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Before we get to the automation part, what do we mean by “partnerships”?

We’re talking about any kind of performance marketing partnership – brand partners, traditional affiliates, social influencers, mobile apps, publishing partners or charities – the list is endless.

Adam Furness

Adam Furness, Managing Director at Impact APAC

Digital partnerships were built on a foundation of affiliate marketing and have since evolved – and multiplied. Despite the range of options available to brands today, the purpose of partnerships remains the same – to work with third-party businesses and individuals who already have a trusted relationship with a customer or audience, and leverage existing brand equity to reach a new built-in set of consumers. Think of it as a warm introduction from a trusted friend, but at scale.

So, WTF is partnership automation?

As more brands discover how much partnerships can contribute to revenue growth and competitive advantage, so the volume and scale of partnerships is increasing – which in turn makes them harder to manage, develop and optimise.

Just as we’ve seen sales, CRM and email marketing automated by cloud-based systems, Impact is bringing automation to Partnerships through our Partnership Cloud.

From a technology and software perspective, this automation improves how enterprises execute against the full partnership lifecycle, including: discovery, recruitment, on-boarding, engagement and optimisation of partnerships.

It helps free up valuable time for marketers to be more strategic and provides greater control, transparency, and efficiency – as a recent Impact commissioned study by Forrester proved.

What do you mean by ‘partnership lifecycle’?

This refers to the various steps involved in creating and maintaining successful partnerships. The Impact technology can manage all aspects of the partnership lifecycle from discovering new partners, through to managing, optimising and paying partners whilst also protecting partnership programs from fraud and providing marketers with detailed attribution reports.

So, it’s not a buzzword?

Is partnership automation sexy enough to be a buzzword!? Either way, definitely not – in the same way that Salesforce brought automation to sales and Marketo brought automation to marketing, we’re bringing automation to partnerships.

Why do marketers need to automate partnerships?

Managing partnerships is complex. Marketers and business development/partnership professionals are burdened with overseeing multiple portfolios and different types of technology. Whenever an apparel company partners with an influencer, or a credit card issuer rewards its members by offering points that can be redeemed for airline miles, that relationship needs to be managed. This includes things like contracting, attributing credit, and payment processing, for example.

Not only is it difficult to track outcomes and ensure every partnership is delivering on its promise, but enterprises inevitably also find themselves responsible for discovering and screening new kinds of partnerships, ensuring their brand is safe from fraud, and understanding what incremental value partnership delivers.

Partnership automation is the obvious answer.

Is this for big businesses only?

Nope, it can benefit any size business from small to large. The companies that see the best return are those with existing partnership programs that have been previously managed manually and can be scaled by automating the lifecycle of a partnership.

Why the focus on this now?

For many enterprises, growth from traditional sales and marketing has hit a ceiling. Fewer customers answer phone pitches or reply to sales emails so change is clearly afoot.

We believe the next major surge of enterprise growth will be through partners and alliances.

Partnerships are creating new sources of value for companies and customers alike. As a result, there is more pressure and demand to create the best tools possible to help companies manage these complex and important partnerships.

Where’s the proof that there’s a competitive advantage to be had here?

We see the proof within our client bases, but it’s also in the research conducted by Forrester which found that companies with the most mature programs do treat partnerships as a strategic differentiator.

As an example, mature companies are four times more likely to strongly agree that partnerships are instrumental to their competitive advantage, compared to companies with low partnership program maturity.

Their investments pay off in business outcomes with the most mature programs driving two times faster revenue growth than companies with less mature programs, and are up to five times more likely to exceed expectations on a variety of business metrics. Check out the stats here.

How complicated is the tech? Do brands self-manage or outsource it?

It’s pretty intuitive. Brands can either manage their partnership programmes in-house or work with an agency to run it on their behalf.

So, are partnerships more important than sales and marketing?

Sales and marketing have always been relied upon as the two major growth channels for enterprises. But this generation of consumers (myself included) avoid salespeople and are numb to many marketing messages, opting to collect recommendations from fellow consumers and look to digital platforms such as Facebook and Google to support their research processes.

So, it’s not a question of what’s “more important – it’s what will work best for revenue growth now.

In the next decade we’ll see brands use partnerships to scale their marketing and sales efforts to new heights and actually boost these areas. And as partnerships become increasingly crucial to revenue growth, organisations must develop an operational strategy and leverage the correct channel tools and best practices to ensure partnership success.

Give us a big brand global partnership example?

Ticketmaster has unique software integrations with companies like Spotify. If you’re in the Spotify app and see upcoming concert events for an artist, you can tap through to the Ticketmaster experience to purchase a ticket. Ticketmaster is relying on Impact’s platform to handle contracting directly with Spotify, the tracking, intelligence and payment processing to Spotify as a partner.

And a closer to home one?

 AirBnB is using the Impact platform to manage direct business development partnerships such as Delta and Qantas, where in some cases there is an exchange of points or miles for example.

Three top tips for partnership success?

1.Treat partnerships as a competitive differentiator

2.Focus your efforts on scaling and growth of partnerships

3.Embed partnerships into your product strategy.


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