In today’s complex and ever-changing business landscape, it’s important to have a strong partner marketing strategy that will help you grow your business. This article will explore ten B2B partner marketing strategies that can supercharge your business to the next level. We’ll look at how to create a mutually beneficial partnership, leverage existing customer relationships, and use technology to scale your partner program. With these strategies in place, you’ll be well-positioned for long-term success.
What is B2B Partner Marketing?
Partner marketing (or partnership marketing) is when one brand drives traffic and customers to another brand in exchange for value or compensation.
It is when one brand promotes another brand to its customer base in exchange for some form of value or compensation, such as a cost per acquisition (CPA) model, in which the partner brand only pays when a sale is made. There are as many ways to partner as there are types of companies and publishers to partner with, such as loyalty communities and keystone partners – large publishers and communities whose primary business is partnership. Transformational partners are also becoming increasingly popular, bringing something unique to the partnership that can transform the go-to-market strategy of a company.
Read our guide to Partnership Marketing to learn more.
The Benefits of Partnership Marketing for Your Business
With ROI at the forefront of every marketing leader’s mind, it is no surprise that affiliate and partner marketing represents the most efficient use of marketing budgets. IAB/PwC reports that brands generate a 14-fold return on every dollar spent.
Furthermore, data shows that partner marketing accounts for 15-20% of large company sales.
Our survey of brand leaders revealed even more impressive stats:
- 54% said that partner marketing drives more than 20% of sales
- 24% said that partner marketing drives more than 30% of sales
- 74% said that partner marketing is a high or very high priority
- 59% of respondents reported that their companies have not yet reached their partnership sales potential.
The truth is, the secret is out on affiliate marketing, and those who aren’t participating are already lagging behind. According to our survey, 95% of retail, travel, and finance brands have affiliate programs in place, and more than half of brands expect to spend more on affiliate marketing this year than last.
Learn more by reading 7 Excellent Benefits of Affiliate Marketing.
Here are 11 B2B Partner Marketing Strategies That Drive Sales
There are several B2B partner marketing strategies that can drive sales, but here are ten top strategies that can help you achieve this goal.
Let’s begin with 5 basic foundational-level strategies.
Drive Sales Through Content Marketing Efforts
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that involves creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and ultimately drive profitable customer action. By producing content that your target audience wants and needs, you can establish your business as a thought leader in your industry and build trust with potential customers.
To make the most of this strategy, you can collaborate with your partners to create co-branded content. This will not only help you reach a wider audience, but it will also reinforce the relationship between your businesses. For example, you could co-create a whitepaper or webinar that addresses a challenge that your shared target audience is facing. This will demonstrate your joint expertise and help position your businesses as go-to resources for solutions.
Consider Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
ABM is a highly targeted marketing strategy that focuses on specific accounts or customers. Rather than casting a wide net and hoping to attract leads, ABM involves identifying high-value accounts that are most likely to convert and creating personalized marketing campaigns for those accounts.
To make the most of this strategy, you can work with your partners to identify key accounts that you both want to target. By collaborating on an ABM campaign, you can leverage each other’s expertise and resources to create a more effective campaign. For example, you could work together to create personalized content or events for each account.
Focus On Your Referral Marketing Efforts
Referral marketing is a strategy that involves encouraging your partners to refer potential customers to your business. By incentivizing your partners to refer business to you, you can tap into their networks and reach potential customers that you might not have been able to reach otherwise.
To make the most of this strategy, you can offer incentives for referrals, such as discounts or rewards. You can also provide exclusive content or access to events to partners who refer a certain number of customers. This will help motivate your partners to refer business to you and reinforce your relationship.
Host Joint Events or Webinars
Joint events or webinars are a great way to leverage your partners’ networks and reach a wider audience. By collaborating on an event or webinar, you can combine your resources and expertise to create a more compelling event.
To make the most of this strategy, you can work with your partners to identify a topic that would be of interest to your shared target audience. You can then co-create an event or webinar that addresses that topic. By promoting the event or webinar to your combined networks, you can maximize your reach and generate leads.
Leverage a Partners Social Media Audience
Social media marketing is a strategy that involves using social media platforms to reach and engage with your target audience. By collaborating with your partners on social media, you can amplify your message and reach a wider audience.
To make the most of this strategy, you can work with your partners to create a coordinated social media strategy. This could involve sharing each other’s content, tagging each other in posts, and collaborating on social media campaigns. By working together, you can increase your visibility on social media and generate more leads.
These are just a few examples of B2B partner marketing strategies that can drive sales. The key to success is to identify the right partners, establish clear goals and expectations, and collaborate effectively to deliver value to your customers and drive business results.
Advanced B2B Partner Marketing Strategy Tips for Your Brand
The above partner marketing strategy tips serve as a foundation for your B2B partnership strategy. In this next section, we will discuss six more advanced strategies that will help you drive growth for your partner marketing efforts. By understanding what growth means to you and what success looks like, you can devise a partnership strategy that aligns with your goals and helps you achieve them.
The purpose of this section of the article is to help you with tips, ideas, and actionable strategies that will help you drive new customers to your brand.
What Is Incrementality?
Incrementality is a marketing term that measures the impact of a marketing campaign on sales or conversions. It is the difference between the number of sales or conversions that would have happened without the campaign and the number of sales or conversions that actually happened.
Here is how to calculate incrementality:
Incrementality = (Test conversion rate – Control conversion rate) / Test conversion rate
While that is a textbook definition, some brands use the term to describe only sales made to “net new” customers. Other brands use the term to describe sales made in categories that are new to the user. For example, if you have only purchased appliances from a retailer and then make a clothing purchase, that clothing sale would be incremental.
For the purposes of this article, let’s consider incrementality as revenue that you wouldn’t have received without fielding a specific strategy or tactic. That encompasses sales to new customers as well as incremental revenue you drive from existing customers, either via additional purchase occasions or larger total purchase values.
Whatever your incrementality focus is, you can restructure your partner marketing strategy to fit your unique needs. Just make sure you understand how you will be measured before you start to formulate plans.
Once you have established what incrementality means to you and your organization, you need to formulate a program that meets those chosen objectives. The right mix of tactics will depend on both your definition and your goals.
To help you identify great tactics for your programs, we’ve put together a variety of strategies companies have used to drive those “new” sales.
Commissioning for New Customers
One of the simplest and most effective strategies to encourage partners to find new customers is by creating a commission program that favors purchases from net new shoppers. There are two ways to do this: commission on new customers only or offer a higher reward versus existing buyers. That way, you can easily encourage partners to promote new-to-file customers who wouldn’t have shopped with you otherwise.
Another approach is to use partners to reach out to new audience segments where your brand is underdeveloped. Diversify your partner mix and work more closely with top-of-the-funnel partners, like content partners or influencers, who you can reward for driving new customers. You can either adopt a first-click attribution model for these efforts or look to incorporate split commissioning to ensure earlier-stage partners are rewarded for their incremental sales.
Create Co-Marketing Partnerships With Brands
More and more brands are looking to create alliances with complementary brand partners that can help them reach out to new buyers. Brand alliances are collaborations in which two brands work together for mutual benefit. More and more leading brands are turning to this tactic because they can leverage pre-existing relationships to drive more trials.
Aligning with another brand means that the partner can distribute exclusive trial messaging and offers to its audience, which in turn drives them to purchase with you as a new incremental customer.
This approach is going to work best if you align with a brand that has an audience without a lot of overlap with your own. You can determine that empirically by comparing database samples or simply choosing a brand for co-marketing partnerships that reaches a different but high potential target audience to your core target.
Focus On Customer Lifetime Value
For virtually any business, a repeat buyer is vastly more profitable than a one-time buyer. This is true for all sorts of online sellers but especially true for subscription businesses like streaming entertainment companies.
Partnerize pioneered LTV-based commissioning, in which a partner receives a small bounty when a user signs up for a service and another bounty for every period that they remain a paying customer. This has helped several of our clients attract far more valuable customers because partners learn quickly which channels and tactics are best for delivering quality traffic and conversions.
Another approach is to create a commission program that rewards partners after a specific length of time elapses or after the new user takes a secondary action. For example, many financial institutions pay partners progressively more for “deeper” conversions, having a small bounty for an application, a larger one for an accepted application, and a still larger one for the first use of the credit card.
Leverage Your Data to Win Your Competitors’ Customers
Some of the largest and most sophisticated partners use on-site searches and other user data to create programs that help brands intercept buyers that may have intended to buy from a competitor.
Leading shopping, coupon, and cashback sites can put your brand and offer in the search results for specific categories and brands. Naturally, they aren’t going to empower you to intercept a customer that also pays them to drive traffic. But it can be effective for changing shopping behavior if the leading brands in your category aren’t aggressive in partnerships.
A growing set of partners can use credit card purchase data to create competitor user audiences for targeting as well. In this case, you can specifically target past buyers of competitors and provide incentives to get them to switch.
Implement a Category Based Commission Partner Marketing Strategy
Some brands are exploring commissioning programs in which they reward partners more when customers make purchases in new-for-them categories.
To achieve this, purchases are compared against a client’s customer database to determine if an item they bought is in a new-for-them category. For example, a company might offer 2% on all purchases but 6% on purchases in new categories.
These sorts of agreements require a lot of sophistication and back-end tech but can be very valuable for brands looking to expand their footprint in buyer households. Remember also that the total amount of commission that the partner receives needs to be generous enough to get them to commit site real estate to your programs. No one is going to support a program where they can’t make much money. These programs usually work best when you offer a base commission plus a bonus versus only rewarding on the new category transactions.
Use Tiered Commissioning to Drive a Higher Average Order Value
Another great approach for getting existing customers to buy more than they might ordinarily is to offer a tiered commission program that rewards partners for driving larger purchases. In such a program, the brand rewards the partner more when they encourage a user to transact about certain thresholds. For example, a cashback site might reward a customer more if they spend more than $50 in a transaction.
Again, these programs often work best when any purchase is rewarded, but a bonus is offered for larger purchases. This structure ensures that a partner makes sufficient money to warrant the real estate and attention they put against your program.
Partner marketing is at its most effective when it is built on a data-driven strategy. By being smart about our approaches and investing time in working out what’s right for us, we are more likely to see success.
Commit the time and attention to determine what incrementality means to your business. Then choose from the menu of strategies available to incentivize partners to help you meet or exceed goals.
Thanks for reading. We welcome comments on our content. Please contact us with your thoughts and ideas. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our ‘Growing Together in the New Normal’ content series for more ideas and learnings.