Channel marketing. Marketing channel.
They’re the same, right?
Marketing channels are avenues you use to promote your brand and products to your customers.
On the other hand, channel marketing is a strategy that, if done right, can help you exponentially grow your business.
In this blog post, you’ll learn what channel marketing is and why it’s important. After that, I’ll teach you 20 different channel marketing strategies you can start implementing to fuel your business growth.
What is channel marketing?
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Channel marketing is partnering with other businesses so that your product can reach a wider market.
To give you a better idea of how it works, let’s use the business growth of the startup ZipRecruiter as an example.
ZipRecruiter’s primary service is helping jobseekers find employment opportunities online.
The partnership was a win-win situation for everyone: ZipRecruiter widens its reach to its target customers. In turn, its partners can now also provide an additional service to its users they’ll find helpful and valuable.
More recently, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing due to the rise of people now accessing the internet using their mobile devices. This prompted ZipRecruiter to launch its app on the Apple Store and Google Play to meet this demand.
Because of this, ZipRecruiter now owns 10% of the entire recruitment market in the US.
All because of channel marketing.
Here are other reasons why you should do channel marketing.
Get more information about your customers
Other than being more directly available, channel partners offer a pair of objective ears. They make customers feel more at ease, allowing them to give more honest and candid feedback.
Additionally, partners act as a filter, distilling, and summarizing information. Thus, the feedback you receive is valuable and useful.
Take Best Buy’s subsidiary, Geek Squad, for example.
When Geek Squad merged with Best Buy in 2002, it provided on-site and remote assistance to Best Buy’s customers with all their technological problems.
As a result, Best Buy gained a deeper understanding of its customers’ pain points and feedback on the products coming from its channel marketing partners like Samsung, Sony, and Intel.
Leverage the power of trust to make more sales
Consumers today now classify trust as one of the most critical factors that affect their purchasing decisions. In fact, as many as 33% of Americans will only buy from brands they trust.
So if you want to convince your target audience to buy from you, you first need to win their trust.
The problem here is that winning your customers’ doesn’t happen after publishing only one ad. It’s a process that can take days, even weeks, for you to build.
It’s even more challenging if you’re running a B2B business. That’s because client companies have an average of six key decision-makers you’ll need to convince.
These companies may not trust your products yet because they haven’t heard of you. But they do trust the wholesalers and retailers endorsing your product for the following reasons:
Channel marketing, therefore, will help quicken the process for you to build a trusting relationship with your client companies, which will, in turn, help you generate more sales for your business.
Resellers provide valuable information
Resellers have on-the-ground and expert knowledge. They can give you advice about your customer’s behavior, the latest market trends, and marketing strategies that’ll work best for your business.
They can also give insight into untapped markets and potential partners. This proves to be essential, especially for rising companies and products.
With big data analytics becoming more accessible for businesses of all sizes, you can collect data about your client company’s buying behaviors from your resellers and use this to improve your product pricing and marketing campaigns.
A customer needs anywhere between seven and ten touchpoints before making a purchase. Thus, ensuring that your product gets the right exposure can be challenging and costly.
But with channel marketing, you have a whole army of business partners helping you. They can expand your reach without the extra cost of hiring more people to your team. More sales for you also means more income for them.
Tighten focus on core competencies
With partners helping you, you can now focus on improving your product. In dedicating resources to make your product better, you will stand above the rest.
Furthermore, partners can give information on your rivals. With this, you can more quickly and efficiently adjust your strategies to outdo them.
Wider customer reach
According to a study conducted by Pew Research, 10% of consumers in the US don’t use the internet.
So if you want to reach more customers, you got to find ways to reach these potential customers.
Creating channel marketing partners can help you with this. For example, you can partner with traditional retail stores, so that reach customers that still shop the old-fashioned way.
Now that you understand what you can gain from channel marketing let’s look into different channel marketing strategies you can use to fuel your business growth.
1. Conduct diligent competitor analysis
Researching and analyzing your competitors gives you a better understanding of what your customers are looking for.
At the same time, you can find gaps within their marketing campaigns so that you can get to know what their mistakes and weak points are and learn from them.
Ubersuggest is an excellent competitor analysis tool you can use to “spy” on your competition.
Aside from giving you a list of keywords your competitors use, Ubersuggest also shows you which websites are linking back to your competitor’s site.
You can then reach out to those offering your competitors’ products and see if they’ll also be open to doing the same for you.
2. Align your sales and marketing teams
90% of businesses admit that a misalignment between their sales and marketing teams is the biggest reason why they don’t achieve their revenue goals.
Source: Track Maven
Conversely, those that have aligned their sales and marketing teams achieve their sales goals 32% faster than those that don’t.
When your sales and marketing teams are aligned, they work more efficiently with each other since they agree on which demographics and behaviors common to those leads who quickly convert into customers.
Based on the information they provide, you can then choose the right channel marketing partners to carry your products.
3. Set clear guidelines for your channel marketing strategy
Having a set of clear guidelines will make it easier for your marketing teams to find the right channel marketing partners to tap.
More importantly, clear guidelines make sure that there is no conflict between marketing channels and strategies.
This, then, prevents your team members and partners from going-back-and-forth asking for your decision in every matter–even the most trivial.
4. Create partnership tiers
Developing partnership tiers enables you to properly allocate your resources and inventory volumes to maximize the sales you generate.
Kaspersky is one company that makes full use of this tier through its United Partner Program. And almost anyone can apply.
Each partner is ranked according to their performance, with Registered being the most basic and Platinum being the highest.
The higher the rank, the more rewards you can get, such as support from the company’s sales, marketing, and technical team.
5. Brand your channel marketing program
You must have heard it many times–branding is essential. And there is no harm in repeating it.
6. Create a dedicated web portal
With the recent pandemic, the demand to go fully digital is greater.
On top of this, 65% of your customers would have already done their research before deciding to make a purchase.
Dedicated web portals allow for visibility both to customers and potential partners. The more they know about you, the more they will build a relationship with you.
7. Keep your website updated
Updating your website regularly by providing your visitors with fresh content not only helps you drive more traffic to your site but also ensures the quality of the overall customer experience your customers get.
Thus, it is essential to keep publishing content, updating the design, and smoothen interface as these all affect the customers’ experience.
Lastly, updating your website means you are keeping up with your customers.
According to SEO statistics 2019 (see chart below), more and more people are using mobile devices. So your website’s interface must adapt to such. And that you keep updating your interfaces according to the device your customer’s using.
An updated website means you are secure, active, and attractive.
Source: Smart Insights
8. Create data-driven campaigns
Your data analytics gives you the capability to fine-tune campaigns according to customer behavior, lessening your risks and losses while increasing your sales revenue.
Launching a data-driven campaign on your website or social media involves the following steps.:
- Gather your data and collect your information
- Understand what your data is telling you and how you can use it
- Decide on what your next steps should be and how much you should automate your platforms
- Execute your data-driven campaign
- Monitor and evaluate your results
I go into more detail about these steps, and even help you through the entire process, in my growth marketing course. So be sure to check that out.
9. Focus on lead generation
Your business’ leads are visitors to your site that have shown some interest in your product but aren’t ready to buy.
And because sales is a numbers game, it’s imperative to convert as many of your website visitors as you can. That way, you get the chance to nurture and turn them into customers.
I’ve previously written a blog post listing 25 different lead generation strategies to help you get started with this.
10. Practice omnichannel marketing
Omnichannel marketing creates a seamless customer experience by having all touchpoints work together. You can see this when platforms remind customers of their abandoned cart. Another instance is when asking the customer’s preference in the platform and using it to your advantage.
It not only makes the customer feel special but also ensures that the customer has a better chance of seeing your notification.
And with a carefully planned omnichannel strategy, you make it easier for your customers to complete their purchases, even if they’ve used several devices and channels throughout their buyer’s journey.
11. Consider co-marketing campaigns
Co-marketing allows for numerous platforms and targets new audiences via your partner channel. Imagine the depth and breadth you can reach with your partners’ voices added to your own. Furthermore, co-marketing is another way to drive your brand identity by showing its various facets.
An excellent example of this is the series of co-marketing campaigns Pepsi launched to promote the new Mountain Dew flavor called Game Fuel.
As you may have guessed, Pepsi reached out to various video game companies like Bungie and Blizzard to launch a series of limited designed cans and bottles.
Source: Sprout Social
As a result, Pepsi was able to promote its new drink flavor to video game fanatics. In turn, these video game companies were able to promote their latest games to the same audience.
12. Make content sharing easy
When creating content, it is always essential to have share buttons that are readily available and quickly found. This will encourage not only consumers but also partner channels to share your content. The more people share your content, the more reach it will get.
Ironpaper states that: When an employee shares company content, their CTR is two times higher than if their company were to share the same material.
Other than buttons, it is also vital that your buttons don’t deter your customer’s experience. Additionally, customers will only share your content if it piques their interest.
13. Incorporate training videos into your channel marketing strategy
Incorporating training videos is an additional way to stand out because people remember 65% of the information shared with them if it’s done visually.
It’s no wonder why 91% of B2B marketers invest in video content, webinars, and the like.
With videos, customers can learn new things about your product and lets them rediscover different facets of it. In fact, 72% of customers said that they’d prefer watching a video to learn more about a product or service than reading about them.
Source: Blue Corona
14. Leverage automation platforms
Marketing automation platforms take care of handling tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming. That way, you can focus on those activities that’ll directly affect your business’ bottom line.
HubSpot’s Sales Hub is a perfect example. It helps you handle tasks like booking meetings with potential customers visiting your website and send out follow-up emails. All while you’re attending to other aspects of your business.
15. Increase personalization your content
According to a 2019 study, there are 4.4 million blogs published every day. That’s a lot of competition for your customer’s attention. What can you do to overtake the competition? Personalization is the answer.
By personalizing your content and strategies, customers will feel that you listen to their needs and wants. Even more, you can suggest more products that will suit each of your customer’s individual needs, increasing sales.
Source: Finances Online
16. Combine inbound with outbound marketing channels
Although both marketing strategies can do well independently, each approach has its own set of weaknesses.
If you solely rely on inbound marketing, you’ll need to wait for some time to see any results. On average, it takes anywhere between six and nine months for your inbound marketing strategy to bear fruit.
On the other hand, outbound marketing strategies like PPC advertising will deliver qualified leads more quickly. However, they don’t come cheap. The average budget you’ll need to allocate to run an ad on Google is about $2.32 per click.
Combining the two gives you the best of both worlds: Your outbound marketing strategies can help you generate leads and customers quickly while you’re inbound marketing strategy will help you sustain it.
17. Provide financial incentives
There is no doubt that your product will attract a lot of interest and sales on its own. But by giving financial incentives to various platforms, your product will have a powerful starting boost.
Influencers tap into a big audience with a niche set of interests. In other words, they know what their audience wants and know how to make things more desirable. 94% of marketers attest to this, saying that it helped them reach their goals. So why not use this to your advantage?
And if you’re unsure how to launch an influencer marketing campaign, here are some resources to help you get started.
- The Ultimate Influencer Marketing Guide
- How to Set the Right Price for Your Influencer Marketing Campaign
- How to Become an Influencer in Your Industry
Affiliate marketing works by getting other people to promote your products or services on their respective blogs.
Each affiliate is given a unique URL to use in their content. When someone visits your website and makes a purchase using this link, the affiliate’s paid a commission depending on your terms and conditions.
Referral marketing requests that people placed under commission share the product in their own personal circles. This means that there is an element of intimacy, which translates into trust. ‘
This has its own quiet strength, with 82% of Americans admitting that they ask for recommendations from family and friends.
Conversely, it is the responsibility of your company to make sharing easy for them. This may come in the form of pre-written spiels, buttons on your website for easy-sharing, or a framework that they can work through and make personal.
18. “Traditional” marketing channels
Although online marketing strategies are becoming the staple used by most businesses, that doesn’t mean that you should disregard more traditional forms of marketing.
The fact is that traditional marketing channels are still alive, and they can still deliver results.
The only catch with using traditional marketing channels like direct mail is that they’re costly. So, it’s crucial that you’re getting the most out of your investment.
And the best way to do this is by monitoring the leads and customers generated by these channels.
Using a tool like Databox dashboards can help.
These dashboards allow you to view your analytics from different platforms you use all in one place.
19. Streamline your partner onboarding process
It’s awkward and frustrating to navigate around a new partnership.
Standardize your onboarding process gives your channel marketing partners all the crucial information they need about you and your product, saving time and effort. Additionally, this aligns your channel marketing partners’ goals and strategies to yours.
Below are some tips on streamlining for success:
- Dedicate a team for the onboarding process
- Be clear about the benefits for your partner and provide them all necessary credentials
- Make application easy for your partners and give them a warm welcome
- Establish goals, expectations, and strategies
- Consolidate tools, technology, information, and timeline
- Train partners for real-life situations
If done correctly, this first step can cement a long-lasting relationship with your partner.
20. Maintain open communication with your partners
As with any relationship, you must keep in touch with your partners as they are after all your partners. No partnership can survive without communication.
Thus it is essential to remember to continually update each other with new strategies, ideas, and the like. It both engages your partners and realigns everyone on the team. This allows them to be well-informed about your product so they can best represent it. Ultimately, this will nourish your relationship and build camaraderie and loyalty.
Ready to start your first channel marketing campaign?
Whether you just started your company or have an established brand, channel marketing can significantly help fuel your business’ growth by giving you more avenues to promote your products and services—all without having to hire more people to increase your advertising strategy.
Are there any channel marketing strategies you’ve successfully used that aren’t included in this list? Share them in the comments below.