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Talking Technical: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Partner Automation Platform

Dec 10, 2019

Director of Sales Operations

Men Shaking Hands

We’ve all seen the famous Martech 5000 slide, which showcases the vast number of technologies available for your marketing stack. Selecting a technology is never an easy task, whether it’s a CRM, e-Commerce, Call Tracking, or Partner Automation Platform — they all come with specific questions that need to be asked, and more importantly, answered. 

When it comes to selecting a platform to manage and automate your partnerships, there are a number of key questions to ask. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of how to successfully select a Partner Automation Platform, as well as how to use the concepts behind these questions across other technology selection processes.

1. Can the platform easily integrate with my existing technology stack?

Chances are you’re already working with a range of existing marketing platforms so one of the first questions to ask is whether the partnership technology you are looking at can easily integrate with ones you are already using. This is highly important because you’ll want to minimize effort and any additional costs involved in planning and building new integrations. These days, many platforms are built on a foundation of APIs, which makes them quite easy to integrate with other API based technologies via GET or POST requests. Even little things like being able to push URL append parameters into other technologies are extremely important in managing consistent data in a single location, e.g., UTM tracking for Google Analytics.

In addition, attribution is a key factor to keep top-of-mind, as it’s important to ensure you can easily run click trackers within an additional technology to help maintain a holistic view of all your digital channels. Even offline activity should be taken into consideration. Don’t forget investigate the possibility of connecting your Partner Automation Platform into a call tracking technology, ensuring the correct tracking and payments are being made to the respective traffic providers.

2. Can it track users beyond desktop?

Historically, depending on the technology at hand, if a user clicked from a website on their phone, and was directed into an app, the attribution tracking would often be lost; there would be no way of connecting the initial click (web) to conversion (app). However, today’s customer journey means your platform needs to be able to track app-to-app, app-to-web, and web-to-app.

One of the key pieces of information to check when looking at the tech is if it has its own SDK, or if it can integrate with existing third-party mobile app tracking providers, such as Branch or AppsFlyer. This will ensure you can match the conversion back to the click, and back to the partner that drove it. That ensures you can accurately commission.

3. Can it be set up to track in multiple countries and pay in local currencies?

If your business works across multiple borders and needs the ability to track, report, and more importantly pay partners many currencies, then ensure the technology you select will fully meet your needs. This allows you to house all tracking and payments in a single dashboard, ensuring you have a more transparent source of truth for the channel. 

Once you’ve clarified this, it’s important to find out if there are any additional or hidden fees involved when onboarding new partners or paying in different currencies to those you track. At the end of the month, you want to be able to raise a single invoice for all your partner activity — saving time so you and your team can focus on more strategic challenges.

4. Does it provide you the tracking and commissioning flexibility to meet your growth goals?

One of the best ways to drive growth is to move away from a set-it-and-forget approach. If you’re looking to do this, you’ll want to ensure your platform has the flexibility to allow you to try innovative approaches, especially when it comes to things like commissioning.

First, be sure to ask how flexible commission structures can be. For example, can you commission on any desired outcome such as installs, registrations, purchases, or any other events that matter to your business? Can you then tie these commission structures back to growth, such as higher commission payments for higher-margin products or direct brands within your group? Can you pass back post-transactional data back into the platform?

Second, find out how flexible your commission structures are. Will you have the flexibility to pay out on any data parameter in any way, including CPC, CPA percentage, or a fixed CPA?  Can you split your commissions to pay multiple contributing partners? Understanding the level of flexibility here will allow you to test different approaches and learn what works best.

5. What does the integration and migration process entail?

Once you’ve satisfied your technical requirements, there’s one last thing to check before you sign on the dotted line, and that’s implementation requirements. Ensure the platform has flexibility when it comes to the way it can integrate, including:

  • Different tracking options to suit your need e.g. pixel, server-to-sever
  • Previous experience integrating with the other technologies you work with
  • An integration/migration timeline

It’s important to understand all elements of integration/migration. Further, it is important that all required internal teams have allocated the required technical resources and other resources to get the work done in a timely manner. Be sure to understand what support you’ll receive and the key milestones and processes along the way. If you have many partners, it’s great to ask if the platform support team will carry out migration tasks for you as part of the wider setup, as this will save you a lot of time and effort!

When it comes to selecting a Partner Automation Platform there are multiple things to consider, especially when implementing it as part of your wider technology stack. Being prepared with a thorough understanding of your business and technical needs means you go in with a clearer sense of what you need. By utilizing the five questions we’ve discussed, you’ll be able to form a better assessment of technical capabilities and might even discover areas of the platform you need that you weren’t aware of. Ultimately, you’ll be more confident that you are making the right choice. 

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