Partnership Marketing is Set to Diversify and Go Global

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Partnership marketing faced its share of challenges in 2021: an uncertain economy and the transition from third-party cookies, to name two. But the channel has adapted quickly and is poised to thrive in 2022. Massive opportunities lie ahead for brands, affiliates, and influencers alike. 

This year, expect the partnership marketing industry to grow, become more sophisticated, and require more personnel and expertise. Brands will experiment with different payment models, diversify their mix of influencers and affiliates, and test the waters for global expansion. Not unsurprisingly, technology will play a significant role.

Different partnership marketing payment models will improve ROI

We’ve already started to see affiliates and influencers converge as a new type of partner. Influencers joined affiliate programs, and affiliates began setting up as social media influencers. Now, brands are asking more about how to bring influencers into their affiliate programs to better track performance and monetize based on outcomes like sales instead of inputs.

This year, brands will experiment with different payment models for their affiliates and influencers. New models will help both brands and influencers see what channels, media, and other elements drive beneficial outcomes. If they’re successful at creating these models, brands have a massive opportunity to scale their partnership marketing programs and even change the way the industry works with affiliates and influencers.

However, brands will also need to reconsider their key metrics when incorporating influencers. Their bottom-of-funnel contribution is different from that of a coupon partner, for example. Measuring them in the same way sets everyone up to fail, so brands will  need to decide what’s important to track and how they define their partners.

On the heels of that, it’s become clear that there are no universal metrics to measure success – it varies by brand. As the partnership channel expands and new types of partners are added to programs, brands will need to adjust their KPIs accordingly.

Optimizing means diversifying

Partnership marketing can encompass the entire funnel, from influencers at the awareness stage all the way through the coupon or loyalty partners closing the deal. Partners don’t necessarily fit into just one part of the funnel, either. For example, a brand could work with a loyalty partner to drive awareness by targeting a competitor’s customers with an email campaign and then close the sale with a toolbar extension. Building and optimizing a genuinely diverse partner base and looking to work with partners in various ways will help brands scale and create healthy partnership programs.

Brands will also diversify their programs. As the digital marketing landscape has changed, so has the reliance on Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Partnerships let advertisers structure their programs to work profitably with their partners and sell through social channels. Additionally, brands can leverage affiliate partners to work with Google, Facebook, and Amazon so that brands can continue to leverage these channels, but with affiliates taking the risk on and brands paying only for performance.

Technology will aid global expansion

Brands continue to look for online growth by going global. But that presents its own challenge because of the need to build a cohesive global approach while allowing for localization. For example, customers in different parts of the world may have different LTVs, which may require commission structures to be set up by country. Fortunately, today’s technology platforms can handle these types of customizations.

Technology itself will continue evolving to automate partnership programs. Right now, brands can scale effectively using platforms to build large-scale structures for contracts, commissions, sharing creative assets, and paying partners. Expect to see improved and enhanced analytics and reporting capabilities. Technology providers will also expand their ability to customize increasingly sophisticated commissioning structures to meet the demand of running complex, high-volume programs.

The bottom line: partnership marketing won’t just be picking up cookie crumbs in 2022. It’s going to pick up steam as brands look for a way to make the most of their marketing dollars and find measurable ROI in their programs.

Sarah Johnson Dayes is Chief Client Officer at Acceleration Partners.