To minimize the number of emails crowding their partners’ inbox, channel marketers should consider packaging multiple messages into newsletters. That was one of the important take-aways from a recent presentation on optimizing partner communications by Heather Margolis, CEO and founder of Channel Maven Consulting.
When you add up the different messages vendors send to their partners – and multiply that figure by the emails sent by other brands – it’s easy to understand why so many partners aren’t getting your memos, Margolis said.
“The thing that I love about aggregating messages on a newsletter is that you’re sending one email to talk about all of those things that the different departments within your organization are concerned about,” explained Margolis at the B2B Marketing Exchange conference in February. “You’re posting about the webinar. You’re posting about the launch. You’re posting about the new platform.”
Marketing consultants agree that newsletters are an effective way to communicate with partners while reducing the clutter associated with multiple emails. In conversations with Channel Marketer Report, they shared some ideas on what contributes to an effective newsletter initiative.
While few vendors seem to have trouble coming up with enough messages to share with their partners, having the resources to gather sufficient information and publish it in a newsletter format on a regular schedule is necessary.
Publishing a newsletter “can’t be something that’s a one-off thing where you start and maybe get partners excited about some of their content and then it stops because the resources aren’t there,” said Greg Hammer, director of agency services at IMS360 Group, a digital marketing agency. “Determining a frequency and the long- term capability to publish it is should carefully considered.”
“The whole point of doing the newsletter in the first place is you’re trying to get attention in a very competitive place – your partners’ in boxes,” said Dan Mott, Director of Marketing Services at the digital agency, AFV (A Fluent Vision.) “So creating that anticipation, that expectation of receiving it, is the best way to get people to engage with in it on a regular basis.”
Assuming sufficient content is available to support a steady publishing schedule, channel marketers should ask their partners how often they want to receive your newsletter. “I think a lot of companies make the mistake of thinking they have to mail a newsletter every single month,” said Maeve Naughton, president of MKN Consulting Group. “It’s never a bad idea to ask partners how often they want your newsletter. Maybe they do want it monthly. Maybe they want it quarterly, maybe it’s every six months. It’s important to ask them.”
More aggressive communicators should be careful not to publish newsletters so frequently that they fail to address the problem of overcrowded inboxes. “I don’t think you want to email a newsletter every week,” said Mott. “That would definitely make you communication too noisy.” An every-other-week cadence would be the highest frequency a channel marketer might want to achieve, he said.
Marketing consultants agree that newsletters can be used to communicate a range of information including press releases, case studies, and event calendars. Naughton recommended that newsletter editors get input from all the different groups that work with their partners.
“If there is a partner specific support team, make sure that the support team is adding information to the newsletter whether it’s about their new office hours or a change in their schedule of training classes,” added Naughton. “If the company is doing an event in Boston and partners can attend, make sure it’s in the newsletter. If you want to reduce the number of emails your sending to partners, communicate information like this in the newsletter.”
Naughton recommends that vendors include partner spotlights, Q&As, or congratulatory messages to build a sense of community. “Recognizing specific partners can make all of them they feel that they’re not getting lost in the shuffle,” said Naughton. It can also catch the attention of other partners who may wonder how they, too, can get some exposure in the newsletter.
Versioning newsletters with content for specific audiences is recommended for brands that have sufficient resources. “Tailoring newsletters to partner personas or types, regions, or specialization is absolutely going to increase engagement rates and success,” said Hammer.
“If you have the bandwidth, sending one per role is effective,” said Margolis. “But you have to ensure if you are going to separate your content into multiple newsletter that someone’s not getting five newsletters all at once.”
For brands that don’t have the bandwidth or content to create newsletters for different audiences, she recommends that the design of the shared publication make it easy for readers to find information that interests them. “Make sure the sales corner is in the same place every single month, your marketing information is always where the marketing staff expects to find it.”
To ensure that a newsletter is effectively communicating messages, marketing consultant suggest that channel marketers ask the readers for their opinions. “If brands want their newsletter to be an engaging communication that partners are interested in getting, they have to make sure that whatever they’re going to be including in it is something that partners want to read, want to be updated on, and want to be engaged with,” said Hammer. “If vendors are deciding what content they’re going to convey, then the chances of success are going to be much lower than if they ask partners “What are some of the things that you would want to see? What do you hate getting one-off emails for? What are some of the things that we can update you on to make you more engaged with us as a vendor?’’’
Newsletters must be optimized for mobile access, said the consultants. Channel partners likely have the same content preferences as B2B buyers. According to 2019 Content Preference Survey Report, 44% of marketers strongly prefer mobile-optimized content. Another 39% somewhat prefer mobile-optimized content. 42% strongly recommend that content creators make their content mobile friendly.