Why successful partnering requires new thinking
- 29 March, 2021 09:00
Partners can play a critical role in helping brands achieve their targets by helping them reach desirable new audiences and accelerating customers’ progress to conversion.
But despite its effectiveness, partnering has not always been recognised as strategic marketing activity, with some marketers considering partnering relationships to be difficult to establish, manage, and measure.
This perspective often flows from memories of programs overweighted with discount and promotional partners and encumbered by labour-intensive processes for identifying and onboarding partners – something that is all the more problematic given the imperative to diversify partner types required to make a program effective.
But by ignoring partnering, marketers risk seeding territory to hungrier competitors and overlooking a powerful tool for creating operating leverage for the businesses.
The new world of partnering
Partnering programs are a useful way for marketers to reach qualified audiences and have been shown to connect brands to customers in highly specialised categories. This enables marketers to tap into the so-called ‘long tail’ of online content.
Historically, partners have generally been affiliates who have accelerated conversion by distributing coupons, cashback offers, or other sales incentive tools.
But according to the CEO of partner relationship management platform Partnerize, Matt Gilbert, these methods are only the tip of the iceberg of what partnering can offer.
“What we are really seeing a is significant diversification of partners, and a corresponding reduction in reliance upon traditional affiliates,” Gilbert says. “Overcoming that historical legacy is a critical component of this channel contributing at the level that a CMO needs.”
When managed effectively, partnering programs can guide a consumer from discovery and consideration all the way through to conversion. For example, partnerships with well-regarded review and comparison sites can uplift consideration at a much earlier stage in the purchasing cycle.
However, the process of creating partnering relationships can be difficult, due to the labour-intensive process of finding suitable partners and then onboarding them into a campaign strategy.
Furthermore, questions are often raised regarding the ability to measure outcomes. With different partners playing specific roles in progressing customers through the marketing funnel, it can be difficult to ensure they are compensated appropriately, and traditional partnering compensation models have tended towards ‘last click’ attribution.
These concerns can be compounded by difficulties in assessing the voracity of partner data, which raises questions about transparency, brand safety and wastage.
The Partnerize solution
The Partnerize Partner Management Platform elevates partnering to become a strategic part of the marketing mix by automating and streamlining the processes behind finding, onboard, managing, and compensating partners.
Firstly, it provides in-market performance data and proprietary AI that helps marketers identify partners that fit their brand’s objectives. Marketers can search through a curated list of potential partners using their preferred criteria, which is matched to data from the partners and cross-checked by Partnerize.
“That is all automated, whereas historically it was a very media kit-driven, people-based business development process,” Gilbert says. “Diversification meant manual processes, low match rates, and an inability to get to scale efficiently, so we had to overcome that with technology.”
Partnerize then automates onboarding, from streamlining inviting new partners through to facilitating the creation of sophisticated reward programs. Creative content and offers can be instantly uploaded and updated within the platform and built-in CRM tools enable marketers to stay connected with partners easily.
“We have significantly reduced the process of recruitment by creating that communication capability,” Gilbert says.
Partnerize also incorporates attribution and commission management tools which take into account the partner’s role in conversion. Marketers can track every customer interaction from first click through to conversion and use split commission structures to compensate partners fairly based on their real-world contribution to revenue.
“If you can map that commercial dynamic to partner types that are diversified, you put the marketer in a position to create a subsidy to those primary channels,” Gilbert says.
This enables marketers to compensate partners not just on revenue growth, but also on goals such as acquisition, lapsed user reactivation, average order value, and lifetime value.
And marketers can also analyse partner performance in real-time using a state-of-the-art reporting suite, delivering maximum data transparency, and settling any concerns of wastage.
By automating and optimising every aspect of partnership management for profitable growth, maximum efficiency, and outstanding brand protection, Partnerize elevates partnership to a higher level in the marketing strategy. Marketers can create a more robust partnering program that incorporates a greater diversity of the right partners while smoothing the management lifecycle and delivering transparency and accountability.
Ultimately, this ensures that partnering relationships are able to gain the same levels of effectiveness and trust as other marketing channels, to ensure they are seen as a strategic tool for brand marketers