Just as all sales teams have top performers, all channel partner programs have top performing partners. Every sales manager and channel chief strives to figure out what the top performers are doing and how those practices can be shared with others. The top 20 are already producing 80 percent of the results – so helping the next 10 perform like the top 20 will move the revenue needle – and helping the bottom 10? Wow! Transferring best practices is tricky business however, so I propose that first the marketing performance measures should be arranged in a three layer stack. This methodology borrows some terminology from the OSI Model in computer science and delivers many of the benefits of the divide and conquer mindset of engineers. By breaking down the most effective marketing initiatives into these three layers, the learning can be more easily packaged and transferred. With a little effort we could probably expand this to seven layers, but we would not want to threaten the CS types!
In addition, this methodology can also be applied to figure out underperforming campaigns. All three of the layers must function properly in order for the campaign to work. It is important to remember that a failing campaign can have properly functioning lower levels, and may not need to be discarded entirely. This approach can also be used to refine cost optimizations. Changes to reduce budget can sometimes dramatically impact performance and cause an entire marketing effort’s value to be challenged. By evaluating the performance on each layer of the stack the impact of such adjustments can be truly understood.
Like the OSI Model, our stack is oriented hierarchically with the most fundamental layer at the bottom.
Application Layer: Message Effectiveness
Understanding the impact of the message or the campaign can only be accomplished after knowing that the first two layers have been satisfied. The effectiveness should be measured against landed messages, not the overall population or even the targeted and prioritized population. Once we are confident that the first two layers are functioning properly, we can swap out messages to test for better performance.
Transport Layer: Landing the Message
Delivering the message is difficult and time consuming. Sometimes good targeting can raise the level of difficulty. Being able to measure how many times the message landed is essential and must be separated from measuring the impact of the message. This can be meetings, conversations, or even click throughs. The investment in each message is critical and by properly targeting, the investment – which should also mean quality -- can be increased. Higher quality delivery should increase performance.
Physical Layer: Picking the Targets
Since we spend our time managing channel partner relationships for our clients, we see the value of heavy investment in proper targeting first hand every day. Time spent managing the wrong relationships is time (and money) not spent on the right ones, so we advocate for taking the time to target properly before launching a partner marketing effort. Even after rigorous work narrowing the target population, prioritization should be applied so the highest value targets are pursued first.
Some would argue that proven marketing programs do not require this layered approach to measurement and they do have a point. There are many demands on a channel partner marketing team and spending time fixing things that are not broken may not be the best investment of resources. However, a great deal can be learned when dissecting effective campaigns and that learning can be applied to fix other campaigns, or to make it easier to bring new campaigns to life. And having a clearer understanding the underperforming campaigns has obvious benefits. We all spend a good deal of energy thinking about how well our partner marketing efforts are performing. By deploying a layered measurement strategy we can capture best practices in a repeatable context and dig into the root causes for underperforming campaigns.