What GDPR means when using a TCMA platform

This 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. 

Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) platforms make GDPR compliance trickier as partners market their vendors to their (the partner’s) customers. Partners of vendors may resell their vendor’s products to the partner’s own customers or may service their vendor’s products. Depending on the type of relationship the partner has with the vendor, the partner’s customers may not know about the vendor. This is most common in reseller relationships in which the partners resell the vendor’s products to their own customers. 

Depending on how the TCMA platform is set up, this could mean that to be GDPR compliant, all the parties including the partner and vendor must get consent from the contact in order for the platform to process their data. In this case, the platform is acting as the data processor meaning that it is handling the contact’s data on behalf of the partner and vendor. 

What is GDPR? A quick refresher

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Act protects the personal data of European citizens and residents. It applies to everyone handling this data even if they aren’t located in Europe themselves. The key aspect of this act for the channel is that consent must be obtained before anything can be done with the personal data of European residents and citizens. 

Why does GDPR matter to the Channel?

In the channel, there are typically 3 parties involved in obtaining, using, and storing this data. They are the vendor, the partner, and a channel marketing automation company, such as xAmplify. Typically, this means that the party marketing to the contact must obtain the contact’s consent. In this case, this responsibility would fall on the partner. This obtained consent must be stored in each party’s records. 

For more information on this, see our Why GDPR is Important to the Channel post.

What is TCMA and how does the Channel use it?

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 keep in touch with existing customers and to reach new ones. This makes marketing operations easier and frees up your sales and marketing teams to spend their time doing more important things such as market research and selling. 

Through Channel Marketing Automation is marketing automation for the channel. It allows vendors to share their marketing content via their partners to their (the partners’) customers. It also allows partner leads to be shared with vendors. 

How GDPR matters with TCMA

Depending on how data is stored in a TCMA platform, customer data could be potentially visible to people who don’t have consent to view that data. This could be due to permissions being assigned incorrectly where users of the platform can see data that they shouldn’t have access to or the appropriate consent was not obtained from the customer

When a partner uses a TCMA, they are marketing their vendor’s content to their customer. This means the customer must provide clear consent to receive marketing communications. Depending on the platform architecture, terms of service, and privacy policy, the customer may need to opt-in to receive communications from both the partner and vendor. 

Under GDPR, the customer must be aware of how their data is being used, stored and how it will be removed if requested. Therefore, the partner-vendor relationship has to be described in the terms of service and privacy provided to the customer. This ensures that the customer understands who could potentially have access to their data and how it will be used by the partner, vendor, or both. 

Contacts need to know what their data will be used for and the process for removing it if they ask. They also need to know how their data will be linked to analytics such as open rates. 

When looking for a TCMA platform, vendors should consider the following factors. 

  • Is customer data isolated? Who can access the data and how? 
  • How long is consent valid for? Does the consent have to be renewed? Is consent by the person uploading data into the platform?
  • How long is data stored on the platform? How are removal requests processed? 
  • How can contacts opt out of having their data stored on the platform? How is data scrubbed?
  • Are unsubscribe links embedded in all marketing materials and communications? Do customers have an easy way to remove themselves from the list?
  • How is data audited? 
  • What is the process for transferring data? 

All of these factors should be considered before the vendor moves forward with selecting a TCMA platform. If the vendor selects a platform without thoroughly considering these factors, they may run the risk of violating GDPR. The vendor also needs to ensure that they and their partners are implementing GDPR best practices such as:

  • Creating an audit trail for customer consent
  • Establish compliance procedures
  • Understanding the data processing infrastructure

The partner-vendor contract with GDPR

Under GDPR, both the partner and the vendor need to get the customer’s consent before doing any marketing. This will depend on the terms of service, the platform used, and the data architecture of the platform. As a result, both the vendor and the partner may be responsible for that customer data. The partner-vendor contract should clearly convey this as since both parties are responsible for customer data, they are responsible for any potential GDPR violations as well. 

Conclusion

Under GDPR, TCMA platforms must isolate customer data and only allow those authorized to access it. When obtaining customer consent, it must be made clear that the customer’s data will be processed/stored in a TCMA platform and they (the customer) may be marketed to by both the vendor and the partner. Finally, the partner-vendor contract must be adjusted to convey that both the partner and the vendor are responsible for the handling of customer data. 

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. 

Reasons Why Your Partners Don’t Send You Leads

Lead generation is an important indicator of partner engagement. It’s a good sign that your partner program is working. Your partners are keeping you top of mind. Yet getting your partners to send you leads isn’t easy. Here’s 3 reasons why your partners don’t send you leads. We’ve also provided 3 solutions and an explanation of each. 

Problem: Lack of trust

Your partners don’t have any insight into your pipeline, so they don’t know what you do with the leads they send. They also don’t have a guarantee that you’ll pay them once the deal is closed or give them the credit. They also might not know if you’ll treat their customers well. 

Solution: Build trust

Be transparent. Explain how your pipeline works. Outline the process of how they get credit for the leads they give you and when and how they get paid. Take their feedback into account and make sure you consider their needs as well as yours. Build a relationship and your partner will be more comfortable sending their customers your way.  

Problem: They don’t know your product well

Do your partners know how the product can benefit their prospects? Can they explain it? If your partners don’t understand your product, they can’t sell it. They’ll miss sales opportunities and you’ll get less leads. 

Solution: Provide training

Personalize a training program for your partners. This will ensure that they understand your product and can explain it to their prospects. They’ll understand the value of your product and find sales opportunities. They’ll get more prospects and you’ll get more leads.  

Problem: You don’t put your partners first

If you don’t invest in your partners, they won’t invest in you. They won’t feel connected to your company or your products. They’re less likely to be engaged and less likely to give you leads. 

Solution: Invest in your partners

Treat your partners as you would your customers. Put their needs first. Talk to them and find out what they want. Provide places for them to build relationships with other partners. Build a relationship with them. They’ll be more engaged and more likely to give you leads. 

Conclusion

If your partners aren’t giving you leads, your relationship could use some improvement. Take a look at your partner program, your product and the way you treat your partners. Look for ways to reduce friction and ask for partner feedback. Make sure you’re investing in your partner and they’ll make sure they invest in you. 

About Us

We were partners for decades and we know what they want. We’ve used that experience to build an easy-to-use channel marketing automation platform. You provide the material, we provide the automation and your partners do what they do best, sell.

Partner University: The Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

Marketing technology has seen incredible growth over the last year and that is only going to continue. The increase in digital channels, technological expansion, and consumer interaction with brands requires modern solutions that keep partnerships growing. With the right marketing technology, your partnership can grow exponentially. In this post, we’ll show you which tools you need to keep your business growing by building the ultimate marketing tech stack.

Finding the right partner marketing tech stack requires an understanding of what it actually is. Marketing technology stacks are a group of tools that marketers leverage to simplify marketing processes and improve partnership activities. These tools not only assist with marketing automation, they also provide measurements of activities and help partners increase spending efficiency. Together, these tools facilitate growth and help partners streamline collaboration for improved marketing campaigns that communicate with customers in efficient and personalized ways. 

The Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

With over 8,000 marketing technology solutions in 2020, we decided to pare this down to categories that are most important and relevant for channel partner marketing and sales. Forrester also did a great article around technologies for Channel Marketing, but we wanted to share what we found in our experience not just the tools. Each partnership and business varies, and there isn’t a one size fits all option. The right tools for your business depend on your current and future marketing goals. 

Tech Stack Segments

There are seven marketing tech segments that companies and partners must build their stack based on the areas that are most important for them. 

  • Promotion and Advertising – Software that promotes your brand and increases traffic to your website
  • Sales and Commerce – Improves online and offline shopping experiences
  • Social Engagement and Relationships – Focuses on customer success, social media and the overall management of customer relationships
  • Content and Consumer Experience – Content management, email marketing, marketing automation, apps and other software that integrates with both sales and customer success departments
  • Analytics – Tools for measuring campaign effectiveness
  • Data – Databases to get enriched information and insights on your prospects and leads 
  • Management – Software that facilitates collaboration across teams for a more complete alignment strategy

Once you understand where your partnership needs to focus, building your ultimate tech stack becomes easier. 

Necessities and Nice-to-Have Tools

It’s also important to consider the necessities for your team. There are must-have tools that boost efficiency, increase collaboration, and improve communication between partners. Additionally, there are nice-to-have tools that facilitate organization and creativity. Creating the ultimate partner marketing tech stack requires a focus on the must-haves, and a consideration of the nice-to-haves if the budget allows for them. Keeping your stack lean helps protect against having too many services that confuse partners and lessens the financial impact of unused tools and software.

Why is this Stack Important?

Now that you have a better understanding of the right tools for your ultimate partner marketing tech stack, you need to know why the stack you choose is important. While there isn’t a defined stack for each business, there are essential tools that help your partnership grow based on your terms. Your marketing tech (martech) stack should meet the needs of your organization, facilitate your overall strategy, and solve any current problems you have. Creating a flexible stack that scales and automates as you grow enhances your processes and doesn’t limit your growth due to cost or overall capabilities. 

What Are the Components of the Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack?

A fully developed martech stack includes different tools that work together seamlessly. Regardless of your overall goals, the ultimate stack for your partnership should include:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Software that stores customer information and helps build relationships for increased engagement
  • Project Management – Tools that increase collaboration by streamlining workflows and simplifying communication between teams.These tools increase organization across partnerships and let members easily track the progress of each project.
  • Marketing Automation – Software that automates email marketing, social media and lead generation workflows. This component lets you create personalized messages across campaigns that run constantly, without manual effort.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Software that improves search rankings with keyword research, content audits and backlink building for online growth.
  • Content Management System (CMS) – Manages, stores, and publishes online content without requiring new code each time.
  • Social Media Management – Tools that help you keep track of brand mentions, schedule social media posts, and access user analytics.

Depending on your business model and requirements, your partner marketing tech stack may include all of these components, a few of them, or others that aren’t mentioned. A solid martech stack provides the tools necessary for growth in areas that are important, without the bloat of software that you won’t use or don’t need. Careful strategizing helps you choose the options that best fit your company, goals and growth requirements.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, consider how each component in your marketing tech stack works together. Most of the software available integrates with a variety of tools, making onboarding and integration simpler and faster for the entire company.

xAmplify Helps You Create the Ultimate Partner Marketing Tech Stack

xAmplify partner relationship management (PRM) solutions combine the tools and software your business needs into an automated system. With tools that align processes, improve workflows, facilitate communication and help increase sales and results, xAmplify helps you create the ultimate partner marketing stack so you and your partners can focus on growth.

If you’re ready to grow your business with a martech stack that meets your partnership’s needs, schedule an xAmplify demo for more information.

The difference between PRM and Partner Revenue Enablement (Through-Channel Partner Marketing)

If your company uses a partner program, chances are you’ve also instituted some sort of partner relationship management (PRM) system to keep track of partnerships. You probably are also looking for ways to leverage those partnerships for increased revenue, which is where partner revenue enablement comes into play. 

Partner Relationship Management v. Enabling Partners

Partner relationship management is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the management of the mutual arrangement you have with partner companies. It’s a method for tracking the goals and standards you’ve set with your partners. Training and workflow are often pieces of the relationship management framework as well.

Partnership revenue enablement, on the other hand, is all about empowering your partners with the information, tools, and training they need to sell your product and increase your revenue. It’s an engagement approach that extends past just giving resources to your partners and expecting them to follow through. It invites their sales teams to join in your brand’s vision and gives them a playbook that shows them where they fit into your strategic plan so they can generate and close the right deals on your behalf.

Both concepts are integral to the success of your company’s through-channel marketing strategy. Technology makes them easier to execute, so long as you choose the right software for each.

PRM Software is not the Same as Partner Revenue Enablement Software

Most of the popular PRM software options out there provide tracking of the partner relationship. They let you share processes, training, sessions and other resources with your partners. The top PRM solutions are suitably robust and allow you to manage partnerships across the board.

Unfortunately, that robustness can work against your bottom line without the proper engagement and enablement to represent your brand as completely as your own teams do. When partners don’t have a playbook that’s easy to follow or a process to sell your product for you, they’re more likely to ignore your offering and find one that’s easier for them to sell. Those partners end up leaning toward other partnerships or miss key opportunities to impact your revenue because they don’t know the right information to make the connection on your behalf.

In contrast, partner revenue enablement software specifically addresses this issue and simplifies the sales process for partners. The best of breed for this type of software solution is full of time-saving features that make conversions easier for your partners. This includes giving your partners access to co-branded, multichannel campaigns and landing pages to full-tilt, scalable marketing across emerging and social media platforms. The top options also plan around compliance requirements and offer tracking and performance metrics so you can see how partnerships lead to revenue for your company.

The right partner revenue enablement software should be a scalable solution so you have increased capacity for more partnerships. Features like automated campaign tracking and  partner engagement metrics, free up your staff to develop more relationships and further your company’s revenue potential.

When revenue from partner relationships matters, partner revenue enablement is crucial. Offer your trusted partners the right software to manage campaigns and produce leads for you.

Forrester Channel Software Tech Stack 2021 Highlights the Rapid Shift in Channel Marketing: Here’s How xAmplify Fits the Landscape

Channel software tech solutions are used by companies to engage and grow partnerships as well as enable them to generate revenue. This tech stack helps companies attract, onboard, develop, enable, incent, co-sell with, manage, and measure partners. Forrester has released its Channel Software Tech Stack for 2021, and the message is clear: channel solutions are evolving rapidly.

As Forrester noted, the worldwide health crisis of 2020 inspired innovation in nearly every part of doing business, including how channel marketing works in a distributed, high-touch environment. Forrester’s research can be found here. Gone are the days when spreadsheets and person-to-person knowledge transfer were sound practices. Many tech companies capitalized on this digital transformation. 

xAmplify’s suite of products already fits this model using “through-channel marketing automation” (TCMA). However, TCMA is just one way xAmplify works for you. 

Channel marketers can enjoy the benefits of xAmplify for any aspect of their partner channel:

  • Partner Relationship Management
  • Partner Growth
  • Partner Sales Enablement and Demand Generation
  • Tech Alliance and Ecosystem Marketing

xAmplify Purposely Designed

xAmplify’s solution is purposely designed to take the friction out of how companies and partners work together. With decades of experience as channel partners and value-added resellers, we bring unique insights into the problems experienced with many PRMs and partner portals. xAmplify was built from the ground up to eliminate common co-marketing challenges and facilitate the main goal for both companies and partners, revenue growth. 

xAmplify Cloud & API Based Integration

xAmplify’s cloud and API-based integrated solution is what drives customer success. We focus on adding value for both businesses and partners. Faster setup with native integrations for channel programs means easier, scalable solutions. From the native Salesforce deal registration to 3-click campaign launch for partners, here are just a few ways xAmplify continues to stand out among the growing marketplace:

  • Fast setup: xAmplify gets your account and integrations set up in a matter of hours instead of weeks.
  • Native integrations: Deal registration connects to Salesforce without any custom development.
  • 3-click campaign launch with automatic co-branding: Partners easily launch co-branded campaigns without much effort.
  • Integrated SPAM, GDPR, and CCPA Compliance: xAmplify maintains the latest privacy and data handling compliance as well as SPAM check to ensure your brand reputation is maintained.

Partner Experience

Even with a growing ecosystem, a fundamental aspect of successful partnerships is providing an excellent experience with companies. xAmplify was designed with this in mind. xAmplify lets you provide your partners with access to a host of digital campaign marketing tools all in one place. From emails to videos, landing pages to online events – partners can co-brand and redistribute campaigns with a mere 3 clicks.   

Build Your Ecosystem Today

Ready to take your partner channel to the next level? Consider a consultation with our growth experts so we can understand the current state of your channel program. Let us show you how you can customize the xAmplify platform to fit your unique channel needs and deliver the best partner experience to grow revenue.

How to Solve Age-Old Channel Marketing Issues

Our xAmplify team has years of experience working in Channel Marketing. We understand more than anyone, the magnitude of work it takes supporting partners with sales/marketing enablement, marketing development funds, and providing the resources that will make partners more successful. There are many challenges in the Channel due to the levels of complexity and volume. Even the most successful channel organizations have hurdles that they still need to overcome to maximize channel revenue.

There is not enough automation in the Channel to account for growing workloads. Lean budgets or headcount vacancies cause a channel team to get underwater quickly. Things become more operational and less strategic limiting future growth. Instead of struggling with the same channel problems year after year, organizations should consider xAmplify’s Through-Channel Marketing Automation and Demand Gen solution.

xAmplify’s platform quickly solves for shortcomings in channel marketing and provides the following benefits:

  • Partner Marketing – G2M Faster
  • Marketing Content Distribution by Partner Group
  • Sales & Marketing Enablement
  • Two-Tier Visibility & Partner Pipeline Forecasting
  • Partner ROI for Your Demand Generation Program
  • Private Page for MDF Requests
  • Automation of Daily Repetitive Tasks

xAmplify’s Rapid G2M (Go-to-Market) Solution

Our Rapid G2M solution allows you to accelerate partner growth in a few key areas.  A common channel problem is small partner growth because of little to no marketing headcount. These partners don’t have time to navigate partner portals or assemble marketing campaigns, so agencies are hired to support them. Sometimes even with agency support, campaigns don’t get launched for 12 weeks or more. Channel Organizations then invest more money into those same partners with other low touch lead gen programs while partners are working on their campaigns. As a result, channel organizations double-dip on marketing investments for some partners and get lackluster results. xAmplify’s Rapid G2M solution allows a partner to be self-sufficient and redistribute a vendor-created campaign in 10 minutes because of the powerful, yet simple interface.

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xAmplify’s Unlimited Partner Grouping Options

Other legacy TCMA platforms use a one-size-fits-all marketing approach. xAmplify’s platform was built to serve up marketing content by partner group. An organization has unlimited partner lists to segment by geo, partner level, new certification, or any other criteria of its choice. This offers a way to serve up marketing content to newly certified partners and let them capitalize without delay. It also helps smaller partners so they aren’t overwhelmed by what is in the portal and lets organizations extend campaign customization privileges to larger partners.

xAmplify for Channel Sales & Marketing Enablement

Our platform is not just a channel marketing automation tool. It helps both sales and marketing teams drive more revenue. The partners can add all of their sales reps as additional users so that when a marketing campaign is distributed, it will be personalized down to the sales rep level. This eliminates the need for only one lead catcher on the partner’s end. Leads can be called into quickly resulting in higher lead conversion. 

xAmplify Through-Channel Marketing Metrics

Our through-channel marketing automation platform is two-tier. This means that you have additional insight into partner pipeline as well as analytics across all campaign types and communications. The metrics are helpful for your team to determine Partner ROI and who is executing the marketing plans that your teams discussed during enablement calls. Your team can more effectively decide where to spend their time.

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xAmplify Channel Marketing Automation

With our platform, you can automate many different channel communications downstream to partners. The xAmplify solution includes a landing page design engine the lets you create private pages for your team’s needs. For example, partners can submit for MDF (marketing development funds) on a private page and reduce the bottleneck of email. Other applications of this feature include end of quarter blitzes, communicating new certification programs, resources and more. And with our metrics, your team can see which partners opened your communications.

xAmplify Improves the Partner Experience

More mature channel organizations have thousands of partners. They are oftentimes segmented by certifications, partner levels, and performance to provide incentives and marketing programs. Partner experience is correlated with partner performance. Adding xAmplify to your channel marketing programs improves the partner experience by providing a feature-rich, easy to use platform that allows them to go-to-market quickly. This will give your company an advantage over the competition still using legacy systems. Win More Business with xAmplify TCMA!!

Schedule a Demo Today


Why Your Company Needs Channel Marketing Now

I’ll tell you the answer straight away: channel marketing creates a revenue opportunity three times larger than whatever you’re doing now. When you think of sales, channel marketing probably doesn’t enter the logic tree in your mind. You probably think any given Company has a Product or Service that they market directly to their Customers. Their Customers buy from said Company and use their Product or Service. 

And it looks something like this:

What’s shocking is that this type of sales (direct sales) accounts for only 25% of global commerce, as estimated by the World Trade Organization. The whopping majority — 75% — of sales happen an entirely different way. 

What is Channel Sales?

This 75% share of the global marketplace is selling to customers indirectly, in what’s called channel sales. This means they sell through channel partners, such as resellers, value-added resellers, distributors, referral partners, independent software vendors, and a few other types. Generally, these partners have a large, established customer base and a trust relationship with end-users that a manufacturer can leverage to their advantage. And it’s a two-way street for resellers—the retailer needs the product because otherwise they’d have nothing to sell!

For instance, a manufacturer like Honda doesn’t sell cars directly to consumers. Instead, independent dealerships open up shop and ship in Hondas from Tokyo to sell to the end customer. In another example, a company like TOMS shoes uses both direct and indirect sales to get their product into consumers’ hands (and onto their feet). You can find TOMS at several retailers and department stores along with a variety of other indirect offerings. But you can also go to the TOMS flagship store in Venice Beach California, and other TOMS stores, to buy directly from the maker.

Not all companies are oriented to channel sales and thus are not in need of channel marketing. For instance, a nail salon, a restaurant, or a tattoo shop wouldn’t sell through channel partners. These types of companies will always sell directly to the consumer.

However, many companies that can sell indirectly just aren’t doing it. They may not understand that channel sales opens up an entirely new revenue stream with far more potential customers than can be reached through direct sales. 

And that looks something like this:

Channel marketing is to indirect sales as marketing is to direct sales

I repeat, channel marketing is to indirect sales as marketing is to direct sales. Think about that. In today’s inundated marketplace, no company can reach its customer base without a solid marketing effort. 

And when it comes to direct sales (again, only 25% of the worldwide sales pie), there are billions of marketing dollars allocated, and thousands of software solutions adopted, agencies hired, and advertisements placed. There are CMOs and SVPs and DOMs running huge teams of marketers, from your content managers to your email experts, plus your social media leads, an array of copywriters for long-form and short-form content, not to mention the team of designers responsible for your visual brand identity. And this doesn’t even include the people working at those software companies and agencies who help run this well-oiled direct marketing machine.

When it comes to indirect sales (again, the far larger 75% majority), most companies don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps this is why so many companies that can sell indirectly aren’t doing it. They don’t have the bandwidth or the knowledge base. 

There’s not nearly the breadth of agencies and software solutions available for indirect sales as for direct, and advertising through channel partners is a mystery. Thus, companies allocate far fewer resources and money to channel; it’s like a can of worms most brands are afraid to open. Instead, they try a half-baked, low-risk, manual approach bound for failure or just stick to what they know: direct sales. Rather than really trying to understand channel marketing, rather than devoting some R&D budget to figuring it out, they mostly avoid it…and they continue missing out on that 75% of the marketplace. 

Channel marketing software versus direct marketing software 

Reflecting the comparable ease of direct sales is the high number of resources the industry has produced to generate direct sales leads, automate direct communications, and track that customer data. There are hundreds of thriving CRMS and marketing automation tools to serve this purpose. Why is this so? Because data is the key to selling and automation is the key to delivery at scale. We can follow this same logic for channel marketing, and just add ease of use as the key to getting partners to participate in a co-marketing effort with your brand.

Fortunately, there are through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) solutions on the rise to fulfill these keys to success, but not all are created equal. If you’re ready to dive into channel sales, it’s important to know what you should be looking for when choosing a TCMA platform. Take the time to watch a number of demos and make sure you ask the right questions during those meetings.

If adopting a software solution still sounds overwhelming, try checking out a full service offering like xAmplify Sail. With this offering, we at xAmplify leverage our cutting edge software to act as your full service channel marketing team. So if you don’t find a product that’s right for your company, perhaps try a service to do it all for you. In any case, with the right resources in place, channel sales is likely to be a massive revenue driver for your brand. 

Choosing a TCMA Platform: How to Know Who, When, Why, and Which

A surprising number of indirect sales companies still function manually when it comes to co-marketing with their resellers, and have yet to adopt a TCMA platform (through-channel marketing automation platform). This seems to be most common among SMB and mid-levels unable to allocate budget to a solution and not quite foreseeing how a solution will actually enable them to rapidly scale. Lack of knowledge about evolving tech creates a huge missed opportunity.

These companies are blind as to:

  • The “who” (who needs TCMA?)
  • The “when” (is it time for my company to adopt a solution?)
  • The “why” (why do I really need this?)
  • And the “which” (which platform do I choose?)

Sound familiar? Then let’s fill in those blanks with an overview of the who, when, why, and which of channel marketing tools.

Who needs a channel marketing automation solution?

If you sell through indirect channels via resellers, distributors, ISVs, or VARs, you fit the “who” profile of a company in need of channel marketing automation. Doesn’t matter if you’re an SMB, mid-level, or enterprise. You fit the profile because these solutions are designed to help companies like yours scale your channel sales program, increase partner participation, extend your reach, and bring in more revenue via indirect pipelines.

When not executed through a TCMA platform, channel sales is an excruciating, overwhelming endeavor. If this overwhelm also sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, many SMB and mid-level companies don’t have a structured partner program in place because they’re limited by time and headcount. Things operate on a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, day-to-day basis dealing with partners, and long term growth hasn’t made it into the business plan yet.

For companies that live on both direct and indirect sales, many of them just say “forget it” to channel strategy altogether. It’s too labor-intensive and tedious to build. So they focus on direct sales instead.

When should I adopt a TCMA platform?

For those who are trying to maintain a partner program, but have yet to adopt a technology solution, channel sales is a daily struggle, with looming pressure to close deals fast rather than nurture the pipeline, and a scramble to put out fires as they constantly catch. If this—yet again—is familiar, if channel sales is a cumbersome process you’re thinking about giving up on, then your answer to “when” is NOW.

The pain and struggle you’re suffering is totally avoidable and a solution would be incredibly low cost compared to the return on investment. Let’s put it this way… A day in the life of a channel sales organization that hasn’t yet embraced through-channel marketing automation might go something like this:

You blast an email with a new asset to every partner. You don’t have analytics in place to see who opened it, much less who’s leveraging it for redistribution. You cross your fingers and hope a sale comes in through a partner. When few or none do, you reach out over the phone… One. Partner. At a time… to find out how it’s going. Did you get my email? Did you download the asset? Did your designers add your logo? Our designer left a whitespace for your logo. Are you going to redistribute the asset? The sale ends Friday, so we need you to redistribute no later than tomorrow. How many prospects will you send it to—is there any way you can track opens and report back to me?

Gasp! (Coming up for air).

Talk about exhausting. No wonder most SMBs and mid-levels have given up! Imagine having that conversation twenty times a day. Your partners would start avoiding your calls, stoking a whole new bunch of fires.

Besides being an exhausting and off-putting channel marketing strategy, the manual way is inefficient. Hours of time have been wasted in this instance, and likely with little yield. A TCMA platform would have deployed that initial asset, had the metrics to track it to and through partners to show who’s redistributing and to reveal the desired open rate downstream. And it would have taken a fraction of the time for both the vendor and the partner.

If a day in this life sounds like a day in your life… it’s time to stop struggling.

Why do I need automation for channel sales?

If you’re in channel sales and don’t have a through-channel marketing automation tool in place, why you need one should be implicit by now. But if you’re still not convinced, let’s look at some numbers.

  • 75% of global sales are made through indirect channels. Your marketplace opportunity is massive. But…
  • Only 20% of partners typically deliver 80% of channel sales for their vendor source.
  • That means 80% of channel partners aren’t doing much, because they need more than a phone call from you hounding them about redistribution. They need more than an email with a single asset and a whitespace for their logo. They need their hands held.

If you hold their hands, or use the right automation tool to hold their hands for you, you tap into that inactive 80% of partners. Get those guys and gals pushing your message to their customers, and your sales will start to skyrocket.

Ultimately, a new TCMA platform in the marketing tech stack will not only pay for itself, it will save you time, scale your partner program, and drive revenue. That’s why.

…But only if you nail the “which” part….

Which solution does TCMA the best?

There are a dozen or more platforms out there claiming to be TCMA tools. Many of them are portals and/or PRMs (partner relationship managers) that have been around for several years, and have retrofitted their platforms to “automate” co-branded messaging.

If your main need is real automation, through and through, then be extremely judicious when you come across companies like this. Until very recently the standard channel marketing practice was to hire one of these portals or PRMs as a common ground for vendors to store content—from whitepapers, to logos, to price sheets, to design assets. These platforms would deploy an email to partners letting them know when the vendor added something new, so partners were aware they could come collect.

And that was about as far as the automation went. From there, it was up to partners to log in to the portal (a single space shared with the vendor and other partners), download the content, add their own logos, upload and configure the campaign in whatever emailing software they were using, and redistribute.

There was still a ton of work required on the part of the partner. And there were still no metrics for the vendor. Not entirely helpful.

As this problem became more and more evident and technology evolved, new solutions started to emerge. Some are cohesive tools with end-to-end content storage, automatic co-branding, same-platform email functionality, and metrics included. This type of platform provides each partner with their own individual user instance, login, and dashboard so that list uploading and segmentation are secure and unlimited—which renders metrics and redistribution more accessible than they’ve ever been.

However, for PRMs and portals that existed previously and have now retro-fitted outbound automation (the email delivery and metrics aspect of co-marketing) the fact that they still simultaneously function in their old capacities makes them largely faulty; partner list uploading and same-platform email deployment are not compulsory, meaning metrics are non-comprehensive and unreliable.

If simple, end-to-end automation is what you’re looking for, schedule a demo with xAmplify, which was created at the turn of the TCMA revolution and designed specifically for through-channel marketing automation, not to function as a portal.

How to Forecast Your Channel Sales Inventory and Save Billions

Industry is undergoing a huge change. A new era of business is being ushered in for supply chain management, with the adoption of industry 4.0 applications. These applications have the metrics insight to change the game when it comes to channel sales inventory, eradicating “just-in-case” warehouse supply and letting “just-in-time” inventory rule. Less waste, stable pricing and more profit.

The first companies to embrace this change and adopt this shifting technology will be the winners of tomorrow. They’re the ones using today’s cloud technology and software automation to communicate and forecast across inventory, manufacturing, and distribution. They’re the ones shrinking inventory margins and making optimization and streamlined corporate behavior necessary.

These companies will not only compete more effectively in the marketplace with better marketing insight and customer behavior analysis—they’ll also save up to billions of dollars per year by having more accurate sales attribution data than ever before.

“Just-in-case ” vs “just-in-time” inventory

Just-in-case inventory is used by manufacturing companies that lack the ability to accurately forecast sales. They have to determine how much product they need to meet demand with the projections they have, which are based on incomplete data, economic patterns, or industry predictions. In other words, these numbers are estimates at best. Furthermore, they do not account for the demand of through-channel marketing, which results in indirect sales. A company that is unable to accurately forecast sales generated via channel marketing ends up producing this just-in-case inventory. This surplus results in wasted resources and warehousing space, and erodes the value of current inventory with the inevitable need to move that surplus product.  

Alternatively, a company able to accurately forecast by leveraging comprehensive, through-channel metrics allows their business operation and supply chain to become one well-oiled machine. This results in producing far more just-in-time inventory. Just-in-time inventory is the most optimal position for a company. Before automation, IoT, AI, and data management applications, just-in-time inventory was almost impossible to achieve at the enterprise level. Today, just-in-time inventory is possible for all companies no matter their size, as long as the right metrics tool is in place.

The TCMA solution to your “just-in-case” supply

To put it simply, when the supply chain knows where both direct and indirect sales are coming from, they will know how much to supply. How can one get that kind of information? TCMA.

Supply chain teams with an optimal tech stack leveraging true automation can close the gap on just-in-case inventory by capturing comprehensive, through-channel data. And with the industry 4.0 era, there are TCMA software platforms with metrics features that not only track partner opens and redistribution of marketing materials, but also track and collect data on downstream customers. This indirect sales activity can be harnessed further upstream with the right visibility.

More accurate channel sales attribution, more profit

Furthermore, the fact that leads, opportunities, and deals are properly attributed with trackable data also resolves channel conflict across the board. With no channel conflict, companies know exactly where sales are coming from and what volume to expect. These supply chain companies will eventually incorporate revolutionary TCMA tools like xAmplify into their product management to accurately forecast supply and save billions of dollars they would otherwise waste on surplus. Change is constant, and innovation is key.

With the use of a full force TCMA platform, supply chain companies can see immediate snapshots of the health, inventory, and up-to-date manufacturing and production issues. Having insight will help streamline shipping and warehousing, resulting in the most optimal inventory outcomes on a day-to-day basis. The companies that are most efficient will have an inherent competitive advantage over their competition.