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What is Channel Partner Marketing?

What is channel partner marketing, and how can you create a strategy that works for your business? Learn more in our comprehensive article.
What is Channel Partner Marketing Strategy?
Published on
August 17, 2022


There are a few things we know for certain:

1. Partnerships are the future.

2. Technology has completely changed the way we market.

But how do these points intersect?

Companies and their partnership teams are feeling pressure to reassess their marketing strategies and assign them mission-critical status due to the accelerating and changing dynamics of the marketing industry.

It seems like a lot, right?

But it is at this point where partnerships and marketing intersect that partnership teams have the opportunity to re-emerge into this rapidly changing industry, giving rise to what is known as channel partner marketing.

Without further ado, let's read further to find out what the best practices are to ensure the success of channel partner marketing strategies and how to make the most of your channel partner marketing campaigns.

What is Channel Partner Marketing?

Channel partner marketing is a strategy that allows vendors to promote the value of their partners and allows partners to sell the vendor's goods and services effectively.

This strategy for marketing and sales can assist both vendors and partners in becoming more visible in local markets and increasing their revenue.

Effective marketing for businesses in the industry typically consists of top-notch training, useful and effective sales collateral, and incentive programs, as well as generous contributions to local market advertising initiatives.

Goals of Channel Partner Marketing

Like most things in partnerships, the goals of channel partner marketing strategies are largely dependent on the unique goals of both the vendor and partner. It is crucial to ensure that these goals and desired outcomes of channel partner marketing are shared and agreed upon by both parties to the partnership.

That being said, here are a few common objectives partner marketing works towards:

Increase Sales/Revenue

Any partnership needs to focus on growing sales. Channel partner marketing can increase sales because it demonstrates the value of your strategy and whether you are receiving high-quality leads.

Great partnerships can accelerate growth in market share and cut existing sales costs. An example is increasing purchases from a specific audience demographic or channel.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is crucial because it can help you build visibility, credibility, trust, and interest while driving traffic from high-quality prospects, who can lead to high-value clients.

Effective lead generation allows you and your partners to sell more successfully. So, how you manage your leads will impact how successfully your channel sales partners can sell your products moving forward.

Increase Brand Awareness

Brand awareness plays a pivotal role in the success of any business, serving as the cornerstone upon which growth and expansion are built. It functions as a powerful catalyst, propelling a brand into uncharted territories and diverse verticals. The resonance of your brand within the minds of consumers not only solidifies your presence in existing markets but also opens up lucrative avenues for expansion.

By enhancing brand awareness, you're essentially equipping your brand with the tools to connect with previously untapped yet highly relevant audiences. This not only broadens your customer base but also fosters deeper, more meaningful connections with potential customers who align with your brand's values and offerings. In essence, brand awareness acts as the bridge that connects your brand to the vast landscape of opportunities, propelling it toward sustained growth and success.

Target New Markets

When tapping into new markets, channel partners can offer a quick route to profitability.

You achieve this by assembling a clientele of well-established businesses that are high-quality leads. You not only increase the number of leads coming in, but you also improve the quality of your lead acquisition.

As Madison Perry, Head of Demand Generation & Partner Marketing at Chili Piper, said in her Greatest Minds in Partnerships interview, users are avoiding things like cold emails to find new solutions and instead are "turning to their trusted service providers that they already have a relationship with to get feedback and input."

Co-marketing with partners who have already established this trust with users in a certain market can help you do the same. This kind of authority will benefit your overall brand awareness amongst new audiences.

KPIs for Channel Partner Marketing

KPIs are quantifiable metrics that you can monitor to evaluate the effectiveness of your partnership marketing strategy and the success of your partnerships.

They are crucial because they evaluate the value of your partner's marketing efforts and their potential for long-term success.

To achieve that success, you must monitor each KPI that contributes to the complexity of your program.

So, what are the KPIs that you should be keeping track of?

Marketing channels

These KPIs are important for channel partner marketing because they enable you to assess the effectiveness of your multi-channel marketing strategy. It allows you to concentrate on channels that require more attention and improve areas where you're already doing a great job.


This can be divided into two subcategories:

  • Content engagement

You can tell which of your partners is spending the time to learn about your brand by monitoring the percentage of content engagement as a channel performance KPI.

The content engagement KPI helps you refine the content to tell the brand story better and serve the needs of your partners and their clients, as well as how to better your partnerships by incentivizing partners to use the content.

  • Partner engagement

An engaged partner is a satisfied partner who is more likely to pursue and produce success. But we often forget that once your partner is signed, there is no guarantee that they will remain engaged.

So, the KPIs you must monitor are:

  • If partners engage with your marketing materials?
  • Do they participate in your events or marketing campaigns?
  • Do they interact with your training materials, demos, or partner enablement tools?

Here is a little tip for you: high churn rates can be avoided by measuring partner engagement.

Click-through Rate

The click-through rate is the number of people who saw your advertisement, clicked to visit your landing page, downloaded a form, and other onsite metrics.

This could be the most effective method for your marketing team to locate and recognize qualified leads.

ROIs and ROAs

One of the primary metrics that marketers pay attention to is ROI.

You can use it to gain important insights into the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. You can determine the profitability of a specific campaign and figure out how marketing funds should be diverted more toward a partnership program.

ROAS, also known as Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), calculates the amount of money made for each dollar spent on advertising.

The main distinction between the two is that ROAS measures revenue from digital advertising expenditures or pay-per-click advertisements, such as Google Ads. Which are easier to track than magazine or radio advertisements.

Here are a few metrics you can monitor:

  • Program effectiveness: This is measured by keeping track of metrics unique to each program. You could keep an eye on the volume of leads a partner program generates, the average deal size, and the amount of revenue they bring in.
  • A multi-touch attribution model: This will improve the end-to-end visibility of your customers' journeys, allowing you to more precisely determine where tracking links are present, where leads come from, and how much credit each ad deserves.
  • Calculating Programmatic ROI: This is done by monitoring brand recognition and reputation (positive or negative mentions) as well as website traffic statistics, particularly those who type the URL directly into their browser.

Calculations for ROI and ROA

The common formula for ROI:

(Sales Growth (or Revenue) – Marketing Cost)/Marketing Cost = Marketing ROI

The common formula for ROAS:

Conversion Value (Revenue)/Advertising Cost = Return on Ad Spend

Here is another little tip: For marketers focused mostly on traditional marketing tactics, using ROI can be helpful. But, if your niche is digital/PPC campaigns, ROAS is best.

Also, to give you a boost in tracking your KPIs, you can use a partnership marketing management (PRM) tool like Kiflo with advanced automation capabilities to help you keep track of your KPIs without having to put in the time-consuming manual labor.

This will free you up to focus on your channel partner's marketing strategy and give the laborious tasks to AI.

Benefits of Channel Partner Marketing

Establishing a channel partner marketing strategy takes time, effort, and a proactive attitude, but when done correctly, these strategies can yield significant results and be rewarding for everyone involved.

The benefits of channel partner marketing can be divided into two subcategories: partners and vendors.

Partner Benefits

Partners may benefit in the following ways from channel partner marketing:

Expanding Brand Awareness and Market Reach

By collaborating with another company, you can effectively use all or part of their customer base for the campaign by accessing their audience.

It is also less expensive and simpler to gain access to that audience when you partner with a business that already has the demographic you want to reach. It can save you time from having to construct it from scratch.

Generating More Qualified Leads

If your visitors aren’t converting into leads, then it’s a wasted effort.

Improving the quality of your leads is crucial because higher-quality leads result in better conversion rates and sales.

Leveraging Partner Relationships to Attract New Customers.

When you collaborate with a business, they are more likely to advertise and market your goods or services to their clients.

It means you will have the chance to establish rapport with these clients and give them the best possible experience to return for more business.

They can help spread the word about your company to a bigger and new audience by informing their clients about your goods or services.

Vendor Benefits

Vendors who are fully committed to their channel partnerships are more likely to prioritize developing relationships, encouraging engagement, providing technical assistance and training, and offering more detailed information about future product plans.

Partner marketing drives partner engagement with the vendor’s brand creates mindshare, helps stimulate customer interest, generates leads, and, ultimately, drives sales.

Vendors may benefit in the following ways from channel partner marketing:

  • Raising the value of goods and services and giving customers more advantages.
  • Delivering a higher level of perceived value and giving customers more reasons to buy can enhance the value of the overall price element.
  • Increasing distribution as new opportunities to sell goods or provide services may arise.
  • Increasing market exposure and distributing brand equity and strength of each partner.

Common Mistakes in Channel Partner Marketing

We occasionally become a little too excited when starting something new, and beginning a channel partner marketing strategy is one of those things.

Sometimes, we get so fired up that we forget to carefully plan partner marketing campaigns and make the necessary preparations to ensure everything goes as expected. In other words, the partner marketing campaign is doomed before it starts.

We are here to help you avoid those mistakes. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind when it comes to channel partner marketing:

Not Setting Realistic Goals

Your first warning sign of a channel partner marketing crash is a lack of setting achievable goals.

Throwing money at something and expecting a return on investment or results from your marketing spend without proper planning and setting realistic goals will not work in the real world.

To avoid this:

Set attainable goals along with reasonable ROI targets. You will enable partners to concentrate on lead generation and lead nurturing and develop stronger relationships with prospects, which ultimately results in higher-value sales.

Not Defining the Audience

Did you know that the target audiences that develop frequently differ surprisingly from those thought to be the audiences at the beginning of channel partner marketing planning?

Prioritizing the audience that will respond to your campaigns is crucial. This group includes the demographic that will purchase your goods or services and your key partners, formerly known as your IPP.

To avoid misalignment:

Spend the necessary time identifying all potential audiences and explaining why they are—or are not—a priority audience. Otherwise, you risk missing a crucial audience that could significantly affect your success.

Organize your audiences according to the business objective you're attempting to achieve.

Not Providing Useable Content

Expecting partners to use their existing collateral is not only time-consuming, but it can also be outdated and challenging to customize to each partner's unique needs.

As a result, partners spend too much time adapting and producing content rather than concentrating on demand generation.

To avoid this:

Provide easy-to-adapt content that is available in a variety of forms. Using various touch points along the buyer journey, partners can see how the campaign can work for them specifically.

Channel Partner Marketing Best Practices

Do not forget that channel partners are also entrepreneurs.

This indicates that instead of focusing on immediate financial rewards, the majority of them will prefer to develop long-term relationships with suppliers they can trust.

It's crucial to understand how to support them and give them the impression that you care as much about their marketing as they do about yours.

It will not only boost or hone your partner's marketing initiatives but also engagement.

Choose the Partners Wisely

When choosing partners, it is crucial to pick a partner who is willing to invest the time necessary to comprehend your business, your target market, and your goals.

Questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Who is your partner’s ICP?
  • What are their demographics?
  • What pain points do they currently have without your company’s added value?

You must develop and provide services that meet your needs. Your partnership is unlikely to succeed if the good or service is not pertinent to your line of work. Collaboration and clear communication are, therefore, essential to the success of any channel partnership strategy.

You can achieve common objectives and build trust between the two parties by communicating.

Strategic Alignment

Businesses should seek out channel partners who have a thorough strategy in place. But more importantly, one that is compatible with yours.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is your channel partner willing to adapt its resources to serve its distribution partners and their clients better?
  • Will partners need to make any additional adjustments to reflect demands?
  • What level of collaboration will take place when promoting these products or services?

Marketing Knowledge

Ask your partners what their plans are for joint marketing campaigns and inform them about your marketing initiatives.

Your teams will become more cohesive and get into a working rhythm.

Questions you should ask yourself:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your partner’s current marketing strategies?
  • How can you leverage their audience?

Define Your Goals

It can be alluring to try to do it all, given the abundance of opportunities and innovative ideas available through the partnership channel in partner marketing.

Setting specific goals will help you maintain a laser-like focus and take actions closely related to your team's KPIs and overall business strategy.

You need to:

  • Clearly define what products/services are sold.
  • Set a channel-specific target that matches the company plan.
  • Review key areas you can set goals around. For example, measurement, revenue, profitability, etc.

By dedicating some time to set goals, you can ensure they are both measurable and achievable.

Define Your Audience

One of the essential elements of channel partner marketing is establishing a connection with your audience.

Any company or group must connect with its target market to know how it will react to its goods or services.

You need to:

  • Know who you are speaking to.
  • Learn what their pain points are.
  • Understand how to get their information best.

Train Your Partners to Be Marketers

Take the time to build a strong foundation between you and your partner's marketing teams and train them on how to be good marketers for your brand.

It will promote brand recognition, business growth, and the creation of valuable relationships.

You should train them on the following:

  • How to represent your brand.
  • Market your products/services.
  • Tell your brand story.

Make sure they have easy access to materials—such as product guides, marketing guidelines, etc.—that will help them.

Tailor the Materials

Creating joint marketing campaigns with your channel partners can improve engagement and drive growth.

Utilizing channel sales resources and coordinated marketing tools can help you accomplish this.

However, because each partner will represent your brand differently because they each have their distinct audiences, it's crucial to customize marketing material based on the type of partner.

Common types of marketing materials include:

  • Webinars
  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts

Test & Measure

KPIs are important because they assess the worth of your partner programs, marketing efforts, and prospects for long-term success.

It assists teams in clearly defining testing objectives and associating a measurable number with growth and can also track how your team meets targets.

Channel Partner Marketing Examples

Kiflo x PartnerHacker

We had the privilege of co-hosting a remarkable webinar with PartnerHacker called Size Isn't Everything: How Small Programs Win Big Partners. The event focused on how partner programs at any stage of growth can land big partners in the industry.

You can watch the full recording from the Kiflo x PartnerHacker webinar here.

Below, you will find real-life examples of how this event was promoted using channel partner marketing strategies.


Example of a webinar done with our partner, PartnerHacker.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing promotion for the event.

Social Posts

A post from webinar speaker Adam Pasch from Postal.io offering a special gift for registrants.


Now, to recap.

Both the vendor and the partner must work together with their marketing initiatives to ensure everything goes smoothly.

The vendor needs to invest in the partner: train them, market the partnership to their audience, etc. The partner must make an equal investment by fulfilling their duties and requirements to the program, which includes marketing.

And that, folks, is where channel partner marketing shines.

Remember that the most effective channel partner marketing collaborations are sincere and inclusive. Your partners will frequently have a wealth of ideas for how you might work if you can be clear about what you want to achieve.

After all, they are the ones who know their audience the best.

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