A study recently conducted by the International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC) focused on channel management and the most effective channel strategies and practices. The results of the research was revealed at the firm’s yearly Channel Management Summit, which was held in Los Angeles.
Key factors included in the survey included, industry pressures, a program’s return on investment (ROI), and the utilization of social networking and media. The IQPC wanted to get an accurate picture of the most important issues currently facing channel management.
To keep up with trends, over 33 percent of the survey participants cited revamping channel programs annually, and even semi-annually to ensure their strategies remain current and effective. The most popular answer to which element was the most important for a successful channel program proved to be ‘partnering with the right partner.’ Next on the ‘most important list’ was the method of innovation and marketing.
The respondents also cited other channel factors that help create a successful program, such as:
- Fostering partner success
- Policy consistency
- Program design
- Messaging and information portals
- Vendor and partner ROI
Of the surveyed businesses, more than 50 percent cited that they or/and their channel partners use social media outlets as an element of their marketing strategies, and 50 percent noted that they didn’t bother tracking their social media strategies’ ROI.
In regard to ROI, the majority of respondents believe a web analytics program to be the most effective means of evaluating social media. Following that, the respondents cited keeping track of the number of friends, followers, and connections is another good indicator of their social media’s effectiveness, as well as tracking the number of comments from customers.
According to vice president of worldwide marketing for CA Technologies Brooke Cunningham,
social media outlets are a great way to support and boost the vendor/partner relationship; it provides a means for ongoing communication.
Talking with eChannelLine, Cunningham explained that “it’s not just push marketing anymore; it’s a conversation, and it's much more powerful because of the level of engagement. And, as an additional benefit, it's a very cost effective marketing medium."
Other information reaped from the survey shows that businesses find new channel partners through a number of strategies, including:
- Customer references
- Word of mouth
- Direct contact
- Corporate sourcing
- Online searches
- Market analysts
- Specific recruitment
The survey also asked how the respondents measure the effectiveness of their channel partners; almost 66 percent cited ‘through revenue generated.’ Other top measurement tools were: analysis of customer value combined with metrics; utilizing a precise scorecard; and business models and objectives.
Of channel marketing efforts, aside from budget and resources, respondents cited their number one challenge is the stress of maintaining, as well as increasing revenue from sales. In fact, over 75 percent felt the pressure from this challenge. Viewing channel partners realistically and negative competition between resellers and the company’s internal sales are other challenges cited by the respondents.