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Co-marketing is what ALL Marketing should be.

In this article, we'll share the most effective examples of co-marketing with tech and digital agencies

This is my newsletter so you have to learn a little about me in each article... Don't worry, it's contextual ;) 

Although I started off as a marketing agency, I didn't hear the term "co-marketing" until I started working with partnerships teams the past few years. I just thought marketing together - leveraging combined resources - was efficient marketing.

The first 6 months as VP of Growth, I would spend a lot of time recruiting thought leaders and service providers into my content, campaigns and events. I would try to include several of these individuals in every marketing campaign I produced because I knew it would extend the reach of the content and convert higher if I did.

Later I would find out that practice was called “Co-marketing with partners.” But I just knew it as efficient marketing.

I would also find out:

  1. Some marketing teams are very reluctant to work with the partnerships teams.
  2. Some partnerships teams simply don’t have the creative power to execute co-marketing with partners. 
  3. And, that a lot of tech companies require contract signatures before they include experts in their content.

I hope to change some minds in this article because I truly believe co-marketing not only increases ROI, it also impacts company culture by bringing internal teams closer together. And yes, you gain partners in the process.

**Top co-marketing examples are below, but first, let’s answer the main question: 

Does co-marketing work to acquire new partners? 

The short answer is yes, but you have to give before you ask.

Create reciprocity from the beginning.

The reasons co-marketing works and is ROI positive: 

  1. From my experience in content marketing, the blogs, social posts, events, webinars convert higher when a third party (non-employee) thought leader is saying what your marketing team could have said. For example, I know this partner-guest post is one of the highest-converting articles on Smith.ai’s blog. 
  2. Content is created faster with less resources when you source from partners and leverage their creativity expertise in place of meetings and research hours.
  3. The reach of you co-marketing content should be multiples higher than the reach of your company’s branded internally-sourced content or posts.
  4. And finally, co-marketing brings teams closer together - internal team collaboration and your team closer to your alliances teams. I don’t think anyone would argue that multi-department collaboration is a bad thing.

How do I get my marketing team to make co-marketing with partners a part of their OKRs?

*IF you don't know what OKR's are, check out this strategy on creating your partner teams OKRs from Ty Lingley.

Before you start, get the team together and agree on a human relationship principal of “Give before you take.” No one will argue with that. 

“Jab jab, right hook.” is a famous quote related to sales/marketing strategy (I think by Gary V.), which means; don’t sell right away. Bring prospects close before you push hard on the sales pedal.

In partnerships, I use the phrase “Give, give again, and then ask.”   

Just ask Noam: 

“You’re right about marketing first, sales second.” - Head of Partnerships for Walnut.io

When your CRO steps in and asks about ROI of working with partners on marketing campaigns, you show them the co-marketing examples from the biggest and best partner programs on the planet. 

All the best SaaS are doing it 🤷‍♂️

So, I use Co-marketing to recruit new partners, but shouldn’t I reserve that incentive for our current partners who have brought us referrals? 

Yes and no.

While you should reserve most valuable co-marketing for those active partners who have brought you business, here are a few types of co-marketing you can do almost to scale with any experts to generate partner pipeline: 

  1. An “round-up” article featuring “expert opinions” on a topic. Make sure to include a do-follow backlink and an image of the agency's choice next to their quote. Here's an example from Okendo >>> Here's an example from Recart where they feature agencies weekly in this same article type >>
  2. Enable the agency (financially or simply creating the assets and then promoting it) to create a course featuring your solution. Here's are a few examples, one from Recart on how they enabled Socialite agency to create a course which features their app >>
  3.  Create a directory of use cases for your product, but each use case is developed with an agency partner.Here's an example from TextExpander where they allow partners to publish their snippet templates to this library >>
  4. Create a library of ebooks or white papers on a topic that's relevant for your users, and allow agencies to submit their papers to it. Here's one from Hubspot as an example >>
  5. Launch a directory using Airtable + Softr or APIdeck.com, then feature agency partners in that directory. Here's our APIdeck directory as an example >>

Then you reserve these co-marketing opportunities for your favorite partners:

  1. Anything with Market-Development Funds (MDFs) - like the super impactful "Soap Box" campaign from Wistia.
  2. Expert webinar with an agency founder. Invite a thought leader from an agency to co-host a webinar for your audiences. Co-market that webinar, map accounts prior to it's release, then convert that agency to a partnership track. Here's an example webinar landing page.
  3. A column of your blog that is all agency-partner interviews which help your traffic understand a use case or overcome a pain point. Here's an example from Heap where they created "Paving the funnel" and interview experts on video >>
  4. Launch a micro podcast - only 5-10 episodes, all on a specific topic (i.e. Website compliance or CRO for ecomm,...) and bring in agencies to each episode to chat about how they help their clients with that pain point.Here's an example of one on GDPR >>

Ok, so how do we execute successful co-marketing?

The process we recommend is as follows:

  1. Post a “Live offer” in Partnerhub® (a feature on the free account) for a feature in an “expert roundup article” - feature under the free account. [IF you are not using Partnerhub® - create a target list to send this offer to on LinkedIn / email]
  2. Mention the visibility that article will get - traffic, social following, newsletter.
  3. Explain only new participants who meet the criteria qualify.
  4. As a CTA, link to a form (Typeform, Airtable form, CRM form…) - just make sure you are able to redirect people to a custom URL after they fill out the form.
  5. The form asks for the expert's responses to a few questions + their picture + backlink of choice.
  6. Those forms go to your content manager to get rolled up into an “expert tips on ____” article.
  7. Those who submit the form are redirected to a landing page that mentions they can continue to be involved in valuable co-marketing if they join the partner program - and a calendar embed on that page so they can book an intro call. *Do not link directly to your affiliate platform (another form), or embed another form on that page. 
  8. After it goes live, the partnerships manager reaches back out to the participants with links to view/share, posts to social, tagging all the experts, and has one more chance to get on a call with a thankful partner prospect.

This was that successful offer as it looks in an email to the agencies: 

And now, you can view this strategy in action by checking out some of our favorite examples of: 

Co-marketing done right - here are our favorite examples of partner co-marketing

We looked in the recent past, into campaigns executed by Partnerhub® users, and found some really great examples. Here are those:

An expert tips on an ICP pain point with Databox

Databox has the advantages of (1) a content marketing strategy like no other, and (2) a CEO who built HubSpot’s agency partnerships program and has baked partnerships into their culter, their website funnel, and marketing strategy. And of course, they have traffic - over 800K visitors last month. 

This is the co-marketing examples I’d like to show you first because it’s:

  • Effective at converting traffic of ICPs for Databox
  • Valuable for the agencies involved
  • And, it goes against a lot of marketing team’s opinions around how many backlinks you can/should use in an article:

https://databox.com/tips-for-improving-the-search-position-of-key-pages

Here are some more great examples of co-marketing with digital agencies (partner or prospect):

Okendo executes a perfect experts roundup article:

Okendo enables fast-growing consumer brands like SKIMS, Buck Mason and Zitsticka to leverage their most powerful asset; their customers.

They created an article featuring advanced Klaviyo marketing tips from top eCommerce agencies:

Check out this article >

Here’s an agency use-case highlight from ZillaMetrics on the blog of Smith.ai:

ZillaMetrics increased their lead conversion 10X with chat on their website. They are explaining why businesses should have live chat on their website and how to integrate Smith.ai Chat with Google Tag Manager so they can track chat conversions.

Here’s that guest post by Matt Burke of ZillaMetrics >

Referral Candy features Hawke Media, The Snow Agency and more experts in their blog:

Referral Candy's blog subscriber base is over 700K+ visitors per month, 4500 subscribers, and an average open rate of 15% and their product newsletter has 4000+ recipients with a 45% open rate.

Here are some examples of blog articles Referral Candy worked on/featured their partners in:

Appointlet features RevenueZen, Problem Solver Consultants, and others in a showcase article:

Ezra Sandzer-bell Product Marketing Manager at Appointlet interviewed over a dozen agency founders, among others RevenueZen, Problem Solver Consultants, Hustler Marketing, DiscoverMyBusiness, KDI Media to find out how they drive web traffic to embedded scheduling tools like Appointlet. 

Here's what they had to say about best practices >

Recurate highlighting Verbal+Visual in a case study post on LinkedIn:

Recurate is in the middle of a 4-week campaign with Verbal+Visual, one of their agency partners. 

They decided to collaborate on 4 LinkedIn posts (1/week for a month) that highlight different strategies in sustainable retail (this is their core business, and Verbal+Visual is very focused on sustainability as well so it was perfect values alignment.) 

Check it out >

Blog post with Recurate & their partner Monday Creative:

Recurate collaborated with Monday Creative (agency partner) on a blog post, the content was based on an interview they set up with their COO.

Here is the link for Monday Creatives’ blog post >

Privy Masterclass with Smartsites:

Privy does educational videos for brands that help them with their CRO, email marketing, and other eComm strategies: https://www.privy.com/masterclass

These videos are free and sometimes they bring in expert or eComm personalities to give a lesson on a certain topic.

For one of these lessons on CRO, they brought in one of their agency partners to do it:  Ash Ismailovski from Smartsites. Smartsites is a certified expert-level partner of Privy and one of the benefits of that partner tier is the opportunity to put on a Privy masterclass course: https://privy.mykajabi.com/offers/SM3MDQzS/checkout.

DotDigital brings in Marketplacer and Web Force 5 on a webinar:

Dot Digital partner series is called dotconnect where they include a tech partner, agency partner, and themselves. 

In this case they featured Marketplacer and Web Force 5 in a webinar talking about avoiding pitfalls in building a curated marketplace for eCommerce brands.

They openly shared attendees and registrants between companies, dotdigital hosts and it’s a true partnership.

Check it out here > 

 

Survey Sparrow’s webinar with one of their partners Drew:

Survey Sparrow got an MDF of 1K USD approved, they had over 300+ registrations for the event with about 40 of them showing up.

This was their first webinar that wasn't in English and it was thanks to the power of their partnerships. Drew was the partner that helped us with this.

Check the webinar they did with Drew here >

 

Podcast collaboration with Amplify and Swagup:

Amplify interviewed SwagUp founder & CEO Michael Martocci. Michael and Amplify talked about his experience building and scaling SwagUp, the origins of his entrepreneurial spirit, and his viewpoint on scaling culture as the organization grows.

Listen to the full episode here >

Pretty Damn Quick partner spotlight with Shippo

PrettyDamnQuick is the optimal delivery platform for Shopify stores with over 200 orders a month that fulfill in-house or with a 3PL, they recently did a partner spotlight with Shippo, one of their partners.  

Read the article here > 

Podcast collab with Blend Commerce and Partnerhub®

We interviewed Adam Pearce, CEO of Blend Commerce, and his co-founder and CVO Peter Gardner for his partnerships podcast "Make Them Famous!" The partner enablement podcast.  

Adam and Peter operate a killer fast-growing Shopify Plus agency focused on customer experience design with notable partners - Klaviyo, Octane AI, and Gorgias

Listen to the full episode here >

Hawke Media brings in Brij, Justuno & Easyship for different blog collaborations:

Here are the most recent guest blog posts Hawke Media published with some of their agency and tech partners: 

I hope this was helpful! 

We work hard to push for change to better partnerships for everyone involved. If you want to follow along, join Partnerhub® and subscribe to our newsletter. 

In partnership, 

Alex, founder of Partnerhub®

Keywords:
Co-marketing
Acquisition
Enablement
Incentives

Alex Glenn

CEO

Founder and CEO of Partnerhub. Proud father. And proud of what our team has built!