IMN Launches Channel Marketing Tool

E-mail service provider iMakeNews (IMN) has launched a platform to help companies with a reseller channel manage email communications with end users.

Total Channel Communications lets manufacturers and other brand owners build an email newsletter with content and offers specific to their brand. The brand owner then makes the newsletters available on the IMN site to its value added resellers (VARs). The VARs can then localize the newsletter with additional content or offers specific to their needs, and then send the newsletter to their customers.

IMN’s Web analytics allow both vendors and resellers to see data on click-throughs, most-read content, time spent reading, and pass-along/forwarding behavior. This allows resellers to tailor their customer contact and marketing plans, and vendors to tailor their marketing efforts, or even their products.

The primary benefit for resellers is the creation of leads and sales generated by Total Channel Communications, without the burden of creating and managing their own email marketing program, according to Jeff Mesnik, co-founder and VP of business development at IMN.

“For resellers, the big challenge is that it is just not that easy to do e-newsletter marketing. It takes a lot of time just to author the articles, let alone the HTML design and programming to make it attractive and easy to navigate, managing the lists, and analyzing results,” Mesnick told ClickZ News. “Resellers understand that an e-newsletter program can build better relationships with their customers and drive business, but they simply don’t have the man-hours available.”

One hurdle to vendor-reseller cooperation on an email newsletter has been resellers’ reticence to share their house list with the vendor. For vendors, the channel model can present a threat to the consistency of their messaging and branding when resellers are responsible for sending the email newsletters. IMN addresses both issues by acting as an intermediary, sending the vendor’s content to the reseller’s list.

“It’s like that childhood game, telephone: the product messaging comes from the vendor, and by the time the reseller has passed it along to the end customer it sometimes doesn’t bear much resemblance to the way the vendor intended it,” Mesnik said. “The result is that the end customer is potentially not getting consistent or complete product information, and the vendor brand suffers.”

Besides getting more control over their messaging and access to resellers’ customers, brand owners get visibility into customer actions they wouldn’t normally get through their indirect relationships with end users. Brand owners can look at reports showing the aggregate popularity of each e-newsletter article to see which messages are getting the best response from end users.

IMN’s first customer to implement the Total Channel Communications platform is technology vendor PTC. Content available to the company’s more than 300 VARs includes customer case studies, tips and tricks for leveraging its software, specific product information and promotions, Webcast schedules and other calendar items, and forms for requesting more sales information. PTC is also providing three newsletter templates to its VARs.

“The value is very evident to resellers,” Mesnik said. “We just launched this program to PTC’s worldwide Value Added Reseller network during the annual PTC Channel Advantage Sales Kickoff and 80 percent of the resellers in attendance signed up.”

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