The average enterprise company uses 120 marketing tools to run their business (Progress, 2020). If your affiliate or partner programme isn’t connected to your other marketing and customer data, you’re looking at individual trees in a vast forest of your overall marketing efforts.

Only when your data is combined can you see the raw closing power of affiliates, the engagement building of influencers, and how your media buying touches all of your other efforts. This consolidation of data can only be achieved by integrating all of your performance marketing data into a single analytical reporting dashboard.

The quicker you integrate your other marketing data and channels, the sooner you unlock new opportunities for scaling your partner programme and growing its importance among your marketing channels.

Lets take a look at the integrations that matter the most…

Speed and reliability – shopping carts

The third party tracking cookie is obsolete. Nothing is worse for your partners than promoting your brand and then not seeing the results they expect due to a tracking leakage.

The best way to ensure that you will reliably credit both your partners and other marketing channels is to integrate directly with the shopping cart for recording every conversion. 

Shopping cart integrations are especially valuable for agencies and larger publishers, as this allows them to instantly connect to brand clients without requiring time or messy technical work, empowering them to immediately focus on delivering results.

Partner alignment – CRMs

One of the largest challenges for B2B and subscription-type partner programmes is rewarding partners properly. Without the right data, you either have to pay a large amount up front and risk fraud, or pay a smaller amount that doesn’t fully reward your partners for their efforts.

A CRM integration allows you to precisely align your partner payout structure to the quality of the conversions they are delivering. Having the ability to update their conversions each time an additional lead status event occurs in your CRM, means that you can pay them less at the beginning, and far more when they are driving proven high-quality conversions. 

Once your partner payouts and your customer value data are fully in sync, it allows you to offer massively juicier payouts to entice premium publishers. The more you can pay out, the more types of interesting and unique partnerships you can start forging and developing.

Consolidation – paid marketing channels

For a scaled brand, partnerships only make up one tentpole of their performance marketing efforts. 

Partnerships can constantly collide into your other performance marketing efforts, and deciding who gets attribution credit quickly becomes messy. 

The next stage of partner marketing is when all of your media buying data feeds into your platform and it becomes your single source of truth for evaluating how each performance channel delivers value. This next stage of attribution proves the true additive value of partner marketing and a better understanding of the awareness value delivered by influencers.

Automation – Preventing Fraud

As long as there is money to be made there will be fraud from any non-transparent advertising channel. A fraud solution is essential after reaching certain peaks of scale, but often at those volumes actually utilising that fraud data becomes a time suck for your team.

When your fraud solution is integrated directly into your partner programme, you can automate the fraud flags to take actions immediately for blocking fraud traffic sources or suspicious conversions. 

The immediate automated action massively improves the experience for your partners as well, as they will now know when their placement has delivered fraud and which placements caused it. Most partners are buying/receiving traffic from dozens or thousands of placements. They don’t have the fraud data to know when those sources are sending fraudulent traffic themselves,  and can only take action when they find out from the brand. With immediate feedback, they can quickly deactivate those placements and avoid the headache that comes with having conversions and revenue scrubbed at the end of month, which helps them sustainably promote your brand.

 The Suppressed Potential of Affiliate Marketing

Most affiliate networks’ technology has barely evolved, despite rebranding themselves as partner marketing platforms. Basic reporting may make it appear that an affiliate programme is generating a lot of revenue, while the “conversions” are actually a result of coupon poaching. You can’t blame any of the parties involved for not wanting to spoil their source of easy money, but it has painfully stagnated the industry.

Affiliate marketing has so much more potential than recruiting the same ten “super affiliates” in every programme. This doesn’t mean discarding your current affiliates. It means having better reporting and tools to ensure they are rewarded generously when they deliver real value, and they don’t need to worry about having the conversions poached by a last-second coupon. With the right reporting and solutions in place, your affiliates can thrive and you can grow your programme to work with so many more types of partnerships – from the pure awareness lift of influencers to ongoing referrals from symbiotic tech tools. Affiliate marketing needs both data and flexible tracking methods to achieve truly expansive partner marketing.

Smarter Partner Programmes Grow Faster

The partner marketing lead should always be a rockstar of their marketing team. Affiliate marketing was already extremely cost effective (Media Bulletin, 2021), but with a more flexible platform the partner marketing lead should also be tracking and owning all referral traffic from existing customers and partnerships. At Everflow, 42% of our customers came from referrals and they by far have the best retention and lifetime value for any source of traffic. With just affiliate and referrals, they would own the most cost-effective sources of traffic, and they have the ability to build exciting new external win-win tech partnerships that gets the entire company buzzing.

The reason why affiliate managers haven’t gotten all of the respect they deserve was a two-fold limitation in technology: 

  • The challenge of attribution for who deserves credit for each conversion. 
  • The inability to manage partners outside of what is available inside of their affiliate network marketplace.

The first challenge of who deserves credit can only really be determined when all of the data has been consolidated into a single platform, and every click and engagement can be accurately compared and understood. For the second challenge, it’s all about having the flexibility to be able to track any type of partnership and feed your external marketing data for those partners. With more data, power, and reporting, affiliate managers will be able to better prove the value of the affiliates they already manage and expand the programmes to include a massively wider range of value-driving partnerships.

There is an ocean of opportunities for fully integrated partner market programmes that understand where each partnership and performance source delivers value. Start pulling in your data integrations, leveraging that data, and growing your partnerships wider and more effectively.