Channel Marketing Management Software: Decoded
As a result, you can scale your marketing efforts and monitor their impact faster. Any business that reaches out to its end-users through various channel partners stands to benefit a lot from Channel Marketing Management Software. Read on to know all about this software and how you can use it to build your brand image and boost your sales and revenue.
One of the pearls of wisdom that the awesome Miranda Priestley passed on to Andrea Sachs and we quote, "You're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. Then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent... wasn't it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. Then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin."
That was a solid jaw-drop-face-down-I-want-the-earth-to-swallow-me-burn but there apart from Andrea, there is something for you to learn as well. Just like the color cerulean, your brand products also trickle down the market through a series of dealers, distributors and local vendors. In all this, ensuring that people are not "blithely unaware" of your brand while using your product can be tricky. We mean, do you know the brand of a comfy T-shirt you got from Target? No? That's what we thought.
So, what can you do? Enter Channel Marketing Management (CMM) Software.
What is that? Let's find out...
What Is Channel Marketing Management Software?
In today's world, you can't be a lone warrior. Sooner or later, you'd need your Justice League. Similarly, as a business, you can't run in isolation. You need to onboard a plethora of partners, including retailers, agents, dealers, franchisees, distributors, branches and even resellers. For instance, Adidas has its local retailers; it is also listed on Amazon and has innumerable dealers and distributors worldwide.
More often than not, as you expand, a common challenge you face is maintaining the brand's standards and processes across these partners? So, what do you do? Do you go to each of your retailer outlets and make sure everything is okay? Well, you can do that but there's an easier way, AKA Channel Marketing Management Software.
A Channel Marketing Management Software, also known as Channel Marketing Automation Software, provides all the support and tools your channel partners need to handle your brand well. It includes everything from brand assets to marketing automation, messaging, advertising, demand generation campaigns and other tools.
Innumerable activities including marketing metrics, content sharing, contest & awards, loyalty planning, social promotion, channel visibility, partner playbooks, lead management (nurturing, scoring, passing and tracking), campaign management, customer experience, etc. (wow, that was exhaustive!) can be taken care of using Channel Marketing Management Software.
History And Evolution Of Channel Marketing Management
Would you believe us if we said that the roots of channel marketing management can be traced back to a simple spreadsheet? It's indeed marvelous to know how much a spreadsheet could achieve. Back in the 80s, most companies managed their partner channels with tools like Lotus 1-2-3 or VisiCalc or other spreadsheet programs. They'd mostly record sales, deliveries, progress, etc.
Eventually, even sales activities such as rebates, rewards or incentives were tracked and monitored on spreadsheets. This was before people were into the concept of branding and marketing products exclusively.
However, things took a 180-degree turn with the advent of products like Adobe and other creative software suites. Now, companies are designing marketing collateral that partners could co-brand and leverage the branding position of manufacturers such as Adidas to sell more to customers. At the same time, the popularity of the internet started growing. Together, they led to the emergence of a partner portal where brands could share brand collaterals and manage partner information. These partner portals have grown today to be known as Channel Marketing Management Software with more enhanced capabilities.
Channel Marketing Management Software has come a long way since its spreadsheet days. Would you like to know how it works now?
How Does Channel Marketing Management Software Work?
If you happen to stumble upon the Samsung website, you will find that it lists all authorized resellers in the store section. There are about 100 internet resellers and over 1000 in-store resellers listed there. This way of indirect selling ensures that Samsung products reach the farthest of their customers. Now imagine if Samsung decides to push a SmartTV they've recently launched through a Christmas sale. It's crucial to ensure that the sale campaign is live and displayed effectively in all the reseller outlets, right? That's where the customer would go to buy the TV, after all.
This is where Channel Marketing Management Software comes into the picture. It has an online repository or resource hub for partners. They can use it to get all the tools and content they need to market the products from their partner brands. A partner logs into a Channel Marketing Management Software and gains access to ad builders, brand-approved local marketing campaigns and all digital assets they would need.
So, Samsung just needs to add the campaign and its marketing collaterals to the software so that the resellers follow their guidelines and use them to market the sale. It will have all possible support for the management, fulfillment and execution of digital marketing and traditional marketing campaigns, email marketing engines, print production, including direct mails and local marketing analytics.
In addition to that, the software has a repository of brand logos, tools that the brand uses and even an analytics setup for tracking each partner's (dealers, vendors, distributors) performance. What's a business without performance evaluation, after all!
Why Do Companies Need Channel Marketing Management Software?
Why do brands need marketing at all? You'd say to support sales through lead generation, maintain long-term relationships with customers and build brand image. When you directly reach or sell to the customer, you invest in marketing tools to boost and support your sales, right?
However, what happens when you're reaching your customers through a series of indirect channels such as retailers, agents, dealers and distributors? It is when you are selling indirectly that channel marketing comes to play.
Presently, commerce is highly dependent on indirect selling, with 3/4th of the global trade depending on it. So, using CMM Software becomes imperative in supporting your indirect sales. In fact, in almost every industry, including Manufacturing, Education, Financial Services, Healthcare, Business Services and Logistics, CMM Software comes in handy.
Here's how using Channel Marketing Management Software can benefit your brand.
Benefits Of Using A Channel Marketing Management Software
A Channel Marketing Management Software has three-fold benefits that can directly impact your brand's positioning, market value and eventually, your revenue.
Speed, Ease And Efficiency:
Channel marketing automation makes managing core marketing campaign activities more straightforward and efficient for both the business and the channel partners. It's easier for you to scale your efforts to hundreds and thousands of partners from lead management and distribution, campaign asset management, co-branding and ROI tracking. In fact, through Channel Marketing Management Software, you can distribute content, track progress and replicate results across your partner channels around the world literally in hours and days versus months and quarters.
Imagine sending innumerable campaign kits to your partners to download and use for distributed marketing on their channels. Still, you don't get to know whether they are executing them or if those campaigns are gaining any traction. It would be a futile effort, right? Yet, with a multichannel marketing automation platform, you can have a complete oversight on how many emails your partners are sending, how customers are responding to campaigns, how effectively these campaigns are boosting your marketing funnel and more.
Brand Building And Control:
By controlling how your brand assets are shared and used, you get substantial control over your brand image and presence across your partner network. You ensure that no blurry logos are used, no incorrect spellings are printed in campaigns and all that goes a long way in shaping how customers perceive your brand, irrespective of the channel partner they choose.
Cost-saving And ROI:
While using CMM Software might come across as an upfront investment, you save a lot in terms of headcount-related efforts and expenses that you'd spend in helping partners, training partners, supporting deals and other activities.
Now, let's check out some must-have features of CMM Software.
Features Of Channel Marketing Management Software
By now, you'd probably have guessed the features of Channel Marketing Management Software but let us quickly list them down for you. Here's what you get in the package:
Access to marketing collaterals, assets and tools, including promotional tools such as webcast management.
Campaign assistance for the partners who may not be fully equipped to handle your brand campaigns, along with campaign analysis and customizable templates for building collaterals and creating campaign reports.
One login ID access for your partners so they can easily navigate through all information, tools and processes with just a click.
Quick integration with all your marketing operations and management tools like Ecommerce Integration, Social Media Integration and even CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Integration.
Tracking partner performance, campaign efficiency and ROI through customizable dashboards that you can use and be made visible to partners.
Some of the leading providers in the industry like Allbound, Zift TPMA and Aprimo include all these features and make through-channel marketing automation extremely easy for you.
What's Next- Future Of Channel Marketing Management Software
The future of channel partner management will be built around automation, flexibility, scalability and self-service. As an up-and-coming trend, channel marketing vendors are trying to provide artificial intelligence-infused, real-time, actionable insights to businesses. The aim is to automate tools where businesses can 'plan with, find, recruit, onboard, develop, enable, incentivize, co-sell with, co-market with, manage, measure and report on partners' with little or no human effort. Awesome!
In addition to that, you can also look forward to a unified channel management stack shortly. Most software right now has different solutions for separate verticals of channel management. There's sales management, partner management and marketing management. However, vendors are currently working towards providing an integrated stack for channel management.
To sum it up, we'd like to quote Jay McBain, the channel partnerships and alliances principal analyst at Forrester Research, "Delivering automation of indirect sales processes, workflows and partner programs, channel software is becoming increasingly critical to a brand's ability to win, serve and retain its customers and partners."
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