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Top 5 Through Channel Partner Campaign Tips and What They Mean in 2022

Top 5 Through Channel Partner Campaign Tips and What They Mean in 2022

A lot gets written about the growing importance of digital marketing tactics in channel partner campaigns, especially since the pandemic took most traditional face-to-face events and meeting opportunities off the table. But understanding which tactics to employ at each stage of the lead generation and nurturing process can be a challenge, especially for those with little or no experience executing digital marketing campaigns. What is more, it’s a shifting landscape: what generated good results one year may not do so well the next.

bChannels has been helping channel partners generate high-quality leads from digital marketing for several years. As well as seeing a significant ramp-up in volume over the past year or two, we’ve also noticed some changes in priorities as the market has adjusted to a more online sales environment, and figured out what delivers the best ROI.

Here is a breakdown of the top five channel partner campaign tactics we’ve run in 2021, and how these are changing over time.

 

Top 5 channel campaign tactics_Cake chart 11. 2020 digital campaigns by %. Source bChannels

Top 5 channel campaign tactics_Cake chart 22. 2021 digital campaigns by %. Source: bChannels

 

1. Content syndication

Content syndication was far and away the most popular tactic among channel partners this year, representing 41 percent of the overall number (up from second place, at 20 percent, in 2020).

What makes content syndication popular right now are its ease and speed of implementation. All partners need to do to kick off a content syndication campaign – essentially getting a core piece of content republished across several different outlets (typically publishers’ websites) – is specify their target audience, and provide their value proposition and collateral (like logos and other branding). The content syndication agency handles the rest, and typically provides a guarantee for the number of leads generated. Another advantage of content syndication is that it is straightforward for channel partners to provide proof of execution for MDF reporting.

The leads generated by content syndication are clearly not sales-qualified, and so need to be followed up with an email or a telesales program. This means content syndication is best used an effective way to fill the top of the funnel as part of a wider, multi-touch campaign.

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn was the next most popular channel marketing tool in 2021 (13 percent by number, compared with 23 percent in 2020). LinkedIn engagement provides a way to maintain a regular flow of new content and build relationships – especially for demand generation, and promotion of events and content, with calls to action.

The platform is effective both for awareness and lead generation, especially as a part of a multi-touch campaign. As well as increasing visibility and website traffic for the channel partner, by enabling social media shares of posts, videos and images, LinkedIn also helps SEO efforts by improving relevance in search results.

LinkedIn enables audiences to be targeted with extreme accuracy. Partners can even target specific companies through LinkedIn, as part of an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign. Leads generated by LinkedIn engagement will need to be qualified and nurtured. A key downside of LinkedIn is members viewing it more as profile for them individually (using a personal email rather than a company one), and whilst open to relevant connections, people are not always interested in being ‘sold to’.

3. Telemarketing

Although it is not a digital marketing tactic, telemarketing is a mainstay of any effective channel marketing campaign. Its relevance is reflected by its move up to third place in our rankings (11 percent by number), compared with seventh place (four percent) in 2020 – driven in part by the lack of face-to-face engagement opportunities since the pandemic hit.

Telemarketing is especially useful for channel partners that do not have a large marketing team. Leads can be very quickly qualified and provided to the sales team for follow-up – and irrelevant leads can be quickly cleaned from the database. Telemarketing provides an effective way to nurture leads generated by other activities – at several points in a campaign

4. Digital events

Digital events such as webinars and roundtables have also grown in popularity since the start of the pandemic – rising to fourth place (nine percent) in our 2021 rankings, up from ninth place (two percent) in 2020. Even business–social events, like group food and drink tasting, have shifted online as a way of maintaining social connections.

Digital events are an effective way of targeting both existing customers (for example, through industry roundtables), as well as prospects. According to cloud-based collaboration solution provider, Ring Central, 54 percent of B2B professionals watch webinars every week. As digital events grow in number and popularity, it is important to offer the ability to access them on-demand so that people can watch them when they have time.

Channel partners can engage an agency to organise the entire digital event, drive attendance – to both the live and on-demand events – as well as carry out post-event surveys and other follow-up.

5. Email

Email campaigns remain popular – holding fifth place (eight percent by number) in our 2021 rankings – especially for nurturing leads arising from other digital campaign tactics, and previous marketing campaigns. Email offers a relatively low-cost, low time-investment way of building a relationship with prospects, and moving them on to the nurture phase (through telemarketing, for example) if they show interest. Opt-outs and bounce-backs provide an immediate signal to remove the contact from the marketing database.

Display is the biggest loser

At the other end of the spectrum, display ads saw the biggest decline in 2021. Combined between regular display and those targeting specific accounts, 2021 slumped to just 5% by number compared to 36% in 2020. Behind this seismic shift is a move from 2020’s uncertainty that saw interest in keeping brand awareness high without expecting leads to a return to rebuilding and populating top of funnel.

Bubbling under

One area that is attracting growing interest and popularity is account-based marketing (ABM) for top of funnel leads. ABM involves targeting a very well-defined audience, based on company, sector or particular interest area.

While not a tactic per se, ABM can be introduced to any campaign to achieve excellent results through being precise, targeted, personalized and measurable. It provides the highest ROI among B2B marketing tactics and strategies, while generating less waste and risk, and shortening the sales cycle.

Other marketing tactics that are generating interest among channel partners include:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) – this is worthwhile, but can be hard to do using vendor MDF, as a partner’s website often promotes several vendors
  • Podcasts – these are growing in popularity as reasonably low-cost elements of a wider campaign, especially when produced in collaboration with a vendor
  • Case studies – these represent very popular content that can be used across a variety of media, including video, blog posts, and downloadable PDFs.

Possible trends for 2022

Across just two years, it is difficult to give concrete predictions on what 2022 might bring. However, we can look at the emerging trends and our experience to make a couple of call outs that we think might just shape partner marketing in 2022.

Top of funnel will continue to dominate….

Based on activity scheduled for early 2022, we see no let-up in the desire to rebuild and recover early stage funnel. We expect content syndication and LinkedIn ads to remain popular as predictable and reliable sources of early stage leads. Whilst we see no immediate change, their dominance in the mix may reduce during 2022 as focus for some partners shifts to nurture.

…but middle of funnel is on the rise…

2021 was the largest percentage increase over 2020 for digital events. Whilst still only 9% by number in 2021, digital events saw the largest growth in both number of campaigns and in its share of the campaign mix.  This is likely to continue while the unpredictability of large events remains. Telemarketing also saw significant positive shift in its share of mix and in number of campaigns in 2021. Moving in to 2022, we expect this emerging trend to continue for those partners who bounced back most quickly and invested during 2021 to rebuild top of funnel. They need now to invest in activities that are primarily designed to nurture existing leads to opportunity and beyond.

 

Top 5 channel campaign tactics_Bars chart 13. 2020-2021 % increase in number of campaigns requested by category. Source: bChannels

Top 5 channel campaign tactics_Bars chart 2

4. 2020-2021 % increase in share of campaign mix by category. Source: bChannels

 

....and the world will always need content

Content creation/social also saw significant gains in number of campaigns and share of mix in 2021. Less a prediction, more an inevitability, running top of funnel or nurture campaigns will always require a supply of content that adds value to the customer with each engagement and provides a consistent stream of posts on social platforms.

Is it the death of display?

We don’t think so. In our experience, display works well for large partners with more transactional offers and an engine to convert them. Smaller partners with less digital marketing maturity, or those who have more complex offerings do not see display as helpful. Partner digital maturity is still alarmingly low, so we wouldn’t expect much change in the demand for display in 2022.

Digital marketing campaigns for partners

bChannels helps partners plan, create and deliver digital marketing campaigns through its Digital Partners service. To find out more contact us. We’ve put together a short series of helpful hints and considerations for partners looking to do more digital marketing.

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