Partner Marketing Playbook
achieving success across your Partners’ lifecycle.
We’re experts who have worked at Facebook, Google, and Cisco. We’ve worked with hundreds of Partners to help thousands of businesses achieve their goals with Partner Marketing. New products, data privacy, and AI are constantly shifting and phasing out Partner Marketing strategies that might have worked in the past. In this guide, you’ll learn everything from start to finish to have success with Partner Marketing in 2020 and beyond from Plai.
What’s in the Partner Marketing playbook?
- Defining level of support for a Partner: Use the tiering and partner lifecycle framework to determine the level of support.
- Stack-ranked initiatives by highest impact: Easily focus your efforts on high impact initiatives.
- Benchmarks: Established benchmarks across initiatives by meeting with various internal teams to analyze past campaigns and outside research.
- Best practices: Receive industry best practices to hit the ground running
- Templates: One pager, Pitch Deck, and Email templates
How To Use
- First use the framework for tiering and placing your Partner in the correct lifecycle phase. This will help determine your level of support. Then, open the corresponding playbook (New, Growth, or Mature) to find high impact initiatives, benchmarks, best practices, and templates to activate your Partner.
- Increasing the number of partner marketing activities
- Increase Product and User Acquisition (amount of conversions generated via partners)
- Increase Adoption Rate From Customer Base (# of inventory adopted / # total inventory)
The Partner Marketing lifecycle and tiering
Knowing which Partner initiatives to launch at different stages of the Partnership can be a tedious and costly decision.
The Partner lifecycle framework is meant to help guide your choice in adoption initiatives by placing a Partner into
either New, Growth, or Mature based on three categories 1) duration of time working with the Partner Marketing team
2) Completion of initiatives within a lifecycle segment OR 3) Partner Goals.
- Why is it important to tier a partner? Tiering allows your team to understand the level of support to provide a given partner. Although we will provide support to majority of our partners, it will behoove us to calculate the potential ROI and strategic value we would receive for this investment.
- How do we determine the tier that a partner belongs to? The tier that a partner is placed in is ultimately determined by the PMM and partnerships team that is closes deal. However, some of the attributes that will help determine the tier of a partner may include: Brand, total businesses, time to market, development team, partner commitment, strategic opportunity, etc.
Need help placing your Partner?
This section will help you answer which stage or initiative to select based on your goal:
- If your integration is auto provisioned: ‘Mature Stage’
- If your goal is enabling sales team: ‘Growth Stage’
- If your goal is driving awareness: ‘Growth Stage’; ‘Mature Stage’
- If your goal is product education: ‘Growth Stage’
- If your goal is driving adoption: ‘Growth Stage’; ‘Mature Stage’
- If your goal is announcing a new partnership: ‘New Stage’
Choose your Partner Marketing playbook
There are three playbooks: New Partner, Growth Partner, and Mature Partner. Open the playbook that
corresponds to the stage of your partner.
A partner is considered new for the duration of 1 – 3 months. It is during this time that we will lay the groundwork for a
successful partnership. The following initiatives are in the New Stage because they will lay the foundation for Growth and Mature stages.
Goals: Alignment & Launching are the primary goals for a New Partnership. Establishing clear goals, communications/contacts, and reporting is the foundation for a successful partnership and provides the framework needed to scale at a desired pace.
Getting started with your Partner
Establishing an Integration Comm Doc and Welcome Packet for the Partnership is crucial to ensuring consistency and
- Comm Doc: Establishing an Integration Comm Doc for your product that you can share with your partner is crucial to success. This doc will allow you to have a consistent source of truth regarding product information, product updates, and brand consistency when your Partner talks about the integration. Best Practice: While your Comm Doc does not need to be as extensive, it should include: POCs, Overview of Integration, Value Statement, Recent Updates, Qualifications/Eligibility, FAQs/General Questions, Sales Talking Points, Related Resources, and Screen Shots of the integration. Who makes this: This should be made internally by you team and shared with the Partner to align on language and other aspects such as Sales talking points.
- Welcome Packet: This will include One sheeter, Pitch Deck, Talking Points, FAQs, and more. The content and tailoring of content will depend on the tier of your partner.
Content for Launch
The content you use in the launch should be similar to the Comm Doc mentioned above. The medium to distribute the
launch content with will depend on the tier of your partner. Don’t make the launch content just an announcement, make it useful. This is because it can be
difficult to get into the drip email campaigns of Partners. Take advantage of the announcement and make it
actionable. Here are the best types of launch content to announce the partnership:
- Help Center Article on Partner’s website: This will be the landing page that will help drive adoption of the integration from your Partner’s clients. Ideally, this will tell page visitors the steps they can take to set up the integration. (Note: Some partners may be able to turn the integration on automatically, in this case consider a landing page that describes the benefits and use cases of the integration). Best practices: Use visuals (screenshots or .gif); Reduce the amount of steps where you can (ideally there will be only 3 steps but no more than 10; Event Tracking: Add a button (with event tracking enabled) in the article that allows users to activate the integration. This will give you a way to to measure conversion rates from the HC article. Benchmarks for success: The Help Center page will often be the most visited page regarding the integration with the Partner. That makes the Help Center page an important page to optimize and measure engagement benchmarks. Call Center Volume: Sometimes a partner will have a call center, if they do make sure you/the partner track the increases or decreases in call volume regarding the integration. This will help you optimize the content Event tracking: More often than not, Partners will be using Google Analytics, if they do make sure you add a button in the HC article that leads to the integration with event tracking enabled. This way you can learn and measure your conversion rate from the Help Center article. You can use Plai to quickly gain insights on performance from Google Analytics. Conversion rate: A Help Center is a lower funnel piece of content, which will have a higher conversion rate of +3%. Anything below, consider optimizing the HC article. Page Engagement: Notice how long the user is spending on the page, is it taking them too long to sift through the information? Is the bounce rate higher than 65%? Optimize accordingly. See example.
- Partner Marketing Sales One-Sheeter: The goal here is to equip Partner sales teams with a resource and key talking points in client calls. More Sales enablement will begin in the Growth Stage.
- Email announcement from Partner: This should have an introduction on value prop of the partnership, then lead into benefits of the product, and how to implement. Best practices: For Launch emails, allow for broader email segmentation targeting. The goal is to raise awareness. Add a button to improve CTR or UTM link (see the Free UTM Builder) in the email that allows users to activate the integration. This will give you a way to to measure conversion rates from the email. The email should include a a Deep link to wherever they can easily activate the integration. Avoid sending to an action-less landing page. If a deep link is not possible or relevant, provide a link for people to access the Help Center article in order to implement. Keep the headline to no more than 4 words; data suggests 65 characters is ideal Send out on a Tuesday; data shows that this is the best time. Benchmarks: There are three main email funnel metrics to measure success: Open rate, CTR, and Conversion Rate. A average benchmark for Open rate is 20% to 23% (data suggests the average is 20.81%). For CTR, the benchmark is from 2% to 3%. (data suggests the average is 2.43%). For Conversion rate, the benchmark is from 2% to 3%
- Blog post announcement on Partner’s website: A blog post provides another avenue for you to be able to reach Partner’s customers about the integration. This should be relatively low lift. Best practice: Focus less on the announcement and more on use cases/benefits. Make it actionable. Why? because the blog post will stay live for a long time as opposed to an email that will be deleted/buried in inboxes. SEO: Make the blog post around 2,000 words (to get to this length consider adding best practices in the blog post); Add catchy headline; Do keyword research. Add a button to the integration with event tracking enabled to measure conversion rate. Benchmarks: Page Engagement: Ideally the blog post will have around 2 min avg. session duration; A bounce rate below 65%; Blog post conversion rate: A Blog post like this is an upper funnel piece of content; the benchmark is around 1 -2% goal.
- Social post announcement on Partner’s Pages: This should be exciting, educational, and direct users to help Center. This should be relatively low lift. Best practice: Use imagery and video if available. Link to the Blog announcement if possible to increase backlinks and thus SEO.
- Reporting templates: Work closely with your DS and DS on Partner’s side to ensure relevant KPIs are being measured. Best practice: Align with the partner early on key metrics and conversion analysis. This will ensure that there is a common language between the two teams and alignment on goals. Measure the steps in the conversion funnel at a granular level. Analysis of where there were drop offs will help identify areas of friction, brainstorm ways to optimize the flow, and leverage in product notifications at the right steps in the funnel. Best Practice: Define the exact action a user takes in order to adopt. Best Practice: Measure the source of where the user came from. Best Practice: Measure the steps and funnel in order for someone to adopt. This will help inform in-product notifications. Best Practice: If applicable, measure churn rate.
Just ask Plai..
“How many visits do I have today?”
“Do people find my website engagement?”
Definition. A Partner is considered in Growth Stage from 3 months – 1 year or if the activities in the ‘New Stage’ have been
completed. It is during this time that we will use the previous three months from launch phase to inform Co-marketing
and Sales Enablement initiatives. These following initiatives are in the Growth Stage because they offer the highest impact at the lowest cost.
Metrics. Inventory acquisition (the amount of inventory added to your business from a Partner); Awareness
Approach. Make data-driven decisions that drive growth based on high impact Co-marketing and Sales Enablement initiatives.
- Run a survey: Having a clear understanding of the audience can speed up adoption growth. The nuances of why people are not adopting will require additional research to surface specific actions that could be taken to improve the flow and ease adoption barriers. To determine adoption blockers like awareness, value gap, eligibility, etc. work with the Partner to launch a survey. Ideally, you can launch as a separate survey, but often Partners will have a survey cadence. If this is the case, choose your top 2 to 3 questions and work with the Partner to include them in their quarterly survey.
- Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Initiate qualitative research early to surface friction in the flow. Qualitative interviews and testing before launch, followed up with quantitative analysis can speed up the adoption curve.
Now, let’s get started with high impact Co-marketing initiatives you can launch.
Knowing where to start with partner marketing can be overwhelming, that’s why we have completed research to determine the three highest Co-marketing growth levers and benchmarks to determine success. While these initiatives may be effective on their own, crafting a way to get them all working together is key.
This is the most effective marketing channel – as you can capture your audience’s attention at the moment of action. These can be placed within your own product and your Partner’s product. If you have an app in-product notifications are easy, otherwise try adding a notification at the top of your website. There are plenty of website plugins that will allow you to create a pop up on your website,
- Benchmarks: You should be establishing your own benchmarks but here is a starter. At least 3% CTR or 5% Conversion Rate – These two metrics represent the 100% increase over random threshold for Engaged Users (CTR) and Unengaged Users (Conversions). Targeting is key. Depending on the mix of people you send notifications to (a new audience or previously engaged audience), your CTR% and Conversions can vary wildly, being able to break one of the thresholds covers both cases of targeting at either extreme.
Email campaign for Partner Marketing
This is considered the second most effective channel for partner marketing behind In-product notifications for the ability to target and the fact that the audience is already somewhat engaged (aware) with the Partner or your business because they are on your email list. You may find that emails from your business perform better than emails from Partners. Make sure you align with your email marketer on rolling out the plan.
- Benchmark: There are three main email funnel metrics to measure success: Open rate, CTR, and Conversion Rate. A average benchmark for Open rate is 20% to 23% (data suggests the average is 20.81%). For CTR, the benchmark is from 2% to 3%. (data suggests the average is 2.43%). For Conversion rate, the benchmark is from 2% to 3%
- Targeting is key. Determine 2 to 3 targeted audiences ideally greater than 1,000 in size who shows signs of converting. Do not email blast the entire audience. Consider A/B testing a similar message to different audiences.Depending on the mix of people you email, your CTR% and Conversions can vary wildly, being able to break one of the thresholds covers both cases of targeting or creative at either extreme.
- Determine 2 to 3 targeted audiences ideally greater than 1,000 in size who shows signs of converting. Do not email blast the entire audience. Consider A/B testing a similar message to different audiences. To determine success of Partner email campaigns look at their current Open rate, CTR, and Conversion rate to compare with your email campaign. Although you can advise on timing and email creative, the Partner should own most of that. Align with your partner on a targeted list that shows signs of high potential to convert.
Facebook Ads for Partner Marketing
Facebook ads are the third level of effectiveness as a growth lever. Facebook ads have shown to be less effective than In-product notifications and email but can be more effective than SEM or SEO in the near term. See here for the Ultimate Guide on Facebook Ads.
There are three potential ways to launch and pay for a Facebook ad campaign with your partner after aligning on a goal: 1) You fund it 2) The Partner funds it 3) Together by either splitting or matching ad spend.
If you need to launch quickly, the best option is to secure about $5K to run Facebook ads for 30 days. Ideally you will be targeting your Partner’s customers who are eligible to also purchase your product/service. The best way to reach this audience is with Custom audiences in Facebook where you can upload the Partners list of emails. In our experience, $5K over 30 days will allow you to reach close to 70% of the targeted audience.
If you need deep reporting and higher customization, the best option is to run the campaign through your business’ Facebook ad account. If you are not familiar with running Facebook ads yourself, keep in mind that your digital marketing person who can help you might also have a long list of other priorities. Plan accordingly.
- Best practices: Focus on integration adoption among existing Partner clients vs. new user growth for the Partner. A good targeting method to achieve this best practice is Custom Audiences. Targeting: Create 2 to 3 Custom Audiences that are greater than 1,000 in size. A/B test different creative to these audiences and optimize for impact. Remarketing can be another great option for targeting clients who may have engaged with the help center article, for example, but have not yet adopted. Don’t use Boosted posts. They are too broad and lack a clear CTA.
- Landing page advice: Create a joint landing page both on your website and on your Partners’ that gets people excited about the integration. We will get more into landing pages later. If you don’t have time for creating a landing page try deep linking. To reduce friction to conversion consider deep linking users to the area where they can activate the integration either within your app or website.
- Ad Creative: Be educational with a clear CTA (especially if you are deep linking). Create custom messages that will resonate with your target audience.
- Benchmarks: Conversion rate, and CPA are the metrics to focus on. CTR: .9% to 3%; CPC: $1.70 avg.; Conversion Rate: 2 to 10% (will vary depending on targeting (i.e. engaged vs. unengaged); CPA: Will vary depending on Partner and targeting (i.e. engaged vs. unengaged)
Just ask Plai..
“How many visits do I have today?”
“Do people find my website engagement?”
A Partner is considered in Mature Stage from 1+ year or if all levers in the growth stage are complete. It is during this time that we will explore opportunities such as landing page creation to increase adoption. The following initiatives are in the Mature Stage because they tend to be a high touch form of partner marketing. Let’s get started!
- Metrics: Adoption rate (# of inventory adopted / # total inventory); Plus some Awareness
- Approach: In the Mature stage you will see the growth trend stabilize and find increasing adoption to be more difficult. This is because we have already launched initiatives such as in-product notifications to capture the low hanging fruit. We need to approach this stage from a highly analytical POV to understand what the growth blockers are to develop new product features or value props that will help drive further adoption.
- Run a product test: Running a product test has multiple benefits. 1) You can determine if the integration is benefiting adopters 2) You can generate a stat like businesses who have used our integration have seen 2X more sales. You can use in your marketing materials to drive further adoption.
- Run a survey: It has been awhile since your first survey. The nuances of why people are not adopting in the ‘Mature Stage’ will require additional research to surface specific actions that could be taken to improve the flow and ease adoption barriers. To determine adoption blockers like awareness, value gap, eligibility, etc. work with the Partner to launch a survey. Ideally, you can launch as a separate survey, but often Partners will have a survey cadence. If this is the case, choose your top 2 to 3 questions and work with the Partner to include them in their quarterly survey.
- Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Qualitative interviews and testing before launch, followed up with quantitative analysis can speed up the adoption curve. Initiate qualitative research early to surface friction in the flow. If you are experiencing adoption growth slowdown before the Mature stage, consider launching a survey earlier.
Now let’s see a few examples of initiatives you can launch!
Webinar or Go Live
Webinars are included in the ‘Mature Stage’ of partner marketing because of the low reach but high impact potential compared to other
initiatives. Talk with your Partner about their past webinar attendance and prioritize accordingly. If done correctly,
webinars can inspire and drive action. Some ideas are better suited to the webinar format than others. For example,
the following would be a good fit for a webinar: A detailed examination of a topic from a fresh angle; A thorough, example-driven how to tutorial; An adaptation of a presentation from a conference speaking engagement; An interview with an industry thought leader.
On the other hand, the following probably wouldn’t make for a particularly compelling webinar: A minor product release or update; A news-based webinar with little or no new information/opinion; A broad, “content thin” webinar on a general topic; A webinar focusing on a tired idea or concept (e.g. “content is king”); A straight-up sales deck/product pitch
Facebook Live will often have 2X the amount of live viewers compared to a webinar. Promote through Partner and your owned media channels. Consider adding/matching up to $5K in ad spend to use on Google Display or Facebook ads.
Most partners will have 300 – 600 live webinar watchers; they will then distribute the recorded webinar to their email list for those who did not attend. Average total reach is often 1K – 2K. You should add to Facebook Live to increase reach.
Just ask Plai..
“How many visits do I have today?”
“Do people find my website engagement?”