by Adam Zouak and Chris Izquierdo
Partner Communication is the cousin of corporate communications, but instead of employees we are connecting with our vendors, distributors, and partners who help us engage the greater marketplace and bring our products and services to market. That said, it is also the cousin of marketing communications, borrowing several traits from that side as well. In a recent blog post, we talked about some of the common challenges facing partner communications, and in particular, we used a real example for company that we affectionately called LockCo.
A healthy partner ecosystem is vital for many businesses, particularly those that rely on distributors to be their primary sales channel. Partners who are well informed and passionate about your products will prioritize them over your competitors. All too often though minimal resources are employed to help keep that relationship healthy.
In this article, we’re going to show how Sparrow can help companies like LockCo (from the previous post). Let us quickly recap the top challenges LockCo faced:
- How to make sure that the right people at the partner companies received the information they need and want?
- How to ensure that critical information including that with significant liability, not only is delivered to the right people but that we get active confirmation that it has been received, read, and understood?
- How to know what type of information was being engaged with or was not?
- Make sure that all partner users can easily get access to the app, but only authorized people have access.
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to only focus on three channels that Sparrow can help you communicate on:
- Mobile App
- Web User Portal
- Automatic, Personalized Newsletter
Ease of Access
The first hurdle to adoption is access. How do I get the app? Do I need to remember yet another username and password? If any of these are anything but simple, straight forward answers then it’s not going to work. Fortunately, Sparrow is exactly that.
An App and a Web Portal
Sparrow’s mobile application is available for download from the Apple App store and Google Play store. Sparrow is also available as a branded app. In addition, your partners can take advantage of our web user portal with a simple URL that can be branded, or even embedded in your own partner portal.
Today, we all must remember and deal with too many passwords as it is. Adding more to the mix is only going to create frustration and support costs. Sparrow supports social logins, allowing your partner users to use a username and password they already use on some popular site. For example, here are our top social login providers:
This has an additional benefit, which is that Sparrow does not store any passwords helping ensure that everything is even more secure. In addition to having all information transmissions encrypted and encrypting all data that is stored (i.e. encrypted in transit and at rest), we minimize what information we have about users to the essentials needed.
A Simple Invite
The process starts by inviting an individual user or uploading a CSV file with the users you want to grant access to, and an invitation email will go out. A user just needs to click on the ‘complete your profile’ link in the email, and they will be setup.
One of the additional benefits of Sparrow, as a multi-channel communications platform, is that members of your organization can use their corporate credentials as well.
Organizing Your Users into Audiences
A key part of a successful partner communication strategy is not looking at your partners as one big amorphous block of users. Instead, we should look at the users by their role and relationship with the partner program. For example, you may have users who are:
- Focused on particular products or verticals
- In a certain region
- Responsible for the partner relationship
- Responsible for sales
- Responsible for knowing technical details and providing support
- Belonging to a premier partner club or program
Sparrow provides an easy way to group users (both social and corporate logins), as well as including user groups, into audiences. You can create as many audiences as you want, and users can be in multiple groups. Audiences allow you a lot of flexibility when it comes to aligning content topics and users. Here are some examples of audiences, based on those different types of users:
These sample audiences have different informational needs. For example, premium partners likely would receive discounts and access to events not available to your broader ecosystem.
Topics and Content Segmentation
When communicating with partners, you have all sorts of information you are going to be sharing with them. Some of it will be sales related, some could be product updates or product roadmap related, some technical, or one of a dozen other things. Some content we may want to be exclusively accessible by a certain audience because of its sensitive nature. Sparrow handles all of this through Topics.
Content can be tagged with multiple topics, for example a post could be tagged with:
Every topic is available to users by subscription, allowing them to identify what types of content they want to see; however this is able to be overridden as well. In Sparrow, you can identify audiences for whom a topic is:
- This means that any users in the selected audiences is subscribed to the topic with no ability to unsubscribe.
- This means that the selected audiences will be initially subscribed to the topic, but they could unsubscribe if they wanted. A topic can be mandatory for some and default for others.
Restricted. Enabling restricted allows you to select the audiences who will limit who can see the content tagged with the topic, as well as even be aware that the topic exists (invisible to all others).
Altogether, this allows a powerful combination of things, such as:
- Having a Partners Management topic that is restricted to the product partners audience and is mandatory for the premier partners.
- Having a Product Updates topic that is optional for everyone, but default anyone in the Technical audience to be subscribed to it.
- Having a Support and Operations topic that’s mandatory for the technical audience, but optional for everyone else.
Whenever content is published, all users who are subscribed to that topic (whether by choice or because it is mandatory for them) will receive an active notification telling them of the new content.
For topics that are not mandatory, users are able to self-manage their subscriptions in the mobile app, or web portal, or MS Teams, and always able to explore other topics provided they are allowed access (i.e. not excluded because of restricted audience).
Sparrow Content Types
Even with a healthy number of topics, there are times when we need content to have different levels of priority in getting user attention. Sparrow supports this by providing three key content types:
This is the nice-to-know information. While we want your partners to engage with all of your content, some content is okay if it’s missed or read later. Standard content will show lower down in the feed when newer content is published. 99% of content are Standard.
Sometimes we have information that we need to insist people read. When content is flagged as mandatory, it will remain at the top of the user’s feed until they have read the full content.
This content type is for when you have critical information that requires an active confirmation. It’s not enough that someone read it, you need them to click a box (with legal text you have set) that confirms they have understood it. Sparrow also provides a report to help you track who has seen the compliance content and who has complied with it.
Having consumption and engagement analytics is invaluable in allowing you to know what people are reading, commenting on, reacting, and more. Sparrow helps take things one step further with detailed analysis of each content and provides trending information to help you know if there’s a relationship between the tone or estimated reading time, and engagement.
Sparrow even provides analytics such as the one shown above before you publish your content, allowing you to better tune it for your audience before it goes out.
Sparrow’s aim with our analytics is to break everything down so that you can see how individual content performed, as well as how all your content are doing over a period of time, and more. Our aim is to give you the information you need to create a virtuous cycle of constantly getting better and drawing people in.
Despite everything about email, email.
Some partner users will be jumping on the bandwagon quickly, while others may take some time to get them out of their inboxes and into a more active and engaging media. With Sparrow you are able to setup an intelligent newsletter that will email users a summary of content that they haven’t read, to draw them back in. This means that the laggards will get an email newsletter with summaries and links, and it means for those who are extremely busy, it’s an extra reminder that there’s great content you’re publishing that they should see.
Fast to Setup and Very Economical
One of the things we have taken very seriously at Sparrow is the ability to get a customer up and running very quickly. Sometimes it is vital to capitalize on momentum or to know that you can go from idea to execution without a long, winding road of meetings and implementation steps that may just fall flat because they are exhausting.
Sparrow can be deployed, and your organization can start to communicate with its partners in a matter of days.
Thrive Instead of Survive
Many organizations have a need to optimize their partner communications and engagement. If your partners are feeling a growing sense of disengagement. You are inadvertently creating opportunities for rivals to steal them away. Reduce the barriers, costs, and effort required to having a great Partner Communications experience. Talk with us today.
Sparrow is a powerful, easy to use, and economical omni-channel communications platform built for communicators. Whether its corporate communications or partner communications, Sparrow will help you drive up engagement, build trust with your users with relevant content, and have the analytics to let you know what’s working and what isn’t. At Sparrow, we believe great communications can be transformative. Sparrow – Built for Communicators. Book a conversation with us today.