- Suppliers need to establish an effective content strategy for their partner portals
- The navigation and structure of portal content should be organized in a logical way, making it easy for partners to find what they need
- The portal landing page must resonate with partners and motivate them to visit it on a regular basis
Over the course of the last decade there has been a huge investment by channel organizations in improving their partner portals. Just Google “new partner portals” and you’ll find a long list of vendors announcing their “new look and feel,” better navigation and functionality improvements. You might find a few discussions about new tools (although, typically, these are tools that channel-savvy organizations have had in place for years). However, there are absolutely no announcements about improvements in the quality and timeliness of the information on the portal (e.g. “the content”). To me, that is akin to going into a burger joint and buying a bun with just lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions: Where’s the beef?
Partners usually go to portals to complete tasks such as registering a deal or filing a co-op claim (tasks suppliers require partners to do). Suppliers also want their partners to proactively and regularly come to their partner portals to elicit information and knowledge. Yet, when I question industry peers on their partner portal content strategies, I either get blank stares or a polite dismissal – “We have that under control.” But do they? Do you?
Here are five signs that your organization needs to build an effective and actionable content strategy:
- Your channel managers spend an inordinate amount of time clarifying information that is accessible on the portal. This may be a sign that partners find it too difficult to find information on your partner portal. Your navigation and the structure of your content should be organized in a logical, thoughtful way, making it easy for partners to find what they need. It is important for users to easily find content when they need it, and content should also render well on mobile devices.
- Your channel marketing team is regularly asked by departments to “just stick it up on the portal,” and A LOT of the content is in the form of a PDF vs. actual content on the portal itself. Companies that consistently have content on their portals that partners find compelling, accurate and useful (as well as easy to find), do not employ the an ad hoc approach to managing their partner portal content. They clearly understand the information needs and wants of their partners, have someone dedicated to building and owning the portal content strategy, and employ a disciplined approach to reviewing, approving and removing portal content.
- While you might not have said it out loud, you often find yourself wondering, “Who reads this stuff?” If you personally don’t find your portal content compelling or relevant, surely your partners feel the same way. Suppliers that are delivering content that is specific to the individual user’s business model, role in the organization and preferred format for receiving information achieve significantly higher partner portal utilization rates than suppliers that don’t.
- You have personally been frustrated by broken or mislabeled links or not being able to find the content you need, when you need it. You are paid to stay abreast of the information on your partner portal. If you’ve experienced frustrations using the portal, then it is a sure-fire sign that your partners have, too.
- Your portal landing page contains redundant, trivial, outdated, generic or incorrect content (e.g. an announcement of a webinar that already happened, content primarily focused on welcoming the partner to the portal and explaining its purpose). It is not atypical for channel partners to have as many as 30 products in their portfolios – that means 30 partner portals they are being asked to visit on a regular basis. If the portal landing page doesn’t immediately connect with partners and provide them with the motivation to visit it on a regularly basis, guess where yours will fall on their priority lists?
If your organization recognizes any of these five signs, it is time to step back and think more strategically about your partner portal content strategy. Your content is an extremely important business asset – it is essential that it be treated as such.