On more than a few occasions, I've been asked to take part in joint PPC programs with resellers. Sometimes the programs have worked really well, other times they have been less than inspiring.
Overall, I've seen mixed results. Here's a few thoughts on some of the lessons learned and what worked best:
Although having PPC placements by both you and your resellers mean less shelf-space available to your competitors, competing on bids with your resellers is not always the most efficient use of money, especially when budgets are tight. By pooling resources together you can work to improve placement and increase coverage throughout the day. Collaborating on day-parting can also work well to reduce bidding conflicts.
Probably the most important thing is to make sure your reseller has good site analytics in place. There's no point in driving your PPC traffic to the reseller site if they can't track what happens to these people once they hit their site. This may sound obvious, but shoddy, even non-existent, tracking has happened more times than I'd like to remember.
Resellers are exactly that; they are about selling. More often than not, the expectation is that resellers have e-commerce capabilities on their site. Therefore, targeting intent through specific "buy" phrases can work well to encourage online purchase (even more so if your own site lacks e-commerce). However, remember to make sure that your reseller's site can track your PPC investment through to online sale.
Dedicated Landing Page
Be prepared to drive traffic and key conversions for keywords away from your site to the reseller. This is ok, as long as they have tracking in place and searchers are being moved towards a sale. However, be sure that the reseller is landing searchers on a page focused just on your products (for example, a dedicated landing page or microsite). Remember that if the reseller also sells competitor products then you risk the visitor wandering towards competing products, from your paid ad.
If you have a number of resellers covering the same geographical areas and products, then you risk channel conflict issues, particularly if your PPC program is just with a selected few.
If this is the case, then sometimes it is best to make joint PPC programs a part of Reseller Certification. For example, companies with many resellers often organize their authorized resellers into different levels (such as Platinum, Gold, and Silver), depending on business requirements. The higher their level, the more support the partner receives. PPC Co-Op programs could be part of this support.
As an example, in order to benefit from joint PPC programs, the reseller has to:
- Be a platinum-level partner
- Have e-commerce capability
- Have robust website analytics in place
- Have a microsite dedicated to your products