Your Partner Portal is not a Website

Updated March 28, 2023
Published in Channel Management, Channel Success, Partner Portal Software

One in every twenty or so prospects we come across puts a significant amount of weight in their decision making on making sure that their partner portal has the identical look and feel of their public facing website. Selecting a portal solution that does this tends to result in a significantly greater cost to them—sometimes 5 to 10 times the first year cost of a PRM solution—without the increase in partner engagement.

Beyond basic branding and color scheme, there is no evidence to suggest matching website look and feel matters to partners. In fact there are several arguments that this is not only a waste of money but may in fact be a detriment to productivity.

How is a Partner Portal Different From a Website?

Don't confuse your partner portal for a marketing website.
Don’t confuse your partner portal for a marketing website. It’s a critical partner engagement and productivity tool.

A partner portal is a business application, not a marketing website, so the driving factors for the user interface are fundamentally different. A website has a singular purpose. It needs to be designed to capture a prospect and convert them to a lead. So look, feel, imagery, information and navigation are all focused on that one outcome. Over time, best practices for this have continually evolved. Thus websites are continually being refreshed for optimizing the one purpose.

Partner portals by contrast have multiple drivers behind the user interface. None of which have to do with conversion of visitors to leads. The partner portal user interface needs to be designed around intuitive access to relevant information, productivity of partner users, driving workflow and providing actionable feedback.  

To this end, simplicity, consistency and familiarity of the user interface are drivers:

  1. Your partners’ goal is to make more sales, and to that end, only care that they are in the right portal and can get the information they need quickly. There is zero evidence to suggest spending the extra money on matching look and feel of your partner portal software interface to your marketing website will provide for better partner engagement.
  2. Your enterprise partner portal is for partners you’ve already won. The goal now is to try to make them productive. Window dressing does not matter to productivity. Good UI design does.
  3. If you believe that the look of your partner portal must match your website, you now have to redo your portal every time you refresh your website. Users don’t like change to UI, and often causes a decline in usage.
  4. Business application user interfaces need to be intuitive. To this end you will notice that many newer applications have adopted the UI conventions of widely used social applications such as Facebook. So the users mind is already trained on where to look for navigation and what standard iconography means. Creating your own custom user experience to match your website is counterproductive.
  5. By choosing Partner Relationship Management (PRM) portal software that has been designed under the principals and guidelines of a business application, there is a high likelihood your partners will have experienced the user interface before. This will result in faster ramp up, engagement and productivity.

The growth of your channel partner program is dependent on meeting your strategic goals, whether that’s an increase in partner engagement, consistent deal registration, MDF use, ease of lead distribution, or all of the above.  When choosing your PRM, select a solution that is designed to enable both your partners, and your, success.

Channeltivity’s partner portal software is a highly flexible solution designed so channel managers can easily create a customized experience for each partner. Good business and marketing principals show that this targeted approach is what really increases engagement. And more importantly than looking like your website, partners are more likely to use a tool targeted to their specific program needs, geography or role in the company.

For more on selecting the right PRM solution for your channel program, read our free ebook, ‘9 Questions to ask before selecting a Partner Relationship Management Solution’


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