In a recent proprietary survey conducted by CCI of channel marketers across the globe, the number one goal expressed for 2011 was to “improve the ROI reporting and analytics of channel promotions and programs.” With that, we’ll start a series of tips and tricks to help you achieve that goal.
First and foremost: Know what you are measuring in advance. It’s much easier to think through your sources of data and how they contribute to your program objectives in advance, instead of trying to back in to the appropriate program performance metrics down the road. Postponing the process of defining the key metrics will likely result in the absence of critical puzzle pieces because the data required was never initially captured at the partner or program level.
Marketing 101 dictates that all marketing activities should have measurable goals. I would refer to these program goals as the “Strategic Metrics”—those measures which determine if the program is a success or not (e.g.: “increase sales by X%”). However, what becomes trickier are the metrics one must analyze that helps to determine why a given program succeeds or fails. I refer to these as the “Tactical Metrics.” It’s these tactical metrics which we find are often not adequately thought-through in advance of the program—but may indeed be the most important. While the aforementioned Strategic Metrics are what your boss is ultimately interested in, it is the tactical metrics that should provide the most insight for you. The insights they yield represent the foundation for your best practices, provide benchmarks for forecasting the outcome of future programs, and identify areas of improvement as the program evolves. Therefore, it is these tactical metrics which uncover key insights for you that most often get overlooked.
Identifying the strategic metrics of a program is relatively easy (as long as you understand the goals you are trying to achieve and the sources of data that track progress along the way). Unfortunately, once the program goals are identified, the process of defining the appropriate metrics often stops. Capturing the real insights through the selection of the appropriate Tactical Metrics are where the real “art” of program design comes in to play—and where seasoned channel program veterans (like me) have the most fun and add the most value. The breadth of available tactical metrics are too numerous to fully represent here—especially when applied against a broad range of available channel programs. But here are a couple suggestions to help you identify those that are most relevant to your program:
Most programs succeed or fail based on poor execution (not poor design). This means, any metrics that track the program sell-in to partners will help you understand how well the program was received. For instance, this may entail keeping tabs on a registration progress for partner enrollment and evaluating the outcome by territory or partner segment. Perhaps the reason participation was low was a simple communication problem, or perhaps it is a sign of a much bigger problem.
The level of participation in your channel programs by any one partner is an excellent metric that will help you identify how engaged a given partner is with your company and products. Simply segmenting partners byvolume (e.g.: Gold, Silver, Platinum) is “out.” Evaluating partner potential is “in.” One method of establishing partner potential is through their level of program involvement—the relative ability of a partner to meet or exceed specified levels of participation in the channel programs offered by you. One way of scoring this involvement is to evaluate their level of participation against an established benchmark and express it as an index. As it relates to your channel incentive programs, these benchmarks can be expressed as “minimum 60% fund utilization” (for co-op or MDF programs) or “minimum value of $XX registered annually” (for deal registration programs). The individual performance of each partner can be viewed in aggregate to represent partner performance across the program as a whole, partner segment, or sales territory.
Hopefully, this will get you thinking. More to come on the range of metrics available to you (they are much broader than you think).