the gap might be with the program’s effectiveness. Using these metrics, channel marketing managers and teams can work together to understand whether each program meets its goals and look for things that could be improved.
Return on Incentives
Incentives and growth initiatives funded by manufacturers should be tracked carefully. These include items such as sales rebates, spiff programs, and co-marketing funds. There should always be goals set in place before issuing the funds, and set checkpoints to determine when they will be reported on. This can be done manually through checkpoint calls, or within a partner portal.
These checkpoints should not be at the end of the engagement, but instead throughout the course of it. By doing so, you’ll be able to work with the partner to make course corrections if needed to ensure the greatest level of success possible.
Keep it Simple
For partner programs, there are often many data points available du to the number of activities and ways partners can leverage the program. In the end, you want to keep it simple so both partners and your internal stakeholders can easily understand how the program is doing. Determine the metrics that matter the most and have the strongest correlation to sales, and make it as transparent as possible for everyone involved.
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