Top channel trends in 2024: How personalization transforms channel partner experiences

By: ITA Group
  • Personalized, segmented and scalable incentive programs have become the norm for channel programs.
  • Factors like market dynamics and individual contributions should guide out-of-the-box thinking and tailored incentives.
  • Creative segmentation and personalized awards increase channel partner engagement.

woman looking at chart and comparing incentive data on her mobile device

Our top channel trends in 2024 highlight personalized experiences as a top priority for many global B2B marketers.

While personalization has gained major traction, particularly around segmentation, there's another aspect that demands more attention: personalized incentives. Tailoring incentives to your partner’s industry, role, routes to market and location can be a game-changer. It not only shapes partner behavior and experiences, but also strengthens relationships and drives growth. 

According to Forrester’s 2023 Marketing Survey, 77% of global B2B marketing decision-makers agree that buyers and customers expect an experience personalized to their needs and preferences across sales and marketing. This is also true for channel partners—they count on organizations to deliver personalization based on their unique go-to-market needs. 

For promotions, incentives and rule structures, provide relevant offerings to partners based on what and how they sell. Understanding how personalization can transform channel partner engagement is the first step toward meaningful growth. 

Understanding channel partner personalization

Personalization is key to increasing engagement, which influences satisfaction, loyalty and revenue growth. When you engage partners, they become brand advocates, drive mindshare and amplify your market presence. Conversely, poor partner engagement can decrease satisfaction, revenue opportunities and partner loyalty.

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all approaches in channel incentive programs. What works for one partner might not necessarily resonate with another. Personalization addresses the unique needs, motivations and aspirations of each individual within the program.

Related: Examples of adding personalization to channel incentive programs

see our research on increasing channel partner effort

Personalize with channel partner experience in mind

Organizations should begin by defining partner personas, then customize communications accordingly. By prioritizing partner preferences and needs, organizations cultivate strong and mutually beneficial partnerships that drive sustainable growth.

Tailor program elements—like website homepages, goals, awards, incentives and enablement—to individual roles, routes to market and specific competencies. This creates a completely personalized experience when a participant logs into the portal.

  • Promotions
  • Enablement
  • Training
  • Program status
  • Steps to help them achieve the next milestone

This level of granularity is no longer a futuristic vision. It’s becoming a top priority for decision-makers across the industry. To keep pace with evolving demands, this part of the channel partner experience needs to be meticulously managed, segmented and scalable. 

Consider this example: Imagine program elements for a contractor doing new residential builds versus one doing commercial renovations. Or think about how a program might look for a dealership focused on repair and maintenance versus a retailer selling new products.

Be sure to allow for partner preferences. Don’t lose sight of the fact that the supplier is not the only player in the engagement process. Engagement strategies must support the needs and preferences of partners and the individuals who work for them.

Use automation, like intelligent notifications and machine learning, to streamline the partner journey. They can automate routine tasks and provide personalized recommendations based on behavior and history. Personalize messages prompted by data to remind, reinforce and celebrate your participants.

Consider this example: Think of a scalable way to communicate and engage with participants—especially if they’ve been inactive or achieved a goal milestone.

chart showing how the communication journey can be personalized

Scalable segmentation, individualized goal tracking, nudges and incentives based on the partner journey all contribute to the streamlined partner experience inside ITA Group’s platforms. By embracing personalization, businesses can enhance partner engagement, loyalty and, ultimately, sales growth.

Related: Segmented incentives and multi-audience technology drives agent sales

Actionable steps to personalize channel partner incentives

1. Tailor incentives to market dynamics

Consider a scenario where a manufacturing company operates in multiple regions, each with its own set of market dynamics. What might drive partner engagement and sales in one region could be different in another. By tailoring incentives to regional demand, competition and customer preferences, businesses can empower partners to navigate their markets more effectively.

2. Create segment-specific awards

Businesses can group partners based on criteria like sales volume, product expertise or geographic location, then cater incentives to each group’s needs and capabilities. For instance, emerging partners might benefit from training programs and marketing support. Top performers may prefer exclusive awards or access to premium resources.

Related: Partner portal best practices to improve the experience

3. Recognize individual contributions

Not all partners contribute equally to an organization’s success. Differentiating between top, middle and bottom performers is important when designing incentive structures. By rewarding partners based on their individual performance and potential, your organization can motivate each partner segment to strive for excellence and drive continuous improvement.

Expert tips from ITA Group Senior Strategist John Houlihan

It’s no secret that personalized goals drive higher program results. When participants know their earning potential is within reach, they’ll engage more often. Segmented communications and progress-to-goal widgets on the program’s platform help partners easily visualize this performance. This bolsters the message of earning potential.

Personalized goals also improve channel partner engagement through repeat performance. Hitting realistic goals reinforces the achievement or earning loyalty loop. The idea that if a partner “achieves X” they’ll “get Y” is the bedrock of incentive programs. Personalizing this experience helps ensure that the achievement is meaningful to each participant.

Ready to see how personalization can work for you? Check out our channel research on how personalization will drive a winning partner experience and increase effort.

Note: This article is part one in a five-part series on top channel trends of 2024. Now that you've learned how to find success with channel partner enablement, check out the other four trends:

See our research study: How personalization will drive a winning partner experience
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ITA Group

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