Did you know that 2022 US digital ad spend is projected to increase 14% year over year, surging to an astounding $240 billion? To maximize the return on such a substantial investment, marketers need to tap solutions that simplify the design, deployment, and measurement of sophisticated campaigns across the consumer’s buyer journey—an undertaking that grows quickly in cost and complexity for those not leveraging the partnership channel.
Over the last decade, marketers have witnessed the affiliate channel evolve more broadly into the partnership channel. Now a table stake in the digital mix, the partnership channel relies on software innovation that supports unique partnerships across varying mediums such as digital, print, podcasts, radio, social channels, and more to optimize not only traditional partnerships, but also transformational partnerships.
Typically, traditional partnerships include coupon, cash back, referral, or content sites promoting offers, brand messaging, or sponsored posts to their audiences in exchange for commissions or flat fee payments. On the other hand, transformational partnerships are connections or collaborations between brands, nearly always in different verticals, that enable marketers to reach loyal, engaged audiences with a cross-promotional message. While many marketers are aware of the value traditional partnerships bring to their business, transformational partnerships power growth opportunities with their own distinctive benefits. These include:
New customer acquisition
Executing brand collaborations in the partnership channel enables marketers to reach like-minded consumers on an agreed upon payment model. Optimizing these partnerships via the partnership channel provides transparency into results typically sacrificed when managing similar collaborations without innovative technology.
Adapting to a cookieless future
Leveraging the first-party data of complimentary brands is an effective counter to the loss of targeting resulting from Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and the deprecation of the third-party cookie.
Breaking the consumer trust barrier
By connecting with a customer base of loyal consumers, marketers can break the trust barrier and alleviate the layer of skepticism associated with first-time purchasing from a new brand. This type of built-in recommendation is an important piece of the purchasing decision for many consumers.
Due in part to affiliate's historical reputation for quick-hit results, many brands became accustomed to using the channel to hit short-term transactional targets with heavy dependence on a small number of large discount and cash-back oriented partners. With brand partnerships, marketers create an experience for customers that taps into loyalty, ultimately building stronger customer lifetime value.
Interested in integrating more brand partnerships into your work? Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
Consider objectives and key performance indicators that help you understand whether the partnership was successful, and agree on specific reporting metrics and a system of record that acts as your source of truth for campaign outcomes.
Identify the right brand partner
Seek brands that cater to your target audience but offer different products or services. Avoid working with direct competitors.
Outline partnership terms
Align with the brand partner on campaign duration, products included, promotional messaging and placements, technology utilized, and compliance parameters. Some key considerations and execution recommendations include newsletters, package inserts, content swaps, and landing pages.
Agree on payment terms or a value exchange that provides mutually beneficial results.
Like traditional partnerships, open communication is the cornerstone of a valuable partnership. For a full alignment, coordinate comprehensive communication channels with your brand partner, from planning through success measurement.
To learn more about the potential value of these transformational partnerships, download our ebook: How to Get Started with Brand Partnerships.
—Maura Smith, CMO, Partnerize
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