The Value of Marketing Automation for Manufacturing Channel Partners

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Maia Wells

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Marketing automation is the continuation of the digital transformation in manufacturing, and it holds incredible value not only for manufacturers, but for those who help to distribute and sell your products (aka, your channel partners), too. As an approach to marketing, automation allows you to set up the forms, pages, content, lists and scoring models that can help you run your campaigns and programs like a machine. As a tool, marketing automation puts the power of data at your fingertips, and makes it possible to achieve brand consistency across your entire channel partner network while pushing better qualified leads to the sales team.

manufacturing channel partners

Marketing Automation Delivers Brand Consistency

Most manufacturing marketers already understand the importance of brand and reputation. Even when it comes to seemingly small things like how your logo is used, brand consistency is incredibly important to making a good impression on your target market. 

Creating a brand guide is a good first step toward getting it right with logos, color use and button styles, but you’ve got to take it a step further to create and implement templates for emails, landing pages, forms, social content, blogs, eBooks and other marketing materials. The only way to do that effectively is with a marketing automation platform. 

Especially when working with a network of dealers, distributors or other partners, maintaining brand consistency is a top-of-mind concern. And, you can meet that need by building a functioning brand system and distributing it through a marketing automation network to your channel partners.

Marketing Automation Helps You Go Way Beyond Email

A huge part of marketing automation’s value for manufacturers is its ability to help you go way beyond email with your marketing campaigns. More than ever, your potential customers are expecting personalized, multi-channel engagement from your company, no matter what type of products you make or services you provide. You’ve got to engage across marketing channels, and have a system for tracking and scoring what people do with your content on all those channels. At its core, a marketing automation platform helps manufacturers scale the lead generation and nurture process and pass the most qualified possible leads to your sales team. 

Using features like automated customer journey building, lead scoring and campaign reporting allows manufacturing marketers just like you to step away from the batch-and-blast, and evolve toward the type of marketing your customers have come to expect.

What is a Marketing Automation Network?

Organizations that have multiple brands, numerous lines of business, distribution and dealer networks, franchises, or other partners have a bigger marketing challenge on their hands. One way to maintain consistency and make big impacts is to think of your partners as a marketing network. 

Imagine your corporate brand or main organization in control of a centralized hub for your channel partners to pull messaging, marketing campaigns, email templates, and offers to create a consistent brand experience, and move your metrics on lead generation and nurturing across your marketing channels. This is called a marketing automation network, or marketing network. 

A powerful marketing automation platform with parent-child account capabilities can create operational efficiencies and develop a center of excellence that powers your marketing network. By establishing a single origin for digital marketing efforts, manufacturers can easily track what is and isn’t working, which allows marketing teams to optimize their marketing program spend, and the OEM or parent manufacturing organization can make strategy pivots rooted in data.

How a Marketing Automation Network Helps Your Partners Succeed

It’s often the case that the bigger a company gets, the more removed it gets from its end consumer. That can be a real concern for brands that work through distributors, resellers and dealers (aka partners). By adopting a marketing automation platform, brands can empower their network to drive results with sales and marketing efforts that align with the brand’s message, and make sense in the context of the prospect’s journey. 

Rather than recreating the wheel at every turn, a franchisee, dealer, or other sales partner can leverage better information at the corporate level, whether that’s through sharing best practices, or taking part in the same branded campaigns. By capturing more insights about the end users, brands can better understand results and insights and feed those learnings back into their network – a real win-win.

Additionally, a marketing automation network increases accountability and operational efficiency, provides performance visibility, and helps drive “last-mile” sales performance through partners.

How Does a Marketing Automation Network … Work?

It would be easy to think that once a brand has reached the level of having other people resell or distribute their products that it’s “made it.” In the manufacturing world, many companies think their channel partners should “own” direct customer marketing and demand generation, but this is a short-sighted approach at best. When a brand can put the appropriate resources and guardrails in place, it can actually help resellers and dealers in a better position to increase volume and deal size. 

Keep in mind that smaller businesses often have smaller budgets and fewer resources, and many of the businesses in your channel partner network may need help with content and other marketing resources in order to really meet the collective sales goals. 

From a functional standpoint, a marketing network allows manufacturers to: 

  • Create or remove managed accounts
  • Assign or reassign account managers (as well as change managers’ access to sub-accounts)
  • Configure sharing settings of marketing assets, including forms, landing pages, automated programs, and email with managed accounts

Operating a marketing automation network with shared and managed accounts helps you accelerate your channel partners’ adoption and use of marketing automation to improve business performance. In this universe of information sharing, manufacturers can control their branding, content, offers and product information, and channel partners can use it to their best advantage. 

Act-On Powers Your Marketing Automation Network

It seems like marketers are always asked to do more with the same resources, and it’s obvious that you need to find a way to make technology work for you. Marketing automation is the answer for manufacturers looking to optimize marketing spend while effectively guiding and supporting their entire network of channel partners. Act-On’s multi-tier capability is the answer for many large manufacturing companies who use it to engage in the best practices that make it possible to continue to grow well.

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