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Ask 5 Questions to Boost Data-Driven Channel Marketing Optimization

Shawn Russell

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Channel marketers meeting and discussing optimization initiatives

Steven R. Covey, the educator and author who penned the influential “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” incidentally noted a truism of marketing in his book:

Beginning with the end in mind is instrumental to success.

In marketing, we can’t take baby steps—let alone giant leaps—in any particular direction without knowing the end goal. Sometimes, marketing can feel like standing at a fork in the road, where you must take one path and leave the other behind. And the only way we can be assured we’ve made the right choice is by collecting the right data.

When it comes to making data-driven decisions for channel marketing success, ask these five questions to get more information.


1. Is My Data Accurate?

The right data opens a world of potential. With every new piece of data, you’re one step closer toward making the right decision for you and your company. But the key to making effective decisions is ensuring the data you use is correct. When strategy is based on faulty data, major problems can arise down the road.

To know if your data is accurate—and to sleep a little better at night—test the validity of your channel data by starting slowly. Take incremental steps by putting a small amount of data into play, confirming its usefulness and gradually repeating the process.

This approach can save time and headaches by not having to scrap an approach based on faulty data.


2. What Do My Customers Need?

Remember the Segway? Or Google Glass? Both are perfect examples of revolutionary technologies that didn’t really take off the ways they should have.

Why didn’t they resonate? Maybe in part because they were solutions to problems no one really had in the first place. Walking a few blocks isn’t a huge deal for many people. Even the engineers behind Google Glass struggled to answer how or why it would be used.

The right product needs to be introduced to the right audience at the right time. And the best way to do that is to leverage the data you’ve already gathered to anticipate the real needs of your customers.

For example, by using previous purchase behavior to identify and target customers with suppliers’ new products, you can save labor and time for the customer, resulting in benefits for everyone, including you.


3. What Have We Done in the Past That Can Improve the Present?

At the Marketo Summit this past April, a CMO panelist made a comment that marketing is getting too complicated. There’s always some new must-have technology or new buzzword everyone is talking about—anyone heard of ABM recently? In an effort to do what is best for our companies, sometimes we jump into a trend without doing the homework required to understand if it is a good fit for what we are trying to accomplish.

Don’t get me wrong—advancements in marketing (or any industry, really) are great and necessary. But they are even better if they’re backed up or corroborated by past information.

To know which trends and ideas you should gravitate toward, look to the past to see what has previously worked for your company. By putting past data to use, you can latch onto trends and new ideas based on facts, not just hunches (or because some popular marketing blog told you to).

While this might cause you to be a little late to the party for some trends, it can help avoid costly mistakes.


4. What Processes Can I Automate?

Putting automation to use has a wide range of contributions across all industries. Scary as it sounds, commercial airlines are just a few years away from automatic pilots, and a computer program can beat financial journalists in the fast creation of stories.

Even though most of us are not at the point where we can or would want to completely automate our workforce, most can benefit from automating some processes. In marketing today, many of us are using some sort of marketing automation software that helps accomplish daily, repetitive tasks such as sending emails and posting on social media.

Automating your analytics can help raise efficiencies and prevent information and tasks from slipping through the cracks. Automation makes a marketer’s job easier and improves the quality of data by eliminating the potential of manual mistakes.


5. How Can My Channel Partners and I Work Together?

In co-op marketing, parent companies offer marketing dollars to their representatives for advertising their product—an auto manufacturer would provide co-op spend to their local dealers, for instance.

This kind of marketing is based on a symbiotic relationship, where both parties help the other thrive. While co-op marketing certainly isn’t new, are you just offering dollars or using this opportunity to maximize your relationship and promote your brand with your sales rep? Take your co-op program to the next level by offering tactical plans designed to drive the greatest return for your suppliers’ promotional and incentive spend.

Not only will a forward-thinking approach set you apart from your competition, it will help you find willing supplier partners to fund your growth initiatives. And that is a win-win situation for everyone.


If you’re looking to get a leg up on the competition, consider digging into your data to differentiate yourself. In the ultra-competitive and ever-changing world that is distribution, it might not be easy, but it’s worth it.

A great first step is our ebook, “Operating in the Dynamic World of Distribution?,” packed with actionable tactics on how data can solidify your place in the channel.

Shawn Russell's picture

Shawn Russell

Shawn Russell is a results-driven marketing and communications professional with a proven record of accomplishment in developing and leading comprehensive marketing strategies to attain business goals and objectives. She’s excited about exceeding expectations, building advocacy and driving business—but she’s just as  passionate about being a soccer mom and baking.