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Events — 14 Sep 2022

5 Partnership Marketing Initiatives for B2B SaaS Companies

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5 Partnership Marketing Initiatives for B2B SaaS Companies

A partnership is a beautiful thing. Through a partnership, brands can reach untapped markets cost-effectively and with ease. But like many exciting marketing strategies, partnership marketing is underutilized in the land of B2B. Let’s discuss 5 partnership marketing initiatives that B2B SaaS companies should be launching. 

What is Partnership Marketing?

partnership marketing
Source (Canva)

Partnership marketing is a collaboration between two separate brands to reach a wider audience. A partnership marketing strategy is a collaboration between complementary brands with overlapping audiences. By partnering together, each of the complementary brands can expand their marketing reach, further their brand awareness, and expand their customer base. 

Learn more in Affise’s partner marketing guide.

How is partnership marketing unique for B2B SaaS companies? 

The most significant difference between partnership marketing for B2B vs. B2C brands is the size of their target audiences. B2B brands tend to have smaller target audiences, perhaps even an account-based list as small as a hundred niche accounts they may be going after, compared to B2C brands, which are likely targeting vaster audiences. 

A B2C brand such as Netflix’s Stranger Things may benefit from many opportunities for partnership marketing – like their collaborations with Domino’s, Baskin Robbins, Doritos, and many more (75 in total – Can you believe that?!). But for a B2B SaaS company whose product is not quite as ubiquitous as Stranger Things, they may have to select their partnerships more carefully. 

B2B SaaS
Source (Canva)

A good way to identify opportunities for partnership marketing for B2B SaaS brands is to evaluate your ideal customer profile against potential partners. Is there significant overlap between your customer base and theirs?

For example: as an account-based marketing platform, Triblio includes in their ideal customer profile that their ideal customers must use a form of marketing automation, since the Triblio product would not be a good fit for their business if they don’t. 

When looking for potential partnership marketing partners, Triblio would do well to start with marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot, since they have an overlapping ideal customer profile.

What are partnership marketing best practices?

Above all else, two of the most important best practices for partnership marketing are to pick your partners carefully, and to have a clear framework in place for tracking partnerships. 

Pick your partners carefully

Picking your partners carefully can mean hand-picking ideal partners for your business, or it could mean setting out criteria that ideal partners should meet. 

Have a clear framework in place for tracking partnerships

Without a clear framework for tracking your partnerships, you won’t be able to track the success of your partnership marketing campaigns, and thus won’t be able to optimize and improve your campaigns. A clear framework for tracking partnerships should include the ability to track conversions and traffic from partnerships, and goals that they should hit. 

Learn more best practices for partnership marketing.

What are some partnership marketing KPIs to track?

ROI

The most important metric of partnership marketing, and any marketing for that matter… is return on investment, or ROI. 

ROI can be calculated like so:  ROI = return / cost of investment x 100. 

For partnership marketing initiatives where there wasn’t spend on specific channels, like for instance a blog swap or an organic social media collaboration, the cost of investment would simply be the time needed to execute the partnership marketing initiative. 

Conversion Rate

Conversion rates are a powerful indicator for marketing campaigns. Conversion rates are generally calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by the total number of clicks on a campaign. 

For a partnership marketing campaign, metrics like conversion rates can help to indicate the quality of leads gained from partnerships. If the conversion rate for a partnership marketing campaign is lower than the conversion rate of other campaigns, that may be an indication that you should take a look at whether you’re partnering with the best-fit partners.

Learn more about KPIs for partnership marketing

Now that you understand what partnership marketing is, how it is uniquely different for B2B SaaS companies, best practices you should follow, and KPIs to track, you can set your partner marketing goals, and plan your partnership marketing initiatives. 

Partnership Marketing Initiatives for B2B SaaS Companies

1. Swap Blogs and & Contributions

Blog swaps can be a great foray into partnership marketing for growing B2B SaaS brands. 

The benefits of a blog swap can include reaching new prospects, reaching a larger audience, not to mention, the enormous SEO benefits of high quality backlinks. Blog swaps also provide a wonderful venue to articulate the benefit that your product provides to the customers of your partner. For example, you can go into detail about the way that your product can complement your partner’s product, and integrations you may have with it. 

Blog Swap Example

blog swap example
Source (bombora.com)
triblio website
Source (triblio.com)

Partners Triblio and Bombora benefited from their blog swap partnership by communicating the complementary benefits of their products to shared audiences, as well as each brand enjoying high quality backlinks.

Two key best practices of blog swaps include:

  • Include “do-follow” links
  • Amplify each other’s content on social media by liking, commenting, and sharing.

Blog Contributions

Another way that brands can partner on blogs is to feature each other in their own blog content. By featuring contributors from other brands, it can become easier to produce blog content, as well as guarantee more engagement. When you feature a brand in your blog, you can then tag them in any social media content promoting said blog, and they’ll help to promote your brand’s content. 

For example, B2B SaaS brand LeadSift featured their fellow partners, colleagues, and even a few competitors in their blog, 14 Intent User’s Favorite Buying Signals (That you should be tracking). The brands and people who contributed to that blog were then incentivized to share it, furthering its reach. 

To get started with blog contributions, think of topics that are relevant to your brand, and other brands and individuals that they might be relevant to. Come up with interesting questions you could ask your partners about that topic, and add them to a simple form. Reach out to your partners, asking for contribution, reminding them of the benefits of being featured such as a high quality backlink, or your brand promoting them on social media. 

With this strategy, you’ll find that blogs with contributions from partners can be easy and beneficial to all parties involved.

2. Host Joint Webinars

A common topic of webinars in the B2B SaaS space is use cases and case studies. This is usually accomplished by a thought leader explaining how their client used their brand’s product to achieve revenue goals. A joint webinar is a great way to cover how one customer benefited from multiple complementary products, or how B2B SaaS products can pair well together. 

sugar crm
Source (sugarcrm.com)

For example, partners Triblio, SugarCRM, and Bombora were able to reach the following niches with their joint webinar:

  • Triblio was able to reach SugarCRM customers, who benefit from Triblio being the only ABM platform to integrate with SugarCRM.
  • Bombora was able to reach users interested in the use of intent data within their account based marketing programs.
  • SugarCRM was able to show how through the use of their own product, they were able to achieve sales and marketing success.

By hosting the webinar together, the three marketing departments were able to have a multiplying effect on each other’s promotions. They were able to get more share of mind on social and viewership for the event itself, driving far higher traffic than comparable events without partnerships. 

Webinar partnership marketing initiative best practices include:

  • Have a clear goal for each company to drive a certain amount of traffic and registrations
  • Track each partner company’s results with referral marketing software or shared UTM codes.
  • Develop and adhere to guidelines for co-branding
  • Amplify each other’s promotion of the event by coordinating post schedules, liking, commenting, and sharing each partner’s posts and content leading up to and following the joint webinar. 

3. Partner on Email Marketing

One of the key benefits of email marketing partnerships as well as blog swaps is that they are low cost initiatives. Being cost-effective makes email and blog partnerships great opportunities for teams working with tight budgets. Email marketing partnerships can vary based on brand but can include tactics such as:

  • Including a link to a partner within your newsletter
  • Sending special offers to each other’s audiences
  • Promoting each other’s shared content such as blog swaps or joint webinars

Email marketing partnership initiatives benefit from validated audiences, as the email addresses you use have been successfully contacted by your partners. 

4. Collaborate on Social Media

Social media collaborations are a great and easy way for brands to try out partnership marketing initiatives. They can require less of a lift than say, webinars or referral programs, and can have a wide organic reach on social media. 

Social media collaborations could include from social media account takeovers, to the sharing of collaborative content, to joint promotions, to highlighting integrations or complementary features.  

For example, B2B SaaS platform Slack collaborated with Duolingo in honor of World Emoji Day, partnering on social media content (including polls, videos, and graphics), a blog, original research, and even a webinar. By pulling out all the stops, Slack was able to get as much as possible out of their partnership with Duolingo. 

social media
Source (twitter.com)

Social media collaboration best practices include:

  • Follow each other’s brand guidelines for any imagery
  • Engage with your partner brand’s social media posts
  • Reuse and repurpose content to get the most out of your partnership. For example: quotes, statistics, and insights from blogs can be repurposed for use as social media content. 

Learn more tips on social media marketing.

5. Launch A Referral Program

Any B2B marketer knows that word-of-mouth is one of your most powerful resources in acquiring new customers. In fact, according to Semrush, ”When buying business software, 46% of small businesses choose based on colleagues’ recommendations and other companies in the industry.” But though word-of-mouth referrals are as important, if not more important in B2B than in B2C, most B2B companies have not dedicated resources to a referral marketing program. 

A B2B SaaS referral marketing program should start with your loyal customers. It should make it easy for them to refer colleagues or friends, make it trackable for them to refer, and incentivize them to do so. 

Incentives could be thank you gifts once they’ve referred someone, simply cash rewards, or upgraded features from your product. One great example of a reward program done right is Morning Brew. Morning Brew made it easy to refer friends by including the link to refer within each of their free newsletters. Morning Brew incentivized readers to refer friends by offering a catalog of swag and exclusive experience packages their evangelists could receive in exchange for referrals.

Source (medium.com)

Unique ideas for referral incentives include:

  • Swag – mugs, t-shirts, stickers, phone wallet, or other branded items
  • Exclusive access – content or events that are exclusive to referrers
  • Upgrades – enhancements to product experiences such as free credits, gaining ad-free access, or a higher tier of membership  
  • Egifts – gift cards of referrers’ choosing

Swag is an especially good reward for your referral program because it can serve to even further your word-of-mouth marketing like so: “Where’s that cool mug from?” “Oh it’s from this newsletter I love, Morning Brew, I’ll forward you the link!”

Of course, you can never go wrong with cold hard cash either. 

Learn more about referral marketing.

How to Scale Your Partnership Marketing Initiatives

When you first start out with partnership marketing, you’ll spend time figuring out the basics such as what types of companies make for promising partnerships, determining the goals of your partnership, and tracking your partnership metrics such as page views, new customers acquired, and customer acquisition cost, manually. But once you’ve completed a few successful partnership marketing initiatives, you may want to scale your partnership marketing program to deliver more impactful results. 

To scale your partnership marketing efforts, you’ll want one place to manage your partners, track your metrics, and automate your workflows. 

If you’re ready to take your partnership marketing to the next level, check out Affise’s partnership marketing solution, Affise Performance. 

Affise Performance simplifies partnerships with their advanced tracking platform so that you can reach more customers, cost-effectively. Affise Performance allows users to customize their data, track performance, and automate their workflows so you can reach new heights with your partnership marketing.

 

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Mary Batchelder, Sr. Digital Marketing Manager at Triblio

Written by

With a diverse background in account-based marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, SEO, email marketing, and more for B2B companies, Mary likes to know a little something about everything. As a Triblio ABM software power user, she specializes in creating multichannel campaigns to grow pipeline.