Benefits of SME Partnership Programmes: Real-Life Lessons and Success Stories

Since Impact was an official content partner for PI Live Global 2020, I was fortunate enough to host a lively panel discussion about the benefits of SME partnership programmes. This session was for businesses curious about the advantages of implementing a partnership programme and I was joined by leaders from Owow Beauty, Campsited, Flaviar and Videvo, as they shared their partnership success stories and practical advice for businesses new to the world of partnerships.

Whilst affiliate marketing and partnerships are certainly nothing new, there are still many SME brands who may have some reservations about these advertising channels. To put their minds at rest, the speakers gave their own insights into how partnership programmes have accelerated growth at their respective businesses as well as exceeded ROI. 

How a rising ecommerce SME benefits from partnership programmes

Rising beauty startup Owow Beauty is a relatively new player to the ecommerce retail industry so shared personal thoughts that really resonated with attendees. Having launched Owow only last year and operating on limited budgets, founder Georgiana Grudinschi looked to less traditional marketing models for growth opportunities and affiliate marketing appeared to be a cost-effective yet lucrative channel. A partnership programme with Impact enabled Owow to manage their budget more effectively since affiliates are compensated on a pay on results model. Georgiana also stressed the mutually beneficial brand and affiliate relationship that’s quite unique to partnerships as a key benefit for SMEs keen on pursuing this advertising channel. 

Unique challenges SMEs can overcome with partnerships

Many SMEs were faced with unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic and whilst there was trepidation about falling revenues, the crisis also presented alternative opportunities for growth and recovery. Online campsite booking platform Campsited, experienced a growing appetite for their products and grew 500% this year during the outbreak. To support this growth the travel brand is ramping up their partnership programmes to reach broader audiences and raising additional funding in order to continue driving this trajectory. The advice from Campsited’s Head of Affiliate Eoin Casey, was for cautious SMEs to consider additional revenue opportunities like partnerships that could drive strong ROIs at a time when advertising spend is declining.

How partnership automation is driving increased revenue

All of our speakers shared great partnership success stories and it was interesting to discuss how Impact’s acquisition of partnership CRM tool MediaRails was helping SMEs like Flaviar to really scale. MediaRails is an intuitive platform that enables brands to discover and recruit partners as well as automating manual tasks and partner communications. For Mark Jelen, Digital Marketing Manager at Flaviar, this automation technology helped the spirits subscription brand onboard some amazing partners who are already producing strong results for the brand. The automation feature has made the management of a partnership programme much easier for Flaviar and having an automated approach to something as simple as partner emails saves countless hours, so the team can focus their attention on revenue driving-activities.

Leveraging the power of first-party data

Advertisers understand the value of using data-driven insights to inform their campaigns and refine their partnership programmes. This was a frequent topic of discussion on our panel and Campsited had some interesting nuggets to share. Despite the challenges faced as a result of the pandemic, the travel brand has found huge success with partnerships and the channel has overperformed during the year. Although Campsited didn’t have access to large swathes of data from previous years, the first-party data they obtained using Impact’s partnership platform was invaluable. Head of Affiliates, Eoin Casey said the brand leveraged partners to get a deep dive into where their customer base resides which enabled Campsited to access deeper partner data and expertise to help them decide whether to promote or pause a campaign. Echoing the importance of data was Videvo who spoke about the granular detail of data tracked in Impact’s platform. This enabled the stock video brand to access several data points from geographies, device usage, coupon usage and length of conversions. Ultimately, Videvo used this data to provide more customised feedback to their partners. 

Working with affiliate agencies to drive growth

Around 50% of all of Impact clients work in conjunction with a partner agency so it was reassuring to hear the panellists share their success stories of working with affiliate agencies. Owow Beauty founder Georgiana also shared her journey of making the transition from in-house affiliate network management to an outsourced partnership programme with Impact as Owow grew. For growing SMEs who don’t have in-house affiliate managers, she recommended working with an affiliate agency to manage an outsourced partnership programme to ensure growth at scale.

The business case for investing in a partnership programme has well and truly been made by leading businesses who have experienced great success. For SMEs still cautious about the benefits of partnerships and affiliate marketing, the insights shared here should provide you with some practical advice to get started with your own programmes.