Stretching the Boundaries of Partnerships and Evolving your Partnership Program

Lo Bautista

19 Sep 2019

After a recent trip to New York, Lo Bautista (Operations Director, Partnership Marketing at GrowthOps) came away with more than a Statue of Liberty snow-globe. Here she shares some insights she gleaned from the Impact Growth 2019 event in NYC.

In June this year I attended the Impact Growth 2019 event in New York city. A key take-out for me was that US advertisers are generating up to 80% of their revenue from sources other than traditional affiliate partnerships – cashback, coupon and loyalty partners.

I sat in on a discussion panel that included Cristina Arango (Director of Strategic Partnerships at FuboTV) who told us that less than 15% of Fubo TV’s revenue is currently generated by traditional partnerships. I’ve been working in the affiliate marketing industry for the past 6 years and it’s been incredible to see how far the partnership market has grown and evolved in driving revenue for advertisers. 

It seems the old 80/20 rule of traditional affiliate marketing no longer applies, as we explore new channels, moving well beyond what has simply worked for us in the past. The panel discussion made me reflect on recent conversations I’d had with advertisers within the Australian market; analysing exactly where we are at in 2019. It seems the risk of being the ‘early adopter’ of an unorthodox partner is suppressing the expansion of partnership growth potential. 

The key to overcoming this trepidation is to develop a performance model organised around specific, measurable results that works for all.

A hot topic at Impact Growth 2019 was the increasing emergence of diverse partnership models that leverage technology and organisational agility to optimise partner management.

The companies that are embracing these more mature and diverse partnership models are outperforming their ‘low-maturity model’ competitors by around 2.3x. The potential for growth with a well-developed, highly matured partnership program is 28% vs. 12% of a company’s overall revenue. 

The Forrester Consulting Group’s thought leadership paper – Invest in Partnerships to Drive Growth and Competitive Advantage – emphasises just how crucial innovative partnerships are to revenue growth, and businesses that fail to invest in a multifaceted approach will increasingly become less competitive.

So, just how do you get the best out of your partnership program and why should this have such an impact? Here’s my top 3 takeaways from Impact Growth 2019.

Maximise Your Tech Potential.

Forrester Consulting’s research shows that companies with the fastest growing partnership programs are embracing a diverse and technology-driven approach. The partnership platform you use must simplify the process of turning data into insights, and be tuned to optimise program execution and partner management. It has to make the recruitment and onboarding of new partners seamless.

It sounds simple, but a lot of advertisers I speak with simply aren’t leveraging the power of their tech capabilities, specifically around optimising tracking granularity and payouts.

At GrowthOps, we see the analytics and reporting capabilities of our platform as a significant differentiator for our partners. It allows us to run conversion path analysis, contribution analysis (when a customer has clicked on multiple advertisers before purchasing) as well as attribution reporting. This level of automation and insight allows us to see exactly how many diverse partners contributed to the final sale and manage payouts accordingly.

The main automated tech capabilities advertisers are looking for in 2019 are commission payouts in tiers, category level payouts, KPI reporting and a simple recruiting and onboarding experience. Your chosen platform must engage partners with a streamlined experience throughout the partnership lifecycle, and give you the insight to know how you’re tracking against performance goals.

Diversify: New Partners Bring New Audiences.

When you look at affiliate marketing, businesses have historically adopted a very transactional approach to it. Don’t get me wrong, this approach has led to growth across the industry, but this growth is capped. At some point, new and diverse partners need to be added to the partner mix.

Ninety percent of FuboTV’s current partner community have never worked under a partner model previously. They’re newbies, but it’s an indication of just how committed to exploring new and diverse partners FuboTV is. Arango listed publishers, creators of scheduling apps, broadband operators as well as sports betting agencies as examples of the diversity among their partner types. Whatever the channel, she stressed that the customer interaction had to be contextual and feel natural. This is where partners can add so much value. Who better to know the customer expectation and experience?

Cristina Arango discussed developing more sustainable ‘partner forward’ relationships – less transactional and more iterative. She identified the key challenge in rethinking their model was to manage partner expectations of short-term revenue, and instead focus on building a long-term sustainable relationship.

Got Partner Diversity? Don’t Get Too Comfortable.

Underpinning the ‘partner forward’ model is a data-driven program roadmap that looks at least 6 months into the future. This is also the blueprint for goal alignment through performance based KPIs – for both parties – that are designed to drive success. 

All panellists stressed that It’s important to never feel comfortable with your strategy and approach. Look at what’s been getting results for both you and your partners, iterate on this and continue to evolve. Always take the time to nurture the relationship, but keep changing and keep challenging your partners – and your own – assumptions. 

Of course technology has a big part to play in this. Intelligent, data-driven tracking allows you to change direction quickly and cheaply if something is not working. Are you getting the numbers you’re expecting? If not, dial back and pivot. 

Arango encouraged us to push beyond the ‘set and forget’ SEO and paid search tactics and capitalise on those partnerships that have a high degree of contextual influence over the customer. But in Australia right now, there seems to be a degree of reluctance among some advertisers to diversify and embrace a more mutli-faceted approach. It seems that until more compelling case studies are developed, we will continue to see some reticence from advertisers. 

The Wrap Up.

The success of FuboTV’s partnership model clearly demonstrates the importance of partnership diversity as a strategic differentiator – partnerships are becoming increasingly crucial to growth. It is a competitive advantage that requires investment in a technology-driven approach that is scalable and repeatable. New partner channels are emerging everyday as the buying process of the shopper in 2019 continues to evolve. The message from Impact Growth 2019 was loud and clear – mature and diversify your partnership program to achieve your growth ambitions.

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