Examples of Adding Personalization to Channel Incentive Programs

By: Ellen Linkenhoker
network of channel partners sybmolizing target audience
Personalization is one of the ways to make a stellar partner experience inside your program. New research tells us it also happens to be one of the single most important things you can do to increase the amount a partner sells or influences your brand (check out the research for yourself).
The examples below show you a few ways to accomplish two things at once: personalization and improving the partner experience.

The more relevant and tailored you can make things to someone in your partner program, the better experience they’ll have.

You should treat your partners differently depending on what role they have inside their walls, industry, specialization and competencies—much the same way that you would treat a customer differently. You should also weave in some of those customer experience best practices about personalization, ease of use and interactions.


Start Broad With Personalization Planning

We’ve created a framework for you to follow starting at a macro level and working your way down into a micro level. At the highest level you could look at how you’re tiering programs and where or how you’re letting partners join. The next level of personalization can be to make promotions, incentives and rule structures relevant to partners based on what they sell and how they sell it.
The nice part is that you don’t have to tackle personalization in any specific order. The graphic below is meant to showcase areas where personalization can make a big difference.
The personalization framework tiers are as follows:
channel program personalization framework
Next we’ll break down what each of the five steps could look like using our own examples and share more about what to focus on.

1. Program

First, you need to understand where and how you’re letting partners join your program. Personalization in this area can look like how you and your partners go to market versus a narrow focus on volume and sales. (That’s a metric you care about—not them.)
Make sure program metrics, eligibility requirements, benefits, etc. are clearly communicated and high-level structure is personalized to how you’ll actually enable and support partners.
For example, you can support them with real-time tracking of the progress in your program so it remains top of mind.
channel program membership level graphic

2. Promotions

The next level of personalization can be used to improve promotions, incentives and rule structures relevant to partners based on what they sell and how they sell it.

Tailor Promotions Using Segmentation 

While you don’t want to keep anyone out, there is an opportunity to spend dollars wiser and roll things out to smaller segments of partners who are more likely to achieve what you’re setting out for them to participate in. By offering personalized promotions to partners that align with their ability to achieve them, you can optimize your budget, increase participation and see greater success, like in the example below:
channel partner program roi graphic

Metrics & Progress Tracking Make Promotions (or Goals) Relevant

Or take a look at what a client of ours did. After consulting with ITA Group, they decided on a solution that personalized participants’ dashboards to make them actionable for the person who can actually change the outcome, which resulted in an immediate increase in engagement within the first three months. Put another way: We put the power of data in their hands.
channel incentive analytics dashboard

Advanced Data Techniques Personalize Next-Best-Action Recommendations

If you have the right data, you could even go a step further with advanced data techniques like machine learning and AI to recommend next-best actions for partners to take based on individual historical performance and performance of similar participants.
weighted average of possibilities graphic

3. Enablement

Weaving personalization into your program through your enablement efforts is the next level. Do this by collecting profile, role and route-to-market information on your partners and participants to provide segmented resources. Making assets (materials relevant to their role-based activities, customer and business specialization) accessible through a partner portal lets them get the information they need when and how they need it. It also demonstrates your dedication to your partners’ knowledge about your product or service as well as partner progress to goals and relevant certifications.
Here is an example of weaving playbooks and training into a portal:
wireframe of sales plays
And don’t forget to reward and motivate your partners with micro-incentives for things that are driving desired behaviors. A points program is a great cornerstone for this. A micro-incentive, like this example, offers a small reward for taking an action.
micro incentive example

4. Portals

Your portal is the gateway to your program. The first impression each time partners independently interact with you. Infusing personalization here can look like any number of things, but the key is providing relevance based on their profile.
Partner experience portals are a fantastic way to reflect personalization, simplify the partner experience and make it clearer by aggregating all the disparate existing portals (like a PRM, LMS, TCMA, marketing material manager, etc.).
In this example, you can offer tailored content ranging from promotions, enablement, training, goal status—you name it—based on the partners activity in the portal and their profile details. Have it ready and personalized as soon as they log in.
example of channel program portal

5. Engagement

How you engage along the partner journey is the last leg of personalization you can put in place to make sure you are attentive to partner needs as they're starting and working their way through their journey.
There are a lot of different triggers (they can celebrate, nudge, remind, prompt, etc.), but what’s important to remember is that it's about putting a plan in place to activate them at purposeful points of time within the partner journey. Eventually, with enough data and automation, you can personalize this even further.
Here is an example of personalizing engagement to the needs and demographics of your partners. In this case, they needed to go beyond an email or a newsletter—incorporating video, text message and a physical kit to drive engagement.
channel program engagement journey graphic
When you can incorporate individual personalization, it's going to make partner engagement last a lot longer—even create a better partner experience. And if you're not doing it, then somebody else is probably going to start and attract their attention instead.
Interested in hearing more about channel partner personalization or the research I referenced above? Watch the webinar to learn what partners want more of and where future investments or changes can drive partner growth and engagement.
Ellen Linkenhoker
Ellen Linkenhoker

Ellen Linkenhoker is the Channel Partner Solutions Lead for ITA Group. She drives the insights, strategy and evolution of the organization’s channel solution while offering advisement for client engagement and incentive programs. She’s worked as a practitioner in technology, software and service companies as part of the channel and as a vendor. She is an award-winning marketer and navigates all things channel, marketing, incentives and engagement, including pioneering thought leadership on channel partner ecosystems and the partner experience.