The events of 2020 are something few would have predicted. Many brands have had to entirely rethink their marketing strategies to adapt to these new circumstances. Fuelled by lockdowns and greater digital consumer consumption, ecommerce is skyrocketing, creating unprecedented opportunities for digital marketers. An April Kantar survey on ecommerce behaviours indicated that the share of consumers making more than half of their purchases online increased by 25% to 80%, depending on country.
These shifts in consumer behaviour, coupled with increasing digital spend, make partner marketing one of the highest-potential marketing channels going forward. According to a 2019 Performance Marketing Association study affiliate partnerships drive a return of 12 times the advertising investment. Many other studies show that partner and affiliate marketing are the highest performers on return on advertising spend.
Partnership also offers advantages in an environment in which paid digital media is being consolidated to a few big players. Today’s online consumers have greater control and access to many forms of advertising, some of which are incredibly costly to brands. Partner marketing, however, delivers consistency and scalability. This is particularly important when a brand must strive for a ubiquitous media presence despite limited marketing dollars.
The flexibility afforded by the channel and diverse array of partner possibilities is endless, and a growing number of brands across all industries from telecom to high fashion are quickly realising its potential. We’re seeing large brands utilising performance-model partnerships as a means both to strengthen brand equity and to drive more purchases.
Partnership offers advantages in an environment in which paid digital media is being consolidated to a few big players.
Performance partnerships with content publishers are a great example here. They can help attract many new buyers at the top of the funnel, with content and messaging that are often less price-orientated. Partnership programs with content publishers can take many forms, from performance-based advertising to deep integrations of messaging and technology. Content partners can also provide a unique opportunity to support backlinks that improve search rankings.
Further, we have seen many brands moving their influencer programs to a performance model. With social media usage increasing exponentially, it is vital that brands harness the equity these advocates afford. While the traditional model for compensating influencers was pay-for-activity, a growing number of influencers are pleased to participate in programmes where their compensation is driven by the sales and conversions that they drive.
An evolving channel
New methods of measurement are critical here – you need technology that can track these sales impacts. Fortunately, partner management technologies can provide the needed connections here.
Partner marketing also offers the opportunity for performance-based alliances between brands. Ultimately these brand alliance partnerships allow you to leverage the creativity of two teams to inspire and persuade prospects, add customers to your database, increase customer acquisition and can help you gain customer allegiance through the transfer of loyalty. Again, these can come in many forms, and the ultimate design of such programs is limited only by your own imagination.
The partner channel continues to evolve and expand as brands recognise its full potential, and as would-be partners recognise the tremendous revenue potential in pay-for-performance. Managing your partnerships through purpose-built technology can open a lot of doors. It often makes it easier to find new partners and partner types, provides access to a much wider variety of tools and capabilities, delivers more actionable data, and empowers greater control of customer experience.
Further, developments in AI technologies are allowing brands to pick the partners which will deliver optimal results, and make decisions to optimise campaigns on the predictive insights this technology delivers. Additionally, brand protection technology can provide the assurance that brand experiences delivered by partners are brand safe and compliant.
Collectively these all add up to increased scale, more diversified revenue streams and brand safety assurance. Beyond its most obvious characteristics, partner marketing can also help meet other marketing goals and objectives. The challenges we face in 2020 actually present a great opportunity to broaden your use of partnership and make it a central component of your marketing endeavors.
Sean Sewell is co-founder and VP of revenue at Partnerize