4 Ways You Can Engage Your Partners

Your partners may not be your customers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send them information. Contacting your partners on a regular basis ensures that you’re regularly interacting with them. It also keeps your partners in the loop on any industry news and changes that may be occurring. 

You probably already send your partners a newsletter on a monthly or quarterly basis, but sending a weekly or biweekly email goes a long way in maintaining your partner-vendor relationship. This email can include industry news, sales and marketing best practices, and any company news that affects them. 

However, you don’t have to stick with emails. You can tag your partners in your social media posts when publishing your blog or remind them on Twitter of your latest partner webinar. You can send them a video message introducing your latest product or just to say “happy holidays”.  

4 Types of Partner Marketing Messages

In addition to your regular newsletter, here are 4 other messages you should send your partners. These messages ensure that your partners are apprised of any important changes or events and kept in the loop on industry news, while also helping them stay current with their skills. These messages provide the benefit of growing your partner-vendor relationship as they show your partners that you’re invested in them and their success, as well as your own. 

The Welcome Kit

This should be the first thing you send your partners. The welcome kit helps familiarize your partners with your partner program, processes, and your partner portal. This should be a sequence of 5 emails sent within the first few weeks of the partnership. 

The first email should be a welcome message introducing the partner to their channel manager and explaining the onboarding process. If you choose to include a video message with this email, it should be a minimum of 60 seconds. The following emails after that should introduce your partner program, your products, and your partner portal. You may choose to use videos for these introductions as well. If you choose to use video, then the video can be 2 to 5 minutes long as you are introducing and explaining how things work. 

Finally, you should include a summary email restating the information given in the previous emails. This final email should also include their channel manager’s contact information and links to any resources they may find useful. 

The Weekly News Brief

This is a single email containing any relevant industry news, company news, and other information that your partners can use to plan their upcoming week. This email should also mention any upcoming events that partners may be interested in attending and should include links to further information. 

You can also include any sales or marketing tips that your partners may find useful. You can also mention a blog post you read or a podcast you listened to make the email sound more personable. This email can be sent early Monday morning or on Friday the previous week. 

Notifications About Events Your Partner May Like to Attend 

Like your customers, your partners should also get notifications for company-hosted events that are relevant to them. These can be partner-exclusive events such as “meet and greets” that allow partners to meet their channel managers in a less corporate setting. They can also be events open to anyone such as trade shows and industry conferences.  

Along with the emails and reminders about the event, your partners should also receive an additional email(s) with tips on how to get the most out of the event. You can send them tips such as how to estimate the number of business cards they’ll need to hand out at the event or best practices on following up with potential leads after the event. 

Surveys Asking for Your Partners’ Opinions 

Surveys are a great way to ask your partners questions about your partner program, your products, and their overall impression of your company. These surveys should be sent out on a regular basis such as quarterly or annually. You want to send your surveys frequently enough to spot emerging trends, but you also don’t want to annoy your partners by sending them too frequently. You may need to do some testing to find the frequency that works best for your partners. 

To find out more about when and how you should survey your partners, take a look at our post on why you should survey your channel partners

Thank Your Partners

Everyone loves feeling appreciated. They want to know they’ve done a good job, made important contributions, and that you recognize those contributions. Thanking your partners for a good quarter, helping you win an award or other important contributions goes a long way in generating goodwill. 

While you can certainly send them an email expressing your thanks, why not give your thank you a more personal touch. Sending your partner a video message expressing your thanks shows that you’re sincere. Video messages take time to make and won’t give your partner the impression that you’re just “checking the box” on having a good partner relationship. 

Conclusion

By communicating with your partners on a regular basis, you increase their engagement and grow your relationship. First, you should send them a welcome kit to make sure your relationship gets off to a good start. This shows your partners that you’re willing to invest in them and their success. The other messages you send will only reinforce that impression. 

You should send them a weekly news brief with professional development tips, company and industry news, and anything else they may find relevant. This builds upon the good impression you made with the welcome kit and sets you up as an authority they can contact when they have questions or need advice. You should also send them notifications for any events you think they may be interested in and include tips on how to make the most out of those events. This can help your partners get more leads and grow professionally, making them more likely to attend those events in the future. 

Also, send them regular messages thanking them for their contributions. These messages show that you recognize their work and appreciate them. Keep sending them your newsletter as well. This should include their successes and recap any major updates, news, and other events that occurred during the month or quarter. Finally, you should be sending them regular surveys to get their feedback. This shows your partners that you’re interested in their opinions and are invested in their success. 

Video Messages to Engage Your Partners

For the past few years, video has been on the rise. According to a survey done by Lemonlight,  99% of respondents liked watching video content from brands. 98% of those respondents also believed that video will play a larger role in the future. However, video doesn’t just have to be for your customers or your partners’ customers. You can use video to generate more partner engagement. 

Unlike a monthly newsletter, videos can feel more personal. Your partners are also more likely to watch them than read an email. But definitely follow up with an email. 

Videos also take more time to produce letting your partners know you’re taking the time to provide them with a good experience. If sent early enough, they can also help you and your partners start off on the right foot. Video helps you improve the partner-vendor relationship and increase your reputation among your partners, making them more likely to recommend you to their customers. 

Video Messages You Should Send Your Partners

There are 3 kinds of messages that you should use video for: a welcome message, an end-of-the-year message, and messages about product, company, or partner program updates. Including video in these messages can make them feel more personal to your partner.  

Introduce Your Partner to the Important Things 

Video is a great way to introduce your partners to yourself, your company, and your partner program. You should start with a greeting video from yourself and the channel manager that your partner will be working with. This video should be short, about a minute long, and let the partner know how to reach their channel manager. It should also let them know the next steps. 

The next part of the campaign can be a series of emails introducing your partner to the partner program and their partner portal. You can also send them a series of short videos that teach them how to do common things such as accessing marketing collateral and registering a deal. These videos/emails will quickly onboard your partner and start your relationship on a positive note. 

The End of The Year Message

Instead of sending your partners a generic happy holidays message, why not send them a video? With a video, you can end the year on a positive note by having their channel manager give them a personalized holiday message. As it’s the holidays, you can get creative in these videos by conveying your wishes in a festive way such as having your pets dressed in holiday wear and holding up a festive sign. 

You can also follow up the holiday message with a more formal email reminding your partners of any end-of-the-year housekeeping they need to do such as getting in their MDF requests before the deadline or registering any last-minute deals. This type of message aims to end the year on a positive note and lets your partner know you’re thinking of them. 

Product, Company, or Partner Program Updates 


These updates aim to keep your partner in the loop on any new products you release, any changes you’ve made to your partner program, major product changes, and more. This is a good way to personally explain any major changes that could affect your partner. It’s also a good way to demo your new product to your partners and get them excited about it. 

Aside from keeping your partners in the loop, these videos can convey your excitement about working with your partners. Videos can show a lot more emotion than can be conveyed through an email, so they can show your enthusiasm about new changes that benefit your partners, upcoming events, and any other great news you want to convey. 

Sending Video Messages with xAmplify

You can use our video campaign feature in xAmplify to send your partner these video messages. After you have your videos created, the next step is to create a campaign. You can do this on the xAmplify platform in just a few steps. 

  1. Upload your video into the content section
  2. Create your video template in the design section
  3. Create your video campaign in the campaigns section
  4. Schedule or send to your partners. 

To see how video campaigns work in xAmplify, contact us.

 Conclusion

Video is a great way to engage with your partners. It helps keep your partners in the loop on any changes that affect them and introduces them to new products. It also makes a great impression on them when you use video during the onboarding process and helps them get to know their channel manager better. Using it at the end of the year helps conclude the year on a positive note and strengthens your partner-vendor relationship. 

The True Cost of Creating Your Own Channel Marketing Automation

Did you know that creating a complete marketing automation stack by yourself will cost you more than you think each month? And this isn’t the cost of building an entire marketing automation platform yourself. That would cost a lot more in time and money. We took a look at some of the most common marketing automation tools out there and, based on our research, estimated the monthly costs of each. We also factored in the additional costs of using it with your partners. 

What you need to make your own marketing automation system

Have you ever looked at marketing automation software and considered doing it yourself? There are a lot of tools that handle various aspects of automation, and they also offer integration with each other. So, in theory, it shouldn’t be too difficult to put everything together.

Your marketing automation stack

A basic marketing automation platform offers email marketing, social media marketing features, learning material, a dashboard and sometimes landing pages and video. 

The optional features like landing pages and video make it easier to create, host, and easily share these content types with your partners and customers. Email marketing automation makes it easier to set up emails and send them at the right time. Social media marketing features allow you to manage multiple accounts in a single place and post to all of them at once. You’ll also need learning material, especially to teach your partners about your products. Automation can help you keep track of your partner’s learning progress. Finally, having a dashboard pulls everything together so you can see all of your data in one place. 

To put all of this together, you will need a minimum of 6 separate platforms that, hopefully, integrate with each other. Specific platforms such as Hootsuite, which offers social media features, help you automate a specific piece of your marketing. This is great if all you need to do is automate that one marketing piece. But, you’ll probably want to automate most of it. 

Factors you need to consider

There are several factors you need to consider when setting up your own marketing automation stack. 

  • Price
  • Training time
  • Your set up time 
  • Integration time and management
  • Your partners time
  • The MDF costs for your partner’s tech stack

The first factor you need to consider is obviously price. Buying individual platforms will be a lot more expensive than buying just one. Here’s a rough estimate of costs you can expect to see: 

TypeExample PlatformPrice
Social MediaHootsuite$129/month (3 users)
DAMBox$35/month/user
LearningTalentLMS$129/month (100 users)
Landing PagesInstapage$299/month
Email SendGrid$250/month (30k emails)
VideoWistia$99/month (10 vids + $0.25/vid/month)
DashboardSisense$200/month
Total$1,141 minimum

The cost per platform varies greatly. Some of these costs include users and some of them do not. If the number of users/emails/videos you need is greater than what the plan calls for, you’ll naturally pay more. 

But, price is just one factor in setting up the stack. You also have to consider the amount of time it takes to learn and adopt all of these platforms. You may have to spend weeks training all of your partners on each of them. Some of these platforms may offer training, but that’ll most likely be an additional cost. You’ll also need to coordinate schedules, which takes time out of your day. You may also need to get executive buy-in, which means you’ll be spending time trying to justify why you need all of these platforms when you could be doing more important work instead. 

There are also integration costs to consider as well. In some of these plans, the number of integrations is limited and you may need to purchase the higher tier to get the integrations you need. And once you integrate them, you can only use them for a certain period of time before the integration permissions expire and you have to renew the permissions. Depending on how things are set up, this could take a few hours to an entire day. 

You may also need to pull your IT team away from their work to help with the integration, especially if it needs admin permissions. This takes them away from their own important work which could potentially slow progress on your company’s next big project. 

Your partners will also need to set up these automations on their end, so they may be asking you and your IT team for help. This means you and your IT team may have to balance your partners’ requests for help with your own company requests. This can result in partner requests not being answered on time which leaves partners feeling neglected. 

They may also submit MDF requests for the licensing costs as your plan most likely won’t cover them. This takes money away from lead generation activities your partner may be doing such as hosting webinars and attending trade shows. This may result in you needing to increase your total MDF budget which can potentially result in additional costs. 

Why use a platform built for channel marketing automation?

Creating your own marketing automation stack is expensive, in terms of both money and time. Costs add up quickly, and those costs only increase with a large partner program. Basic marketing automation platforms tend to have everything you need for marketing automation and can save you thousands in monthly and annual costs. They can also save you time and effort and allow you to focus more on your partners than on setting up and managing your own marketing automation stack. 

Take us, for example. We are a marketing automation platform specifically designed for the channel marketing space. 

We give you:

  • Video hosting 
  • Landing page and PDF creation
  • Social Media marketing features 
  • Customized dashboards for you and your partners 
  • Unlimited storage for all of your sales and marketing content
  • Email campaigns, video campaigns, event campaigns, landing page campaigns, and social media campaigns
  • A built-in LMS
  • Single Sign-On
  • Unlimited users for you and your partners

Most marketing automation platforms tend to be all-inclusive in their pricing model. This is a lot more affordable than being charged for multiple platforms and multiple features. 

You’ll also save time as you and your partners only have to learn one platform instead of several. You won’t waste time checking if all of your platforms are compatible with each other. You also won’t have to keep track of when you need to renew your integration permissions as all of the features you need are contained in one single platform. 

You also don’t need to remember more than one login as most marketing automation platforms come with Single Sign-On, so you can access them using just your company login and password. With a platform made for marketing automation, you’ll save yourself money, time, and the frustration of having to keep track of all the different platforms you’re using. 

When you buy a channel marketing automation platform, you get unlimited users for both you and your partners. This means that everyone on your team and your partners’ teams can have an account on the platform without incurring any additional costs. It’s all included. This means that your partners can stop submitting MDF requests for licensing costs and go back to submitting MDF requests for lead-generating and other development activities. 

For more information about how marketing automation can help your business and how much you can save by using xAmplify, schedule a call

Conclusion

Marketing automation is a great way to make marketing easier for you and your partners. But trying to create your own marketing automation stack often defeats this purpose. Creating your own stack will likely cost you a lot in time and money. You’ll need several platforms to do the work of a dedicated marketing automation platform, and you’ll need to purchase additional licenses for the number of additional users you have. 

A basic marketing automation platform does the work of many, saving you time and money. as you typically pay for the platform plus a set number of contacts. There’s no need to worry about incurring additional costs as your number of contacts increases. Unlimited users are included.  

So, ultimately, you can choose to individually set up your marketing automation using different platforms, in hopes you can easily integrate across them all, or you can simply save yourself hours of unnecessary work and potentially thousands of dollars by using a designated channel marketing automation platform. 

How Automation Changed Marketing

Marketing automation has changed the way direct marketing is done. Companies like Marketo and Hubspot have made it easier and quicker for companies to repeatedly send marketing campaigns to a large number of people at once, to target specific audiences, and to generate leads. This change is happening in the Channel as well. 

Like direct marketing, marketing automation for the Channel often called Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) is making it easier for companies and their partners to generate leads. It also makes it easy for partners to send their vendor’s campaigns to their (the partner’s) customers.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation is the process of using technology to automate repetitive tasks such as sending emails, posting on social media, and more. It can also be used to personalize marketing campaigns such as addressing each campaign to a specific person. All of this personalization and automation make it easier to get qualified leads as with automation, you can send marketing messages to the right prospects at the right time. This frees up your sales and marketing teams to spend their time doing more important things such as market research and selling. 

Marketing automation has most commonly been used for direct marketing and sales for both B2B and B2C. According to Marketo, businesses that use automation grow their pipeline by 45% and their revenue by 25%

Automation also helps businesses respond to prospects faster by reaching the prospect through various channels and touchpoints. For example, a marketing campaign can be automatically set up to launch as soon as a prospect signs up for a webinar, fills out a form on the website, or downloads a whitepaper. It also makes it easy to stay in touch with prospects and customers which helps businesses stay relevant and is something most prospects and customers want. 

Marketing Automation and The Channel

While Marketing Automation has become the standard for direct marketing, it isn’t the standard for the channel. From what we’ve heard from our customers and prospects, it’s because of 2 reasons: awareness and adoption. Most of the people we’ve talked to don’t know that marketing automation can be used for the Channel and the people who did know about marketing automation haven’t adopted it for their business. This is either because they don’t see the need for marketing automation and don’t know what it can do for them or because they’re not ready. 

Through Channel Marketing Automation

Unlike direct marketing, channel marketing involves more than just the company and the person being marketed to. You’ve got yourself, your partners, and their prospects or customers, so your marketing has to go through your partners before reaching your target audience. However, TCMA can benefit the channel in the same way that marketing automation benefits direct marketing. 

Customers who use us or other TCMA platforms have experienced an increase in revenue growth for themselves and their partners and an increase in partner engagement. They’ve also gotten increased visibility into what their partners are doing with the marketing material they’ve been given. 

These platforms make it easy for partners to send vendors’ marketing campaigns as all the work has been done for them by the vendor. For example, partners simply have to upload a contact list for an email campaign and press send. However, these “done for partner” campaigns don’t just have to be email campaigns. They can be videos introducing new products, webinars or other event announcements, or even landing pages for special offers. 

Also, partners and vendors can easily co-brand campaigns such as joint webinars, coordinated social media posts for a new product launch, email campaigns for industry news, and more using a marketing automation platform as the platform will automatically insert both the partner’s and vendor’s information. All both of them have to do is add their content. 

Also like direct marketing automation, TCMA gives you the data you need to see how well your marketing messages performed. You’ll get metrics such as the open rate of emails, the number of views on a video, what links were clicked on, and more. However, with TCMA, in addition to metrics on how well your marketing messages did, you’ll also see partner metrics. You’ll see metrics such as the number of downloads for a piece of collateral, the number of times a campaign was reshared, the location of your partners’ contacts when they view your video, and more. With this data, you can see who your top-performing partners are and who you may need to talk to. 

Conclusion

TCMA has proven that it can change channel marketing strategies while making marketing easier for both partners and vendors. Vendors benefit from the visibility TCMA provides that allows them to increase partner engagement without requiring more time.  Both partners and vendors are given the freedom to focus on more important aspects of their businesses, such as selling products, innovating, responding to customers, and more. 

Trust Factors: How to quickly build trust in your partnerships

Good partnerships are built on trust. But how do you get your partners to really trust you? What factors should you consider? Dr. Paul Zack answers these questions and more in the latest Partnernomics episode. Dr. Zack is currently a professor of economics at Claremont Graduate University and joins host Mark Brigman, to talk about his new book Trust Factor.

Here’s what we learned:

-Relationships need to be built intentionally in order for them to work

– High performers want chances to grow. If you’ve got a really high performing partner, make sure they have opportunities to grow with you. 

– At a minimum, once a month, video chat with your partners to build/maintain trust.

– To get to know your partners better, put them in a stressful situation (ex. Take them skydiving). This gives you an idea of how well you’ll work together in the future. 

– To build trust with your partner, you can give them a medium-stakes project to handle. This will also help you judge how well the partnership will work. 

Listen to the full episode here for more insights into what factors affect trust both in partnerships and your own organization.

3 Reasons Why Your Partners Reduce Your Lead Conversion Time

You know those times when you keep following up with a lead, but they don’t see any closer to making a decision? Eventually, you either have to force the lead to make a decision or let them go. But, what if you could shorten the time it took for the lead to make a decision and convert to a customer? What if you could get them to trust you quicker, give them an offer that helps them make a decision quicker and respond faster to their requests. 

You can if you have partners. Here’s 3 reasons why your partners can reduce the time it takes for your lead to convert into a customer. 

  1. Partners organically introduce you

Which are you more likely to trust? A random ad that gets inserted into your Twitter feed or a brief paragraph on a new product in a company newsletter that you’ve subscribed to? If you answered the latter, you’re like the rest of us. 

People are more likely to use a product that’s recommended by someone they trust. Having your partners introduce you organically, like mentioning you in their newsletter, automatically gets their customer’s attention in a way that a random Twitter ad never could. They’re already primed to like you.

  1. Partners offer your product as part of a package

Which product are you likely to buy? Software that you have to install and set up yourself or a software package that includes an installation and set up service? You’ll probably want the latter because it saves you time and effort. 

Partners who offer your product as part of a package are more likely to get you, buyers, you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. They expand your reach and help you find more opportunities. Offering your product as part of a package also makes the decision process a little easier. 

  1. Partners help you respond faster

Who are you going to like more? A company that responds to your meeting request within an hour or a company that takes a whole day to respond? You’re going to like the one that responds as quickly as possible and your partners can help you be that company. 

Your partners can take some of the load off of your sales team and help you respond to meeting requests as quickly as possible. Perhaps your sales team’s calendar is booked through the next month, but your prospect wants a meeting this month. Your partner can attend that meeting on your behalf, satisfying the prospect with their quick response time. This makes them more likely to convert as they’ve seen that you and your partners respond to their requests quickly. 

It takes a while for a lead to turn into a customer. Leads often do their own research, are more likely to go with companies they already trust, and want to be responded to as quickly as possible. For a single company, this often translates into a long lead conversion time. 

This time can be shortened by having your partners help you convert your lead to a customer. Your partners can help you respond to lead requests faster, offer your product as part of a package to make it look more attractive, and quickly establish trust with your lead. Your partners’ actions prime the lead to like you and shortens the time it takes them to get to know you. 

The PartnerUp Podcast: How to Sell Your Partner Ecosystem to Your Board

On the most recent episode of the PartnerUP podcast, partner ecosystems are brought to the boardroom. Listen to Avanish Sahai discuss how the partner ecosystem is a competitive advantage in the current B2B environment. Sahai has led partner programs and ecosystems at Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Google Cloud. Here, he offers advice on how to sell your partner ecosystem as a strategic imperative to your executive board. 

Here’s what we learned. 

  • Your partner ecosystem can increase your growth and bring you into the public market
  • Partner ecosystems are integrated and collaborative which can be difficult to align with a traditional sales and distribution model
  • When your partners innovate, you gain a competitive advantage.
  • Having a partner ecosystem allows your partners to innovate and create products that enhance your existing products. 
  • Customers want fewer, more strategic relationships with companies that understand their business. 

So, if you’ve got a board meeting coming up or just want to learn more about partner ecosystems, clear 45 min from your schedule and watch the episode here

How to Support Partner Innovation and Why You Should

The needs of customers are constantly changing and partners need to keep up. They need to redefine their offerings and even create new ones. As a vendor, you are more experienced in creating new offerings and your partners are going to look to you for advice and support. 

Giving your partners the support they need creates value for both you and your partners. By helping your partners expand their offerings, you can get more industry coverage than you had previously. You may also be able to expand into new markets. You’ll also create lifetime value for your customers which will keep them coming back. 

How to support your partners

Partners need a lot of things to innovate and expand their offerings. They need money to fund innovation, people to help them innovate, and a lot of knowledge, especially if they’re creating a new product. You’ve gone through the whole process of designing, creating, and launching new products and are the best to help your partners undergo that process themselves. You may even have the budget to help fund their innovation efforts. 

Here are 3 ways you can help your partners innovate.

  1. Create a partner innovation program

Similiar to how startup incubators and small business programs provide resources, money and technology to support startups and small business owners, partner innovation programs are designed to support partner innovation in the same way. These programs may offer business development support to help partners market their new offering. They may also offer technology such as specific software or a sandboxed development environment to help partners develop their new offering. 

  1. See your partners as individual businesses

We’ve talked before about treating your partners as individual businesses. By not treating your partners as an extension of your business, you give them space to grow their capabilities. This lets your partners develop offerings that complement and grow your industry coverage. Also, your partners may develop offerings that allow you to expand into areas that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to expand into otherwise. 

  1. Create a community 

Unlike your partner innovation program, this community will be for you, your partners, your customers and anyone else who works with you. Use this community to start and follow discussions on best practices, common problems people encounter in the industry and things that people wish they could do with their current tech. 

As you and your partners listen and participate in these discussions, you can trade ideas with each other and see what solutions you can come up with. You can then use your partner innovation program to support your partners as they develop these solutions and bring them to market. 

Helping your partners develop new offerings and solutions to current industry issues benefits both your partner and you. These new offerings and solutions can provide more value to both current and new customers ensuring that you’re always top of mind for them. They can also help you gain more industry coverage than you would had otherwise. 

Three ways you can help your partners expand their offerings are by treating them as individual businesses, creating a community for them and others and by creating a partner innovation program. By treating your partners as individual and independent businesses, you give them the space and freedom to develop new offerings that complement your existing ones. By creating a community for them, your customers and other people who work with you, you and your partners get a space to share new innovations, best practices and to listen to common problems that inspire you to create new offerings. Finally, by creating a partner innovation program, you provide your partners the knowledge and support they need to create and bring their new offerings to market. 

Why is GDPR important to the Channel?

his post is part of a series in which we explore how GDPR affects the channel especially when using marketing automation tools. As we’re not legal experts, please consult with your own legal experts for specifics about your situation. 

Why we’re still talking about GDPR

In the past few months, numerous companies have had their security breached and their customer’s data privacy violated. Authorities are cracking down hard on companies who can’t secure their customer’s data and companies are finding that they need to update their data policies and rethink the way they gather and collect data.

While this is great for the consumer, it’s difficult for companies to actually do. It’s especially tricky in the channel space as more than one company handles a consumer’s data. Vendors, partners, and data processors such as marketing automation platforms all share consumer data. Each of these parties must comply with data protection regulations such as GDPR. 

GDPR is the most prominent of these regulations and can be tricky to navigate, especially as it applies to anyone who does business with anyone in Europe. We’ve created a series in which we explore how GDPR affects the channel, especially when using marketing automation tools.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Act protects data belonging to European citizens and residents. It applies to any company that obtains and/or handles personal data belonging to these citizens and residents. This includes processing, storing, and transferring data as well. This is true regardless of where the company is located. So a software company in the US that handles European personal data would still have to comply with GDPR even though they aren’t located in Europe. 

Under GDPR, personal data can only be processed if any of the 6 specified criteria are met. For the channel, those criteria would be

  • Consent has been given
  • Processing data is necessary for the performance of a contract 
  • Legitimate interest

Consent

Like a medical consent form, the consent form for data collection must explicitly state why you are collecting the data, what it’s for, how it will be stored, and for how long it will be stored. This consent must be obtained from anyone whose data is being collected. For the channel, consent must be obtained from the customer/prospect, the partner and the vendor if using a data processor, an entity that processes any data you give it according to your instructions. An example would be Mailchimp who processes your contact lists and sends emails to those contact lists.  

Once consent has been obtained, it must be stored by everyone who interacts with that person’s data. For the channel, the vendor, the partner, and the data processor must keep the consent authorization for their records. Consent must also be renewed on a recurring basis and may be revoked at any time. 

Data Processing 

Under GDPR, data processing includes collecting, recording, storing, etc…pretty much anything you do with data would be considered data processing under GDPR. Examples would be

  • Collecting emails for a mailing list
  • Storing IP addresses for security purposes
  • Storing contact information in a marketing automation platform

Data processing must occur for a specific purpose such as collecting emails for a newsletter mailing list. You can’t just process data for whatever reason; it needs to be specific and clearly defined when asking for consent. 

Legitimate Interest

This is when your personal data is used in a way you would expect. The data collected for this purpose should be necessary for the organization to collect and the benefits of processing it should outweigh the risks. 

An example of this is someone uploading their resume to a job board such as Indeed. In this case, the person who uploaded the resume can expect recruiters, hiring managers and anyone else looking to fill an open position to contact them based on the information provided in the resume. 

Why is GDPR important to the Channel?

Under GDPR everyone who handles the personal data of European citizens and residents must obtain explicit consent in order to use, process, store, or transfer the data. In the channel, there are typically 3 parties involved in obtaining, using, and storing this data. They are the vendor, the partner, and a data processor such as Hubspot. All 3 of these parties must obtain consent from the prospect/customer. This obtained consent must be stored in each party’s records. This means that consent must be obtained from all 3 parties even though the vendor may not even be located in Europe. 

GDPR is tricky for the channel as obtaining explicit consent means that customer/prospect information has to be shared between the vendor and the partner. This is a large concern when using a through-channel marketing automation system as the partner will be sending the vendors’ campaigns to their (the partner’s) mailing lists. Currently, most marketing automation platforms that the channel uses don’t have the network/software architecture necessary to properly separate the partner’s data from the vendor’s data. This data separation is necessary to be GDPR compliant and since most platforms don’t currently have the separation in place, they run the risk of noncompliance. 

What are the consequences of a GDPR violation?

The penalties for violating GDPR are steep. Fines can be 4% of annual global revenue or more than 20 million euros which is roughly equivalent to $24,000,000. These fines are determined by a number of factors such as whether or not the violation was intentional, how soon it was reported, and whether or not the fined company cooperated with the authorities. 

Since data in the channel is handled by more than one party, it’s possible that if one party such as a partner is found to violate GDPR, the other parties such as the vendor may also be violating GDPR. This is why it’s important to ensure that all parties involved are GDPR compliant. 

How do I know if my partners are compliant?

It’s not just you who has to be GDPR compliant, but your partners too. Rather than leave your partner to navigate GDPR compliance by themselves, you should guide your partners through the process of becoming compliant. 

  1. Be on top of regulatory changes

Make sure to keep up to date with any GDPR and other regulatory changes and inform your partners of them in a timely manner. Be sure to check in with your partner at regular intervals to ensure that they remain compliant. These updates can be sent in your regular newsletter. 

  1. Rework your partnership agreement

Your new agreement will need to include a data-sharing clause as GDPR requires any data sharing to be disclosed to the consumer. This clause should outline what data will be collected, how that data will be used, and how it will be stored. It should also state how long the data will be held for and how it will be removed from both parties’ systems.

  1. Educate partners  

There’s a high chance that none of your partners have lawyers on hand to help them figure out how to be compliant. You should educate your partners on what GDPR is, how it affects them, and what the consequences are for violating it. Make sure to share material like checklists that will help them be compliant, host webinars, and provide additional support and training when necessary. 

  1. Establish compliance procedures and metrics

Make sure to lay out some metrics and procedures so that your partners can show you and others that they are GDPR compliant across all their platforms. These procedures and metrics will establish an audit trail that you and your partners can show the authorities if necessary. 

  1. Know when to let the relationship go

It sucks, but sometimes your partners may not want to be GDPR compliant. If that’s the case and you’ve tried everything to make them see that it’s necessary for their business, then it’s time to let them go. There are steep fines for noncompliance and if your partner gets fined, you might get fined as well. This is the last resort step. 

Conclusion

GDPR is the most prominent data protection regulation that affects a large number of companies. Everyone who handles the data of European citizens and residents must comply with it or risk being fined up to 4% of their annual global turnover. Under the regulation, companies must obtain consent to handle a consumer’s data. They must also have a data policy that lays out how they will collect, use, share, store and destroy the data that they obtain. 

For the channel, the vendor, partner, and data processor (ex. A marketing automation platform) must be compliant. Each party must hold a copy of the consumer’s consent and have a data-sharing agreement in place. Vendors can help their partners become compliant by educating partners and establishing compliance procedures and metrics.

Meet Us at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo

The Channel Partners Conference and Expo is happening next week, November 1 – 4 in Las Vegas. For 25 years, the conference has been bringing the latest trends in the channel, new tech, and new ideas that are poised to disrupt the industry. With more than 250 channel vendors attending and a long list of sessions with some of the biggest names in the industry, there’s a lot you can learn. 

Who we’re excited to hear

With a lineup of more than 100 channel experts hosting keynotes and conference sessions, there’s a lot to choose from. Here’s who we’re looking forward to hearing from. 

LinkedIn: The Ultimate Social Media Tool For B2B Marketing

We all know social media’s important. Who among us isn’t on LinkedIn these days? But are we using it to its full potential? 


That’s why we’re excited to hear from Matthew Solomon, Channel Halo’s CEO, on how to use the full potential of LinkedIn for marketing. He offers advice on how to curate and build relationships and how to find the right buyers. This is a good session for both you and your channel partners to attend. 

Get the details here

Cybersecurity in a 5G World

Cybersecurity is a hot topic these days and organizations are increasingly looking to boost their defenses against cyberattacks. We’re looking forward to hearing AT&T’s Theresa Lanowitz talk about how organizations are moving to 5G while also increasing their cybersecurity. She also discusses the results from AT&T’s Cybersecurity Insights Report which states that 94.5% of organizations want help in moving to 5G and increasing their security. 

This session is a must for MSPs or anyone else interested in cybersecurity. Get the details here.

How to Keep Customers Safe and Operations Running in a Post-Pandemic World

There’s a lot going on in the world today and the threat of disrupted operations hangs over all of us.  Speaker Jasmina Muller, Everbridge’s VP of Global Channel Partnerships, joins panelists Cheryl Neal (Tech Data), Janet Schijns(JS Group), and Paul Spencer (T-Mobile) for a discussion on how channel leaders can keep people safe and operations running during times of disruption. They’ll also discuss how automation solutions can help organizations rapidly respond to disruption and keep operations running. 

This is a must for anyone who doesn’t want their operations to even blip during times of disruption. Get the details here. 

Who we’re hoping to meet

There’s a lot of people we’re hoping to meet at the conference, you included. We’re really excited to meet anyone interested in growing with their partners and would love to talk to them about using automation to help that growth. If you’re one of those people, let our team know through the official conference app or through our calendly here

We’re really excited about this conference and hope to see you there. If you can’t make the conference, keep an eye on the Channel Partners website for highlights. If you want to meet us, but have something else planned next week, our clalendly has other dates available.