In most cases, the success of a partner program is almost always driven by a scientific blend of quantity (how many partners you have) and relevance (what you are offering to partners for sharing your brand).
Typically, when companies have the right messaging and relevant rewards for channel partners, value-added resellers, and agencies that are adding to the top of the funnel, passing along leads, and even helping to close deals - it’s a ripple effect.
While these elements are sure to be time and resource intensive, they are also closely tied to long-term success. Partner marketing requires a plan in order to deliver one shared experience to your end consumer.
With marketers adopting more personalized strategies, like nurturing via email workflows or developing segmented campaigns, partners are also looking beyond traditional methods of engagement and expecting to build long-term relationships with organizations.
5 Partner Marketing Tips
But when companies neglect to focus on the partner experience, partners often look elsewhere and satisfaction, engagement, and sales can suffer. The human element of building relationships is a must-have factor of partner marketing. Without having conversations with partners, providing up-to-date marketing materials, and education on your product/service, your partner marketing experience would be null.
Here are five ways to focus on the partner experience, in order to build healthy, long-term partnerships:
Tip #1: Create an Educational Guide or Video
Send a toolkit with all of the details to new partners in a welcome email and include a link on your program overview landing page. Include information on best practices for promoting your brand, how to utilize their partner portal, recommendations for seeing success, and more.
Tip #2: Host a Dedicated Partner Portal
Customize the experience for each partner in your program with a “home base” in a white-labeled portal. Here is where each partner’s dashboard will live, along with promotional materials, and the ability to submit referral leads. This is a great place to post recorded webinars to share updates and provide ongoing education to communicate at scale.
Tip #3: Send Dedicated Emails
Encourage engagement by providing valuable information via automated email notifications (see above: top of funnel, bottom of funnel, etc.). These emails can offer suggestions for seeing success or even highlight top performers.
Tip #4: Enable Engagement
Create a place where your partners can share with one another. A private Facebook group or a Salesforce community is a great place for partners to share with each other and your brand. As your partner community grows, consider in-person events or even certifications (such as, HubSpot’s Agency Partner Certification).
Tip #5: Encourage Employee Promotion
Provide employees that have high touch points with your partners with copy or a graphic that they can use in their email signature to promote the program.
The Value of Partner Marketing Software
Engaging and building positive brand relationships with prospects via partners produces long-term results. In fact, according to a recent report by Aberdeen, the ability to deliver a seamless experience pays off big time for partners and the company.
When enabled with technology and processes that support partner marketing efforts, companies see:
When carried out at a strategic level, partner marketing can be expansive and deliver its full potential. More so, when companies leverage partner marketing software and focus on delivering a world-class experience they reap the benefits of building long-term relationships, such as better engagement amongst partners, total transparency and visibility, as well as increased engagement.
And by automating the tedious tasks that go along with creating long-lasting relationships - like form submissions, lead tracking, and payments - your marketing team can start scaling a channel that really drives long-term growth.
Expert Take: HubSpot Leverages Partner Marketing Software To Scale
While it is easier said than done, growing your business via partner marketing can be done with a little help from the experts. We sat down with HubSpot to learn how the inbound marketing & sales software company leverages partner marketing and the key variables to consider when scaling your business partner program.
Here are 3 key elements of running a successful partner campaign:
1. Expand Partnerships
Similar to running a referral program, partner marketing is in part a numbers game. Instead of limiting your program to a small niche group, you’re likely to see better results with expanded outreach.
When companies open up their programs to different types of partners, activity spikes and the top of the funnel begins to expand.
HubSpot classifies their partners into three different categories: Sales partners, agency partners, and connect partners. Each partnership type has a unique model in terms of new customer acquisition, what their roles are, how they function operationally, and the value they provide to HubSpot. Each segment is also incentivized differently, based on their primary objectives.
By creating custom partner programs for a variety of segments, HubSpot is able to personalize campaigns, messaging, and incentives to the specific interests and motivations of each type of partner. Additionally, they have the ability to utilize different categories to achieve various business goals.
2. Understand What Partners Value
Organizations that leverage partner marketing are investing in an opportunity to benefit from an active, engaged, and often times, localized network that understands exactly what their audience needs. This is why it’s of utmost importance for companies to truly understand what their partners value as well.
The best business partner program incentives are reflective of the hard work that partners put in as they share your product or service. While most marketers understand that a reward should be given in exchange for a lead, how can companies ensure that they’re using the right incentive for the right partners at the right time?
While financial rewards - revenue share, flat-rate incentives, and discounts - are definitely a part of the equation, it's also important to find partners that VALUE their business and are looking to find solutions that are the best fit for their own clients.
3. Reward Partners At The Right Time
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to developing an incentive structure, it's important to build a program that best suits your company and partners. Selecting the form and flow of your rewards is the first step in developing an effective program that will generate the most leads for your business. The most successful incentive structures are easy to explain, implement, and payout.
If you're generating a healthy amount of leads per month, but don't have a way to automate payments, your business partner program will become a drain on your marketing or finance team. The last thing you want is to be spending more time managing reward payouts to partners than investing in activities to develop your partners and acquire new business.
Partner marketing is most valuable when you're able to easily amplify results without proportionately increasing internal resources. Without the right tools, capabilities, and systems in place, achieving that efficiency at scale is virtually impossible.
As your company is building its partner program, a key decision to make is whether to rely on technology or tedious manual processes. According to Forbes, forward-thinking marketers are using partner marketing automation to free up more time for strategy.
Our experts agree - focus your time, energy, and resources on developing relevant content and incentives, as well as training and supporting your partners. Then, leverage powerful technology to optimize partner campaigns as you start to collect data and analyze trends.
You, and your bottom line, will be happy you did.