Partner portals are a powerful tool that helps to build strong connections between companies and other companies with whom they share a working partnership. If you want to increase your marketing performance and that of your partners, a partner portal is invaluable.
More and more companies use partner portals to help achieve growth and increase revenue. They also provide a bridge with partners to help them do the same as part of an effective partner relationship management (PRM) strategy.
What Is a Partner Portal?
In simple terms, it’s a private, cloud-based site that provides a single point that partner companies can use to connect, communicate, and engage with a central business. Think of it as a single pane of glass solution, where all the tools a partner company needs are accessible in one place.
But note, a partner portal is not to help generate new business or find new partners but helps to build and solidify connections and engagement with existing partners.
A partner portal should allow a company’s partners to access information that will help them to build revenue, create their marketing programs, and help them train their teams.
Think of the company that creates the partner portal as the supplier. They may provide products or services but only supply them to end-users or consumers via partners. These partners could be anything from vendors and distributors to installers and service providers.
For example, Shopify Plus offers retailers the opportunity to build an online presence, but they don’t sell directly to consumers. A partner portal for Shopify Plus would allow the vendors that sell through their site to access resources such as marketing tools to help them maximize their sales and increase their revenues.
The Benefits of Using Provider Portals
Provider portals offer mutual benefits to both suppliers and partners.
A partner portal is like a self-service tool. Rather than having to set up a virtual receptionist to handle calls and queries about pricing models or training requirements, suppliers can allow their partners to help themselves by providing access to a single touchpoint that can provide them with all the information and support they may need.
A single touchpoint allows partners to interact with the supplier in a time-effective manner without having to discuss what may be a minor issue with an account manager.
An engaging provider portal will instill confidence in partners who know they can access the information and support they need when they need it instead of having to wait until their account manager is available.
Let’s not forget the added benefit of streamlining processes. Cloud-based automation also provides efficiency.
Ensuring consistent branding can be difficult, especially when working with many partners.
Partner portals allow suppliers to ensure their providers maintain their brand message. The portal should allow partners to access logos and themes that they can use as part of their marketing literature and campaigns. This will ensure an aligned message across the board but also allows partners to customize or localize the message as required.
By offering resources on the portal, suppliers can provide brand safety tips to help coordinate branding across all their partners.
Regular communication with your partners will help to increase loyalty to your brand.
A two-way stream of information via a provider portal is invaluable. Suppliers can share their expertise and support partners with marketing, and likewise, partners can share their insights into how effective marketing campaigns have been. Suppliers can then use such data to inform planning for future campaigns.
Perhaps you provide quality assurance testing software, and your partner QA companies are currently running a new marketing campaign to help generate sales leads. You will need to review the effectiveness of the campaign, and you can only do that with feedback from your partners.
Provider portals offer a single easy-access platform that allows for convenient two-way communication.
Don’t stop at encouraging basic communication. Go one step further and encourage collaboration too. Not only do partner portals allow for engagement between suppliers and partners, but they also allow the opportunity for cross-collaboration between partners.
This helps to generate a sense of community around your brand. By encouraging the sharing of information, suppliers are building a valuable support network for their partners.
No one knows your products or services as you do. Who better to provide the training needed than the company that created those products or services?
Not only do learners benefit from the first-rate knowledge and understanding of the product or service, but you can also provide a consistent approach whether you provide training to sales managers or frontline teams. Inconsistent or inaccurate training that results in dissatisfied end users only damages your brand.
Provider portals allow suppliers to access invaluable data that can be used to monitor partner performance and revenues, inform future planning, and review and improve the resources provided.
What Makes an Effective and Engaging Partner Portal?
Now you understand the benefits that can be gained from using a partner portal, but how do you make it work?
Here are a few things an effective and engaging partner portal should feature:
Your portal has already allowed your partners to have 24-hour access to the resources they need from you. However, take it one step further and make it mobile.
Can you make it app-based so your partners can access it without the need for a computer? These days everything is about convenience, so why should your partner portal be any different?
Single sign-on (SSO) also improves accessibility.
Ease of Navigation
Partners want to visit your site and know exactly where they need to go to find the information they need. They don’t want to have to scroll through reams of links or endless drop boxes. Unnecessary links, banners, and long navigation menus should be avoided.
Ensure your provider portal is simple to navigate, plus it should be clear and concise.
Categorize your content using simple terms and language that partners are familiar with.
If partners are looking for tips about writing an effective influencer brief, make sure you have a keyword search option that can take them straight to the information they want.
Ineffective filters and search capabilities will only make your partner sign off.
Partners will likely be logging on to your portal to find information about products and services or to access marketing tools and training. They don’t want to be presented with out-of-date or irrelevant content that they cannot use.
If you want to build a successful content strategy, you must learn what resources your partners need to work effectively. You want to help them achieve their goals and support them, so out-of-date document templates or marketing campaigns need to be removed.
Contradictory information should also be removed to help avoid confusion and avoidable mistakes.
Allow Communication and Collaboration
As mentioned above, effective communication and engagement help to generate brand loyalty and a tight-knit community around that brand. Your portal should include a platform that allows partners to communicate and engage with the supplier but also with each other.
Partners should be able to share their knowledge, experience, and best practices to help their collective partners achieve better results. The portal should offer partners the opportunity to upload their marketing plans that could be adapted and utilized by others.
It could even be as simple as setting up chat rooms. For example, one partner could be looking for alternatives to GoToMeeting for their web conferencing solutions and could start a chat between fellow partners via the partner portal, requesting advice.
Access to Training
Partners should be able to access e-learning opportunities via your portal.
Again, the training should be up-to-date and relevant, so you must know what your partners need to help them do their job. For example, the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders provides access to training at all levels, from introductions to proofreading to techniques for editing medical documents.
Your portal should allow you to set measurable targets that can then be used to review resources and campaigns and inform future planning.
Data analytics should be available regarding sales and revenue, the effectiveness of marketing tools for both partners and the supplier, and the portal’s performance.
Portal performance should not simply be measured by the number of clicks. It should focus on what partners have accessed and how they have used it.
If you have low login numbers or a high churn rate, then your portal isn’t effectively engaging your partners. On the other hand, partners who regularly participate in training are engaged, and this will be reflected in their sales results.
The ability to draw upon metrics will help suppliers measure whether their content meets the requirements of their partners and consequently helps them to achieve their own goals.
An effective and engaging partner portal allows suppliers to build strong partnerships that create numerous benefits for both parties.
A well-designed portal that contains high-quality and relevant content should be a single point of reference for partners to access the information they need to achieve their goals.
Whether you provide information for freelancers generating new leads or sell IT software across the globe, your provider portal should act as a valuable resource that helps build a loyal and supportive community around your brand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenna Bunnell Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud-hosted unified communications system that provides valuable VoIP call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Check out her LinkedIn profile. She has also written content for Attention Insight and LandingCube.