Discover and develop the growth power of partnerships
- 12 August, 2020 09:00
Successful marketing is always challenging but under Covid-19 those challenges have increased exponentially. Many marketing budgets have shrunk or disappeared, channels such as events and conferences have moved online, and so has consumer purchasing. The NAB Online Retail Sales Index reported its highest ever monthly growth rate in April, 16.5 percent. Year-on year growth for April, 58.5 percent, was also the highest recorded since the series started on 2012.
More than ever marketers are challenged to justify their spend, and to quantify its impact. During these uncertain times, it’s vital to direct marketing budget and effort to channels that provide the best return on investment.
One of those channels is partnerships. Partnership programmes can open doors for businesses to organically introduce themselves into the user experience through a wide range of partnership types, including B2B partners, affiliates, influencers, media publishers and more. These partners are essentially making a warm introduction — sort of like a friend-of-a-friend endorsement — which can be accomplished automatically and at scale. And because these partnerships operate on a pay-for-performance model, they’re particularly appealing in tough times.
However, managing partnerships is complex. Marketers and business development/partnership professionals are burdened with overseeing multiple portfolios and different types of technology. Not only is it difficult to track outcomes and ensure every partnership is delivering on its promise, but enterprises inevitably also find themselves responsible for discovering and screening new kinds of partnerships, ensuring their brand is safe from fraud, and understanding what incremental value each and every partnership delivers.
Partnership automation is the answer - managing the partner lifecycle more seamlessly through a set of tightly integrated software solutions can activate rapid enterprise growth. And Impact was founded in 2008 to provide marketers with a SaaS solution that does exactly that.
Impact: powering partnership automation
In 2019, the company launched the Impact Partnership Cloud to enable marketers to maximise the potential of these referral partnerships and to support all the new partnership types that have emerged in the digital age. It has brought automation to the partnership channel in the same way that Salesforce brought automation to sales and Marketo and Hubspot brought automation to Marketing.
Whatever form a partnership takes it should start with a plan to identify objectives and determine what success looks like and then progress through the discovery and onboarding of suitable partners and the optimisation of the relationship to maximise benefits to both partners.
Mastering this process across multiple partnership types presents considerable challenges. To better understand these challenges and help companies create successful partnership ecosystems, Impact commissioned Forrester Consulting, to evaluate how different companies leverage partnerships to drive competitive advantage and to identify best-in-class strategies and tactics for successful partnerships.
In 2019, Forrester’s findings were published in a report titled Invest In Partnerships To Drive Growth And Competitive Advantage.
Features of mature partnership programmes
The analyst company surveyed 454 companies in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Their responses showed partnerships are increasingly crucial to business growth, helping companies access prospects and customers they might not otherwise reach.
Forrester identified three features common across firms with the most mature partnership programmes:
- They generate a greater share of their revenue from the partnership channel.
- They drive faster revenue growth within the partnership channel and at the overall company level.
- They are more likely to exceed stakeholder expectations on business metrics than are companies with less mature partnership programmes.
Respondents also revealed successful partnerships require a multifaceted approach that embraces four pillars: people, process, technology and breadth, as well as mastery of multiple disciplines.
Forrester Consulting developed a partnership maturity model using a number of metrics for each of these four pillars.
Impact then realised it would be possible to create a roadmap using these metrics that would help companies improve and expand their partnership programmes.
Key metrics of successful partnerships
As a result, the company commissioned Forrester in early 2020 to examine the tactical differences between high- and low-maturity companies. Forrester’s findings are published in the recently released report, Smooth the Partnership Journey by Learning from high-maturity companies.
The study found picking the right partners to be the prerequisite for a mature partnership ecosystem. Equally important is having the right mix of partners: they need to cover every stage of a buyer’s journey.
Discovery and recruitment were the most challenging aspects of a successful partnership, followed by planning and strategy development, according to the Forrester study, which also found many high partnership maturity firms placed significant emphasis on ensuring they had the channel capacity, staff and budget in place for successful partnerships.
The importance of automation
Many companies surveyed used automation to assist with the operation of their partnership programme. Usage was least in the discovery and recruitment phase – 22 per cent mostly automated. This rose to 43 per cent in the tracking phase. However, Forrester found a big difference between the automation of tracking in mature partnership companies and others. Sixty-seven percent of high-maturity companies reported their tracking as mostly automated compared to 20 percent of low-maturity companies.
The Smooth the Partnership Journey study provides valuable insights into the importance of partnership maturity and details what a mature partnership company looks like. It also offers a roadmap to help companies achieve partnership maturity and ultimately, drive more revenue growth.
In particular, it identifies the importance of automation in managing and scaling the partnership channel and highlights the automation power of the Impact Partnership Cloud.
Forrester estimated companies adopting the Impact Partnership Cloud saw a return on investment (ROI) of 314 percent, and the Partnership Cloud paid for itself within the first six months.
To see how you can boost the maturity of your partnership programme, download the report here.
Impact is the global leader in partnership automation and a catalyst for the new Partnership Economy. It accelerates enterprise growth by providing automation for the discovery and recruitment, contracting and payment, engagement, performance tracking, monitoring and protection, and optimisation of all types of partnerships including: affiliates, ambassadors, charities and non-profits, mobile apps, premium publishers, social influencers, sponsorships, strategic business development partnerships and more. Impact’s Partnership Cloud SaaS platform manages over $50bn in e-commerce sales and $2bn in partnership payments, providing automation for the full partnership lifecycle, confident decision making and optimisation through measurement and attribution and protection from fraud. The company drives revenue growth for global enterprises such as Backcountry, Bass Pro Shops, Fanatics, Getty Images, Lenovo, Levi’s, Techstyle and Ticketmaster. Founded in Santa Barbara, CA, in 2008, Impact has more than 500 employees and 1100 clients worldwide. To learn more visit www.impact.com.