Over the last few years, B2C businesses have focused heavily on the customer experience, fine-tuning and tweaking processes to ensure a smoother landing for consumers who purchase their products and services.But across channel marketing and the B2B landscape, the end-customer is at least once removed, complicating experiential planning. Instead, these businesses have concentrated their efforts on the partner experience, or ensuring the channel partners they work with encounter little to no friction along the way. That heightened awareness of the partner experience, along with the utilization of emerging video marketing and social media strategies support several key insights into how channel marketing functions in 2023.
The last few years have been turbulent, to say the least. While macro-level COVID-19 concerns appear to be behind us, rising costs and an inflationary environment have left many wondering how the economy will continue to react in 2023. Coverage on Deloitte’s Retail Industry Outlook for 2023 noted, “two-thirds of executives say they expect price to be more important than brand or retailer loyalty and 90 percent say consumers will expect seamless shopping experiences across all channels.” That sentiment inevitably bleeds into circumstances involving partners and channel marketing. Our expectation is that channel marketers will continue to ride that wave of uneasiness as channel marketers must adapt to the continually shifting landscape.
The good news is there are many ways businesses can successfully traverse that turmoil. While many strategies are industry or business-specific, there are some effective universal tactics to employ. One of the most effective is leaning heavily into personalization, or as McKinsey & Company describes it, “demonstrating customer intimacy.”
In 2021, McKinsey published a report that backed this theory, citing a statistic saying 71% of consumers “expect companies to deliver personalized interactions.” And when that doesn’t happen, 76% admit to becoming frustrated with the brand. In times of instability, the last thing you want to do is irritate or push away existing customers—especially when they’re the right customers. As good marketers know, quality reigns supreme over quantity when it comes to cultivating relationships with customers.
Artificial intelligence generates new experiences
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see the words “artificial intelligence” in this or any current observational piece. Business owners and marketers alike have been anxiously anticipating the time that AI truly starts to deliver on its potential, and so far, 2023 looks to be the year. Generative AI technology is especially buzzy right now, with some calling it a “once-a-decade platform shift” and a new “epoch in technology.” The crux of the generative AI premise is that it generates unique content with little to no human intervention. As an example, ChatGPT has been one of the most talked about examples of generative AI to date. We believe channel marketers will take full advantage of this groundbreaking technology through the sharing of marketing materials with partners. And, because it’s through AI, that can be done at a significantly reduced cost.
One example of where generative AI can shine is in the development and creation of customized goods or services. Historically, partners had to rely on mockups and estimations of final designs. Thanks to generative AI, it’s possible to accurately represent anything from product design, to venue layouts, to marketing campaign materials. Imagine a piece of clothing that now can be displayed digitally, from any angle, at any size, and in any color. That’s possible with generative AI, and it can be a huge boon for channel marketers looking for ways to strengthen relationships with existing partners and lure potential new partners into the fold.
From enhancing product mark-ups to improving customer service, one expert who has spent thousands of hours working with generative AI believes it will fundamentally change the way many of us work.
Social media gets even more social
Here’s another one that shouldn’t surprise you, but social media has only increased in 2023. For example, while there are potentially legitimate security concerns surrounding TikTok, the platform has routinely been hailed as one to watch when it comes to growth in the 2023 social media landscape. One of the things that has so many drawn to TikTok is its widespread usage as a search engine [light paywall]. We already see channel marketers harnessing that power by supporting partners with highly tailored and even co-branded content. Other emerging platforms that channel marketers should watch include the Metaverse and commerce platforms that enable live shopping. It stands to reason that these immersive experiences will connect channel marketers and their partners in ways that were not possible in the past.
In late 2021, Bloomberg projected the global Metaverse revenue “could approach $800 billion in 2024 vs. about $500 billion in 2020.” With the success of influencer marketing — a tactic that plays well across the Metaverse and social media — it’s easy to see how channel marketers may soon offer partners an experiential upgrade that includes virtually rubbing elbows with celebrities and titans of industry.
EGR can help future-proof your channel marketing strategies
The team at EGR International works with businesses daily on their channel marketing strategies, which is how we’re able to predict some of these top trends. If you’re interested in learning how EGR can assist you with your channel marketing, contact us today.