Before we delve into all things related to the article of this piece, we need first to state one crucial element. What we are calling Partnership Marketing, you might have come across under a different name, Affiliate Marketing.
Partnership Marketing is what you'll want to bring to your next synch with your team to look into as a new way of generating leads for your business. It will be the case once you discover what it is, how it works, and how beneficial it can be.
To provide you with all the necessary knowledge to break it all down, we've interviewed Partnership Marketing expert Jason Hulott, with whom we work with on our clients' projects. He has 20+ years of experience in Digital Marketing and is the author of indispensable books on the topic.
What is Partnership Marketing?
Partnership Marketing is a strategic partnership between businesses to reach each others' wider audiences directly. Hulott shares the question you want to ask yourself before embarking on anything:
"Who do you want to align yourself with as a product owner?"
Partnership programs are easier to manage as you are not focused on quantity as you would in affiliation programs but on quality. Therefore, they require a lot more research, but you will be, in theory, working with a few partners that can bring a lot more business.
As you read this, you might still be developing parts of your product. One element that our expert can't stress enough is that a partnership program should be treated like a product.
This is a project for which time and human resources should be invested in, as well as marketing and promotion. It might seem like a bit much, but the upside is the return on actual investment that makes it an attractive program to create.
If you have, let's say, two partners and each of them talks to one thousand people directly about your solution (with direct links to specific pages of your website, of course), isn't that better than 100 links of your website scattered anywhere on the internet for 5 or 10 people to click on?
With a partnership program, you will target companies already working with your customers.
Why should you get started with Partnership Marketing?
It can diversify your lead and income sources.
- They already have this audience, so gaining direct access reduces the friction of convincing a new audience of your solution with this form of targeting. With referral comes trust, so make the best use of it!
It can provide more value to your existing customers.
- You also have to provide something to your new partner. If you've answered the question asked early in this article about who you want to align yourself with, you can offer something new that your existing customers might need. It could be an effective way to reduce churn.
How should you get started with Partnership Marketing?
Expert Jason Hulott shares how "you need to invest in other forms of marketing to first understand how well your site works, and who is buying your products. So you need at least 3 months of good quality data."
You have built your MVP, or you might even have reached some state of product-market fit. Understandably, all you want is to sell it to anyone you can think of. With a revenue stream and at least those 3 months of good quality data, you'll be able to tweak what's needed to make sure people are converting. Your product might need some final changes. Your website might need some optimisation depending on the feedback and the behaviour you observe throughout your funnel.
But there is no point to enter a partnership if all the traffic, leads or enquiries you’ll receive, don’t actually convert down your funnel. And…
"It's easier to sell an existing revenue stream to new partners," shares Jason.
Is data really that important?
Data won't only enable you to grow and help you understand how and which parts of your program to optimise. Data will also be an integral part of your research process to find the most relevant potential partners quickly.
We recommend exploring a platform like Breezy, which allows you to easily find new partnerships based on keywords search and competitor search related to what you're promoting. Test it out, and you'll be able to potentially confirm if a partnership program is the right next move.
Remember how we've described how a partnership program should be treated as a product? This program will evolve as any product does, and some areas might change. Partnerships can be as flexible as you need. If you want to renegotiate aspects of your partnership, having data to back your claims will help.
As Hulott described, "you need to understand, be able to track and optimise, and adapt the deal and offers based on the analysis, the audit of what's actually going on."
You need to analyse what your partners bring. We highly recommend leveraging platforms such as SEMRush, Ahrefs, Majestic to understand where your partners' traffic is coming from. You might find one day that you've received 100 new enquiries from one of your partners when you've usually received, let's say, about 20 in the last month. So something different must have happened.
We cannot highlight this enough, but data will enable you to discover new avenues for growth.
Can I get a concrete checklist to get started with partnership marketing?
Of course, you can!
What you need to understand and do first and foremost:
"It's to start with your product and revenue model," states Jason.
- Understanding how well your website is converting.
- Analyse what your prospects and customers are saying about you and your solution (i.e. reviews).
- Identify and optimise areas of improvement after investing in some performance marketing to test your entire funnel with more traffic.
What you'll do next - build your program:
"A partnership program is a long-term solution. So don't define your objective to just build a database," recommends Jason.
Summary on a partnership marketing:
By embarking on Partnership Marketing, you will be embarking on a long-term project. Therefore, it is essential to take the time to really understand that you can make the most out of it with processes that are delivering. It is equally important to make sure that you are entering a partnership with a company that fits your brand and your objectives and that you know they can meet your goals.
We might be stating facts that you feel like everyone knows already, but this is a two-way relationship. And the best way to nurture it is to make sure everyone is delivering on their engagement. What's the best way to do this? With data.