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How to Build an Award-Winning Partner Portal: 8 Insights

As the Global Head of Channel Operations at Lookout, I've been at the helm of transforming the Lookout Partner Hub from good to great. My goal was to create a partner portal that not only supports our partners but propels them towards success. I'm proud to say that our partner portal welcomed over 400 new partners, with users exceeding 1,500 by the 90-day mark. We achieved a 240% increase in logins into our partner hub. Within three months, we realized 100% ROI. And Lookout also received the 2024 Best in Partner Engagement Award from Impartner for our partner portal! 

Our journey of building an award-winning portal with Impartner is a story of challenges, innovations, and triumphs. Reflecting on our experiences, I'm sharing the top actionable strategies that have significantly driven partner engagement in our portal, hoping they will inspire and guide others who are ready to transform their partner portal experience. Let's get started.  

What does a partner portal do?  

Your partner portal is the linchpin of effective ecosystem management, serving as the go-to place where partners can access everything they need to sell and support your products efficiently.  

When set up well, it can become the central hub for deal registration, training, marketing materials, and more, tailored to enhance your partner experience, streamline operations, and foster a more collaborative ecosystem. By providing real-time access to resources, tools, and data, a well-crafted partner portal empowers your partners to engage more deeply and align closer with your brand goals, ultimately paving the way for mutual growth and success in a competitive marketplace. 

1. Build from a unified, integrated approach 

Our initial portal setup was fragmented, with Salesforce for deal registration, separate Excel sheets for content sharing, and different logins for training. The confusion was palpable among our partners.  

The game-changer was consolidating these disparate systems into one cohesive partner portal with Impartner. This centralization made it easier for partners to access the resources they needed, improving their experience and our operational efficiency. With Impartner, we were able to integrate our partner data into the rest of our tech stack, including our LMS, Salesforce, and more.  

2. Deploy rapidly and iterate based on feedback 

We launched our portal within eight weeks of concept approval. This quick deployment was crucial, but it was our commitment to iteration, based on partner feedback, that truly made our portal resonate with users.  

Listening to what partners needed and adapting quickly reinforced the value we placed on their experience and our mutual success. 

3. Link portal usage to ROI  

Demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) of our partner portal was crucial. By tracking how portal activities led to increased deal registrations and closures, we could provide tangible evidence of the portal’s value from the very start.  

Achieving a 100% ROI within 90 days of launch underscored the direct impact of the portal on our bottom line, making a compelling case for continued investment and enhancement. Learn more about validating the ROI of your ecosystem in Impartner's checklist on the topic.  

4. Quantify engagement and celebrate successes 

After the launch, we observed a staggering 240% increase in logins to our partner hub. This metric wasn't just a number; it was a testament to the effectiveness of our efforts in making the portal more accessible and user-friendly.  

Celebrating these wins, both internally and with our partners, fostered a culture of achievement and continuous improvement. Partners were excited about contributing to our growing and engaged ecosystem.  

5. Incorporate partner feedback for continuous improvement 

Our journey didn’t stop with the launch. We actively sought out and incorporated partner feedback, which was instrumental in evolving the portal’s features and usability.  

This ongoing dialogue ensured that the portal remained relevant and effective in meeting our partners' changing needs. 

6. Automate content synchronization and other processes 

A significant enhancement to our portal was automating the synchronization with our content management system, ensuring real-time updates. This automation eliminated delays and manual efforts in content updates, making the latest resources immediately available to partners. 

Whenever possible, look for opportunities to automate key functionalities or processes that interact with your partner portal.  

7. Redesign with purpose and data 

Feedback indicated that our portal's homepage lacked character and clarity in guiding partners on expected actions.  

Collaborating with both our internal designers in association with Impartner's partner Spur Reply, we redesigned the homepage to offer a segmented, one-click overview that quickly and significantly enhanced user experience and engagement. 

Further, monitoring how partners interacted with our different portal assets allowed us to optimize content and functionalities.  

For example, by correlating asset downloads with deal registrations, we gained insights into the types of content that drove tangible business results, enabling us to tailor the portal more effectively to partner needs. 

8. Go offline to improve your online experience  

Participating in industry events and engaging with the community has also been an invaluable part of updating our portal experience. These interactions have not only offered us fresh perspectives but also fostered collaborations that have further refined our portal.  

My role in this ecosystem has evolved, allowing me to share our successes and learn from the experiences of others, driving continuous improvement. 

The road ahead  

Our vision for the Lookout Partner Hub is one of constant evolution, driven by a commitment to providing an exceptional partner experience. We're exploring new technologies, including AI for deeper personalization and expanding API integrations to further streamline processes. Our goal is to not only meet but exceed the expectations of our partners, fostering a community of growth, collaboration, and success.

You can learn even more about Lookout's journey in the following video or the panel I joined at ImpartnerCon '24: Inside the Evolution: Stories of Optimizing Partner Experience

Overall, this journey has taught me that a partner portal is more than a platform; it's a reflection of your commitment to your partners' success.

By prioritizing user experience, leveraging feedback, and continuously innovating, you can create a portal that truly engages and supports your partners. I hope these strategies inspire other companies to embark on their journeys of growing faster and stronger with their partners. 

About the Author

Dinara Bakirova is the Global Head of Channel Operations at Lookout. Dinara is a global corporate leader and senior channel operations professional with 15+ years of GTM strategy experience in the IT industry, previously working for tech giants Canon, Cisco, and Adobe. She lives in the UK and loves traveling whenever possible, having resided in four different countries: Russia, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark.

Profile Photo of Dinara Bakirova