Nancy Mai Harnett is a Partner Marketing Specialist at Teamwork, a project management platform with over 20,000 customers that helps businesses easily manage, track, and customize multiple complex projects.
But when Nancy joined Teamwork in 2019, it wasn’t as a Partner Marketing Specialist — it was as an intern. And at the time, Teamwork didn’t even have an affiliate program… or at least, one they were aware of.
Just a little bit into her time at Teamwork, Nancy’s background in data analysis led her to discover that something strange was happening inside of Teamwork’s customer referral program: a large number of referrals were coming from users with free accounts, who didn’t seem to use the product all that much.
She realized that 75% of the revenue coming from its customer referral program was actually coming from affiliate marketers. They would sign up for Teamwork’s Free Forever plan, get access to the customer referral program, and use the link from that program to earn revenue… and of course, drive revenue for Teamwork.
While it would’ve been easy enough to kick them out of the customer referral program, these partners were bringing in 10-15% of Teamwork’s leads without even being acknowledged. Nancy saw a big opportunity for Teamwork.
Since then, Teamwork has grown overall revenue from partners by 65% — and Nancy has grown in her role at Teamwork, leveling up from Marketing Intern to Partner Marketing Specialist in just two years (with a few other promotions in between).
Before all that could happen, Nancy and Teamwork would have to find a platform that could successfully migrate partners away from their customer referral program and into a proper affiliate program, and help them scale it with automation.
But few platforms they looked at met all their requirements. Teamwork was specifically looking for a partnerships platform that could host all of their partner resources, prevent fraudulent referrals, and automate communications with partners.
What also complicated things: Teamwork had an existing reseller partner program run by their sales team, being managed within Google Sheets. Teamwork’s sales team were also looking for a solution for their reseller program and introduced Nancy to PartnerStack, just as Nancy and her team were ready to settle on another solution.
Teamwork had already spent several months working to get their affiliate program off the ground, and were just about to sign the agreement with a partner relationship management (PRM) tool that wouldn’t support resellers. Nancy, understandably, was not thrilled at the idea of introducing another consideration into the buying process.
“I go into this call with PartnerStack thinking, ‘I’m not going with these guys. There’s no way.’ But then, as we went through the demo… everything was so simple and so easy to navigate. The automation within the platform, the segmentation, the reporting — all of this was missing from other platforms we looked at. Compared to PartnerStack, the competition looked like it was inside of Windows Vista.”
Teamwork made a list of everything they needed from their partner management software — and PartnerStack was the only platform they could find to do it all.
Nancy and her team compared PartnerStack and three other PRM platforms, using the criteria below (Teamwork's words, not ours):
Ultimately, Nancy and her team made the decision to abandon their previous selection and go with PartnerStack as their new partnerships platform.
‘Why can’t every onboarding experience be like that?”
After signing with PartnerStack, Teamwork got their new affiliate program up and running in just a couple of weeks. Nancy credits that swift time-to-launch largely to the support she received from the team at PartnerStack.
“Katie, our onboarding consultant, was absolutely fantastic. Normally our head of marketing ops hates when we introduce new software, because often we’ll get sold what sounds like a fantastic solution, and then end up dealing with completely unavailable onboarding managers and poor documentation. His reaction after we launched with PartnerStack: ‘Why can’t every onboarding experience be like that?”
After launching in August 2020, Teamwork’s affiliate program quickly became one of its best performing channels, driving 18% of new trials and 13% of new customer acquisition monthly.
The results were extremely promising, but the data inside PartnerStack showed there was still room for improvement in activating new partners.
While affiliates that migrated over from the existing customer referral program were rewarded a percentage of revenue from each customer they referred, new partners were offered a flat, one-time reward for each referred customer. While the revenue share was resonating with partners, the flat rewards weren’t.
“When we looked at other similar programs, we saw that 80% of them were offering revenue share versus flat rewards. The best rewards we could find went up to a 30% share of the customer revenue. We made the decision to take the best offerings we could find, and then go beyond that.”
Teamwork’s new commission structure starts at 10% for the first 5 conversions an affiliate drives, and goes up to 40% for the highest-performing partners. Clear, achievable goals between each stage make it easy for partners to see how much they need to sell to make even more.
Teamwork uses the triggers feature of PartnerStack to automatically upgrade partners to the next tier when they reach the associated conversion goal. In the example below, Teamwork has created a trigger that automatically moves new partners from the Welcome tier to the Bronze tier once the number of customers attributed to customers reaches 5. There are similar triggers set to upgrade partners for every other tier.
To support partners in hitting their goals and ensuring they stay engaged in the program, Teamwork has also created a large number of resources for partners to learn from and use, like quick start guides for affiliates and agencies, email creative templates, and ready-to-use ads in multiple formats and styles — just to name a few.
“Developing advertising and enablement resources to help our affiliates succeed was one of our main priorities this year,” Nancy told us. “We wanted to ensure that partners were well equipped for every situation — from social to email, banners, or competitor write-ups. These things take time to build, but the investment is definitely worth it if the outcome is success for our partners.”
In fact, Teamwork’s partner onboarding is so extensive (and so, so good) that we couldn’t fit everything we’d like to share about it here. But in our guide to what great partner onboarding looks like (with examples!), we look at everything new Teamwork partners receive in their first 30 days so you can get inspired to build your own partner onboarding program.
The future for partnerships at Teamwork looks extremely promising. Nancy’s now 100% dedicated to her role in growing partnerships at Teamwork, and the company is investing in growing the team to support.
She also has the full support of a marketing leader with experience in the power of partnerships. Tara Robertson, who joined Teamwork in January 2021 as Chief Marketing Officer, previously built the Agency Partner Program and Customer Marketing team at Sprout Social as their Head of Customer Marketing. Nancy described Tara as “an advocate for doing more than every other partner program,” someone who lent her full support to the recent revamp of Teamwork’s partner onboarding and rewards.
“Building an affiliate program at Teamwork has been a game-changer for our demand generation strategy,” said Tara Robertson, Teamwork’s Chief Marketing Officer. “This channel has quickly become one of our fastest growing emerging channels this year... and we're just getting started. I have been blown away at how quickly our affiliates have picked up steam and can't wait to see how we'll further diversify additional revenue streams through our channel marketing strategy.”
The biggest change could be how the internal perception of affiliates at Teamwork has changed. When we spoke with Nancy shortly after launching Teamwork’s affiliate program, she told us that Teamwork saw their reseller partners as “partners”, and their affiliate partners as… well, just affiliates.
That’s not the case today. “There’s been this huge shift in how the entire company sees affiliates. We used to see affiliates, agencies and resellers as completely different from each other — but now we see them all as partners. Affiliates are an extension of our sales team the same way our reseller partners are. And they need the same level of commitment and care as a sales partner does.” Nancy Mai Harnett is a Partner Marketing Specialist at Teamwork, a project management platform with over 20,000 customers that helps businesses easily manage, track, and customize multiple complex projects.