Technology’s constant evolution means that today’s effective digital marketing strategies will soon be obsolete. As consumers’ interaction with technology changes, the digital marketing world is on the cusp of yet another significant shift, and brands that don’t adjust their tactics will no longer see profitable results. Partnership marketing is emerging as a way to stay ahead of that curve.
In the past five years, digital marketers have seen huge success by mastering a single channel. Becoming really proficient at Facebook advertising alone has carried and grown brands. Soon, however, single-channel strategies won’t be enough to build a successful business. Today’s consumers use more than one channel to connect with products and services, even changing channels in a single transaction. Utilizing multiple channels not only creates a more robust and effective strategy but is increasingly becoming table stakes for having an ongoing conversation with prospective customers.
Additionally, building owned audiences will soon be more important than ever. For the past several years, everyone has been laser-focused on growing large social media followings, but engagement is diminishing in the face of increased noise from a variety of platforms while the platforms increasingly insist that you pay to reach your own audience. A study by BuzzSumo and Buffer revealed a more than 50% drop in Facebook engagement, even as the number of posts increases. Brands are finding that “followers” tend to have little, if any, brand affinity. That means that increasing followers doesn’t translate to increasing sales.
Partnership marketing provides the best solution for these problematic shifts in digital marketing. Not only does this tactic easily spread campaigns across multiple channels, but it also bridges the worlds of offline and online engagement.
Brands previously seen as independent digital natives like Harry’s and Casper are now venturing aggressively into retail, largely through partnerships with big box stores like Target. It’s easy to forget that physical sales still represent 90% of retail, while ecommerce comprises a relatively paltry 10% — and half of that is Amazon. Because so much business is still done in person, partnerships work best when they include both digital and physical components. Multifaceted partnerships are changing how we think about traditional retail relationships.
Before these changes take hold completely, companies can prepare for success in this shifting landscape in a number of ways.
1. Pinpoint your resources
Invest now in the resources that develop your internal ability to execute partnership campaigns. Partnership marketing is an art that requires flexing an entirely different muscle from today’s analytical paid marketing. Though success is still measured through numbers, partnership marketing is rooted in harder-to-measure concepts like brand fit and lift.
Your expert Facebook marketer will likely not be the same person who succeeds at putting great partnerships together. Identify a brand marketer who can also be your partnership marketer and develop that person to lead your organization into this next big wave.
2. Build audience loyalty
It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg: While partnerships are one great way to start building an owned audience, you also need an owned audience to be successful at partnerships. Get started on building your core audience now; that will give you the foothold necessary to ladder up into larger, more substantial partnerships. Positioning your brand as a more desirable partner and growing your business both require building a strong follower base that cares deeply about your brand.
3. Bridge online and offline experiences
Any time you devise a way to interact with consumers, consider how you will flow between digital and real-world relationships. Your online strategies should breathe new life into your brick-and-mortar opportunities by looking beyond archaic ideas about the consumer-retailer interaction.
As we see in Target’s willingness to be creative and inventive, most people will experiment with new experiences if the offering is compelling. Don’t be beholden to the old way of doing things simply because that’s how it has always been done. If Target can be nimble enough to form partnerships with the likes of Quip and Casper, you certainly can, too.
Partnership marketing will soon be a core part of every successful digital marketer’s tool kit, and DojoMojo can help you get started. Interested in building your brand’s identity? Start your free trial here.