4 May 2020 | Phil Brown

8 steps to better through-channel marketing

Through-channel marketing has never been more important. Vendors use it to get cut through in competitive markets by leveraging channel partners’ unrivalled understanding of customer needs. But not all through-channel marketing campaigns are equal, and it can be all too easy to get things wrong.

So, when it comes to through-channel marketing, what it is that separates the best from the rest? We’ve identified eight key factors that mark out the very best campaigns. Adopt these principles and the results will soon follow.

Step 1: ensure your partner proposition is clear

Channel businesses are only going to work with you if they see the value of doing so. As a first step, you therefore need to ensure you communicate a clear ‘to partner’ message. This should outline the market opportunity for the partner, how you’ll help them unlock the opportunity, and how working with you will help them make money and achieve their broader business goals.

Step 2: support an integrated approach

Successful through-channel campaigns leverage a mix of tactics to capture the interest of prospects and take them through the buying journey. Preparation is everything. First, work out which tactics will yield the desired results and which content assets would be best. You should aim to provide your partners not just with a content toolkit, but also a framework for deploying these assets across an integrated campaign.

Step 3: add value with content

Did you know that 75% of B2B buyers say vendor content plays a significant role in their buying decisions?[1] That means it’s vital you provide your partners with insightful, high-quality content. To open up new conversations and secure sales, your partners need content which is very relevant to their customers’ concerns and tells them something they don’t already know. Remember that many of your smaller partners won’t have the resources to create compelling content in-house so this is an area you can really add value.

Step 4: invest in through-channel martech

Technology is now inseparable from marketing success. 59% of B2B marketers credit marketing automation with delivering higher conversion rates.[2] However, many channel businesses lack the funds to invest in the marketing automation tools that lie at the heart of successful campaigns. By investing in Through-Channel Marketing Automation platforms you can give partners access to the tools they need to tailor and deliver campaigns, while still retaining control over elements such as branding and messaging.

Step 5: offer access to marketing support

In addition to providing access to the right tools, in some cases you will also need to help fill marketing skills gaps found within partner organisations. Nearly ¼ of channel partners say that lack of their own marketing resource was a key hurdle to engaging with vendor-provided tools.[3] By offering ‘marketing-as-a-service’ support you increase the likelihood they will implement your campaigns effectively.

Step 6: don’t forget partner enablement

As well as creating the customer-facing assets you should also think about what partner enablement assets are required, for example Campaign Briefing Guides, Sales Playbooks and sample Project Plans. It’s also important to invest time in communicating with partners, for instance through webinars and 1-2-1 briefings, to ensure that they understand the opportunity and how to maximise it.

Step 7: align through-channel marketing with your own marketing

By aligning your marketing efforts and campaign focus with that of your through-channel campaigns, each will reinforce the other. To optimise your outreach, think about which elements of your marketing you want to execute and manage centrally, and which would be best communicated through partners. For example, if you’ve got multiple partners in the same territory it doesn’t make sense for them to all be fighting over the same keywords for PPC. That activity might be better driven by you with leads or traffic distributed to participating partners.

Step 8: put in place an effective governance framework

Good governance on the one hand protects against partners saturating the market with messages and on the other, from not putting in enough effort to shift the dial. Meanwhile, reporting from partners against an agreed set of campaign metrics is key to capturing learnings about what does and doesn’t work, enabling you to optimise the campaign as you go forward.

With through-channel marketing becoming more important to vendors, we’ve written a guide on pitfalls to avoid and best practices to follow. You can download the eGuide here.


[1] https://www.demandgenreport.com/resources/research/the-2017-content-preferences-survey-report

[2] https://www.smartinsights.com/guides/state-of-b2b-marketing-automation-2020/

[3] https://www.oneaffiniti.com/testimonial/only-12-of-it-channel-partners-use-brand-provided-marketing-platforms/

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