The What, Where, Why, and How of Partner Programs
What is a Partner Program?
In the marketing world, a partner program is a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more entities. The most common examples are partner programs, also known as affiliate programs.
These two terms could be interchangeable and could have a slight difference. Both affiliate and partner programs imply cooperation between a company/ brand, acting as an advertiser, and another company or individual, acting as a publisher/affiliate that promotes a product and receives commissions for sales.
With the intention of many companies to build closer relations with their affiliates, active affiliates started to be considered partners, which inevitably drove the shift in the name from affiliate to the partner program.
Also, some partner programs involve stronger integration between two companies up to joining projects or products, which is usually not the case in affiliate programs.
Types of Partnerships
When you’re just getting started with partnership marketing, it can be difficult to know where to start. After all, there are so many different partnership options, each with its unique pros and cons. If you’re new to partnership marketing, we suggest looking through the brief list of key partnership types and their description.
- Affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is a promotional model where brands promote their product through 3rd parties (publishers) who get commissions for sale. Publishers are often bloggers, media buyers, companies, or individuals with various media channels. Affiliate marketing partnerships are often implemented through own partner (affiliate) programs, affiliate networks, or coordinated within agencies.
- Referral marketing. Referral marketing can be sometimes mistaken for affiliate, and indeed they have a lot in common. The main difference is that referral partners always have hands-on experience with your product: they tried it themselves and really liked it. Additionally, a referral can be not the same active in the promotion of a product on many platforms to anyone who may see their posts, instead, they recommend a product purposefully to those who are looking for a similar solution. Thus, clients from referral partnerships tend to have a longer LTV.
- Influencer marketing. One of the most trendy and well-known promotions through influencers mainly on social media. There are two types of partnership with influencers: short time promotion where influencers often are paid per post, or long term strategy where an influencer turns into a brand ambassador.
- Loyalty. Loyalty partnership marketing relies on the use of rewards through partner websites, apps, and other methods to incentivize customers.
- Content marketing. A popular partnership among companies via creating beneficial content for both sides. Executed through co-creation or link sharing.
- Joint product development. A long-term and deeply integrated strategy involving two brands blending and creating a common product, from the “Powered by” and Whitelabels to entire product mergers.
- Product placement. Long-existing marketing strategy to increase exposure and brand recognition by placing a company’s logo or a product directly in media outlets.
- Sponshorship. Sponsorship is a way to increase awareness of your product or service by financially supporting an event, person, or other organization. The most common place you can see sponsorship happen is in various sports events, large events, and conferences.
- Licensing. Licensing is a sort of agreement in which one business permits another for the latter to produce products using its brand image.
- Channel partnerships. Channel partners are third-party businesses or individuals who market and sell your products to wider audiences and new geographic areas. They include distributors, retailers, resellers, and wholesalers who purchase large quantities of our products to sell them in their markets.
Why have a Partner Program?
For many businesses, the idea of having a partner program sounds like a great way to increase your company’s revenue. After all, you’re paying out a partner to do work for you that you can’t be compensated for. Many companies have partner programs for a variety of reasons, but here’s why you should have a partner program too.
You Can Bring in More Revenue
Partner programs can be a great way to bring in additional revenue and grow your business. They help you expand your customer base and introduce new customers to your product or service.
Besides, partner programs can be a very successful marketing strategy. Partnering with another company can be a great way to market your products or services more efficiently, as you can combine deals and advertising. Partnering with other companies expands your reach in the marketplace. You’ll be able to tap into new markets by partnering with other companies that have different focuses than yours.
You Can Track Your Partner Program Results
Partner programs make it easier for your business to track the results of marketing campaigns. When you partner with other businesses, you can share your marketing efforts with them. The metrics of your campaign will help inform their decisions about their marketing and partners. You’ll be able to see if they are doing better or worse than you are on a certain topic. Partnering with other companies is mutually beneficial because it gives both parties a better understanding of what methods work best for each business.
You Can Keep Your Network Updated On Your Business
It’s important to keep your network of partners updated on what you do. Partner programs are a great way for you to stay top-of-mind with your partners and provide content that is valuable to them.
One of the most effective ways to use a partner program is by providing educational content that is relevant to your industry. They can read articles, watch tutorials, and check out resources that will help improve their skills. You can also create a partner-only section of your website where they have access to exclusive offers, discounts, and other benefits. This helps you build stronger relationships with your partners and adds value to them as well.
You Can Choose The Rewarding System That Fits You Best
Partner programs can have different structures or strategies, but it’s important that you consider which method will best suit your business model. For example, some companies offer revenue sharing or commissions while others do not require their partners to buy products or services from them to get rewards. Some companies even require the partner program members to pay an annual fee to be eligible for commissions. If you choose this option, make sure the fee isn’t too high otherwise it could discourage people from signing up for the program.
You Can Build Loyalty and Advocates
Partner programs are a great way to build customer loyalty and advocates. When your customers can get discounts for being loyal, it incentivizes them to buy from you over competitors. And when the people who work with your company can benefit from partnering with you, they will be more enthusiastic about working with you again in the future. It’s an excellent way to generate ongoing revenue.
Shall I Start a Partner Program For My Business?
Many ask “Will affiliate marketing work for my business vertical?”. First of all, you can start a partner program in whatever business niche you operate in. Today all industries found a way to implement affiliate marketing and partner program in their strategy and make the most out of it.
The other question is to evaluate whether you are ready and have the resources for launching a partner program. A partner program is a low-risk strategy with almost no expenses, but the resource you need is time. The amount of time you invest in the partner program will proportionally result in the outcome and revenues you get per partner. You may get publishers bringing a few bucks per month or loyal partners that act almost as the brand ambassadors and account for a significant percentage of your revenue.
The first and very important hint that you are ready is that you have happy customers who are willing to recommend you to other businesses. Or, they may already be doing that absolutely for free. Imagine their reaction if from now on they will receive bonuses for that. You will most likely get even more referrals or even happier customers that will stay for you for long.
How Do I Start a Partner Program?
Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a startup entrepreneur, the benefits of partnering with other businesses are equally promising. However, you would need to spend some time planning to launch your program right from the start. Here is a usual plan we recommend anyone considering starting a partner program go through:
- Set your affiliate pricing and commission
- Define terms and conditions
- Choose an affiliate program software
- Create a landing page for your partner program & announce the launch
- Start recruiting affiliates
- Analyze and optimize
Want a tip on how to make it easier? It’s important you spend more time concentrating on the business side of a partner program while delegating the tech part to the ones who have respective expertise.
IREV is a unique SaaS affiliate platform to run multiple affiliate programs in and out. It is intuitive, effective, and endlessly customizable for scaling affiliate business. With granular targeting, accurate tracking, deep analytics, and performance optimization features, one can successfully manage a partner program, automate daily operations, optimize ad campaigns and maximize the revenue.
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