Channel marketing expert Heather K. Margolis, founder and CEO of Channel Maven Consulting, has launched a new company, Spark Your Channel, to offer a marketing automation platform enables channel partners’ sales and marketing teams to quickly and easily personalize and share vendor-provided multimedia content, such as webinars, podcasts and especially video.
Research from CMR’s sister publication Demand Gen Report shows that 86% of buyers prefer interactive content they can access on demand and 80% say they will spend up to 20 minutes watching video content. To capture buyer attention and break through digital noise, B2B companies are reassessing their marketing strategy and focusing more on videos and interactive mediums to engage potential customers prior to them raising their hand.
The Spark platform enables partners to easily amend multimedia content with introductions and closing messages to ensure that the marketing assets are always associated with the content. It is not uncommon, Margolis told CMR, for customers to open an asset, but postpone viewing it to accomplish another task. If they do watch the video, but have closed the emails that offered it, any association with the partner can be lost.
With the Spark platform, said Margolis, “No matter where that video goes, the partner is not going to lose that lead because his or her contact information is attached to it.”
Because the Spark platform does not require partners to upload their customer contact lists, vendors don’t have visibility into the identities of customers who open assets. But the Sparks platform does provide a comprehensive view of which partners are sharing the assets and how many times each has been viewed. This gives vendors a much better understand of how their marketing materials are performing, said Margolis. Vendors typically have little understanding of how their documents are being used or viewed after partners download and customize them.
Partners can also view how many times assets available to them are being shared and viewed by customers. With that information, Margolis said, partners have insights into what is capturing the interest of prospect. “I’m going to go to use the asset that has more clicks,” said Margolis, quoting a typical partner, “because if someone else was successful with it, I probably will be as well.”
Along with multimedia content, Spark also supports personalization and sharing of text- and graphic-based content, such as ebooks, sales sheets, presentations and infographics – so all assets are accessible from one place.
Because the partners will use their own marketing automation tools to share assets customized and stored in Spark, they will not be required to share their contact lists. Margolis stressed that this enables partners to remain compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and legacy CAN-SPAM regulations.
After a decade leading technology channel programs and another running Channel Maven’s channel marketing practice, Margolis has used nearly all the available tools on the market to deliver on demand-generation objectives through channel sales partners for some of the world’s largest technology brands. Her experience as well as feedback from vendors and, most importantly, channel partners is that best practices for demand generation were being ignored and prospects were being bombarded and alienated.
“We developed Spark Your Channel to address challenges of through-channel marketing, giving vendors and their partners an affordable and easy-to-use channel marketing automation platform,” said Margolis. “Most importantly, it puts the sales rep in control. They can personalize professional content and share it with prospects via their own email, social, marketing automation or texts as part of their existing sales process.
“Plus, unique automation features feed partners ideal content according to their preferences, so it lands in their email box, already personalized and ready to share.”
Spark Your Channel will be generally available February 24, 2020 to enable channel sales partners in a variety of industries, including IT, telecommunications, automotive, automotive, manufacturing, insurance and financial service. Annual subscriptions for Spark Your Channel are affordable for small and midsize vendors and are based on the number of partner organizations, not users, encouraging widespread use of the platform.
Spark Your Channel is entering what Forrester sees as a growing solution category. Forrester predicts the TCMA software market will grow to $1.18 billion by 2023, a CAGR of 25.2 percent. Another $1.3 billion will be generated in services at these firms.
The broader TCMA market includes tens of thousands of marketing digital agencies that will realize $2 billion of services revenue by 2023, creating a total $4.5 billion ecosystem.
Margolis is the CEO of the new company. Spark Your Channel has raised an angel investment round, including several channel veterans, and is now raising a seed funding round lead by York IE, Manchester, N.H.