Partner marketing is an online based sales channel in which advertisers compensate partners to generate sales or leads to the advertiser's products or services. A partner program can be run by any business who has a website and where users can make a transaction.
Seven steps to set up and get started with a partner marketing program are listed below.
1. Choose platform
A partner marketing platform is essential to track and manage partner programs. A partner marketing platform can either be a SaaS platform (Software as a Service) where the advertiser manages every aspect of the partner program in-house, or a full-service platform, operated by a company with dedicated personnel managing and optimising the program. Choosing the right platform can impact how successful the partner program becomes. It is therefore crucial to choose a platform that is suitable for your business and way of working.
2. Decide on commission rates
Partner marketing operates on a performance-based fee model, and remains one of the most cost-effective online marketing channels available. Advertisers pay commissions of the sale value and only pay for confirmed sales sent by partners. The commission can be a fixed fee or a percentage of the sale value. When a partner sends a sale of £100 GBP, the commission can be set to for instance 10% of the sale value, or a fixed amount of £10 GBP.
Offering attractive and competitive commission rates is crucial to incentivise partners to send traffic to your website.
A. Calculate the highest commission level you can pay whilst still achieving a return on your investment. Considering that the cost is known before a sale occurs, it can be classified a cost of sales. Compare it to the cost of sales in your other sales channels, both online and offline.
B. Review the commission levels offered by your competitors in their partner programs.
The commission level should be set somewhere between A and B. If you have chosen a full-service platform, the team will be happy to consult you when setting up the commission rate you wish to pay.
3. Decide on advertising policies
Different partners utilise different methods to promote, and not all promotion methods may be suitable for your business. It is therefore important to specify which ones are allowed for your partner program. Some important methods to consider are:
Traditional discount portals collect voucher codes from various advertisers and bring together deals. Voucher codes can be useful to incentivise customers to make a purchase and increase conversion rates. If you allow coupon sites in your partner program, your partners need to be provided with suitable voucher codes or offers on a frequent basis.
Loyalty platforms offer their customers rewards and commissions when purchasing from advertisers with which they collaborate. In practice, the loyalty platform receives commissions from the advertisers and shares it with their users.
PPC is a pay per click model in which partners pay for their links to be visible in search engines for specific keywords. It can be cost efficient letting partners manage your PPC campaigns, but if your business is already running PPC campaigns, you should consider the impact a partner's advertising could have on your own efforts.
Social media promotions include influencers promoting your products or services to followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms.
Some partners have their own database of email addresses to individuals who have given their consent (opted-in) to receive offers and campaigns. Email marketing can be efficient for growth, providing great reach in a short amount of time. If you want to work with email marketers, we recommend providing partners with templates with prepared content in order to ensure that your brand and products are correctly promoted.
Price comparison sites compare products from different advertisers focusing on price. The goal is to help the end user find the best offer available. If you want to work with price comparison sites, you should provide a product feed (see below) to ensure that correct and updated information is shown by partners.
4. Send ad material and product feed
Most partner program sales are made with text links, but we recommend providing a selection of banners. A full-service platform will can advise on the number and size of banners.
For retailers, it is important to provide a product feed which is a text file consisting of product information from your e-commerce system. The product feed enables partners to retrieve, filter and present updated product information in various ways. Product feeds are used by price comparison sites, product catalogues and other partners. Many e-commerce systems have built in functionality to export product feeds. The platform imports your product feed on a frequent basis and utilises it's servers to make it accessible to partners.
5. Implement tracking
With partner marketing being performance based, it is crucial to track the traffic and sales partners send to you. This is handled by the platform and is done through a tracking code implemented on the confirmation page of your website. The tracking code is normally one or two lines long.
When a user clicks an ad or a link from your partner program, the platform places a cookie in the user's browser. When the same user makes a purchase on your website and the tracking code on the confirmation page runs, the platform is able to identify the user that previously clicked an ad or link from your partner program.
Advertisers receive one invoice while the platform takes care of all your partner payments.
6. Set up a recruitment site
An important way to recruit partners to your partner program is through your own website. By placing a specific landing page on your website with the topic "Partner with us" or "Earn money with us", you can capture the interest of visitors who already like your products and are willing to recommend your website to others.
To limit your workload, the landing page should link directly to the platform. Many platforms can automatically create sign up pages with your logo and customised content about your brand.
7. Launch and promote
Partner marketing is a long term strategy. It takes time for partners to sign up to the program, implement links and ads and optimise activity. Reaching optimised volume for a partner program often takes between one and six months. Different platforms have various features at their disposal to inform partners about your program. Some examples can be:
- Informing partners in the user interface of the platform
- Posting on the platform's social media channels
- Emailing partners that operate in the same segment
- Sending newsletters to all partners in the network
- Directly contacting and recruiting important partners
Adtraction is a full-service partner marketing platform, helping brands attract new customers and sell more, while helping partners monetise their content and traffic. The company works with brands across multiple industries, ranging from e-commerce to financial services. With a user-friendly platform, Adtraction connects brands with a diverse range of marketing partners, ranging from content sites, influencers, affiliates, mobile apps and comparison sites.
The company was established in 2007 and is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, with offices in 11 locations across Europe.