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You have the email addresses of current and prospective partners, so now it’s time to put them to good use with a targeted newsletter. When done correctly, a channel partner newsletter can inspire program enrollment and partner engagement. When done haphazardly, it can lead to the dreaded unsubscribe.
Learn how to plan and execute an effective partner newsletter that builds enthusiasm for the brand rather than casting it in a negative light.
Tips for Channel Partner Newsletter Content + Tone
• Choose clarity over cuteness. Don’t write as if you were representing a B2C organization. Be straight-to-the-point and, above-all-else, don’t bury the lead. The value of the content should be immediately obvious to partners or else they won’t further engage.
• Don’t neglect subject lines. For email marketers, the perfect subject line is their Moby Dick, the Holy Grail. They spend their entire careers in its pursuit, meticulously gathering data along the way. We suggest that you conduct your own testing, as each email’s open-rate will shine a brighter light on your partners. To get you started, below are some general B2B email best practices from Thomas Publishing Company:
• Use numbers
• Personalize the message
• Keep it short
• Offer your readers something
• Use calls-to-action
• Base messaging around your channel partner personas. Building a regular newsletter around each type of channel partner would be quite an undertaking. If you don’t have the resources to do this, consider your largest demographic of active partners and email list participants. Consider what messaging speaks to their priorities and interests, specifically. After all, the concerns of a marketer vary greatly from those of a CEO.
• Focus content on audience needs rather than selling yourself. When choosing a topic for the newsletter, remember to ask yourself why should channel partners care? Their goals are generally to make a profit, stay informed about industry developments, and improve professional skills or processes. Frame all talking points with their wants in mind rather than your own.
• Ideas for what to include in your channel partner newsletter:
• New product or features announcements
• Links to new selling tools or training materials
• Case studies to inspire enrollment or reengagement
• Interviews with leadership, customers, or partners
• Event announcements and/or recaps
• Company news to keep partners informed
• Messages from leadership
• General business tips related to your product and the readers’ responsibilities
• Keep content brief with calls-to-action. The ideal channel partner newsletter has one to four sections, all capped with a strong call-to-action (with exceptions). View our cheat sheet. Improve your monthly forecasting with this 2-minute video. Sign-up for Thursday’s webinar. In many cases, the newsletter content should simply serve as a “teaser.”
• Subscribe to competitors’ newsletters. Most sites have partner application forms on their website, allowing you to automatically join their email list to do reconnaissance work. Take note of their subject lines, chosen topics, frequency, and calls-to-action.
Be Purposeful With Your Newsletter Cadence
Schedule Your Newsletter Conservatively
Don’t be too ambitious when first creating your newsletter’s schedule. Instead, plan conservatively, such as a monthly regularity. If you commit to sending a newsletter too often, expect the following:
• Your standards for “news-worthy” will naturally decline. Businesses and industries naturally ebb and flow season-to-season, year-to-year. While Q3’s conferences and speaking engagements may spur plenty of material, a quiet Q4 could leave you scrambling for inspiration. That weekly newsletter could soon consist mostly of “filler.”
• Your collaborators’ enthusiasm will flounder. Count on the excitement whipped up by brainstorming sessions to naturally decline with time. The idea of producing a channel partner newsletter may have sounded good in the heat of the moment, but putting it into practice will be much more challenging. Set a realistic goal for your team rather than an aspirational benchmark.
• Open rates to decline. Every time you send out your channel newsletter, you ask your partners to set aside a few minutes out of their busy day. These minutes can quickly accumulate, especially if you email canned messages multiple times a week.
How to Find the Right Regularity For Your Channel Partner Newsletter
• Schedule topics for at least the next six months. Make sure to highlight product releases, event attendance, or special promotions. Mix in industry learnings that are not time-sensitive.
This exercise can help you determine your optimal cadence. Is the team still overflowing with ideas for valuable topics? Perhaps a bi-monthly newsletter would be a good goal. Alternatively, was it a struggle to come up with enough prompts? If yes, aim for a monthly or quarterly partner channel newsletter.
• Experiment with the time and day. Data suggests that people are most likely to open business emails on Tuesdays at 3:00 PM, but this may not necessarily apply to your partners. Track the open-rate and adjust accordingly.
Create a Partner Newsletter Design of Which Your Company Can be Proud
The layout and aesthetics of the channel partner newsletter are just as important as the copy itself.
• Avoid visual clutter and walls of text. Your channel partners will experience an emotion upon first opening the newsletter, so aim for “curiosity” or “excitement.” If you overwhelm the viewer with large chunks of text, they will exit before even trying to read. Aim for clean visuals, defined margins, visually attention-grabbing headlines.
• Make calls-to-action aesthetically stand-out. In the preferred scenario, a newsletter topic intrigues a partner enough to take further action. Make sure that the related button immediately grabs their eye.
• Don’t forget to visually represent your brand. Include your logo, choose a related color scheme, and stay fairly consistent with your graphics.
• Consider utilizing a tool or template almost anyone can use. Custom-designed emails may require involvement from your Development team; if they’re busy with a major site issue, your partner channel newsletter will be the last thing on their minds. Therefore, choose a design templating tool that you can manage yourself or easily train others to utilize.
• Make sure whatever template you choose is mobile-friendly. This should be obvious to everyone nowadays, but it’s worth underscoring nonetheless. Your partner channel newsletter may be skimmed during a morning subway commute, while waiting in line at the cafeteria, or throughout a particularly long bathroom break. Plan accordingly!
Collect Both Quantitative and Qualitative Data
KPIs that will help you refine your channel partner newsletter include:
• Open-rate. Use this to experiment with subject lines and timing
• Engagements from email. Track the email clicks to determine what kind of material interests the readers the most, as well as what demographic is most likely to engage
• Conversion rate. You know how many users clicked on a link, but how many of those completed the desired action? This could be signing up for a webinar, downloading a white paper, etc. A disconnect between the engagement and conversion rates can tell you if there was a misalignment in communication or if the landing page needs improvement
• Unsubscribe rates. Was there a particular newsletter that backfired? Does the unsubscribe rate correlate with the increase in frequency?
Don’t limit yourself to quantitative data, alone. Reach out to partners with whom you have strong relationships to ask about newsletter topics that interest them most and collect general feedback.
To Our Summarize Partner Channel Newsletter Tips
Remember, no one is obligated to open your email. You need to prove that it’s worth the reader’s time, from the opening subject line to the thoughtful design to the calls-to-action. If you keep your partners’ needs in the forefront of your mind, you can produce a newsletter that brings education and value.
For additional ideas on how to boost partner engagement, check out our eBook, How to Get Your Partners to Step Up to the Plate and Engage.