Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave

Tips & Guides — 20 Jul 2021

How to Create a Captivating Partner Portal

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn’t Want to Leave

Partnerships drive higher revenues and brand awareness — no wonder a great chunk of businesses prioritizes partner marketing over other marketing channels. However, co-marketing brings the desired outcomes only when partners are engaged with a program.

Attempting to win over channel partners is a pain in the neck for many merchants. To tackle this issue, businesses may utilize partner portals. If employed right, this solution can help companies build strong, long-lasting relationships with partners and boost their partner program success.

What is a Partner Portal?

The definition of a partner portal boils down to the self-service website or application, which facilitates partners’ marketing efforts. Ultimately, portal users can utilize these platforms to access the necessary resources and tools, undergo training, collaborate, and so on.

Below, you can see the homepage of Salesforce’s partner community. The company is famous for its CRM and partner management software, so it provides an A+ example of a partner portal. Their website for channel partners includes platforms for collaboration and training, a schedule of events, blog posts, and more.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
Salesforce partner portal

The Benefits of Partner Portals

It doesn’t matter what sector — B2B or B2C — a company operates in. Utilizing a partner portal can change the game for all businesses specializing in indirect sales and relying on partner marketing.

Here are the main benefits correctly implemented partner portals may drive:

  • 1
    Mobility.  
  • Most enterprises try to build their partner portals to be mobile responsive. Thus, partners can access these applications anytime, anywhere and get up-to-date information in real time.
  • 2
    Self-service.
  • Partner portals allow users to tackle their issues and access the desired information without addressing a partner program manager. This, in turn, lets businesses interact with their partners only on significant occasions and save time on dealing with minor issues.
  • 3
    Streamlined workflows.
  • Partner portals often include marketing automation services as out-of-the-box solutions or integrations. Such functionality lets partners streamline their business processes and work more efficiently.
  • 4
    Training opportunities.
  • Knowledge bases and training materials integrated into partner portals allow users to make their marketing activities more efficient.
  • 5
    Effectiveness monitoring.
  • Many partner portals have built-in analytics, which opens access to the data on the partners’ performance and the company’s sales.
  • 6
    Document management.
  • Portal users can utilize document templates, which alleviate paperwork. Better yet, CRM systems that underlie partner portals allow storing all the documentation in one place and keeping it at hand.
  • 7
    Collaborative content creation.
  • Some portals provide channel partners with the opportunity to collaborate within a single unified platform to create marketing collateral, promo materials, and so on. Such an approach helps save time businesses often waste on transferring and approving materials. Better yet, it encourages sharing information.
  • 8
    Advanced communication.
  • Thanks to built-in communication tools, portals are indispensable for creating tight-knit partner communities. With these tools, channel partners share their knowledge and best practices and achieve better results.

Tips to Build an Appealing Partner Portal

The merits partner portals may bring to the table can’t be overstated. However, it’s not always the case. Many of these platforms flounder to attract visitors, and, thus, all efforts put into creating portals fall flat. Worse, businesses don’t reap the benefits they potentially could. To help you prevent such a scenario for your business, let’s unpack the main tips to build an appealing partner portal.

Take Care of Portal’s Functionality

The best tactic you can stick to is approaching your partner portal as carefully as you would approach your customer portal. And the cornerstone of a well-performing portal is seamless user experience. It means your partner portal should be easy to navigate.

Start with the moment a new user enters your portal — employ a single sign-on. Thus, your channel partners can access all your resources with unified credentials. For instance, this tactic is used in the Salesforce community, so partner account username and password fit for the partner portal, CRM, and marketing cloud.

To make navigation on your partner portal easy, stick to the following rules: 

  • Aim for fewer clicks. Let’s be honest, compound dropdown menus are a bad, bad idea. The fewer clicks it takes to find the needed information, the better your partner portal navigation is.
  • Keep it clean. Page layout on your partner portal should be clear and concise. Try to remove unnecessary content, links, banners, and navigation menus. These elements clutter the website, distract portal users and make it harder to find the sought-for content.
  • Test your portal. Partner portal users are unlikely to spend even five minutes figuring out the navigation, so you need to make it intuitive. Ask your colleagues or partners to look over your portal and say how simple it was to find what they needed. Another approach is to utilize heatmaps or behavior analytics tools to get a clearer picture and find out which portal elements baffle users.

Provide the Necessary Information

A partner portal is a perfect solution to provide your partners with fresh marketing materials and offers, educate them about your product or service, broaden their expertise, and so on. To take advantage of these opportunities, you may need to think through how you share information with portal users. 

The first step is to find out what data your partners need the most to work efficiently. Try to explore use cases — what steps your partners take to achieve their marketing goals and where they stumble upon. The most frequent barriers due to the lack of information are exactly what you need to spot.

To meet the need for specific information, consider incorporating a FAQ section or a knowledge base into your partner portal. It may come in different shapes and sizes. For instance, in Affise, network managers can add links to their affiliate panel, so partners can access the necessary information from their dashboard. Such databases help your partners not only learn more about your partner program, pricing, or tools but also streamline their marketing processes.

If you decide to provide partners with online training, adapt your portal to eLearning. For instance, you can integrate a learning management system into your partner website. This solution will help administrate, track, and automate your learning program.

Keep Content Up-to-date

Precise knowledge bases, document templates, marketing playbooks, and well-designed online courses can either make or break your partner portal. There are few things more frustrating than spending hours exploring outdated content. Getting into such a situation may completely repel channel partners from your portal.

So, consider making a habit of banishing content that is no longer relevant. You may set the cleaning schedule according to your capabilities and the content obsolescence rate. During the regular cleans, optimize the content that requires minor corrections and relentlessly get rid of the out-of-date pieces. 

Another thing that makes portal users irked is a contradiction between various pieces of content. To avoid it, appoint the persons in charge of the content on your partner portal. You may assign various roles for your teammates. Some have permission to post and edit content, others — comment, and third — read only. It will help you keep your brand messaging clear and consistent. 

Set KPIs for Partner Portal

To run customer portals successfully, brands set KPIs and measure the site performance. The same strategy should be applied to partner portals. This practice allows you to evaluate if running a portal brings desirable results. Apart from it, monitoring the effectiveness lets you spot the areas that need improvements and hypothesize on changing a portal and a partner program in general.

To gauge your partner portal and program success, you may adhere to the following KPIs:

  • Partner portal logins. Few logins may indicate difficulties with finding your portal. In contrast, many logins coupled with a high churn rate may denote poor portal quality. Aside from it, this indicator correlates with a partner’s engagement. For example, if a seasoned partner signs in less and less, you may need to take care of keeping them  engaged
  • Participation in training. Partners who participate in training and interact with courses on the portal are engaged and valuable, and it will be reflected in their sales results. On the other hand, low participation may tell about training’s low quality or problems with finding it on the website.  
  • Engagement with the content. This metric helps you evaluate a partner’s interest level and how it changes with time. Also, it’s a good criterion for the quality of content and its availability to portal users.

Apart from that, you may stick to other indicators of partner success depending on what your industry implies and what analytics opportunity your partner portal has. Learn about more ways your business can benefit from analytics and the useful features of statistics software in our intuitive guide.

Encourage Communication

Active communication and discussions are a surefire way to build a close-knit partner community around your brand. When a company interacts with channel partners regularly, it increases their loyalty and engagement. On top of that, communication helps partners improve their marketing results and broaden their expertise as they share insights and best practices.

Consider creating an opportunity for communication on your partner portal. Your partners need a built-in platform for communication, which is accessible without efforts or technical issues. To make interactions between partners more native and convenient, you may implement social collaboration tools such as tagging.

Another point to consider is partner activity in a community. Users are more likely to get involved in lively discussions and avoid adding comments into inactive threads. Thus, you may put some effort into creating new topics to discuss and actively share your opinion as well.

Partner Portal Features for Affiliate Marketing in Affise

All of the tips listed above are a must for creating a partner portal your channel partners would be happy to visit. However, the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t provide 100% efficiency when it comes to building a partner portal, as the latter should be customized for your business needs. Thus, the partner portal main parts would change depending on the industry and type of business.

A partner portal does not necessarily require a stand-alone software solution. The same functionality may be a part of your overall business or partner management solution, as it does in Affise. Let’s explore what partner portal features Affise provides for affiliate marketing businesses.

Offer Management

Offers are a core element of affiliate marketing; thus, businesses need a careful management system for them. In Affise, network managers can create, configure, alter, and delete offers. The data related to them — the number of partners connected to the offer, conversions — is also available in this section. In their turn, affiliate partners may see offers they can take for promotion or already promoting and join interesting offers.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
Offers section in an admin user panel

To make browsing through offers more convenient for publishers, Affise classifies them into three tabs:

    • All, which contains a complete list of offers;
    • Available with offers accessible for a specific affiliate;
    • Live, where an affiliate can view only offers with traffic.

Thus, affiliates can find offers more quickly in the needed categories.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
Offers section in the affiliate profile

Affiliates and Advertisers Management

Affise has a set of features for partner relationship management (PRM), which allow businesses to handle relationships with their affiliates successfully. You may start in the Affiliates section. You can create new affiliates manually and add them through the Import option or API if you need advanced customization.

Apart from it, there are options to search for a specific affiliate by ID, name, status, assigned manager. Moreover, you can filter affiliate partners by various criteria, such as their balance.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
The Affiliates section in the admin user panel

A great option to manage current partners is Affiliate Statuses. This feature allows you to filter and moderate publishers by four statuses — active, not active, banned, on moderation. Only active affiliates can access the affiliate panel.

The Affiliate Statuses feature relates to bot registrations prevention. To employ it, you may set the pre-moderation type for registration, so all new partners will have the on moderation status. Thus, a network manager can approve them manually and make sure only quality affiliates can access your offers.

There are a bunch of other ways to prevent bot registrations in Affise. Among them are setting more mandatory custom registration fields, enabling captcha for affiliates registration, and blocking registrations from specific locations. Read more about these options in the How to prevent affiliate fraud with Affise article.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
The process of setting app the affiliate statuses

Network managers may also need to manage advertisers. They can add and export advertisers using the ‘Advertisers’ section in their Admin panel.

Analytics Features

Modern businesses should make data-driven decisions rather than relying on gut feelings. Thus, Affise has a robust set of analytics features to help you track your channel partners’ activity and performance.

A great option to start is a statistics summary, which encompasses more than a dozen various slices. All dashboards are fully customizable, so you can create your own layers of statistics and fine-tune reports according to your needs. For instance, below is the monthly performance statistics, which shows Countries, OS, earnings by affiliate managers, account managers, advertisers, and affiliates.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
The monthly performance dashboard

Another feature popular among Affise customers is Drilldown reports, which allows you to put several pieces of data on a single page. Thus, you can group your reports by an account manager, advertiser, affiliate, offer, and more.

Aside from the standard options, you may employ custom statistics, which allows you to view some specific and detailed data for a particular time frame. You can filter this data by nine criteria and create filter presets, so you don’t have to activate each needed tick all the time.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
Custom slice statistics

If you represent an affiliate network, you can share statistics with your advertisers. All you need to do is to create an advertiser account, add the email address to it, send the password to an advertiser, and share the link to a report.

As your channel partners, affiliates also can monitor their statistics in the Statistics section in their profiles. In the Statistics table, they can see their traffic, conversions, and finances. Keeping an eye on it helps affiliates stay on the same page with advertisers and avoid disagreements about performance and payouts.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
Statistics in an affiliate dashboard

Communication Opportunities

Though Affise doesn’t have a built-in forum or social platform, it provides profuse communication opportunities for partners. The main of them is the ticketing system which allows affiliates to seek support. An affiliate can ask a question via the Support section. Here they also can see the list of tickets and their statuses.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
Ticketing system in the affiliate dashboard

Network managers see and manage ordered tickets in the eponymous section. Here, they can filter, add, activate, close, remove, reject tickets and reply to them. Apart from it, there is an option to send an outgoing ticket to any affiliate.

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
Ticketing system in the admin panel dashboard

Affise also has an out-of-the-box solution to notify channel partners about the company’s updates, marketing campaigns, special offers, and so on. It’s the News feature available both in the merchants’ and affiliates’ accounts. The most important news can be pinned to get more attention. Also, advertisers and network managers may apply custom colors to make the piece of information more noticeable. 

Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
The News tab in the admin panel
Build a Partner Portal Your Partners Wouldn't Want to Leave
The News tab in the affiliate account

Conclusion

A partner portal is a complex undertaking, which implies a lot of moving parts, but may bring in much more than you’ve spent on building it. The main thing to consider is your partner portal customization for your business needs.

If you look for a solution to improve communication with your partners and streamline your processes, give Affise a try. Thanks to the robust set of features, Affise lets you efficiently manage offers, marketing materials, and publishers.

If you have doubts or questions about whether Affise fits your needs as a partner portal functionally provider, you can test it and decide for yourself. Start with our 30-day free trial to make up your mind.

Try Affise today! Submit for a free trial and
check out all platform’s functionality by yourself!

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Anna is a Content Marketer with a background in B2B, creative approach, and eagerness for professional improvement. She aspires to produce content that helps achieve business objectives and benefit readers. When she’s not delved into writing another exciting article for you, she’s probably fooling around with her cat.

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