When the relationships between brands and partners are strong, partner marketing can be one of the most powerful and efficient business channels. Unfortunately, these relationships are often neglected, misunderstood, or poorly managed. When brands fail to invest the needed attention in their partnerships, no one wins.
Is your brand guilty of partner neglect? Let’s take a look at a few key areas where more attention could produce better and more profitable relationships for your brand.
1. Have you set and communicated your objectives?
Believe it or don’t, many partner programs launch without advertisers clearly communicating objectives to partners. Clearly explaining success criteria to your partners minimizes misunderstandings that could be detrimental to otherwise successful partnerships.
Before launching a program, ask yourself these questions: What is our business objective for this partner program? Does your deal structure reflect your actual goals? Have we communicated what we want and how we will measure success with our partners?
2. Do you regularly reassess your compensation model?
The most successful partnerships start with strong revenue agreements that satisfy both advertisers and their partners. Most companies engage in some initial research and modeling to create their commission programs. But what worked last year might not be the right thing for today.
To ensure your partners are engaged and committed to your programs, continually assess how well their existing compensation structure works for them. Are they making good money? Have you stayed abreast of new programs and competitive program changes that may affect the relative appeal of your program? By staying vigilant, you can ensure that partners continue to back your plan and drive new sales.
3. Do you pay fairly, and when you say you will?
Partners promote your goods because of the financial rewards. Savvy advertisers know that they must offer substantial financial incentives to garner partner interest. They make offers that are at least as lucrative as those from competitors. The timing of payments is also important. The time lag from your payment authorization to the payment received by your partners can vary between systems.
To keep your partners happy, understand the payment policies of your network or platform, and ensure that your partners get paid promptly. Then, approve conversions and authorize payments on time.
4. Do you spot and respond to sudden performance changes quickly?
If campaign performance goes south, the last thing you want is to wait a week before you spot it. The best time to respond to positive or negative performance changes is in real-time, right when they are happening. Time is money.
Be vigilant about monitoring program performance. Don’t set-it-and-forget-it. If your network or solutions provider offers trigger-based alerts, set them up so performance changes capture your immediate attention. Work with your partners if something goes wrong with their specific performance. If data anomalies make you suspect fraud, alert the partner and allow them to address the problem. Keep those lines of communication open.
5. Do you put your data to work for partners?
Advertisers have learned that by analyzing and sharing some of their program data with their largest partners, they can identify actionable insights to improve results.
Assess your data sharing strategies, and consider sharing actionable data — like transaction metadata — with those partners that have the tech to act on its insights. Start by understanding what data your partners believe would help them optimize better, and how they would use it. Be smart about what you share. While we don’t recommend sharing everything under the sun, we do see over and over that client who shares smart grow faster.
6. Do you work hard to maintain the attention of your partners?
The most successful partners are regularly being solicited to join new partnership programs. Often, partners that enter a new program have only so much real estate and attention to devote. As a result, they deemphasize or cut programs that aren’t delivering healthy revenue.
By cultivating direct personal relationships with your largest partners, and communicating regularly with all your partners, you can keep interested in your programs healthy. Further, you can generate excitement and enthusiasm by creating special promotions, power periods, custom programs, and other merchandising programs that will rekindle partner investment and passion.
7. Do you LISTEN?
Partner marketing is a relationship-driven business. Brands and companies tend to get behind the people and programs they know and trust best. Find ways to get feedback from all partners so you can identify issues and opportunities that can help drive future growth. Survey your partners and respond to their challenges.
Listen. Your largest partners deserve direct, personal attention to identify new opportunities and help them get maximum sales for you. Respond quickly to their needs, address issues rapidly, and you will find that your sales can continue to climb.
These seven suggestions will help your best partner relationships remain strong and flourishing. Incorporating all of these best practices into your partner marketing strategy should go a long way toward powering long-term growth.