- On March 27, 2017
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Creating eCommerce partnerships is a conversion optimization strategy often set aside or forgotten, although proven effective throughout the years.
Being a successful Internet business requires more than a well-designed website, mobile apps, or even a top-tier product; you need partners.
Ecommerce strategist Web Smith published a compelling case for why companies should partner with other businesses. For Entrepreneur, he wrote, “Over the course of my seven years as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that it’s tough to be the kid on the playground without any friends.
The same is true in business. You can survive alone, but you’ll only really thrive when you plug into the community around you. External partnerships can serve as a startup’s connection to an established community by making their product or offering seem more familiar and less risky. For small businesses and startups, building this brand recognition and affinity is critical.” Essentially, what he means to say is: To gain a competitive edge, companies should ally together and pool their resources to drive mutually beneficial results.
As the company’s only marketer, I was already stretched thin as I worked with our team to regularly redesign our website and refresh our value proposition while consistently pitching dozens of bloggers and journalists every day hoping we would receive a handful of new press mentions each week. When I spoke with other Ecommerce startups though, it was obvious we simply did not have enough resources to produce meaningful marketing campaigns. Despite my best efforts, I alone couldn’t achieve as much as my peers could.
Why you should consider eCommerce to eCommerce partnerships:
Through collaborative marketing efforts, eCommerce partners can multiply the value of their products exponentially, with double the marketing power to support their efforts.
Even alliances between unlikely parties or even direct competitors can become realized. In eCommerce today, alienating the competition is incompatible with success, and collaboration is the key to the evolution of eCommerce as a whole.
Collaborative marketing is the process of aligning the interests and resources of your company with other companies, allowing you to accomplish far more than you would on your own.
Components to Productive Partnerships for Ecommerce Brands:
1. Research: Find the right partners:
Ecommerce startups focused on empowering customers to design their own products, including some tackling menswear like us. However, we did not want to associate with our direct competitors. Instead, we developed relationships with other custom products businesses such as Chocri (custom-made chocolate bars), MixMyGranola (custom granola blends) and Rickshaw Bagworks (custom backpacks). Generally, partnerships work best when partnering companies operate in the same niche, target the same consumer but are not in direct competition with each other.
To identify the right marketing partner, ask yourself the following questions:
- What products or services complement the things I currently sell? And who are some companies that provide those products or services?
- Which brands, in my industry, do my customers admire?
- Is there an opportunity to offer mutual exchange? Do I have capabilities they do not yet have? Alternatively, do I have resources they need more of (and vice versa)?
- Will the partnership improve the perception consumers have of both of our brands? Or could this hurt our reputations?
2. Contact: Initiate conversation:
Partnerships are risky, and many brands will be skeptical about working with you at first. Before you can even address their concerns though, you need to initiate conversation.
Reach out to potential marketing partners on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, or their store’s customer service portal with a quick introduction to you and your business along with an invitation to exchange ideas and experiences.
Over email or during a call, gather an understanding of their current marketing strongpoint, what their marketing needs are and how they plan to invest their marketing resources. Then, explain your marketing capabilities and needs to see if there is alignment between both brands’ marketing goals. Next, be clear about the value you two can offer each other to generate buy-in on the idea of partnering together.
3. Exploration: Propose campaign ideas:
After you have found a willing brand partner, you both must decide on the specifics of your co-branded campaigns. A few types of co-marketing opportunities include:
Split the cost of airing a new ad, purchasing advertising inventory across the web or sponsoring a live event.
Plug brand partners in upcoming email newsletters. Feature some of their products too. Joint PR initiatives: Exchange blogger and journalist contact information or share introductions to warm media connections. Proactively pitch each other’s story and weave both brands into interviews with the media.
Partnered contests and giveaways:
Pool money for a cash award or products for a bundled giveaway and collect email addresses for remarketing campaigns later.
Develop co-branded products together and split the research and development costs along with the net proceeds from sales.
Include a postcard with a special discount or offer from brand partners in each shipment to customers. Alternatively, you may include samples from partners your customers can try for free.
Social media shout outs:
Share each other’s content on social media and promote each other’s brands to help your partner boost their fan counts and drive traffic to their web store.
4. Optimization: Use best practices:
For your first campaign with a new marketing partner, start small. Establish who the primary points of contact will be for both organizations. Then, set a due date for each party to provide deliverables and see whether or not everyone follows through with their commitments. When the deliverables are approved by both businesses, launch the campaign and promote it to a limited audience to gauge their reaction.
If customers have a lukewarm response, go back to the drawing board. Successful brand partnerships seek to mitigate risks for all the businesses involved. Small-scale marketing experiments allow brand partners to quickly conceptualize and execute new campaigns without spending a ton of time or money. So, if the campaign flops, it is a minor cost to write-off. When you do find a campaign customers respond well to, increase your promotional efforts to reach a bigger audience.
There are some of the benefits of doing Ecommerce:
1.Set a goal:
The first thing to do is to determine what kind of partnership you’re seeking, and what you want to accomplish. Are you looking to develop new products and services? Expand your customer base? Doing this can help you focus on which partners to seek out and what this partnership should be about.
Although your website may be attractive enough to impress your current client base, potential partners won’t just flock to you. You have to take the initiative. To choose the right partners, you need to consider a few factors:
Successful eCommerce partnerships come from businesses in the same niche. For example, if you run an online store for pet accessories, you can partner up with businesses that focus on pet food, training, and other products. Stay away from direct competitors, since you run the risk of sending customers their way instead of yours.
Is the audience of your prospective partner compatible with your partnership goal? Your audiences don’t need to overlap, but if both companies can serve the audiences of the other, then there is the true value in the relationship.
Is there an opportunity for a win-win relationship? Ask yourself what you can offer your potential partners. Determine if the services or resources you can bring to the table are what your potential partners need.
Some activities that you might propose to your eCommerce partners:
- Joint PR initiatives, such as competitions, giveaways, and events
- Email cross promotions
- Social media shout outs