As the world has pushed into the digital age, marketing automation has raced forward to meet the needs of the new digital buyer. These platforms have continued to evolve and add new functionality to help brands better reach and engage their audiences. However, these MA platforms are built for advanced marketers. They require a level of expertise that generally doesn’t exist among channel partners who are not marketers by trade.
As more and more organizations begin to see the value of marketing through their channel partners, a new breed of marketing technology has gained relevance and popularity in the marketing industry – Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA). Forrester Research defines TCMA as “A distributed marketing system used by enterprise marketers to enable and scale local marketing program execution through channel partners (stores, agents, dealers, franchisees, distributors, and resellers) with governance to protect brand identity.” (1)
These TCMA platforms were built to enable the execution of marketing automation at scale across a local ecosystem while addressing the unique challenges of marketing through a distributed group of channel partners, in a way that general marketing automation platforms can’t.
Governance is the name of the game
“When letting loose of some of your marketing execution to a large number of channel partners, you need a level of governance to curb the potentially entropic effect of doing so.”(1) Governance capabilities are one of the key differentiators of TCMA platforms and allow brands to distribute marketing execution through channel partners at scale without fear of damage to the brand. These governance capabilities involve:
- Syndication – the ability to “create once, distribute through many” in regards to marketing content
- Federalism – the ability to distribute power between a national body and various regional bodies
- Latitudinal discretion – the ability to customize the partners’ level of freedom and participation based on their abilities and preferences
Marketing automation that can be executed by non-marketers
TCMA platforms have two sides - the enterprise brand side with advanced levels of governance and visibility and the partner side that needs to make marketing as easy as possible. Marketing is not an intuitive skill, and in order to leverage channel partners effectively they need access to the tools, content, and services that will streamline the process for them. TCMA platforms are built to provide channel partners with everything they need to execute marketing in a simple way that doesn’t require marketing expertise. This allows brands to activate and empower more partners to execute effective and impactful marketing that will generate quality leads and drive business.
Marketing with a local touch
Utilizing partners’ local knowledge has an immense impact upon marketing reach. Instead of delivering a mass marketing message that reaches many but resonates with few, the customization capabilities of campaigns in TCMA platforms allow for tailored messaging that speaks to the needs of each specific audience. When provided with the proper tools and support, partners can take branded marketing materials and deliver them to their local audience in a way that resonates. This gives brands and enormous amount of power and opportunity to grow their business.
An evolution of its own
In the beginning, TCMA platforms were focused on basic content and social syndication, templated email distribution, and printed collateral syndication. As marketing and the marketing automation space have evolved, these TCMA platforms have had an evolution of their own. In fact, from their modest roots, TCMA has advanced its functionality to not only meet the sophistication of MA platforms but to the point where TCMA platforms now offer “generally superior functional capabilities” vs. enterprise marketing automation platforms.
- Harmon, Tim, and Lori Wizdo. The Forrester Wave ™: Through-Channel Marketing Automation Platforms, Q3 2015. Tech. Forrester Research, 4 Aug. 2015. Web.