B2B Partner Marketing: 7 Tips for Successful Partner Programs

Kevin Randolph is a Google Analytics-certified digital marketing specialist at WebFX. He has a B.A. in Mass Communications and Languages & Cultures. In his free time, Kevin enjoys hiking, road trips, and playing the bass guitar.

Business-to-business (B2B) partner marketing is an excellent method for expanding your reach and connecting with new prospects. When you partner with other companies to market and sell your products, you can tap into their audiences and combine your resources to improve your results.

Creating B2B partner marketing strategies can be complex, though. The following tips will help you increase the success of your marketing partnerships.

WebFX has extensive experience with helping businesses develop and implement results-driving channel partner marketing strategies. To learn more about how we can help you maximize your B2B channel partner marketing success, request your free quote.

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What is B2B partner marketing?

B2B partner marketing involves partnering with other companies to promote and sell your products.

B2B partner marketing strategies come in many forms, including:

  • Affiliate: In an affiliate marketing agreement, a company sends customers to your website, often by linking to your site.
  • Distribution: In a distribution partnership, you work with a company that integrates your product into their distribution channels.
  • Dealership: In a dealership partnership, companies can become licensed dealers of your products, meaning they are certified to sell your products.
  • Co-marketing: In a co-marketing agreement, two companies partner to market each other’s products, perhaps as a package deal or combined product.

For example, Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco is a successful co-marketing partnership between Frito Lay and Taco Bell.

Partner marketing example from Frito Lay and Taco Bell

These are just a few examples of the many possible types of marketing partnerships for B2B companies. Businesses often get creative and come up with new unique ways to partner with other companies to market and sell their products.

7 tips for B2B partner marketing

So, how can you create a successful B2B partner marketing strategy? Check out these tips!

1. Start small

Different types of partnerships require different levels of involvement. An affiliate marketing partnership, for example, is relatively simple, while a dealer partnership is more involved.

If you’re new to B2B channel partner marketing or your company is smaller, consider starting with a simpler partnership. If the partnership works out well, you can try moving up to a more involved agreement.

You can start small with each new potential partner and then gradually work your way up to more involved agreements with them.

For example, you might start out with an affiliate agreement in which you and your partner link to each other’s sites. If that goes well, you could begin recommending each other’s products. Eventually, you might work your way up to a co-marketing partnership or another more involved arrangement.

This gradual approach reduces and helps you refine your campaigns to get better results as you go.

2. Set mutual goals and define your KPIs

Setting clear goals and determining the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to measure your success is crucial for any marketing initiative. With partner marketing, you also need to make sure you and your partners are on the same page regarding your goals.

Your goals should be SMART goals, which are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

An example of a non-SMART goal is “increase the number of leads generated.” An example of a SMART version of this goal is “increase the number of leads generated by 50% by the end of the year.”

Work with your partners on setting your goals for the campaign and share data to help you track the campaign’s success. Establishing mutual goals and KPIs will help keep your campaigns on track and motivate partners to sell more of your products.

3. Set up reporting processes

Another crucial early step in creating B2B partner programs is ensuring you have systems set up for tracking your campaigns and reporting outcomes. You also need to know which leads came from which partners, especially if you have a lead-sharing or revenue-sharing agreement with your partners.

With digital marketing, which uses Internet-based channels, you can use tools to track your lead data automatically. By adding UTM parameters to your URLs, for example, you track which leads come from which sources.

Using Google’s Campaign URL Builder, you can generate a UTM parameter for each of your partners. Google Analytics will then track how many leads come from different URLs. You can also use UTM parameters to track leads from different channels and campaigns.

Google's Campaign URL Builder

You can also use tools like MarketingCloudFX to track your campaign data, manage leads, and perform other crucial tasks.

Measuring what matters most

Are you interested in custom reporting that is specifc to your unique business needs? Powered by MarketingCloudFX, WebFX create custom reports based on what you care about most.

  • Leads
  • Calls
  • Transactions
  • Revenue

4. Consider all stages of the sales funnel

For more involved partnerships, you need to provide your partners with marketing materials for each stage of the sales funnel.

If you’re not familiar with the sales funnel, it’s a visual representation of the sales process.

  • At the top of the funnel, you have your prospects who have just learned about your brand.
  • In the middle of the funnel, you have leads you need to engage to increase their interest in your products and services.
  • At the bottom are the most qualified leads who are ready to make a purchase decision.

As you move down the sales funnel, you have fewer potential prospects, but they become more qualified.

Sales funnel graphic

Providing your partners with marketing materials for each of these stages allows them to market your products more effectively to increase sales.

For example, if you sell accounting software, your top-of-the-funnel content may offer accounting tips for small businesses, while your bottom-of-the-funnel content helps leads choose the right accounting software.

5. Take advantage of digital marketing channels

Today, more than 4 billion people use the Internet and more than 2 billion shop online. If you don’t have a strong online presence, you’re missing out on a huge group of potential customers. Digital marketing helps your business get found and create a positive impression online.

To increase your B2B partner marketing success, assist your dealers, distributors, or other types of partners with digital marketing tactics such as:

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO involves various methods for helping a website rank well in search results for relevant key terms. Ranking in search is important since 71% of B2B customers start their research with search engines.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

PPC advertising campaigns allow you to place targeted ads on search engine results pages (SERPs), social media sites, and other websites.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing involves posting on social media and engaging with social media users to build brand awareness and reach new prospects.

Email marketing

With email marketing, you can nurture leads and keep in touch with customers by sending them emails on topics matching their interests.

Content marketing

About 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing, but taking advantage of the many types of digital content available can help you make content that outperforms the rest.

You can provide your partners with completed content, collaborate with them to create pieces, or give them tools and ideas for creating their own content. Some content types to consider are:

6. Keep your partners in the loop

To improve your partner relationships and boost the success of your B2B partner programs, keep your partners informed about changes with your company, products, and partner marketing initiatives.

Consider holding a regular meeting or call with your partners during which you give them any important updates and answer any questions they have.

You should also ensure that partners can easily reach you outside of your regular meetings. Make it easy for them to share sales data and other information with you as well, perhaps through a digital marketing platform.

7. Create a partner portal

If you work with numerous partners or have some more involved marketing partnerships, consider creating a partner portal on your website. Partners can log into these portals and access product information, marketing materials, and campaign data and communicate with their point of contact at your company.

Here’s what Samsung’s partner portal looks like. Partners can use it to access product information, marketing materials, training, and more.

Samsung's partner portal

Having access to these resources makes things easier for your partners, which improves their experience in working with you. It also reduces your employees’ workload since they don’t have to send materials to every partner individually.

B2B partner marketing services from WebFX

At WebFX, we’ve helped businesses across numerous industries find success with their channel partner marketing. We offer a full suite of digital marketing services that can take your B2B partner marketing to the next level, including:

Our digital marketing services get results. We’ve driven more than $2.4 billion in revenue for our clients over the last five years.

To learn more about our channel partner marketing services, request your free quote today or give us a call at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist!