CASE STUDIES

How Unbounce grew their mature partner program 18% YoY with AIM

Learn how AIM optimized Unbounce’s partnership strategy to maximize growth in new trial starts.

"The partnership with PartnerStack has been extremely useful in building our affiliate program, alongside the help of the team at All Inclusive Marketing. From utilizing the Discovery Recruitment Tool, Premium Partnership Program and groupings, we have been able to effectively manage and build the Unbounce affiliate program."

Alex Nazarevich
VP of Growth, Unbounce
  • Using AIM’s activation efforts, Unbounce saw an increase in NTS active partners in the program by 9% in 2023
  • AIM onboarded 51 new Unbounce partners in Q1 2023 including one new agency partner who drove over $10K in new revenue in Q1
  • Unbounce saw an increase in Q1 affiliate partnership revenue by 18% year over year
Unbounce is an AI-powered landing page builder created for marketers (from SMBs to freelancers) to build high-converting marketing campaign pages. Unbounce — which doesn’t require coding or design knowledge — leverages the latest AI technology to create and optimize attractive, data-driven landing pages.

Unbounce first launched their partnership program in 2019, instantly seeing the value in partnerships when the program drove 25% of new trial starts (NTS). 

Fast forward a few years and Unbounce had signed on plenty of partners to their program — over 2,000. It’s no surprise after receiving industry-wide recognition for having one of the top-paying affiliate programs. However, there was a lot of work needed to support and manage all those partners and ensure they continued to bring new revenue to the program.

That’s why Unbounce brought in All Inclusive Marketing (AIM), an affiliate and partnership management company to manage and scale their partnership programs. “The partnership with PartnerStack has been extremely useful in building our affiliate program, alongside the help of the team at All Inclusive Marketing. From utilizing the Discovery Recruitment Tool, Premium Partnership Program and groupings we have been able to effectively manage and build the Unbounce affiliate program,” shares Alex Nazarevich, VP of Growth at Unbounce. “The [AIM] team has put in the time and effort to understand Unbounce’s product and marketing goals. In the competitive world of SaaS partnerships and affiliate marketing, they keep coming up with creative ways to help us stand out and build positive relationships with our partners.”

Related: The anatomy of a high-performing referral program.

Unbounce has a mature partner program with unique needs 

One of the challenges that the AIM and Unbounce teams had was unique to the maturity of the program. Unbounce already has over thousands of partners who are earning long-term recurring commissions, but not necessarily driving NTS.

The Unbounce program can be split into two main models of partners: a self-serve partner who is provided all the tools and resources through PartnerStack, and a VIP partner who requires a highly customized approach. The key to continuing growth is in motivating both models of partners to continue driving NTS, Unbounce’s main KPI. Conversion from a free trial to a paid customer was a strong point in Unbounce’s partnership program.

Tali Chester, Account Manager for Unbounce, credits both to the quality of the service Unbounce offers as well as the partner support from AIM to the success of the program. “Partners are excited to join the program because they understand that, yes, their main KPI is driving NTS, but because of Unbounce’s product and AIM’s service, the conversion rate from NTS to paid is high and they are able to make significant commissions,” she explains.

Chester goes on to describe AIM’s strategy for incentivizing partners to drive NTS for Unbounce. "Incentives include new features, fresh content and allowing partners to be in touch and connected with Unbounce — this supports recognition of the partnership and helps extend attractive offers and more high quality content — driving new trials.” 

Harnessing the power of AI to target new users

Chester describes Unbounce as a service for customers who are looking for “an exceptional landing page, but also an exceptional understanding of who the audience is.” With intelligent marketing tools that allow users to deep dive into the data and smart traffic tools (think A/B testing but better), Unbounce has historically targeted small businesses and digital marketers, though they’re increasingly transitioning their ideal target customer to focus on SMBs and mid market. 

“Unbounce has really harnessed the growth in AI,” Chester shares, calling them “ahead of the game”. That’s why it makes perfect sense for Unbounce to seek out partners (and customers) who are also looking to be on the cutting edge of AI advancements. The ideal Unbounce customer today are publishers and partners who want to have detailed tracking and really take advantage of new AI technology. 

See more: Here's how SMB onboarding works at PartnerStack.

Ideal partner recruitment with PartnerStack

Beyond that, Chester shares how AIM is able to tap into their own network of partners, and PartnerStack’s discovery tool to recruit high-quality partners to the program. Chester explains, “We also use the PartnerStack discovery tool particularly to find new partners. We're able to use that to drill down on areas — SMB, mid-market or B2B focus.” 

With a new focus on the larger end of SMB’s and Mid Market, the ability to do their own outbound recruitment for the exact right partners is essential. “By leveraging an existing database of partnerships that Unbounce has and bringing them onto the PartnerStack, they may be interested in working with other programs on PartnerStack, too,” says Chester.

Jason Lilien, Senior Director, B2B at AIM gives his take on optimizing Unbounce’s partner recruitment. He shares that one strategy AIM employs is to be highly flexible with their partners by reaching out to agencies, consultants and professionals and finding a way to make an affiliate program work for them by providing options. 

This is where PartnerStack’s PRM is able to shine, offering plenty of flexibility for them to offer partners within one ecosystem. "PartnerStack enables offering those different programs within one ecosystem that can be managed centrally." He says that AIM has found that to be huge when managing partnerships. He thinks back to five to ten years ago when he would describe the B2B affiliate marketing industry as “the wild west” and there wasn’t much competition.

One of the ways that AIM handles the increased competition in the space is by being as flexible as possible. Lilien goes on to say, “Some of these competitors have large budgets. So, our focus is differentiating Unbounce, identifying unique opportunities to encourage new partners to join the program."

Tiered partner levels for a flexible program

Allowing partners to grow within Unbounce’s program has been one way they are offered flexibility. Chester shares, “PartnerStack’s tiering system allows us to really keep on top of partners — where their engagement levels are and where they are in driving NTS.” 

With thousands of partners in the program, it’s not possible to give the same level of personalized support to each — and they don’t all need it. Lilien says that a strategic approach here is key, planning which partners to give the most individualized time and support to. The tiering system allows tailored messaging to go out to each of those partner levels, providing them with appropriate levels of support. 

“Your Tier Ones are going to be getting a lot of time and a lot of attention. Your Tier Threes are going to be getting a lot more program-wide offers and incentives and challenges,” Lilien explains. Ultimately the goal is to get those partners to eventually move up tiers and eventually receive that more personalized attention as they drive more NTS and revenue. 

New opportunities with agency partners

New to AIM’s management of Unbounce partnerships portfolio in 2022 was agency partnerships. “We’re bringing agency partners of Unbounce onto PartnerStack and the Unbounce program and managing them through PartnerStack as well. We've seen increased performance with agency partners bringing in large amounts of revenue through our engagement with them on PartnerStack,” says Chester.

You might also like: Outreach etiquette: How to engage agency partners the right way.

Enabling partner engagement to drive NTS with PartnerStack

Chester shares that the AIM team keeps engaged with partners at all levels in the Unbounce program. When she took over as Account Manager in the last six months, she took that as an opening to reach out to partners. 

“When I came on board, I sent a personalized message to let them know — and to ask them what they needed from us. And we received responses from partners that we haven't heard from in months. Sometimes it just takes a more personalized message to let them know we want to hear from them.”

Opening the channel of communication with partners

Another method the AIM team used was putting out an engagement survey to partners to find out what their current customer profile is and extend an offer to help them tailor their program to that customer. 

“We’ll do a content audit of different tiers of partners and we'll then provide feedback,” Chester says. Whether it was refreshing tracking codes or helping partners optimize their content, the AIM team used the feedback provided to activate their partners and drive growth.

AIM was even able to spin a price refresh into increased partner engagement. They encouraged partners to use the refresh to drive new content (and provided ready to post content), leading to the highest partner response rate in 18 months. “We were able to use a price change and turn it into a positive messaging to get partners to drive new content and social media pushes,” explains Chester. 

Equipping partners with the right tools

In addition to providing new messaging when needed, AIM arms Unbounce partners with always-on content through the PartnerStack resource section including ready to post content, videos and information on the ideal customer profile.

This content is always accessible to partners through PartnerStack, but the AIM team also shares resources through email campaigns and newsletters to really capture partner attention. “We do the mass newsletters and email campaigns, but we’re also looking to each partner for what they need and how we can connect them with Unbounce”.

Challenges partners to scale growth

Chester shares how the AIM team uses PartnerStack challenges to drive growth. Those challenges could include setting a number of NTSs for partners to drive within a month, or asking partners to create new content for the program. In turn, they will be offered rewards like a bonus payout, a bump to the next partnership tier, or Unbounce partner badge.

With that customization comes the understanding that partners have different needs and audiences. “They might not want a $50 bonus, but they might want to speak to a product specialist at Unbounce, swap backlinks or gain access to Unbounce’s product,” Chester says. “We really like to customize our partnerships. It’s not a one-size fits all.” 

With the power of the AIM team and PartnerStack’s ecosystem platform to support, Unbounce continues to thrive as a vendor doing partnerships right within our ecosystem.

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