From startup to enterprise, every B2B business can benefit from building a robust and strategic partner ecosystem — but only if you execute it properly.
Partner programs such as HubSpot's have proven to be massively successful for generating demand; by partnering with a company whose solution or service complements yours and speaks to a similar customer base, you can take advantage of each other's audience, credibility and social presence for mutual value.
Here are our top B2B partner marketing strategies to help you scale your business.
1. Establish Mutual Goals
As with any marketing initiative, the first step in successfully executing a partner marketing strategy is to articulate your goals and define the key metrics you need to track to understand whether or not you're hitting those goals.
The goals you set should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For smaller startup companies, your goal might be as simple as increased brand awareness, but as your business scales, your partner marketing activities might develop into shared lead generation and revenue streams. What's important is that both partners are aligned on marketing goals; when you're both working toward the same thing, your strategies will be that much more effective.
2. Ensure Careful Reporting
Once you've defined your goals and identified the key metrics to track, you need to make sure you have the reporting system in place to understand which leads can be attributed to which partner — this is especially important if you're offering any kind of monetary incentives. For example, in a lead sharing model, you'll need to know exactly how many leads your partner generated for you, and in a revenue share model, you need to know how much their actions influenced revenue gains down to the dollar.
Make sure you have the tools and processes in place to differentiate referral-sourced contacts from contacts generated by your company. Use tracking URLs with custom UTM parameters to understand which contacts are coming from your partners, which channels those partner referrals are coming from and which co-marketing initiatives they're converting on.
Some partner management software like PartnerStack will auto-generate custom tracking URLs for you, so you don't have to set up each individual URL yourself. Software that automates some of the development and organization of reporting features is key if you have a huge partner ecosystem.
3. Engage Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a great way to boost SEO ratings, increase web traffic, establish credibility and add additional value for your prospects and customers. Subject matter experts from each partner can leverage each other's audience to expand their company's reach and educate their prospects with fresh, relevant content.
Depending on the expectations and quotas you set for your partnership, you may want to make room for a guest blog in your editorial calendar once every week, month or quarter. Remember, it's not just about promoting your brand — the blogs shared between partners should be as relevant and informational for prospects as possible.
4. Co-Host Events
Events are one of the best and most fruitful strategies you can use in partner marketing initiatives. By leveraging one another's databases to market the event, you can double attendance and engagement rates. If you're throwing a big, in-person event, your company and your partner's company can split the cost, making them more cost-effective than if you were to host them on your own.
Additionally, events are a great way to reinforce the partner relationship and establish credibility in the market. For example, when New Breed attends HubSpot events, our expertise with the HubSpot platform is solidified for the prospects who see us there.
5. Create Co-Branded Content
We all know by now that content is king of inbound marketing. Developing co-branded content, such as ebooks, white papers or webinars, with your partner companies is a great way to amplify the value and reach of that content.
Boost brand awareness and potentially enter new markets by collaborating with your partners to create content that will be valuable to both of your ideal customer segments. Remember, the content you create should offer real value for your audience, so take some time to plan out a killer co-branded content initiative, not just develop content for the sake of it.
6. Set Partnership Tiers
Different types of partnerships will be more effective for different types of companies, goals and customer bases. Partner types come in five different tiers and require varying levels of effort from each team: Affiliate partnerships, co-marketing partnerships, referral partnerships, co-sell partnerships and resell partnerships.
If you're a smaller company or you're new to partner marketing, test the waters with affiliate or co-marketing models, and use non-monetary incentives like lead sharing. Without the pressure of revenue attribution, these models require lower involvement from your team and give you the chance to decide whether or not the partnership is working for you. If you're a larger company looking to scale, co-sell and re-sell partnerships with specific revenue quotas will give you the results you need.
Partner Marketing: Done Right, It's A Win-Win
We love partner marketing — not just because it helps boost brand awareness and scale businesses, but also because it's a great way to develop and maintain genuine relationships with other leaders in your market. Customers love authenticity, and when two companies get together to create fresh, valuable content that speaks to customers in a holistic way, everyone sees the results they need.