Brand Executives Focus on Strategic Planning and Increase Spend for Channel Marketing Programs, with Social Media as a Top Priority
A new Partner Marketing Study was just released from Foundry, a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group, Inc., that helps companies bring their visions to reality through a combination of media, marketing technologies, and proprietary data. The company revisited its previous partner marketing studies from 2019 and 2014 and noted some interesting changes in the technology partner marketing landscape. While this study focuses on technology partners and companies, the results are very similar to recent partner studies in other industries. The real theme is that partner marketing drives revenue and those that take a strategic approach to managing partner programs drive the best results.
There seems to be a new focus on revenue being driven through the partner channel. As companies have optimized eCommerce, they are now shifting their focus on other sales channels and are seeing the benefits of indirect to grow market share, extend into new markets, and drive overall sales.
This focus is not all talk. Executives are investing up to 40% of their marketing budgets into partner programs, an increase from 37% in 2019. Additionally, 72% expect to increase spending on partners over the next 24 months. Those budgets are being directed into key areas where partners typically struggle. The top three priorities as ranked by respondents:
- Social Media (42%)
- Branding (40%)
- Content Development (37%)
Creative development in this partner channel has always proved to be a challenge. Partners are typically focused on running businesses and driving sales. Companies that can provide partners with assets and content across marketing channels make it easier for them to do business on their behalf and as a result, both sides benefit.
The most interesting data out of this study quantifies the importance of having a documented strategy for the partner program. 58% of marketers that reported partner program success in the past year had a documented strategy versus only 45% that reported success with no strategy. On top of that, two-thirds of leaders with a documented strategy expect to increase their partner budgets in the next 12 months. Planning pays off.
While having a documented plan may give organizations a leg up in partner performance, 70% of marketers said they are challenged in getting partners engaged with programs and making use of the market development funds available. Along with a strategic plan, successful programs need to have a highly engaging communication plan while focusing on the partner experience – making it simple and easy to participate in co-marketing and partner programs.
Organizations are leveraging technology and agencies to improve overall partner marketing program success. 96% of respondents expect to outsource at least some work to agencies in the next year. They realize they cannot manage this all in-house and are looking for best-in-class partners to implement and support their strategic partner program objectives.
The great news for those that work in and with partner programs is that organizations and their executive leadership have a renewed commitment to partner programs. They realize that this channel can grow incremental revenue when a strategic plan is put in place and investments are made in areas to improve the partner experience.