If, as 2022 begins to pick up momentum, you are serious about increasing brand awareness, growing your revenues, improving conversion rates or building stronger customer relationships, then there’s one channel you must invest in: partnerships. 

This is a recommendation on two fronts. Of course partnerships have the power to help companies become more competitive at a time when other channels are becoming less effective or more problematic. But they are also perfectly in tune with today’s evolving consumer environment. 

Business built on trust

It is a well-known fact that conventional, programmatically-driven advertising based on the hard sell no longer cuts the mustard. Even if you set aside the declining effectiveness and increasing cost, its intrusive nature and lack of transparency undermine consumer trust – one quality that’s essential for building consumer connections and growing long-term sales. 

Consumers themselves are changing too, and marketers are well aware they must reassess the channels they use to reach and communicate with them. Nowadays, purchasing decisions are driven by authentic, third-party recommendations such as trusted influencers and content-rich sites that inform choice.

Consumer activism is also becoming an increasingly powerful force in shaping demand, as nuanced factors drive consumers to seek companies that are aligned with their values.

Effective, meaningful communication all comes down to the quality of partnership. By bringing brands, influencers, affiliates and publishers together, companies can interact with consumers authentically and genuinely to help them discover opportunities that are right for them. It’s the soft touch – not the hard sell – that’s critical today.

Embracing the ever-changing nature of partnerships

If your concept of partnerships is anchored in the world of traditional affiliates, think again. Today’s partner economy is much broader, encompassing a richer, more diverse range of partners that give access to myriad audiences and support and enhance the way companies do business in 2022. These include: 

  • Content partnerships that match brands with respected, complementary publishers to produce engaging, relevant content while accessing and activating new audiences
  • Social influencers who allow a brand to tap into opinion leaders with large, engaged, highly committed social media audiences
  • Mobile partnerships that drive prospects into an app experience, allowing brands to connect with consumers in the environment where 70% of all mobile transactions take place
  • Corporate social responsibility/charity partnerships whose causes and audiences align with a company’s ethos and values as it seeks to develop its purpose-driven brand strategy
  • Brand-to-brand partnerships, in which businesses in complementary industries leverage their channels and audiences for mutual growth, monetisation or awareness. These increasingly sophisticated collaborations introduce an interesting dynamic: in delivering success for both parties, brands themselves are now beginning to act as affiliates in their own right.

Technology is unleashing the power of partnerships

Effective partnerships require effective partner management, and technology provides the essential underpinning of this channel. Partnership automation platforms allow workflows to be streamlined and automated across the entire partnership process. Whether finding and recruiting partners, onboarding them, setting up and managing contracts and payments or finessing productive, revenue-generating partnerships, technology has removed many of the traditional burdens of partnership. 

Now businesses can quickly scale their partnership programmes, tapping into a more extensive, diverse range of partners while expanding into new markets and territories. By allowing companies to communicate and keep their partners actively engaged, deeper, more effective long-term relations can be forged.   

Technology is also helping to democratise the partner channel, removing the barriers to entry, allowing companies both large and small to take advantage and reap the rewards from this channel.

For many companies, partnerships have become the fastest-growing revenue opportunity, delivering benefits across the business and supporting critical branding, acquisition and retention strategies. And the very nature of partnerships means developing long-term relationships drives more value than focusing on short-term marketing activities.      

In the modern marketing era, partnerships have emerged as a vital channel. As trust becomes the new advertising currency, partnerships tap into consumers’ desire for information, authenticity and advocacy and allow brands to become part of it, in a way that is natural and organic.

For brands that are new to all of this, 2022 can and should be the year of the partnership economy. And for those that have already caught on, it will be one more successful year in an ever-expanding series.