FIVE TRUTHS about measuring ROI on partner and ecosystem go-to-market activity

About measuring ROI on partner and ecosystem go-to-market activity

Author: Helen Curtis based on insights from the Coterie Community 150 Club


The Coterie Community has been exploring how we can best measure the plethora of intangible things we must do in partner, channel, and ecosystem marketing. Every marketer or person involved in joint go-to-market is under increasing pressure to show the impact of their activities on the business.

During our first community meet-up on this subject, the conversation was full of energy and passion about the ‘unrecognised’ value that these teams bring to their businesses. In this blog, I want to share with you some of the truths that emerged around the challenge of measuring ROI for partner and ecosystem marketing.   


Truth 1. It’s a multi-disciplinary role

The role of the partner, channel, or ecosystem marketer is multi-disciplinary. So much so that quite a few members in the community don’t even have marketing in their title, yet they are conducting marketing activity. The role spans commercials i.e. engaging with partners on lead generation campaigns. It requires marketers to go deep on understanding technology so they can articulate the joint value with a partner. Finally, they must be customer-centric and develop creative campaigns with partners. The role is very wide, and this makes it hard to measure all the touchpoints and stakeholders that these people work with.   


Truth 2. Delivering wider benefit

The breadth of engagement these groups deliver ultimately has a much wider benefit to the broader marketing community within their businesses. For example, they might be running a channel event within a particular region and may run a digital marketing campaign to promote it. This will increase awareness in the region and have a positive knock of effect on the local field marketing activities – but this won’t be included in the measurement or even be acknowledged.


Truth 3. It’s a catalyst for growth

The Community talked about the fact that partner marketing is a catalyst. We plant seeds for business i.e., acquiring, and engaging partners. But a critical point made in discussions was that broader stakeholders within the business must water and feed these seeds otherwise they die. For example, you could onboard a partner and kick off joint full marketing activity and share with them the campaigns they need to run. However, without good product training and engagement, joint sales activity, or solid commercial incentives, the opportunity is missed. This means measuring partner marketing on the end closed business is measuring them on many activities that are outside of their control.


Truth 4. Stop/start kills ROI on partner marketing

When we started to explore measurement in more detail, one of the things that became very apparent was that we need to stop the ‘Start/Stop’ trend within partner marketing. This is something I have witnessed many times and something the community was passionate about. For example, you onboard a partner and kick off the marketing engagement, you create a joint value proposition and go-to market plan. You’re ready to start, but a commercial agreement becomes an issue or a sales stakeholder change interrupts the execution – and it all stops. You try and restart 6 or 12 months later, but all the work previously created needs to be updated. Partner marketing is a steam train that you can’t stop and start without losing critical momentum – and ROI.


Truth 5. There is no single model for measuring partner go-to-market

We also talked about the concept of ‘all models are wrong, but some are good’. There was a strong debate about the fact that we need to be careful not to over-science partner marketing because of the truths described above. To quote John Hayes; “We tend to overvalue the things we can measure and undervalue the things we cannot.”


So what are the options for measurement?

  • A good starting point is measuring the engagement with assets and activities. One of our members shared a multi-attribution model for partner marketing. This is particularly useful for ‘market to’ where you can aggregate the data on the engagement with all the assets and the different touch points. By weighting each of these based on where they are in the partner buying journey you can aggregate a total score to see the marketing impact on the overall level of engagement with the partner. This is a great model but can be hard to apply to market with and through where you are reliant on the partner for data.
  • Sales impact can be another way to measure the ROI on partner marketing. By taking your normalised sales rate before partner marketing activity and then another view afterward, you can see if there has been increased activity. Obviously, other factors could be at play that affects the pipeline, but it is a good and easy way to measure because you generally have access to sales pipeline data.
  • Finally, time to partner revenue, which considers how many marketing touchpoints were required before a partner starts selling.


How else can we approach measurement?

James Houselander, EMEA Channel leader for HPE Aruba in his Community whitepaper says “Measuring impact is a key driver for anyone in channel marketing. However, tracking the measurement and impact of all the good activities you do is difficult, and it all starts with accountability. We are driving a complete change of behaviour around accountability with our channel marketing and sales team and then directly into our partners and our agencies that work with our partners. We are getting partners to tag opportunities and to supply their leads but as we move forwards, we will look to measure the impact through other metrics including business growth, pipeline acceleration, and how we are growing business in new verticals or technology areas.”

In summary, measuring ROI remains an ongoing challenge for anyone involved in partner go-to-market, but is important to show the value this community is delivering. The models described above can be very effective without limiting your thinking.  This is critical because as our five truths have explained, the reach of partner and ecosystem marketing is across the business.


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