cuspera logo CUSPERA

Channel Marketing Software 2021: Complete Guide

Channel Marketing is a type of marketing strategy that relies on third parties to grow and scale the business. The third party, referred to as channel partners, help in taking the products and services to the market. Channel Marketing is an important growth strategy that is adopted by both large and small businesses.

Learn what is Channel Marketing, how it works and how to choose the right Channel Marketing software.

Updated By Cuspera

Last updated: Apr 14, 2021

Channel Marketing Software 2021: Complete Guide

What is Channel Marketing?

Channel Marketing is a growth marketing strategy adopted by businesses to grow and scale the business. Channel Marketing involves usage of third parties to sell your products and services to customers. These third party entities are referred to as channel partners. 75% of world trade happens through indirect selling through channel partners.

There are two kinds of channels:

Sales channels

Sales channels focus on sales, not so much on delivery. Sales channels deliver either leads or orders to service partners such as service outsourcing partners, and nothing to do with the actual delivery of products and services. And, then there are Sales channels used to distribute perishables with focus on time to the customers.

Marketing Channels

Marketing Channels, ironically, are always Sales Channels but not necessarily the other way around. Marketing channels include sales and delivery related to the product or service. A good example of this kind of channel is a retail outlet.

Other ways to classify Channels

It is also common to think of channels in terms of how far removed the origin of the product or service is from the end customer/consumer.

The direct channel is when the goods flow from the manufacturer to the consumer direct. This channel is not the topic of this article.

Then, there are two or three-tier distribution channels – manufacturer to retailer/wholesaler to the consumer, and manufacturer to distributor to reseller to the consumer. Value-added reselling (VARs) is a variant of this 2nd type of channel. The reseller adds value on top of the original product (such as an installation service). VARs channel is quite popular in the high-tech industry.

Types of Channel Marketing

All the typical marketing focuses on direct marketing such as consistent brand experience, 4 A’s of marketing, demand generation, and others apply to channel marketing as well. Channel marketing is then about using marketing automation, campaign management, social media management, content management, lead generation and management to channels. However, you have two kinds of an audience here to deal with – Channel partners that must be aligned to your marketing strategy, as well as the end customers.

Channel marketing is focused on communicating the value of your products and services to, with, through, and for channel partners

M M

Mike Moore

VP, Channel Strategy Averetek

Here are some of the terms that are commonly used.

Multi-channel Marketing- Multiple, but separate communication channels are used between the customers and the business.

Cross-channel Marketing- Multiple and connected communication channels are used between the customers and the business.

Omni-channel Marketing- Multiple and interactive communication channels are used. Not only these multiple channels are connected and communicate with each other, but they work seamlessly and simultaneously together to provide the customers with a unified experience across channels. The customer can be shopping at an e-commerce site, later continue the shopping in a retail store, and the experience will still be seamless.

Many other kinds of marketing can broadly be considered channel marketing. You can refer to them in the Cuspera Guides section. Some of them are listed below:

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is where an affiliate earns a commission for marketing somebody else's products. The sales are tracked via affiliate links from one website to another.

Partner Marketing

Partner Marketing is popular in the high-tech sector. Partner marketing is about a joint Go-to-Marketing program between two or more companies. Nike and Apple collaboration is an excellent example of Partner Marketing

Alliances Marketing

Alliances Marketing is very similar to Partner Marketing, but it tends to be deeper than the latter – from a strategic, time-horizon perspective. It can lead to joint ventures too.

What is Channel Marketing Software?

Channel Marketing Software is part of Marketing Automation applied to Channels. It helps empower channel partners to align with and leverage all types of marketing activities and assets of your brand including marketing automation, messaging, advertising, demand generation, so on to drive the sales through the partner reach. Channel marketing is a significant part of the ‘Through-Channel Marketing Automation’ (TCMA) framework created by Forrester analyst Jay McBain in 2017.

The other elements of channel management, such as Partner Relationship Management (PRM), are related to the channel marketing software but are not part of the same.

Some of the business activities/processes addressed by the channel marketing software include Marketing metrics, Content sharing, Contest & awards, Loyalty planning, Social promotion, Channel visibility, Partner playbooks, Lead Management (nurturing, scoring, passing and tracking), Campaign management, Customer experience. They can also address a variety of partner channel configurations such as Through-partner, To-partner, and With-partner models.

Cross-channel advertising software

Cross-channel advertising software is a related category of software with an exclusive focus on advertisements across multiple digital channels, be it search, display, social, or other digital media. It may also seamlessly integrate with DSPs, ad networks, so on.

With this cross-channel effort, one can connect with customers multiple times through their preferred channels, expand the brand reach across all targeted demographics, and reduce marketing costs by choosing the most cost-effective channels for each demographic.

What are the Benefits of Channel Marketing Software?

The first benefit of Channel Marketing is about an increase in sales. Properly implemented Channel Marketing makes it possible for all of your customers and consumers to connect with their own favorite channel. Enabling customers to choose their channel increases your revenue, customer base, consumer engagement, and conversion rate and lowers customer acquisition costs.

The second benefit is about aligning and enabling your channel partners and allowing them to build on top of your own messaging, branding and demand generation within their local markets for successful customer experience. This alignment will help in ensuring consistent customer expectations across all the channels, assisting in turn marketing optimization but also the growth imperative.

The third benefit is about meeting customer expectations. More than 2/3rds of customers prefer an integrated marketing approach giving them the freedom from being constrained to a channel.

  • As the focus is not on a particular channel, marketers can adjust to changing and fragmented customer journeys. For instance, one can tailor the messages, as different types of messages work better through various channels.
What are the Benefits of Channel Marketing Software?

In summary, Channel Marketing can help in increasing speed to market, reducing the costs, and enabling brands to optimize the marketing spend based on better insights. Those teams that can align their marketing across different channels will likely outgrow the market.

Which are the industries that benefit from Channel Marketing Software?

Some of the most prolific users of channel marketing software are:

Manufacturing. Education, Financial Services, Internet, Technology, Software, Healthcare, Business Services, Logistics, Marketing, and Creative Agencies.

Who are the users of Channel Marketing Software?

Both the brands and their channel partners benefit from a channel marketing software deployment as it helps the corporate marketing efforts to support the unique needs of the partner’s reach. It will also improve the marketing ROI as the partners may not be fully equipped or have the requisite bandwidth to drive the marketing on their own.

Features of Channel Marketing Software

Here are some examples of features of a Channel Marketing Software product:

Content Related Features

  • Access Control - Access marketing collaterals, assets, and tools
  • Promotion tools such as Webcast management

Campaign Related Features

  • Campaign assistance for the partners who may not be fully equipped to handle campaigns.
  • Campaign analysis
  • Customizable Branding, Co-branding enabling either local reach or gain by the combined reach.
  • Customizable Templates for reporting, campaigns
  • Workflow Management

Partner Related Features

  • Leaderboards and other gamification features
  • Single Sign-On facilitating simpler and more secure access.
  • Feedback Management in real-time
  • MDF Platform (or Integration between MDF platforms)
  • Discount Management
  • Event-Triggered Actions

Integrations

  • eCommerce Integration
  • Social Media Integration
  • CRM Integration

AI in Channel Marketing Software

With the increased visibility of data across all the channels, AI is helping brands understand customer behavior and personalize at scale. Building personalized, content-rich campaigns and customer journeys is now possible with AI-enabled Channel marketing software by themselves or as add-ons.

One of the biggest challenges for marketers will be understanding the connected customer journey across all touchpoints and how best to interact on a personal, content-rich level.

C C

CMO Council

CMO Council

Looking for right software for your Channel Marketing needs?

wyz, your personal AI advisor

Get AI-generated personalized recommendation by answering a few questions on your Channel Marketing needs

Buyer’s Guide: Guide to choose a Channel Marketing Software

According to Forrester, less than 17% of the organizations have an effective Channel Marketing Automation in place. It indicates the need to assess the organizational readiness to deploy the channel marketing software.

The stakeholders involved are from multiple companies. Their readiness, as well as capabilities, need to be taken into account. As an example, some of the large partners, such as Ingram-Micro, may have their own in-house marketing automation tools. Yet, some of the smaller partners may have a rudimentary or no automation of any kind. Making both the types of partners leverage the solution calls for implementing parts that can benefit both from day one. One such example will be content syndication to showcase your products on their website with ease. At the other extreme, it may be difficult to get alignment on activities such as integrated campaigns.

Buyers are recommended to consider peer reviews and expert opinions that are extensively available on Cuspera before making buying decisions. Cuspera’s AI based engine guides you through the requirement process to help you choose the right software.

Go to Cuspera

When selecting the channels, please consider both the dimensions – the distribution and marketing channels.

B2B and B2C companies can sell through multiple channels that may include:

  • Wholesaler/Distributor
  • Direct/Internet
  • Direct/Catalog
  • Direct/Sales Team
  • Value-Added Reseller (VAR)
  • Consultant
  • Dealer
  • Retail
  • Sales Agent/Manufacturer’s Rep

B2B businesses and marketers need different marketing channel strategies than B2C businesses because of the fundamental difference in their customer/consumer base. Some of these channels are:

  • Content marketing & SEO
  • Word-of-mouth / referrals
  • Conference/trade show
  • Paid search
  • Email Marketing
  • Outbound Calling
  • Social Media
  • Webinars
  • Field marketing
  • Display Ads

Combining these two dimensions of distribution channels and marketing channels for your industry and go-to-market motion will help you determine the elements the Channel Marketing Software should support.

One would also prioritize any integration with the existing systems such as CRM, Partner Relationship Management (PRM), etc.

It is essential to evaluate whether the particular channel marketing software has any vertical, geo, or another kind of a focus that makes it more suitable for your needs.

Finally, evaluate whether the benefits of AI in the selected software provide excellent ROI.

Challenges in Deploying a Channel Marketing Software.

Channel Related Challenges

  • Each distribution channel has different degrees of readiness and willingness to adapt and align.
  • Their capability levels vary both technologically as well as process-wise.
  • The ongoing training and onboarding the ever-changing teams at partners is a significant challenge
  • The more complex is the marketing activity, the more support the smaller partners need either monetarily or services wise.
  • Expect a pilot phase of about six months for the deployment to stabilize.
  • Implementing a reward and recognition process to support the deployment
  • Expect some partners to resist this change as it will increase the visibility of partner engagement

Internal challenges

  • Developing a target messaging that can be tailored to meet a wide variety of audience’s preferences, demographics, channel preferences, so on is not easy
  • It is challenging to know which channels, campaigns contributed to ROI unless the software is competent in this regard. Not knowing ROI can kill the rollout of Channel Marketing quickly.

Advances in Channel Marketing Software

Closed-loop analytics and AI will accelerate measurement across the channel. These analytics will be particularly important to measure the ROI as well as Optimization efforts.

Usage of Chatbots will go up across the channel.

Digital marketing advances, in turn, help create new opportunities for targeting, personalization, and optimization.

AI and big data are helping brands understand customer behavior and personalize-at-scale.

Cloud-based offerings will become mainstream for many channel programs going forward.

Channel marketing goes hand in hand with Channel sales enablement tools – which are becoming available, allowing interactive product demonstrations, so on.

Not only would the ideal tool have access to all product lines, but unlimited users will have access 24/7, online or offline, anywhere in the world, providing a universal experience regardless of location or platform. …

D D

Dana Drissel

Marketing director, Kaon Interactive

ROI for Channel Marketing

Channel marketing can drive an upside of 15% to 30% in revenue.

Multi-channel marketing can generate up to 25% increase in conversion rate per business2community.com

Multi-channel customers also spend 4X compared to single-channel consumers per business2community.com

Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to a business that doesn’t, according to a survey conducted by Aspect Software.

Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain, on average, 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement. (Aberdeen Group)

Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. (Google)

Stats show that brands using three or more channels in an automation workflow can generate great results (per Clickz.com):

  • Engagement rate: 18.96% on omnichannel vs. 5.4% on single-channel
  • Purchase frequency: 250% higher on omnichannel vs. single-channel
  • Average order value: 13% more per order on omnichannel vs. single-channel
  • Customer retention rates: 90% higher for omnichannel vs. single-channel

Which of these 12 Channel Marketing software fit your needs?

wyz, your personal AI advisor

Get AI-generated right fit software based on peer experience in just a minute.

12 Channel Marketing Software

Impartner PRM

Impartner PRM We Accelerate Your Channel

4.46

Read Reviews
Impartner PRM Icon

Impartner PRM

4.46
★★★★★
★★★★★
Impartner PRM We Accelerate Your Channel
Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Engagement management,Engaging and following up,Training & onboarding
Top Features : Personalization
Impartner PRM Icon

Vendor: Impartner Software

Company Size: 101-250

HQ Location: 10619 South Jordan Gateway, Suite 130, South Jordan, UT 84095, US

Financials: Series A

ZiftOne

ZiftONE - Zift Solutions

4.37

Read Reviews
ZiftOne Icon

ZiftOne

4.37
★★★★★
★★★★★
ZiftONE - Zift Solutions

ZiftOne is an Enterprise Channel Management platform that connects and simplifies channel sales, marketing, and operations for indirect sales organizations. It is designed to connect channel leaders, partners, and customers and turn their channel programs into real business growth engines. It integrates seamlessly with established systems and infrastructure to speed time-to-sales, create an exceptional partner experience, and provide faster ROI.

Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Channel marketing,Engagement management,Engaging and following up
Top Features : Widgets,Personalization,Dashboard
ZiftOne Icon

Vendor: Zift Solutions

Company Size: 101-250

HQ Location: 30 Montgomery St, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302, US

Financials: Series B

Promoboxx

Retail Marketing Platform

4.28

Read Reviews
Promoboxx Icon

Promoboxx

4.28
★★★★★
★★★★★
Retail Marketing Platform
Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Advertisement,Engaging and following up,Engagement management
Top Features : Dashboard
Promoboxx Icon

Vendor: Promoboxx

Company Size: 51-100

HQ Location: 500 Harrison Ave, Studio 3R, Boston, MA 02118

E2open

Supply Chain Management Solutions to Transform Your Business

4.26

Read Reviews
E2open Icon

E2open

4.26
★★★★★
★★★★★
Supply Chain Management Solutions to Transform Your Business
Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Collaboration,Contract management,Sales document management
E2open Icon

Vendor: E2open

Company Size: 1001-5000

HQ Location: Austin, TX

SproutLoud

Through-Channel Marketing Automation Platform

4.26

Read Reviews
SproutLoud Icon

SproutLoud

4.26
★★★★★
★★★★★
Through-Channel Marketing Automation Platform
Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Channel marketing,Social media management,Social media analytics
Top Features : Dashboard,Templates,SEM
SproutLoud Icon

Vendor: SproutLoud Media Networks

Company Size: 101-250

HQ Location: 15431 SW 14th Street, Sunrise, FL 33326, US

Financials: Private

Model N Channel Management Software

Channel Management Software - Inventory & Pricing | Model N

4.00

Read Reviews
Model N Channel Management Software Icon

Model N Channel Management Software

4.00
★★★★★
★★★★★
Channel Management Software - Inventory & Pricing | Model N

Model N Channel Management Software that expands market reach, improves margins and enhances channel inventory and pricing processes. Increase visibility into channel design registrations, while improving ease of doing business and rewarding the channel correctly.

Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Channel management,Touchpoint management,Sales document management
Top Features : Calculator
Model N Channel Management Software Icon

Vendor: Model N

Founded: 1999

Company Size: 501-1000

HQ Location: 777 Mariners Island Boulevard, Suite 300, San Mateo, CA 94404. USA.

Financials: IPO

ChannelKonnect

Channel Management Platform to connect, interact and transact across the ecosystem

4.00

Read Reviews
ChannelKonnect Icon

ChannelKonnect

4.00
★★★★★
★★★★★
Channel Management Platform to connect, interact and transact across the ecosystem
Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Channel marketing,Engagement management,Engaging and following up
ChannelKonnect Icon

Vendor: NowApps Technologies

Company Size: 11-50

HQ Location: #221, 3rd Floor, 7th Main, Above Kotak Mahindra Bank, HRBR 2nd Block, Kalyan Nagar, Bangalore - 560043, INDIA.

Channext

Creates real-time connections with the websites, social media profiles, advertising accounts & CRMs of resellers

4.00

Read Reviews
Channext Icon

Channext

4.00
★★★★★
★★★★★
Creates real-time connections with the websites, social media profiles, advertising accounts & CRMs of resellers
Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Campaign management,Channel marketing,Sending & publishing communications
Channext Icon

Vendor: Channext

Company Size: 11-50

HQ Location: Ravenoord 236 3523 DB Utrecht

MarketSnare

Multi-Location Marketing Platform & Localized Marketing ...

3.92

Read Reviews
MarketSnare Icon

MarketSnare

3.92
★★★★★
★★★★★
Multi-Location Marketing Platform & Localized Marketing ...

MarketSnare is a local marketing automation platform that empowers marketers to efficiently scale local marketing programs across many locations through unique centralized tools. It creates, manages, and localizes a brand and marketing through a network of local websites – all using one central interface.

Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Lead nurturing,Advertisement,Campaign management
Top Features : Dashboard,SEO,Personalization
MarketSnare Icon

Vendor: MarketSnare

HQ Location: 3213 Stellhorn Rd, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46815, US

FLOW Partner Automation

FLOW | Partner Automation

3.92

Read Reviews
FLOW Partner Automation Icon

FLOW Partner Automation

3.92
★★★★★
★★★★★
FLOW | Partner Automation
Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Training & onboarding,Contract management,Sales document management
FLOW Partner Automation Icon

Vendor: TIE Kinetix

Company Size: 251-500

HQ Location: Breukelen

Financials: IPO

Mindmatrix

Single Unified Platform for end-to-end enablement of direct sales and partners

4.32

Read Reviews
Mindmatrix Icon

Mindmatrix

4.32
★★★★★
★★★★★
Single Unified Platform for end-to-end enablement of direct sales and partners

Mindmatrix is a channel enablement platform for sales and channel enablement partners to increase sales, cut the turnaround time and increase revenue.

Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Engagement management,Engaging and following up,Channel marketing
Top Features : Templates,Personalization,Dashboard
Mindmatrix Icon

Vendor: Mindmatrix

Founded: 1998

Company Size: 11-50

HQ Location: 2403 Sidney Street, Suite 150 Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Financials: NA

BrandMaker

Marketing operations platform to optimize the impact of budgets

4.26

Read Reviews
BrandMaker Icon

BrandMaker

4.26
★★★★★
★★★★★
Marketing operations platform to optimize the impact of budgets

BrandMaker is an enterprise marketing operations platform that equips leading marketers to optimize the impact of their budgets, to apply agile marketing processes, to present a clear, compelling, and incontrovertible view of their performance, and ultimately to command the respect of corporate leaders. It helps with planning, budgeting, work management tools and operations and enables the true orchestration of marketing.

Highlights
Top Business Usecases : Content management,Engagement management,Workflow management
Top Features : Personalization,Dashboard,Templates
BrandMaker Icon

Vendor: Brandmaker

Founded: 1999

Company Size: 101-250

HQ Location: BrandMaker GmbH Rüppurrer Str. 1 76137 Karlsruhe, Germany

Financials: Series C