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Partner Program Strategies: How to Optimize in Two Hours

It doesn’t need to take weeks to maximize the results of your partner program with these four optimizations.

Being a partner manager in 2023 is no small feat. Partner program managers are feeling pressure from many sides of the business. Not only are they being asked to build  scalable programs that provide long-term results year-over-year, but they’re also expected to deliver better results month-over-month.

Here are some quick strategies you can deploy within your program that only take an hour or two to help you lift results with your partners right now, so you can focus on growing your program over the long-term.

Create a limited-time rev-share bonus

When I worked in sports fundraising, we had certain times of year that customer acquisition spiked — mainly during the registration window for the various sports. Our partners saw a similar spike in traffic, so we would increase our partner rev-share during those times to make sure we would get maximum engagement from our partners. We see similar patterns, for example, with programs who work with accountants, and the spike in demand for their services during tax time.

three hourglasses with sand falling through to indicate a limited-time rev share strategy

Here’s a simple approach on creating a rev-share for your partner program:

  1. Clone an existing trigger
  2. Add a time range to ‘Customer created’ and ‘Transaction created’
  3. Change the description and per cent rev share to your bonus
  4. Create an announcement and/or email to promote the offer (if applicable, mention it’s a busy season for your industry!)

This ensures your partners are more motivated to promote your program more enthusiastically. And why wouldn’t they? There’s value being offered.

Value to your partners: A boost in margin.

Value to you: More engaged partners, and more traffic through their links.

Related: Here's how OKRs for partnerships create alignment, transparency and impact.

Introduce a kick-off challenge

Sweetening the pot for new partners can be an effective way to get them to their first sale. Try using a challenge to reward them a flat amount for their first customer.

Here’s how to introduce a new challenge:

  1. Create an ‘Encourage progress’ challenge
  2. Set it to reward on ‘1 paying customer’
  3. Promote this to your partners via email and/or announcement

Communication is important to ensure awareness around your challenge. Getting challenges started is a great way to kick-off your program and helps signal that you’re prepared and eager to engage.

Value to your partners: Offset initial start-up efforts with a one-off increase in reward.

Value to you: Higher activation rates in your partner program.

Provide a partner-exclusive discount

Affiliate partners can only control how much traffic they drive to you. It’s out of their hands how well you convert the prospective customer. With that in mind, anything you can do to help improve conversion rates is a huge motivator for them.

How to create an exclusive discount for your partners:

  1. Create a landing page for your product that offers a discount (non-indexed, so it cannot be found organically)
  2. Point your partners’ links to that page
  3. Promote this to your partner via an email/announcement to let them know the good news

A strong online presence helps build trust and transparency for partners. Once your landing page is set up and your offers are clear, the focus can turn to driving users to that ideal destination.

Value to your partners: A higher conversion rate for their efforts.

Value to you: More engaged partners, and more sales.

See more: Revenue-focused goals following partner activation.

Feature a partner of the month

Not all partners have margins as their primary motivator. When working with agencies, a boost to their credibility, or giving them exposure to additional potential clients can be worth much more than a 20 per cent rev share on your services.

Similar to a challenge, you can provide a feature on your top partners. Set a goal for them to hit — or any criteria you like — to have them featured. 

two trophies indicating a partner award strategy

Here’s how to highlight top partners: 

  1. Tag your top earners with a ‘Top partner’ tag
  2. Send out a ‘Feedback challenge’ (or ‘Progress challenge’ with a non-monetary reward) inviting them to participate
  3. Create content like a blog post or social media post featuring the partner
  4. Use it as social proof for your partnership program as well as publicity for your partner

Let’s be honest, people love being validated and recognized. Be that partner that celebrates their work and lead your revenue-driving program right — your partners will love you for it.

Value to your partners: Backlink, more visibility to partner’s services, possible new customers.

Value to you: Social proof for your partner program and a resource for partner recruitment.

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Joint venture

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A joint venture is a business collaboration between two parties on a project. Both parties will benefit from bringing their shared resources and knowledge, and neither party will take on the sole burden of the risk.


Buyer persona

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These depictions of target customers help to define your company's ideal target customers.


SaaS partner programs

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SaaS (software-as-a-service) partner programs are a systematic way that software companies form mutually beneficial relationships with agencies, influencers, and other companies to drive business results.

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