Global cross-channel retail sales, which are expected to rise 5.8 percent to $26.3 trillion in 2019, have never been higher. And yet with the rise of digital mega-players like Alibaba and Amazon, not to mention enormous shifts in shopper behavior, many of today’s retailers are struggling to stay competitive in our fast-changing, digital-first world.
While many retailers today emphasize brand loyalty and repeat purchases in their marketing, every merchant must also acquire new customers to stay viable. However, the cost to acquire new customers through traditional internal marketing channels can be steep. Smart partnerships can help here.
In a survey of 1,200 senior brand leaders, more than half (54 percent) reported that partnerships drive more than 20 percent of total company revenue, much of which comes from customers who would not have otherwise found or purchased from a given brand. To make the most of the customer acquisition power of partner and affiliate relationships, keep the following strategies in mind.
Know Your Audience, Partner Accordingly
Before you partner with other brands and companies, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your audience and what you’re trying to achieve. For example, if you’re looking to drive high-value customers, you must seek out partners that provide access to those customers. A good partner should align with your brand in spirit as well as practice. Ideally, it’s brand essence should feel like an extension of your brand. That sort of alignment can help you find new customers.
Know Your Value Proposition, Target Accordingly
When it comes to partner selection, it’s RIGHT to be picky. Just as all partners are not appropriate for all business objectives, not all consumers are right for your brand. It makes little sense to spend your time and resources targeting individuals who do not align with your brand’s value proposition.
Before selecting partners, be clear on what exactly your value proposition is and which consumers are likely to appreciate it. The audiences of the partners you choose should align appropriately. At the same time, it often makes sense to think about how a partner might stretch your existing targeting parameters. For example, many brands still use demographic targeting in addition to lifestyle and interests. A partner that attracts a different demo but aligned interests would be a great potential partner to test.
Align with Search Keywords
Beyond looking for natural audience alignment and extensions for your retail brand, you should also consider how your brand’s search marketing strategy can inform your partner selection. What are the most popular pages and products on your site? Which keywords drive the greatest volume of conversions for you? Now, think for a moment about where else do those keywords take people. This sort of analysis can help you target complementary sites and apps likely to deliver new customers that look like your own.
Seek Out Valuable Content Partners
One often-overlooked component of a sound partnership strategy is the content value that the right partners can bring to your top-of-funnel marketing efforts, especially when you’re trying to find new customers. In working with partners, it can be immensely useful to identify sites and brands with strong content that can help your brand grow awareness and consideration rather than remaining laser-focused solely on partners that are likely to capture the last click.
In this regard, publishers and influencers who produce content that resonates with your target audience can deliver great value to your customer acquisition efforts. If you can make it easier and more transparent for these types of partners to promote your brand by offering engagement tracking as well as conversion tracking, for example, then it will make the partnership that much more beneficial and enable both of you to optimize more effectively.
Measure and Optimize
Finally, as you look to expand your retail customer acquisition through partnerships, it’s imperative to put the right tracking in place. You must be able to capture and examine all the data necessary to effectively measure the success of your partnerships.
As part of that process, sharing information from your e-commerce platform can be extremely useful. By appending a purchase with details about whether the user is “new to file” or a “previous buyer,” you can give a partner invaluable information for optimizing a program. You can even reward your partner with a different bounty for new customers versus returning users.
The best partnerships aren’t the ones that happen overnight. They’re the ones that continue to build on their initial successes and become increasingly more profitable for both parties over time.
Partnerize provides a software-as-a-service platform for managing online marketing partnerships, such as with affiliates and influencers.