Affiliate Needs Are Changing — Here’s What Matters for Your Channel Partner Program in 2024

Gina Ghamo | June 5, 2024

As humans, our needs and desires are always evolving.

In 2004, you probably wanted a Motorola RAZR — the best-selling cell phone of that year. So slim and chic!

Fast-forward to 2007 when the first iPhone came out. It had a touchscreen, better camera, and longer battery life. So, you decided it was time to retire your RAZR and head to the nearest Apple Store.

The point is, as the world changes, so do our needs — and the same is true for your channel partners.

The only difference is that they can’t waltz into an Apple Store to upgrade their channel programs — you have to do it for them.

When you adapt your programs to your affiliates’ changing wants, needs, and priorities, you better equip them for success.

Otherwise, you’re basically handing them a Motorola RZR in 2024 (good luck with that).

To get the latest channel marketing insights, we surveyed 1,147 affiliates and analyzed 211,347 data points to determine what local affiliates want from their channel partner programs.

Read the full report to get all the data or keep reading to skim the insights.

Here’s what the data tells us.

Channel partner priorities keep changing

When local affiliates rated their top marketing program priorities, one feature came out on top (drumroll, please): fund matching.

Top program priorities bar graph showing fund matching at 32%

Most affiliates don’t have the budget to put out winning campaigns. But when you contribute marketing dollars on top of your partners’ budgets, you enable them to accomplish much more.

But here’s the kicker: Fund-matching, though a top priority for affiliates, is decreasing in popularity year after year.

Bar graph showing fund matching as a priority from 2021-2023

The data tells us that 49% of channel partners listed fund matching as one of their top priorities in 2021, and this number has since dropped to 32% in 2023.

Okay, so what gives?

It goes back to our cell phone example — needs change as circumstances do.

For example, in 2021, businesses were not focused on in-person events due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But by 2023 when the virus had mostly run its course, businesses could start hosting and attending events again.

So, while fund matching is still the most-requested program feature, it no longer wins by a landslide. Now, other priorities are getting their day in the sun, too.

Social media shifts

Another area where channel partner program priorities have shifted is social media support.

Bar graph showing fund matching and social media support as priorities from 2021-2023

The demand for social media assets and support was at its peak in 2022 at 25%. However, usage went down to 21% by 2023. But why? Social media was just as relevant in 2022 as it was in 2023, so where did this dip in demand come from?

A few major industry changes occurred within this time period. First, Elon Musk purchased Twitter in April of 2022 — a controversial change in and of itself — and made some pretty divisive tweaks to the popular app that many users didn’t like.

Then, Threads, Twitter’s Meta-operated rival, launched in July of 2023. And though this app was wildly successful at first, its active user base declined exponentially in only a matter of weeks.

Needless to say, these two infamous events weren’t great for social media, and local affiliates took notice. And on top of all the drama, businesses were seeing minimal results from their social media efforts. That would explain why channel partners began deprioritizing social media support in 2023.

Why keeping up with affiliate priorities is crucial

It’s not enough to just acknowledge that affiliates’ needs are changing — you need to make adjustments based on these needs across your channel partner program.

Here’s why:

  • Ensures optimal program maintenance: When you put your finger on the pulse of your affiliates’ changing needs, you can continuously optimize your program to ensure it consistently encourages your partners to market.
  • Improves affiliate satisfaction: Providing your partners with the features they desire improves their overall satisfaction with your program — and satisfied affiliates are more motivated to market than unsatisfied affiliates.
  • Increases marketing savvy: Many program features are designed to better enable affiliates to market, aiding in their marketing knowledge and skills. And marketing-mature affiliates drive up to 2X more revenue!

The 5 optimizations your channel partner program needs

Though keeping up with your affiliates’ changing priorities may feel like following a bouncing ball, it’s necessary.

If you don’t keep an eye on these shifting needs, you’ll miss out on some major program optimization (and revenue growth) opportunities.

Want to know the other top affiliate priorities? Read the full 2024 State of Local Marketing to get all the insights.

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The 2024 State of Local Marketing Series: 5 Game-Changing Channel Marketing Program Optimizations - read the report

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