Resource Page: Partnership Marketing

Partnership Marketing

What is Partnership Marketing?

Partnership marketing refers to a business alliance between two or more brands collaborating in a mutually beneficial arrangement to reach each party’s predefined business goals.

This is possible through partnership programmes that facilitate collaboration between relevant brand partners with parallel target markets. Partnerships vary in size, type, and duration. Many are restricted to the limits of a specific marketing campaign while others could be long-term strategic partnerships.

Successful partnerships tend to be those where the goals of all parties involved are aligned.

This emphasises the need for careful partner selection. You must identify which partner can offer the necessary exposure (to your target audience) and tools to support your marketing efforts. It is the best way to ensure that your investment of time and resources will yield measurable results.

Partner marketing looks set to maintain its status as an effective marketing channel, particularly for businesses targeting B2C audiences and offering subscriptions and memberships. With rising economic pressures affecting global markets and restricting consumer spending, partnership marketing can act as a shield against the downturn by putting your offerings in front of new markets.


What are the Benefits of Partnership Marketing?

One of the best things about partnership marketing is that it works for all types of businesses. Whether it’s a new business trying to penetrate an industry or even established brands looking to diversify their offerings and provide customers with extra value. 

Partnership marketing has major benefits to offer all businesses.

Launching partnership campaigns with other brands helps to drive change and encourage creative solutions. It combines the strengths of all partners involved into one combined marketing effort that helps each business grow. 

With careful application, here are some of the exciting benefits that partnership marketing can provide for your business. 

Better brand exposure

Partnership marketing provides a platform to promote your offerings to new audiences and increase sales.

Improved brand reputation

When you collaborate with established businesses, you earn their customers’ trust. This reputation boost with a new audience improves public perception of your brand, elevating your reputation.

Reduced marketing costs

Partnership marketing can help you save on advertising costs. Traditional methods like paying for ads or clicks can become a thing of the past with this more direct and effective means of promotion.

Extra value for customers

Partnering with other brands means leveraging their skills, experience, resources, and even specialists. It allows you to improve your service delivery and provide a more memorable experience for your customers.

What are the Main Types of Marketing Partnerships?

There are several effective types of marketing partnerships to choose from depending on your needs. Let’s cover some of the major approaches for you to consider.

Loyalty partnerships

In loyalty partnerships, brands provide extra value to their customers beyond their core offerings via partner offers.

The right alliance can help you diversify your services and products while rewarding customers for loyalty. Loyalty rewards could be discounts on partner membership subscriptions or even products. Customers can claim rewards when they earn enough loyalty points by patronising your business.


Brands sell or lease existing products or services to a partner brand in this partner marketing system. The secondary partner places its name and brand identifiers on the product or technology created by the primary brand and markets it to its audience.

This allows the actual manufacturer/owner of the product to gain more exposure (backed by the endorsement of the alliance) to a relevant market. The mutually beneficial system helps the product owner boost sales and helps the partner brand diversify its offerings.  

Affiliate marketing

This partnership involves collaboration with publishers, like a brand or website. Publishers promote your products and services to their audiences and earn commissions from the leads and revenue they generate for your business.

Distribution partnership

This involves including a partner brand’s product or services with your offerings. In many cases, brands use cross-promotion to deliver both sets of offerings to their customers.

Bundling is one such strategy that falls under distribution. It involves adding partner offers to packages when delivering your products to customers. This could mean adding the partner’s flyers or discount cards to your product’s packaging.

Bartering is another common approach. This means trading products and services with brand partners without using money. It allows you to reach a new audience and promote your brand’s credibility.

How Do Affiliates Empower Partnerships?

The practice of promoting your brand on affiliate websites in return for commissions is known as affiliation. Several commission models base their calculations on the number of leads, impressions of clicks the affiliate generates.

There is no denying the important role of affiliate marketing in successful partnerships. By using affiliate marketing, you can pinpoint your target market and assemble the best group of brand advocates to reach them.

As a crucial component of a functional partnership marketing ecosystem, affiliate marketing is a priceless tool for businesses looking to scale efficiently and maximise ROI. 

Affiliate marketing is usually listed among the most straightforward types of partnership marketing. It is often deployed through a third-party network like Awin. The advertiser and publisher both register and use the network’s services through its external portal.

An essential benefit for brands compared to internal solutions is that it gives publishers a far wider range of relevant partner brands to choose from. Advertisers also get instant access to valuable publisher sites rather than needing to market their own internal programmes.

The mutually beneficial system allows buyers to examine the product on the publisher’s website or mobile app and then make a purchase decision. The business makes a new sale, and the publisher gets a percentage or an agreed payment for driving visitors to the business’ website.

Why Do You Need a Partnership Marketing Strategy?

Many businesses lack a formal partnership marketing strategy. These businesses typically struggle to get over common challenges and sustain their partner relationships.

You must employ the correct partnership marketing strategy if you want the partnership to succeed.

If you pick your partners carefully and choose the right type of partnership marketing, you can expect to see definitive results in terms of growth. 

However,  the task of choosing the ideal partner can be a daunting prospect. Then, once selected, how do you manage all of your partners while putting your partnership marketing strategy into practice?

Finding the right answers can be difficult, particularly with the wide variety of partnership marketing models and strategies available. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Set clear, mutually beneficial objectives

Make sure you have outlined exactly what your brand hopes to accomplish through any potential business partnerships before you start looking for a partner.

Choose the right type of partnership

Your long-term business objectives will determine the type of marketing relationship that is best for you. Only when you have a clear understanding of your goals can you choose the right kind of partnership.

Choose the right partner

Making sure your partner is not a rival and that they target a relevant audience are two factors you must consider when starting a new strategic marketing partnership.

Use of technology

A marketing partnership programme must use the appropriate platform to generate customer-relevant programmes and campaign reports, and also monitor programme progress.

Measure programme performance

Make sure your goals are measurable and that you have specified how often and for how long you will track your progress.

Examples of Successful Partnerships

When executed correctly, partnership marketing can drive rapid expansion, significantly boost revenue, and position your business for sustained growth through a network of dynamic, lasting collaborations.

The most successful advertising alliances are formed between companies whose target consumers relate with one another, both in terms of demography and the values and interests that both groups prioritise.

Here are some examples of successful partnerships by recognised businesses:

Spotify + Uber

Streaming app Spotify provided “Soundtrack for Your Ride,” in a unique collaboration with Uber. These two brands couldn’t be more different, but they share the same goal: expanding their user base. While waiting for their Uber ride to arrive, passengers are encouraged to log in to Spotify and play some tunes during the trip. Listening options can be selected from user-created playlists.

Customers of both Uber and Spotify will benefit from this creative co-branding partnership. And if users know they can listen to their favourite music on their next journey, they are more likely to choose Uber and Spotify over other similar services.

Airbnb + Flipboard

Airbnb, the popular room-sharing service that connects travellers with local hosts to stay in their lodgings, formed a partnership with the news brand, Flipboard.

Like a social media feed, Flipboard compiles news and trending items that people have shared on social networks and lets you quickly “flip” through it. To that end, Airbnb and Flipboard have collaborated to launch a new feature called “Experiences,” which provides Airbnb guests with relevant lifestyle content based on their interests.

The partnership has since grown to include a new initiative, Trips. This new development lets Airbnb guests choose hosts who share their interests and then schedule activities with those hosts while on the road. This collaboration exemplifies the power of businesses to engage with consumers on a personal level by providing them with relevant, personalised content that encourages them to use their products.

MasterCard + Apple

When two businesses work together, the result might be something more than simply a nice project: they often provide practical value. This alliance is an excellent example.

The introduction of Apple Pay changed the way many consumers make purchases. With this software, users can save their credit or debit card information on their devices and access it whenever they need it, even if they don’t have their cards. However, the success of this software depends on the adoption of this technology by credit card companies. If credit card firms can’t work with the newest payment method, they’ll be at a disadvantage.

To get a leg up on the competition, MasterCard was the first major credit card provider to support Apple Pay’s card storage feature. Through this collaboration, MasterCard has not only shown its support for a key player in the consumer technology industry, but it has also shown that it is adapting to the changing preferences of its own consumers when it comes to making purchases.

Which Partnership Marketing KPIs to Prioritise

Partnership marketing KPIs are measurable indicators that you can track to monitor programme progress. This can be done for marketing campaigns, programmes, or channels.

Most businesses will monitor basic indicators like the number of partnerships they have, the number of registered deals, and the income generated, but it’s crucial to consider all aspects of a relationship when evaluating performance. This means monitoring each KPI that contributes to the complexity of your programme.

Which Financial KPIs Should You Be Measuring?

Even if businesses get along well, the fundamental objective is to make a profit. The purpose of the alliance is called into question if the partnership does not produce financial results. Several financial KPIs that are crucial to track include the following:

Partner Earnings

Whether all involved parties record an increase in revenue is one of the key programme performance metrics. Maintaining a partnership takes effort, dedication, and constant communication. It is essential that both parties see a real gain in revenue to justify the effort. 

Partners should assess where each company contributes more during the sales cycle. These measurements assist partners in deciding how to continue allocating resources and in making choices as a group.


Return on Investment (ROI), often called Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), is a metric used to assess an investment’s total profitability. “ROI” is a term used in partnership marketing to describe how profitable a partnership marketing investment was, often at the campaign or channel level.

Naturally, marketers frequently concentrate on ROI. You can use it to gain important insights into the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, from establishing the profitability of a certain campaign to figuring out whether marketing budgets should be increased for partner programmes.

Which Strategic Partnership KPIs Should You Be Measuring?

You need to be clear and establish expectations for your partner in a number of different areas if you want the programme to be successful. Certain strategic KPIs can help you accurately measure programme success beyond financial considerations.

You should be tracking the following strategic elements in your partner programme.

Partner Values

A partner’s lack of alignment with your overall aims or lack of transparency can have fatal consequences for your programme. When evaluating partnerships, it’s vital to consider threats to success like lack of involvement, informal or tardy replies to crucial issues, and deference to absent authorities. You might want to reevaluate the partnership if communication is detrimental to the alliance and there is a significant disparity in values.

Customer Satisfaction

Because you lack direct access to your partner’s audience, calculating end-customer satisfaction in a partnership programme can be challenging. It’s standard practice to simply use revenue as a yardstick, but doing so might backfire and lead to unhappy clients.

Use customer surveys and open, considerate communication with partners to keep tabs on how well your partners are marketing, selling, and supporting their clients.

Partner Satisfaction

It is essential to keep an eye on partner involvement. Partners can better understand their commitment to each other and their objectives by prioritising how to assess partner satisfaction.

Keep in mind that a brand partner who is content and involved is more inclined to pursue and achieve success. Use a partner portal or marketing automation solutions to monitor partner-specific data.

Don’t be scared to communicate and reach out to them as well. You can evaluate partner satisfaction via informal get-togethers, quarterly business meetings, or surveys.

Benefits of Using Partnership Marketing Software

Partner marketing software provides the digital platform needed to monitor partner campaigns and affiliate sales, operate a closed network programme of partner rewards and incentives for your customers, as well as providing support for developing your partner marketing strategy. 

Selecting the right partner marketing software could help you grow even more quickly, become more visible, penetrate a new industry, create innovative products and services, and scale your customer base effectively.

Here are some of the key benefits of using partner marketing software.

  • To access a support network
  • Provides transparency of digital campaign success 
  • To reduce costs
  • To create growth opportunities
  • To gain more exposure

Essential Criteria for Choosing the Best Partnership Marketing Software

When you understand the basics of partner marketing software and why you need it to manage your digital partner programme, the next step is to identify the ideal partner and solution.

Although their features and capabilities differ, here are some considerations for picking a technology platform that can best assist you in building your brand-to-brand partnership. 

Look for a scalable solution

Opt for partner marketing software that supports aligning your rewards with the partners that bring in your top clients. You can use better data and sales attribution to enable them to step up their promotions. 

Network of ready-made relevant partners

Partner marketers sometimes find it difficult to identify alliances that can expose their brands to new markets, regions, industries, opportunities, and accounts. Your choice of partner marketing software should help you avoid this constraint.

Ability to operate closed-loop partner programmes

Choose a tech platform that helps organisations instantly launch digital partner marketing programmes. For organisations with existing partners, the partner marketing software should offer the ability to import and house your rewards into a closed network programme, track real-time user engagement, deliver campaigns and build a complete data set on what emotionally resonates with your audience. 

For those starting from scratch, look for a complete rewards solution with a rich reward content base, technical resources, and a support team. This provides you with a framework to drive engagement for your customers and build successful partnerships.

Track record for working with enterprise clients

A proven track record of driving results in your industry or related fields and getting the necessary outcomes is a plus. The software provider should have a track record of successfully acquiring, developing, and converting new business with clients who are in the enterprise size range. 

Customisation of platform – white label own branding

White label partnerships can help your business flourish, regardless of whether you partner with other brands or offer services directly to your own corporate clients. By working with a white-label partner, you can access the knowledge of a large group of seasoned experts. Try to concentrate on partners that are highly skilled in certain services that are relevant to your company when picking the ideal choice.

Why Do You Need an Effective Partnership Onboarding Strategy?

To introduce a new player into your current corporate data ecosystem and establish a commercial connection with them as a brand partner, you must first acquire, validate, and consolidate the data and documentation that is required for such an alliance to function. This process is known as “partner onboarding.”

The stages in the partnership onboarding process are:

  • The welcome phase
  • The discovery phase
  • The documentation phase
  • The enablement phase
  • The feedback phase

Your partners help you to improve your service quality, boost operational efficiency, market your product to new audiences, reduce expenses, and boost ROI. By establishing meaningful alliances with your partners, you can increase the value of your business network. Effective partner onboarding (also called vendor onboarding and channel partner onboarding) should be the foundation upon which this partnership ecosystem is built.

The issue is that the partnership onboarding process can be very time-consuming. If your business has a sizable number of partners, manually developing individual procedures might be difficult.

Adopting a solid partner onboarding strategy, however, can help you reduce complexity and onboard your partners faster, which will have a significant influence on your partnership marketing campaign.

The onboarding process is your partner’s first direct impression of your organisation. It can set the tone for the rest of the relationship. Poor preparation or execution of partner onboarding can even affect the performance of future partnership opportunities.

Here are some more reasons to develop a strategy for partner onboarding.

  • It sets your partner up for success
  • It ensures compliance and governance 
  • It helps you to set operational standards 
  • It helps you scale effectively
  • It helps you form stronger relationships

How to Build a Successful Partnership Programme – Download our Partnership Marketing Playbook

Partnership marketing can transform your business and deliver great results. Its potential, however, doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges along the way. Understanding these issues and planning ahead are the steps you must take to enjoy the benefits of your partnership.

Key Challenges Faced in Partnership Marketing Programmes

Slow speed-to-market

Regardless of the size of the organisation or the budget, most people eventually run into speed-to-market issues. The complex nature of collaboration by the different partner stakeholders can trigger delays and scope creep with constant revisions to campaign execution.

Using an existing rewards platform that has predefined incentives and can track loyalty programs will significantly boost your speed-to-market. It helps you bypass the time-consuming process of building your own platform. 

Propello can offer you a ready-to-go rewards platform — complete with your brand identifiers — to get your campaign up and running in no time.

Partner network

Partner marketers sometimes find it difficult to identify alliances that can expose their brands to new markets, regions, industries, opportunities, and accounts. You shouldn’t let this deter your efforts.

A digital partnership platform such as Propello can offer you preset rewards and deals that can be tailored to suit your customers. 

This technology plays a vital role in cases where you have multiple partners. The platform allows you to import exclusive offers and deals into a programme that tracks user engagement and delivers a campaign built on a data set defined by your customers’ preferences.

Lack of internal resources for measuring programme performance

The costs and technical skills required to develop a reward-tracking platform and successfully manage the programme can be substantial.   The absence of internal resources for launching a programme and managing its performance is among the key reasons for partnership marketing failure. It can be difficult to keep track of programme success and maintain value by tracking customer engagement with special deals and offers. 

At Propello, our digital platform effortlessly manages your reward programme and has strong capability in tracking and attributing sales to the client, providing the metrics required to measure performance.

4 Steps to Creating a Successful Partner Marketing Programme

If you plan to launch a partnership marketing programme, consider these points to get the best results:

Partner Selection

Partnership marketing can be a mutually beneficial strategy for all parties involved, but not every partnership is a good idea.

Before agreeing on a partnership, assess the potential impact on your brand image and avoid focusing solely on the profits. Do this by considering how all parties involved — including your customers — can benefit from the partnership. 

You should be asking questions like — does the partnership make your products more affordable? Does it make them easy for customers to find? Are you providing added value?  Do your partners have a similar brand image? How do your customers feel about the partnership?

Align goals

Goal alignment is a key element in successful partnership marketing campaigns.

For the partnership to survive and thrive, all parties must align their goals and expected results. If just one-half of the partnership is interested in the outcome, it will inevitably lead to serious issues.

Setting clearly-defined expectations and regularly reassessing those priorities during the programme is critical to long-term partnership success.

Provide relevant offers

You choose partners because they are brands that offer value to a similar audience and help you reach a new market. Maximise that tactic by grouping your offerings to offer customers added value.

Link both offers such that customers can’t choose one without the other. This way, you present your alliance in a manner that promotes each brand and adds new meaning to an existing product or service. 

Don’t be afraid to start small

Different partnership styles demand varying levels of involvement. Affiliate marketing partnerships, for instance, are relatively straightforward compared to other more hands-on approaches. So, if you’re testing the waters for the first time, don’t be afraid to start with a small partnership.=

If it goes well, you can scale up to more engaging agreements. You can do this with the same partner and use your successful history to build a more intricate partnership.

An excellent example would be to start your partnership with content marketing. If that approach delivers positive results, you could try cross-promotion or joint product development. Taking this step-by-step process allows you to refine your campaigns and establish a meaningful partnership in the long run.

Introducing technology

Using the right platform to generate campaign reports and track progress is an essential part of a marketing partnership programme. It’s also vital to identify the source of generated leads, particularly in partnerships with revenue- or lead-sharing contracts.

Partnership marketing can be an effective alternative to traditional marketing channels, provided there is adequate tech support. The right tech platform will help you avoid the challenges of manually addressing tasks, giving you more time to focus on your strategy.

The importance of programme reporting cannot be overlooked. Reporting helps you identify what works and what doesn’t. This can be critical for scrapping ineffective offer placements and supporting targeted marketing to a specific audience. It allows you to customise deals for specific groups of customers based on their activity or engagement with deals and offers.

How Can You Measure Partner Programme Success?

There are several metrics which apply to measuring the success of partnership marketing programmes. Vendors will usually consider the number of engaged partners, registered deals, revenue gotten from the partners, and even partner satisfaction. 

While these are good indicators, they tend to only offer historical performance statistics. 

Analysis of marketing capability, however, delivers an accurate measure of your partner’s digital marketing ability and vendor brand engagement. This predictive analysis allows you to get a more accurate view of future performance.

Partner Marketing Playbook

Choosing the partnership route can be a game-changer for your business, but it does require some major decisions. It can either help you grow and expand your portfolio or it could present some serious challenges. You must approach a marketing partnership programme carefully, choosing the right partners to help you achieve your desired outcome.

Download our Partner Marketing Playbook How to Build a Successful Partnership Marketing Programme for an in-depth look into how you can create the ultimate partnership marketing campaign to grow your business and improve the brand experience for your customers.

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