Top 5 Channel Marketing Trends: Closed-Loop Analytics

BrandMuscle | August 23, 2019

Earlier this year, we hosted a webinar with Jay McBain from Forrester and Jason Tabeling, Executive Vice President of Product Management at BrandMuscle. They discussed 5 emerging trends impacting channel marketing and how channel marketers can prepare for these changes. This is the first in a 5-part series, which covers macro trends and closed-loop analytics.

1 How closed-loop analytics will unlock business knowledge, and the ways technology and learning will accelerate measurement across the channel.

2 The ways conversational user interfaces (i.e. chatbots) will be applied across the channel and the benefit to partners and brands.

3 The impact increased marketing knowledge can have on channel partner revenue growth.

4 The ways digital is evolving traditional marketing channels and creating new opportunities for targeting, personalization, and optimization.

5 How historical data and trends will empower intelligent marketing fund allocation and improve channel partner participation.

Top 3 Macro Trends In Marketing

Jason: So pretty simple agenda today. Jay and I are going to try and keep it conversational. As we move through we’re going to give you a few of the macro trends that we’re seeing in the market overall and then we’re going to walk through five channel trends that we are really watching, Jay’s watching it at Forrester, we’re watching at BrandMuscle.

First macro trend I think is important to note it is consumers are paying attention and focusing alot more contextual clues like locals. We know mobile is growing exponentially. Jay, as we’ve seen but not only that but local mobile searches are growing faster: 50% year-over-year. I think this is interesting as consumers have those local expectations as they search.

Jay: And it’s also interesting you’ve got a picture of Google here. Google and Facebook and some of the leaders in terms of advertising have always favored local. If two people were tied in terms of a search the person that’s a couple of miles down the road from you always wins or organically and obviously through paid as well. It’s interesting that these companies believe it and now we’re seeing that vendors and brands alike are starting to believe these numbers as well and starting to make some moves.

Jason: I’d like to share few things from our State of Local Marketing report for 2019 and here’s one of them. We asked folks what their top marketing priorities of these channel partners were in 2019. The top 3 included were social media advertising , website and landing pages, and events. Events has been something that’s popped up each year the last five years is one of the top three and I think that’s the key for these pieces is brands are looking for ways to engage with their customers that’s what the commonality between these three things are engaging in their communities with local events, engaging with their communities with social media, engaging with their communities and giving their personality in the brand with their websites or landing pages so these are how they express themselves as brands and how they engage in the community.

B2B, B2C…B2E(veryone)

Jay: Yeah, what’s interesting and is you’re starting to see that the future buyer, and that this customer we have today whether it’s B2B or B2C, starts to look the same. 68% of their journey is spent in a digital way. You’re seeing vendors and you’re seeing partners now start to really focus on that early part of the journey to make sure that when it gets to the point of vendor selection that they’ve got the right content, they’ve got the right visibility and those things. But also what you see is there’s a blend of physical in here as well; there are the events and more traditional means. You’ve got a balance in terms of making an impact early and during that customer journey.

Jason: Absolutely, that mix of tactics is very, very important and I think we see that a lot.

So the other thing we did this year in the State of Local Marketing, Jay, is we looked at the Local Marketing Maturity Matrix, we try to bucket people and how sophisticated and mature they were and what we found is marketers are very immature so far – 89% of people bucket it out in our disengaged and developing pieces and I think this is something we’ll talk more about: how they become more mature and how what this relates to business results but these local channel partners are still very unsophisticated, they have a long way to go.

Jay: We’ve looked at this multiple different ways, we looked by the 27 different industries, we looked at it via the demographics and Firmagraphics. How old the firm was, how old the owner principle was; we looked at it several different ways but we came up with the same result and the way we asked the question: is it slightly different and we can we say: are you one of those self-service people? Do you want to get in and really drive it yourself or would you rather have somebody do it for you? The fourth question we had was about doing it on behalf of you, which slightly different way to ask the question but the answer was two-thirds; 66% percent of all local businesses fall into the camp of do it for me or do it on behalf of me; I don’t even want to see it just do it behind the scenes and pass me the leads. I was really surprised that we’re still at that stage.

Jason: Let’s dive into the five trends, so all those macro trends people trying to gauge in in communities they still want people to do it for them and consumers and platforms are rewarding local, so this is really important. One of the things we wanted to start with the number one trend: Closed-Loop Analytics.

Marketers Favor Past Experience Over ROI

In our 2019 State of Local Marketing report we looked at what ways are people measuring what they should do in planning. What we found overwhelmingly was that they leveraged their past experience significantly more than an ROI analysis. Even if you’re a knowledgeable marketer there’s still 74 or 64% of people who don’t feel comfortable on how they’re measuring ROI, even if they claim they’re knowledgeable or they ranked out knowledgeable as marketers. It’s all the way down to 86% for those that are just learning, so they don’t even know how to measure ROI. That’s why they rely on their past experience so much.

Jay: We hear this all the time and when we survey partners this idea that what used to work for me 10 years ago, 20 years ago, doesn’t work anymore. We’ve seen so many differences with the buyer, we’ve seen so many differences in terms of how products get acquired and what that journey looks like. If you’re using past experience and history as a guide you might be shocked that not only do those tactics not work the same way they used to but now you have some competitors that are more aggressive and are using other sources to drive business. So it’s kind of a dual threat of just resting on your laurels.

Jason: We know people are trying to get more sophisticated here overall marketers are spending over a billion dollars with an expected pretty significant growth rate on media mix modelling. You’re seeing customer data platforms DMPs all grow. There’s a lot of technology evolution here to help people manage some of those last mile conversions people that are physically coming into stores as an example.

Challenges Qith Through-Channels at the Local Level

Jay: I did a big research paper on one of the challenges when you’re selling to through-channels and with people at a local level. The data resides in different buckets and the over the course of the last few years trying to get these buckets together to better inform the decisions you make and the tactics that you’re using. It can be difficult and it’s a data problem, an integration problem but it’s mostly a general problem with dirty data, incomplete data.

Data cleansing has historically been very manual and there are companies that have thousands of people in low-cost jurisdictions that are manually correcting company names with a comma missing and locations with one number off and now we’re starting to see some automation and some AI in that area. The more places that you can actually collect the data and bring it together it’s becoming a huge competitive differentiator. You can actually inform your systems and drive of a new level of automation that not only will improve your results, lower your costs but also get an edge on the competition.

Some really exciting things happening almost in real time in this space and this is definitely something to watch in the next couple of years.

Best Practices Can Reduce Cost Per Sale by Nearly 20%

Jay: This billboard, this newspaper, this event it might be difficult to measure true ROI but there another way to think about this. Take a look at a macro level, create some cohorts, look at sales for the entire location all in and then look at the activities that they’re taking. For example in this case we’re looking at folks that took our advice in marketing and advertising, here’s the recommended tactics and media plans versus those that did not. In between those two cohorts, we saw those that listen and follow the best practices that we were laying out had a 17% reduction in cost per sale which generated another 4.5M dollars in revenue for them.

That’s important in itself but also arms that brand and their channel partners with data to encourage them to make some of these right decisions. There are lots of ways to do this, looking at people that maybe made a template or did an event or did a digital media campaign or the combination of any number of those things but that’s another way to solve this and help them close the loop.

It’s a very quantitative way to look at it we talked about past experience and working off history and resting on your laurels, here is exactly in big black letters and numbers why not. there is an advantage of taking advantage of best practices, taking advantage of the tools and techniques and basically filling up your tool bag with everything to be able to drive better results and we’re seeing this everywhere.

Jason: Closed-loop as Jay just mentioned will help unlock some business knowledge and investment making people smarter. Ad tech is making a lot of progress towards accelerating this for brands but simply creating a learning and measurement plan is a great way to start and make some progress.

Want to Hear the Whole Conversation?

Check out our June 2019 on-demand webinar with Jay McBain from Forrester.

About the Presenters

Jay McBain, Principal Analyst, Forrester

Jay leads Forrester’s research and advisory for global channels, alliances, and partnerships. He focuses on B2B marketing in the age of the customer; understanding and navigating the complexity of multiple routes to market; ensuring contextual and relevant content to accelerate the indirect sales process and describing the technology infrastructure to build and support channel relationships.

Jay provides research, advisory, and consulting to companies ranging from Fortune 100 vendors to startups on the entire scope of their channel and alliance strategies. He is a contributing author and has been cited in numerous channel media publications, including Channel Reseller News (CRN), ChannelPro, ChannelE2E, The VAR Guy, MSPMentor, Channelnomics, Computer Dealer News (CDN), Australia Reseller News (ARN), eChannelNews, Business Solutions Magazine, ChannelLine, ChannelInsider, SearchITChannel, Redmond Channel Magazine, Vertical Systems Reseller, Channel Buzz, and SMB Nation. He also maintains a popular blog on channel trends.

Jason Tabeling, EVP Product Marketing, BrandMuscle

As EVP of Product Management, Jason Tabeling creates a unified strategic roadmap for the organization across its full suite of products. Jason joined BrandMuscle as Senior Vice President of Digital in 2016. Shortly after, he led strategic efforts to combine the digital, traditional, social media and event marketing teams at BrandMuscle into a single department and center of excellence for BrandMuscle’s clients. Today that team totals 95 and counting. Under his leadership, client demand and satisfaction has grown and employees have thrived.

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