What is Co-Marketing?
Co-marketing is a promotional strategy in which one organization collaborates with another to reach a broader audience together. Typical co-marketing activities include anything from sending out a joint email newsletter to running an event or promoting a package deal. Often, co-marketing is cost-effective since both partners split the costs and resources required to run a campaign.
How is Co-Marketing Different from Co-Branding?
Co-branding typically involves two companies collaborating to develop a new service, product, or content piece. Meanwhile, co-marketing refers to joint promotional efforts of either the co-branded item or separate but related brand offerings. For example, if a company’s podcast hosts another organization’s CEO as a guest and both teams promote the episode to their followers, they are demonstrating co-marketing.
In both scenarios, organizations typically already have some sort of audience overlap that makes partnering ideal. While both are effective strategies for collaborating with a partner to increase sales and expand your reach, they have different applications.
What are the Benefits of Co-Marketing?
When implemented correctly, co-marketing can have many benefits for the participating organizations. Notably, when you’re splitting the work and expense of a campaign, you can get more out of your investment. Additionally, partnering with another organization can drive increased reach by helping you get exposure to a new audience. You’ll also be able to improve brand awareness and increase loyalty through co-marketing.
Define Your Goals for Joint Promotional Activities
Ultimately, the benefits of co-marketing for your organization will depend on your goals and the strategies you implement to achieve them. Before you can approach co-marketing collaborators or pitch campaigns, you must first define your goals for joint promotional activities.
For example, are you hoping to compensate for what your internal team lacks? Reach new audiences or build credibility? Defining your objectives will heavily influence the choice of partner and strategies.
Finding the Ideal Co-Marketing Collaborator
Your goal should be to co-market to an audience that is likely to purchase from you. An ideal collaborator will have an audience that matches your target customer profile. However, most of these individuals should not be existing customers. As a bonus, give extra consideration to co-marketing partners whose brands have an established presence in markets you have yet to penetrate successfully.
For example, if you want to build credibility amongst Brazilian prospects, working with a Brazilian company to launch a joint promotion could boost your brand presence. What’s more, your partner can provide strategies on how to better localize the co-marketing campaign’s messaging and distribution.
It’s a good idea also to consider your audience when selecting a partner. Is there something they could learn from your partner that you cannot teach them alone? Identify partners with a slight audience overlap and can provide additional value to your customers and prospects.
Strategically Vet Potential Co-Marketing Collaborators
Just because an organization’s audience aligns with your target market doesn’t mean they’re a perfect match for joint promotions. There are a few criteria you should look for when choosing a partner. After all, by co-marketing with this organization, you’re putting your reputation in their hands.
Look for co-marketing collaborators with:
- An active and engaged social media presence. Your partner should already publish on social media regularly and their posts should get good engagement from their audience. Stay away from organizations that are radio silent on social media or don’t get any likes on posts.
- Positive user reviews. Your co-marketing collaborator should have a great track record with their users. You don’t want to attach your brand to an organization with a bad reputation.
- Voice in the market. It’s great if you can find co-marketing collaborators who are already leaders in their industry. These organizations will have thought leaders on their team and a presence in the market.
- A similar brand voice. Just because an organization has audience overlap with you doesn’t mean they speak to their audience in a similar way. If your partner has a very formal brand and marketing approach, but you have a laid-back conversational tone, your brand voices will compete in campaigns.
Ideas for Effective Co-Marketing Activities in 2023
It’s never too early to prepare next year’s co-marketing ideas. When working with partners, it’s best to plan early, leaving plenty of time for the appropriate stakeholders to weigh in. As you start approaching partners for 2023 co-marketing initiatives, keep these future-proof strategies in mind.
Partnered Content & Guest Blogging
Examples of partnered content include ebooks, blogs, and infographics. You jointly create a valuable resource designed to benefit your shared audience. Typically, it’s a good idea to identify a topic about which you can each share differing insights to provide a fresh perspective for your readers. After all, the goal is to create a co-marketed piece greater than the sum of its parts.
Original research is a powerful tool that can be enormously beneficial for authority and SEO. Collaborating with a partner, you can conduct a survey and compile research for an industry study. While this is a demanding effort, it can also be one of the most rewarding. When done correctly, your original research will be an authority in the industry that people link back to for years to come. For further information, we recommend reading White Paper Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Thought Leadership.
Webinar or Video Series
Similar to partnered content, webinars and video series are great ways to share your expertise with a partner. Collaborate to highlight a unique perspective or educate on something specific. Lean on some big names at your organization to drive additional attendance and engagement.
In-person or Digital Events
Since organizing events can be so costly and time-consuming, they’re an ideal co-marketing activity. Your partner will ideally help with the required costs and labor and enrich the overall experience for attendees. Additionally, like with other co-marketing ideas, you’re able to reach a broader audience than you would alone.
Joint Promotion Efforts to Ensure Visibility
Even the best content or product will have minimal impact without the proper activities to build awareness. No co-marketing strategy would be complete without detailed plans for joint promotion. While the preferred channels and methodology depend greatly on your unique situation, options include Google PPC ads, social media ads and organic social media campaigns, email blasts, sponsored posts, press releases, and more.
It’s a good idea to connect with your partner to determine the best-fit promotion vehicle for your partnership. Your collaborators’ past strategies may have differing success levels than your own, and their marketing team structure could potentially supplement your weaknesses. Co-marketing presents the unique opportunity for organizations to bounce around ideas, learn from one another, and leverage resources otherwise unavailable, so make sure to maximize such rewards!
Best Practices for Effective Co-Marketing in 2023
Once you’ve decided you’d like to move forward with co-marketing activities, there are best practices you should keep in mind to ensure your strategies are successful this year and beyond.
Emphasize Human Connection
In B2B SaaS companies, it can be easy to forget that you’re working with other humans! Being in a business setting does not mean you must forego all human interaction. Instead, explore ways you can connect on a personal level with your partners and users. In the B2B SaaS and channel industry, professionals frequently take on new roles at different organizations. By forging personal connections, you can ensure you’re kept in mind at their next role, too.
In 2023, we see in-person events coming back in full swing! Consider hosting intimate events with your partners. These could include simple dinners or fun outings like bowling.
Build and leverage micro-communities online. Connect with segments of your audience online through targeted messaging and tailored outreach. Work with your partners to participate organically in conversations online.
Discuss Shared Goals
Co-marketing shouldn’t be one-sided. Both partners should stand to benefit from the campaign, so discuss your goals ahead of time. If you look to collect email addresses and your partner just wants to generate new backlinks, you might not be able to achieve both objectives.
For years, consumers have traded their personal data online. Previously, you only needed a click-bait lead magnet to grab your audience’s name, email, and phone number. Now, you need to provide value upfront before users will consider trusting you.
Whenever possible, prioritize ungated content. Prospects are less likely to provide contact information for a simple download, so get rid of the form and make it easy to access.
Anytime you collect data, ensure anything you ask for is used to deliver value to your users. For example, if you ask how large their team is or where they’re located, use that information to personalize and improve the content you send them.
As cookies are on their way out, collecting information on your audience members is getting harder. First-party data is essential, so it’s imperative that your database is clean and you hold your partners to high data standards. Always discuss a plan for lead-sharing ahead of co-marketing campaigns so you can include the appropriate privacy disclosures.
Build a Co-Marketing Agreement
If you thought it was challenging to coordinate internal campaigns, wait until you start developing co-marketing campaigns. With so many stakeholders and contributors involved, it’s imperative that you establish an agreement for your co-marketing activities and define ownership early.
Develop a co-marketing agreement that details the timeline and expectations for each team. This includes the allocated budget, level of participation, targeted audiences, asset ownership and trademarks, deliverable deadlines, customer support, confidentiality, and other elements your legal team may deem necessary. Remember, the more specificity, the better; at no point should there be ambiguity about who should handle an unforeseen scenario (and how).
If it’s a long-term project, consider implementing regular check-in meetings to maintain progress and pivot strategies when necessary.
Establish a Joint Brand
Online platforms are increasingly expensive and you don’t own your audience on social media. You do, however, own your brand, which follows you everywhere. Remember, 60% of the buyers journey happens before a prospect talks to a sales representative. Prioritize building strong joint brands with partners this year. Your brand should be clear, engaging, and memorable.
Consider how you can leverage omni-channel messaging to establish your joint brand and elicit an emotional response from B2B decision-makers.
Create a Plan for Tracking & Assessing Co-Marketing Strategies & Campaigns
Like any strategy, you need to monitor co-marketing results over time. This way, you can determine if activities met (or exceeded) expectations and tweak future ideas accordingly. In order to measure your co-marketing campaigns, determine which KPIs to track and how you will track them in advance.
Common co-marketing KPIs include:
- [X] new leads
- Campaign reach of [X]
- [X]% social media audience growth
- [X]% website traffic increase
UTM codes are a popular strategy for tracking visitors from third-party digital properties, social, and email. Consider creating UTM codes for all of your campaigns to effectively track where your traffic comes from.
Additionally, by running co-marketing strategies from your PRM, you’ll have transparency into campaign metrics, activities, and more. In turn, you can funnel funding where you know it will have the most impact, determine which joint promotion techniques work well with whom, and ultimately improve with time.
Executing Co-Marketing Activities At Scale
In an established partner program, you should be well-poised to co-market with a growing number of companies. By leveraging your PRM and its through-channel marketing automation capabilities, you can scale co-marketing campaigns significantly to reach an extensive audience.
If your partner program is in a position to allocate marketing development funds (MDF), this can be a great opportunity to further fuel partners’ promotional efforts. By distributing MDF to partners, you reduce the resource requirements on your side of the equation. However, you’ll want to be conscious of your ROI for these efforts — the money you invest should result in significantly greater gains for your organization. Using a PRM, you can systemize MDF requests and approvals, as well as easily attribute leads to campaigns.
Additional Reading About Channel Partner Marketing
Co-marketing can be an incredibly effective tool when implemented well. To drive the best results, you need to identify a great-fit partner, with a little bit of audience overlap and a common goal. Share ideas, historical insights, and resources to jointly determine the optimal co-marketing ideas for your brands and customer bases.
Dive deeper into promotional strategies that can further strengthen your co-marketing with the following articles and templates:
- Channel Partner Marketing Best Practices & Planning – the Ultimate Guide – This comprehensive eBook leads you through important marketing topics like strategic MDF utilization, measuring the ROI of promotions, automating co-branding, and more.
- Channel Partner Marketing Plan Checklist – Improve the likelihood of your joint promotion campaigns’ success with an airtight plan. We designed this checklist to assist with earning internal buy-in, coordinating with appropriate teams, and anticipating questions that will arise mid- or post-execution.
- Why Partner Co-Branding is Important + Best Practices – As discussed above, co-marketing is not synonymous with co-branding, though the two intertwine. Learn about best practices to enforce within your partner program to minimize risks and how to execute co-branding at scale.
- Strengthen Your Partner Program with Content Strategies for 2022 and Beyond – Content is the building block of any co-marketing campaign. This piece illuminates how to audit your existing library and pinpoint specific needs.