Episode 2 - Crafting the Right Online Experience for Your Channel Program
Hi, this is Carolyn Bradfield and you’re listening to Convey’s MicroCast audio series.
We’d like to welcome our listeners to our Channel Partners MicroCast audio series from Convey Services, a technology specialist that runs a content and marketing portal network in the channel used by over 23K sales partners. Today’s series is all about crafting the right online experience for your channel program.
Without fail, most of us begin our buying experience online. We google the product we want to buy, read reviews, compare prices and often complete the transaction without leaving the comfort of our living room. Most of us look at that experience as easy, quick and convenient.
However, when it comes to helping our sales partners with an online experience to find services they want to represent, compare options and complete the transactions, vendors in the telecom and cloud marketplace may not be have elevated their strategy enough to make it easy for sales partners to go online and get what they need to sell services.
If your company is highly active in face to face interactions by sponsoring partner events, going to trade shows and traveling to meet partners, a key fact that you must remember is that your message fades quickly once you are back on the airplane going home. Here are some interesting statisticsfrom the training industry:
- After only one hour, people retain less than half of the information presented.
- After one day, that drops to 70%.
- After six days, people forget 75 percent of the information has gone out the door
Without a good online strategy to reinforce your message, attract partners to keep looking at you, and make information easy to consume, most of the dollars spent in sponsorships, events, and face to face contact will be wasted.
Because Convey runs an online portal network connecting partners to vendors through our master agent portals, we have the opportunity to evaluate how effective vendors are at their online strategy. Here are some ideas to elevate your game.
Tip #1 Know what your online presence looks like when people search for you.
Many companies would be shocked to see that much of the information that appears about them in search engines or other online outlets is just out of date, or plain inaccurate. We learned this from one of our vendor-partners, Vivial who runs free online assessment to show you where people will get tripped up when they try and find you. Believe it or not, number one reason customers can’t find you on Google comes from incorrect business listings that can leave partners wasting valuable time searching. Find more information about Vivial on the Convey Services website and get a free evaluation of your online presence to see what needs to change.
Tip #2 Take a hard look at your website
Unfortunately, many channel programs don’t have as much control as they need over their website; however, there are certain things a modern website must have to be effective. Most interactions with websites will be on a mobile device so it must be responsive so you can view it on your phone as well as on your laptop. If a website is designed for both customers and partners, make sure that the partner section is easily accessed from the home page and you focus your message on the benefits of becoming a partner. If your website is old, tired, and out of date, it is imperative that you do a refresh to bring it current.
Tip #3 Invest in LinkedIn.
Although there are a number of social media outlets you could use to promote your business, Linkedin is the gold standard for all channel programs. Your company page should have a succinct overview loaded with good keywords, your logo and a cover image, Make sure to add information about your organization including your website URL, your location and the industry you are in. Commit to posting content regularly and make sure your posts have images to make them stand out.
Tip #4 Simplify your message
I often look at a vendor’s website or the online catalog on one of our Convey portals and struggle to understand just what business this vendor in. In only a few seconds, a viewer should understand what you sell, who you sell it to, and the value of doing business with your company. As an example, a great banner message in your website or online Convey portal might be: HIPAA compliant application hosting solutions for the medical industry....or try this one...Improving the patient experience with our contact center solutions.
For vendors who maintain an online catalog through the Convey network, we always advise them to narrow their focus to the services partners are most interested in, define the type of customer that is ideal including what industries they exist in, what you want the partner to do when they find that customer and how the partner makes money.
Tip # 5 Invest in a Partner Portal
So I’m sure you are asking yourself, if you have a website, what is the point of a portal? Remember that websites are designed to speak to the end customer first, so the information partners need to know may not be appropriate. Portals function not only as a “partner website” but do other valuable things that automate a partner program and engage the audience.
With a portal, your message can be targeted to help the partner better understand the product, the sales process, and the economic value of the customer. You can stay top of mindshare by having the portal reach out to the partner to get them to visit repeatedly and get rewarded for being inside your portal.
You can analyze what they look at, get them to write reviews on your content, and see who is really engaged with what you do so you can focus your efforts on nurturing those relationships.
My advice to channel programs is to keep in front of your partners not only in person but reinforce your message online. Make sure that your online information is accurate so you can be found, that your website is as good on a desktop as it is on a phone, that you invest heavily in Linkedin and a good content strategy. Simplify the message and summarize who you are, who you sell to, how partners should interact with you and how they make money. And consider investing in a partner portal to deepen your online interaction with partners, keep them engaged and reward them when they come back and look at you online.
5 years ago, Convey transformed how master agents and their partners engage with vendors through an online portal network that now has over 40 master agents and 23,000 partners. We provide individual partner portals to vendors that serve the cloud and telecom space that have tools to automate partner management, keep partners engaged, and give them marketing tools to promote your services. Explore our website, which is also one of our portals, to get connected to the right online experience for your channel program.
This is Carolyn Bradfield and you’ve been listening to our “MicroCast” Convey in our Channel Partner Program.