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Guide to Implementing a Channel Partner Loyalty Program

A channel partner loyalty program is similar to the retail store loyalty programs with which you’re likely familiar. Just like you get rewarded for bringing your business to that store, partners are rewarded through a channel loyalty program for sourcing and influencing deals.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to implement a channel loyalty program to incentivize your partners, as well as viable alternatives if you’re not yet ready.

How to Implement a Channel Partner Loyalty Program

Getting started with a channel partner loyalty program can be broken down into six simple steps. Be aware that you will need team buy-in for budget approval, an established program for participation standards, and a PRM for implementation and measurement.

Define Your Goals

Before building your channel partner loyalty program, you must first define your goals. These might include…

  • Recruit x% new partners
  • Reach a partner lifetime value of $x
  • Drive x% new revenue
  • Increase retention rate x%

These goals will determine the types of activities you plan to reward participants for completing.

Set Participation Standards

Determine the basic requirements for participating in the loyalty program. For example, you might expect channel partners to have active registered deals, complete training modules, reach a specific tier, or pass an exam before they can participate. Also consider whether partners need to maintain certain levels of activity in order to continue having access to channel loyalty program perks.

Being upfront about the loyalty program’s standards will motivate channel partners to strive for the well-defined benchmarks you set. Just be mindful to clearly announce any changes to the requirements or else you risk souring the relationship.

Develop Rewards

Revisit your goals and consider what behaviors you look to incentivize. From there, you can begin developing channel loyalty program rewards that excite your partners. Incentives might include SPIFFs, access to MDF, or exclusive co-marketing campaign opportunities.

Ensure your rewards are enticing to partners but appropriately match the value you receive. For example, registering a single deal likely isn’t deserving of a $10,000 SPIFF and $25,000 in MDF. 

If you’re not sure how to begin with rewards, talk to some of your most engaged partners to discover which benefits would be alluring to them. You may be surprised to find out that access to exclusive co-marketing campaigns and co-branded sales resources are more valuable than MDF to your partners.

Execute Your Loyalty Program Using Your PRM

Using a PRM, you can easily track which partners have achieved (and hopefully surpassed) the loyalty program’s performance threshold and earned various rewards. You can also use your PRM to deliver the added privileges by setting up an automation to unlock specific resources based on predetermined activities or partner groupings.

Leverage your PRM to house channel loyalty program-related resources, including guidelines, reward information, and sales resources. This will make it easy for partners to review requirements anytime and track their progress toward future rewards.

Announce the Channel Loyalty Program to Your Partners

Once you’ve built your program, it’s time to spread the word! Let your partners know about your new loyalty program via an email and partner portal notification. Then, let them know in your next meeting and keep in touch about the program.

Make it easy for your partners to share feedback, and adjust your program when it makes sense. 

Measure the ROI

As long as you’re running your channel loyalty program through your PRM, it will be easy to monitor the ROI. You should track the rewards you distribute and your team’s time delivering on the program. Then, compare your investment with the results you see from involved partners. 

Depending on what you find, you may need to adjust your rewards or program requirements. For example, if tons of partners are earning rewards, but your ROI is very low, your rewards are likely too large. Meanwhile, if you don’t have many partners completing desired activities, your rewards might not be enticing enough.

What if a Channel Partner Loyalty Program isn’t for Me?

Typically, channel loyalty programs are best for more established partner programs with a dedicated team, budget, and a PRM. There are other ways to engage partners even if you’re not quite ready for a channel loyalty program yet.

Partner Tiers

Not ready to deliver individual rewards based on specific partner actions? Partner tiers is a great way to reward partners for reaching different levels in your program.

With partner tiers, your channel partners are sorted into different buckets based on which level they’ve reached. Partners can reach more advanced levels by completing specific activities such as registering deals or launching a co-marketing campaign.

Learn more about setting up partner tiers »

Robust Partner Portal

If delivering rewards for activities isn’t yet possible, creating a robust partner portal is a powerful way to keep program participants engaged.

Within your partner portal, you can house training, sales, and marketing resources that partners can access anytime. With these tools on hand, your partners will be better equipped to sell your solutions. 

For example, on-demand training resources allow your partners to refresh their knowledge on your solution without requiring input from your team. Meanwhile, your sales and marketing resources can supercharge their efforts, leading to more registered deals.

Discover how to drive partner portal adoption »

Co-marketing Campaigns

Even if you don’t yet have a PRM, co-marketing campaigns are a great way to reward partners for their efforts while helping to achieve your goals.

Co-marketing is a great strategy for pooling your resources with a partner to achieve shared goals. Through joint promotional efforts, each company gets to leverage their partners strengths to reach a broader audience than they would alone.

Explore co-marketing activities and ideas for joint promotion »

Additional Resources on Building an Engaging Partner Program

A channel loyalty program can be a powerful strategy for keeping partners engaged and rewarding desired behaviors. Ensure your goals are at the forefront of your program and stay in close contact with your partners to adjust rewards as necessary.

If a channel loyalty program isn’t in the cards for your organization quite yet, there are many other ways you can engage your partners.

Channel Partner Engagement Strategies Guide — Curious why your partner relationships seem to fizzle out after onboarding? Discover the 7 elements of a successful partner engagement plan that will help you forge a stronger channel in this blog.

Guide to Increasing Channel Partner Activation — If you have a broad network of partners who aren’t driving deals, you may have a partner activation problem. Partner activation goes beyond training, onboarding, and loyalty programs. Grab this guide to discover how you can increase channel partner activation.

Examples Partner Programs – A Peek Under the Hood of Six Channels — Ever wonder how the pros engage partners in their programs? In this blog, take a look at how six channels operate, including, Pandium, Drift, and more.