As we venture ahead into 2019, it’s time to look at how the evolving Channel Marketing landscape will shape our strategy in the new year. While everything from products and services to the go-to-market ecosystem is undergoing rapid shifts, channel marketing is — and will continue to be — all about building and nurturing a relationship with the different levels of your channel. Therefore, vendor organizations will need to focus on strategies that are most relevant to their channel partnerships. Here are three such strategies you’ll want to watch out for in 2019.

1. Channel Marketing Automation

Enabling your channel partners to leverage your content, messaging, branding, and demand generation initiatives in their local markets is key to driving solid partnerships and creating winning customer experiences. Marketing automation tools can make this job easier.

Most channel partners lack marketing capabilities of their own, particularly when it comes to digital tactics like optimizing search and social. Marketing automation can fill this gap, enhancing your channel partners’ abilities to generate leads from their prospects and current customer base. It also allows you to engage in powerful email marketing campaigns on behalf of your channel partners.   

Forrester Research predicts the sales of through-channel marketing automation technology to rise at a CAGR of 25.2%, reaching $1.2 billion through 2023. If you’re wondering what a through-channel marketing automation is, here’s a quick update.

Through-channel marketing is all about enabling your partners to build their pipeline by leveraging your marketing assets and programs. This is different from another type of channel marketing automation, which is focused on to-partner activities and helps with recruiting, engaging, and managing channel partners.   

In the coming year, companies are expected to make significant investments in their partner programs and marketing automation will be one of their key areas of interest.

2. Artificial Intelligence

Advancements in AI and machine learning are taking the marketing world by storm. Their impact will be increasingly felt in the channel marketing landscape as well. Companies like Salesforce and Microsoft show that things are already moving in that direction.

Areas where AI will have the most impact include decision-making and personalization of offerings. With the help of data driven insights, vendors will be able to individualize their offerings, create more compelling content, and learn about the most effective ways to deliver it. It can also help vendors select channel partners that have the best skills or potential to sell their products and solutions.

As such, partnering with technology-first and data-driven marketing agencies like New Angle could present new opportunities for vendor companies and their channel partners.

3. Customer Centricity

With the ability to exceed customer expectations becoming more critical than ever, the trend is fast shifting in terms of how vendors support their customers. The biggest challenge and opportunity in 2019 will lie in being able to identify and deliver solutions that meet customer needs in the most profitable and mutually-beneficial way for the vendor and channel partners. For this, businesses will need to shift their attention from traditional success measures, such as upfront revenue and bookings, to more customer-driven KPIs (key performance indicators). These KPIs include how a vendor can help their customers save money, assist them to learn about and adopt new technologies, and build long-term relationships.

Ultimately, those vendors that can balance their direct and indirect sales activities while consistently meeting customer expectations through distributed and localized marketing will enjoy a competitive edge. To achieve this, many companies may move towards a hybrid model where direct and indirect sales work together in tandem, not duplicating efforts but reinforcing each other and fulfilling the needs of the customer.

Standing on the brink of the New Year, now is the perfect time to rethink your channel marketing strategies. Hopefully, the trends and ideas we have discussed will give you an idea of where to go in 2019.

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