We marketers are incredibly diligent about refining prospect data once it’s inside our marketing systems. Lead nurturing, scoring and predictive analytics tools have turned us into physicists with our data. And we continually strive toward that perfect equation to build stronger customer relationships.
However, we all too often cast a blind eye to the disorderly and sluggish processes by which we manage numerous media partners to acquire the all-important prospect data used to fuel our demand gen engines.
The side effects of traditional third-party media programs
Of course, if all your marketing is inbound, you don’t need to worry about this. But if you’re like most marketing orgs and running third-party media programs to distribute content, generate leads or drive traffic, you’re likely suffering from the same issues that most marketers face: a barrage of manual tasks and lack of holistic reporting.
Such tasks often include:
- Identifying, selecting and onboarding partners
- Communicating back-and-forth with partners (one at a time) to work out campaign parameters
- Dealing with IOs, legal approvals and accounting
- Providing and managing dynamic creative assets
- Aggregating and consolidating numerous reports for analysis
- Optimizing each campaign individually with each partner
Inevitably, emails and assets get lost, directions are misunderstood, campaign launches are delayed, time is wasted, leads are returned, and reporting is so disjointed (and delayed) that you require a sweatshop worth of effort to get all the pieces you need to make informed decisions.
Third-party media programs are essential for most marketing orgs, but when left unconsolidated, their side effects have three primary consequences that devastate demand gen efforts:
- A bottleneck in a crucial stage of the customer acquisition funnel that negatively affects all aspects of marketing performance, from prospect data capture to closed customer
- A waste of time and resources due to manual tasks required to manage media partners and fully utilize prospect data
- A fragmented view of partner and program performance, which means you can't effectively optimize efforts
And all these problems are usually multiplied by the number of media partners you work with, so scaling demand gen often becomes impossible. All this undermines marketing's contribution to pipeline.
As Monica Niemann, Trend Micro Regional Marketing Manager, put it:
“Marketers all too often have differing processes for managing numerous media partners, which means you can’t accurately and quickly make adjustments to campaigns, assets, allocation, etc. Leveling the playing field is crucial. We need the ability to holistically compare all media partners and programs to drive a successful demand gen operation.”
What you need to automate your partner management
Identifying opportunities for improvement regarding media partner interactions can lead to big gains in lead volume and velocity, data quality and overall return on media investment.
An optimal media partner management system should include:
- Browsing, comparing and identifying potential media partners from a single platform
- Onboarding proven media partners to the platform quickly and at any time
- Creating and sending one IO for all partners, and tracking from one ledger
- Housing, organizing and distributing creative assets among partners by specific assignment; and enabling partners to access when needed
- Automating the process by which partner-generated prospect data is uploaded to marketing automation and CRM systems
- Obtaining real-time reports and analytics on each media partner, asset, campaign, channel – individually and in aggregate
- Optimizing allocation to partners automatically based on tracked performance or manually with a single click
Benefits of an effective partner management system
In the digital era, speed and visibility are critical. Circumstances change within hours, if not minutes. Consolidating media partners into a single platform and automating the processes of partner management quickens campaign launch time and lead velocity while also providing a more holistic view of media investment — leading to better marketing performance.
It also facilitates integration with the marketing “stack,” which in turn further increases the transmission of data and the ability to use marketing automation and CRM systems to optimize prospect information gained from your investment with media partners.
Moreover, automating media partner operations frees valuable resources to be used for more strategic purposes. Paying skilled marketing pros or agency partners to manually coordinate numerous media partner relationships is like taking time off from work to forage for wood to heat your home — your salary far exceeds the costs of heating fuel, and the marketer’s labor is far more valuable than the costs of media partner management software.
It doesn’t make sense to pay people to format spreadsheets, chase creative assets or email numerous media partners the same RFP when this could be automated, allowing talented individuals to concentrate on skill-oriented projects.
These are just a couple of the problems I’ve come across with regard to managing a slew of media partners. The good news is that these issues are easily solved by first identifying inefficiencies and gaps, and then standardizing and integrating media with marketing systems wherever possible.