Through-channel marketing: the future of indirect sales channels

5 min read By 20/01/2020 February 6th, 2020 One Comment

More than 75% of all world trade goes through the indirect sales channel (WTO). Brands see the value of selling their services and products through indirect partners (retailers, dealers, franchisees, distributors, and resellers). The reason for this is that partners have many connections in their local market, build strong relationships in their area and are the local experts of the services and products they sell.

The indirect sales channel also brings challenges…

One of the major challenges of selling through indirect partners is that local partners always manage their own website. But often they do not have the proper resources or knowledge to do this in the most effective way. This makes it difficult for brands to effectively market their products through these partner channels.

It is up to the brand to make a connection with the websites of the local partners, through which they can publish the latest products and marketing content. The trick is to keep this manageable. For that you need Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA).


  1. What is through-channel marketing?
  2. Through-Channel Marketing Automation
  3. Forecasts of through-channel market
  4. Three reasons why you should implement through-channel marketing
    1) Maximize your Return on Investment
    2) Increase your marketing reach
    3) Strengthen the relationship with your partners

What is through-channel marketing?

First of all, what exactly is “through-channel marketing”? The term can be defined as follows: a platform that enables brands to efficiently and profitably scale their marketing and advertising through a network of indirect partners. In The ForresterTM: Through-Channel Marketing Automation, Q2 2018, author Jay Mcbain writes the following:

“Through-Channel Marketing Automation is now a critical part of the marketing portfolio that enhances the quality of product and marketing content for customers through the partner channel.”

Through-Channel Marketing Automation platform

In the last decades, sales and marketing have been transformed from an “art” into predictable and data-driven business units. The CRM phase started in the 90s and accelerated rapidly thanks to cloud offerings that became cheaper over time. The marketing automation phase started to grow exponentially around 2008 and reached its critical mass within the following ten years.

With 75% of world trade going through the indirect sales channel, it is time for the channels to enter the third phase after CRM and marketing automation; through-channel marketing automation. This means a new transformation from marketing and sales to effective partner management and marketing automation via the partner channel.

To bind the local customer, it is important for the brands to enable all types of partners to use brand content, messaging, branding, and lead-generating initiatives within their local market. The brands that can serve their indirect channel effectively and allow the customer to reach the best local marketing content will achieve success.

Current state of the through-channel marketing market

In the US, we see several companies offering a platform on which brands can make their content available to their local partners. The partners can log in to the portal and use the latest content for their own websites and channels. However, such a portal is not the ultimate solution. The reason for that is that it appears that such portals are rarely, if ever, used by local partners.

The local partners are busy serving their local market and running their business, maintaining their own websites and marketing quickly becomes of a lesser priority. There is not enough knowledge or resources to do this effectively. This is exactly where a local partner welcomes the help of a brand.

As a brand you want to increase your marketing reach, while the local partner wants to be unburdened when it comes to marketing products. By gaining access to part of the local websites and being able to publish the latest content, a win-win situation is created for both the brand and its partners.

The local partner always gets the latest product and marketing content on their website, which ensures that their (potential) customers are well informed which will ultimately lead to a higher conversion rate. Meanwhile, the brand creates a much larger marketing reach through their partner channel while maintaining its brand identity.

Three reasons why you should implement through-channel marketing

1. Increase your marketing reach

Being able to deliver the right message to your target group at the right moment is the holy grail of marketing. By cooperating correctly and effectively with the partner channel, you gain access to many potential customers as the local partner has built up a large local network. By offering the right product or marketing campaigns to their customers, both the brand and the local partner win!

2. Maximize your Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)

As a brand, you invest heavily in marketing tools and the creation of high-quality content. With the possibility to launch all your campaigns and (new) products through your partner channel, you create a much larger reach and you maximize your ROMI potential.

3. Strengthen the relationship with your partners

Starting a TCMA initiative also helps you strengthen the relationship you have with your partners. Successfully onboarding new partners and a strong loyalty among them can be attributed to the support that a (new) partner receives when launching the brand in their local market. The support you provide through this process will be appreciated by the local partners and the relationship will as a result be further developed and strengthened.

Let’s connect the channel!


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