How To Create Winning Co-Marketing Partnerships: What You Need To Know To Improve Your Results

Co-Marketing ParntershipsNeed to increase marketing visibility but short on resources?

No matter the size of your brand and your budget, it’s often never enough.

I know from experience.

While at The Economist, I had a BIG brand and a micro budget.

So what did I do?

I got creative with the resources I had to create win-win partnerships.

While there’s no marketing free lunch, you can make your resources go further by tapping into other people’s audiences.

I’m not referring to growth hacking, pay-to-play or questionable tactics. These don’t work for every business or brand, especially one like The Economist.

Instead I’m talking about a tactic you learned on the school playground:
Make friends with others who have shared interests.

 The key to Co-Marketing partnership success:

Work with peers who target similar audiences but don’t directly compete with your business or your brand.


Co-Marketing Partnership: The Basics You Need To Know

Before diving into Co-Marketing partnership tactics, let’s understand what they are and how you can use them to achieve measurable results.


1. What Are Co-Marketing Partnerships And Why Should I Use Them?

Co-marketing partnerships consist of working with another company or brand in your category or a related one to expand exposure for both parties.

At its core, Co-Marketing partnerships leverage similar traits to influencer marketing. Specifically, they tap into established relationships, thought leadership and trust.

Both parties achieve marketing objectives that yield mutually beneficial and measurable outcomes. In the process, you increase reach and visibility as well as improving authority and value as an expert.

While some major companies and brands invest big budgets to run co-branded campaigns, Co-Marketing partnerships tend to substitute other resources for marketing budget. It’s a business development approach.


2. How Do I Find Co-Marketing Partners?

Use tools like Alexa, BuzzSumo, Moz, SEMRush and/or Ahrefs to find potential websites for Co-Marketing opportunities based on:

  • Traffic
  • Social media shares
  • Backlinks and rankings for relevant keywords
  • Domain authority
  • Other factors

Beyond similar audience traits like demographics and psychographics, understand the particulars of your partner’s audience. Specifically:

  • What questions, wants and needs they have? 
  • Where and how they look for information? This includes the type of media, device used, and content consumption context?
  • Which response channels they use to contact businesses?

Look for these similarities in a Co-Marketing partner:

  • Business goals
  • Customer base
  • Target audience
  • Company size
  • Industry and/or category focus

Then check their websites, blogs, emailings and social media profiles to:

  • Determine if they accept guest posts, affiliate links and/or advertising opportunities. If not, move on.
  • Signup for emailings and other lead generation options.
  • Assess landing pages and welcome materials.
  • Engage with them on their blog and social media.

Also consider soft issues like:

  • What are their business values? Do they align with yours? Further, are they trustworthy and reputable?
  • Are they nice people and easy to get along with? 
  • Would you recommend them to your family, friends and colleagues?

For example, while Actionable Marketing Guide does NOT accept guest posts or advertising, we conduct author interviews and roundup posts.


3. How Do I Connect With Potential Co-Marketing Partners?

While you can use social media, an email service, or their contact form;
Take it from me—the average blogger or influencer gets tons of guest post, backlink, PR and advertising requests on a daily basis.

The result:
They get deleted without being read.

Use a warm introduction to network to the appropriate person in each company to ensure your request gets attention!

For example, a colleague introduced me to a guest blogger to get my input for Serpline’s 63 Experts Share Amazing Social Media Marketing Tools.

Example of Serpline’s networking for roundup post

Have a limited network?
Then use Aaron Orendorff’s approach.

To get influencer input, Orendorff starts by asking people he knows. He closes each exchange with a request for an introduction to an influencer he doesn’t know.

Example of how Aaron Orendorff reaches out to influencers and others


4. Do Co-Marketing Partnerships Yield Measurable Marketing ROI?

Depending the specifics of each partnership Co-Marketing partnerships can:

  • Increase traffic, email addresses, leads and sales.
  • Provide access to trustworthy influencers and other experts.
  • Increase your authority by association and backlinks.
  • Improve your content and expand the diversity of its voices.
  • Create marketing assets to reduce costs and provide on-going content transformation options.

Need proof of Co-Marketing Partnership success?

Social media management tool, Sprout Social, partnered with 40+ businesses to drive roughly 25,000 new leads. Often, they didn’t pay for promotion.

Social Sprout Co-Marketing Partnership Case Study Results

Sprout Social’s Co-Marketing Partnership leads converted at a higher rate and yielded higher spending rates. This makes sense since these prospects had similar persona profiles and came from trusted sources.

Sprout Social Co-Marketing Partnerships Acquire New Customers -Chart

Your results may vary due to timing, quality, size and number of partnerships.


Co-marketing Partnership Options

Co-Marketing Partnerships tend to be tailored to the opportunity. Each organization brings its unique benefits to the arrangement.


1. Co-Marketing Partnership Option: Co-Create Content

Work with thought leaders to create quality co-created, curated content. This content checks all of the boxes for quality since it includes visuals and influencer input.

While requiring planning and project management support, it yields measurable results. For example, Top Rank Marketing’s Lee Odden perfected the playbook for conference related content. (Check out Odden’s co-creation case study.)

Don’t take my word for it!

In addition to being a finalist for MarketingProfs’s 2015 Bright Bulb Award, the co-created series of Content Marketing World ebooks generated (through December 31, 2014):

  • 218,971 Total ebook views
  • 4,023 Total eBook PDF downloads
  • 1,040 Total leads captured including 200 event referrals

While compiling ebook content, the Top Rank Marketing team gathers in-depth expert interviews
. These interviews become blog posts.



2. Co-Marketing Partnership Option: Co-Create Market Research And Other Analysis

By its nature, research attracts attention.

Further to create a sufficiently large respondent pool, research often requires Co-Marketing partnerships.

Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs co-create industry-wide research for B2B and B2C Content Marketing. By consistently publishing research year after year, they created the “must-read” and “must link to” benchmarks for content marketing.

Both entities promote the results on their blogs and use PR outreach to get mentions in and links from top content marketing blogs.

Further by posting their results on Slideshare, the charts get widely read and used in other content and presentations.

Even better this research has gained sufficient traction to attract six figure sponsors seeking to get visibility according to Joe Pulizzi.



3. Co-Marketing Partnership Option: Guest Blogging

While many guest bloggers focus on getting backlinks, they neglect that most host blog editors use “nofollow” links. So they don’t help your search results.

Further, submitting content to blogs like Social Media Examiner require a lot of work and can take a month to go through the complete editorial process. 

Instead, the key to guest blogging success translates to traffic and conversions. Based on 300 guest posts, Neil Patel found that most of his guest posts only yielded small amounts of traffic. But in total these small amounts added up.

Neil Patel Guest Blogging

So how do you drive results from guest blog posts?

Follow Noah Kagan’s advice:

Offer a unique piece of ungated bonus content to readers. To get it, they must click on the tailored landing page link. Further, on the landing page, mention the specific audience, provide free bonus content without any requirements and include email list signup form.

Please note Actionable Marketing Guide does NOT accept blog posts.



4. Co-Marketing Partnership Option: Make Guest Appearances On Other People’s Platforms

For guest appearances think beyond the blog.

 Your options include:

  • Twitter Chats
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • AMAs on platforms like Growth Hackers and Slack.
  • Webinars
  • Conferences and live events (Note: These often require long lead time in addition to expertise and presentation chops.)

Many of these opportunities take the form of interviews. And they get promoted in advance to build excitement.

Further in your introduction, you can make one simple ask. For example, Ann Handley asks attendees to sign up for her must-read newsletter. (BTW, I suggest using Noah Kagan’s content upgrade approach.)

Before committing to a guest request for a podcast, video show or Twitter Chat, consider the host’s consistency and longevity. This often translates to the size of their audience. Again, networking can provide a soft introduction.

For example, Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina always says yes to interviews. From his perspective, the owner is doing the heavy lifting of content creation and distribution.

Heidi Cohen appearing in Content Chemistry


5. Co-Marketing Partnership Option: Write For Industry Publications

When it comes to industry wide publications, you can write an occasional piece or a regular column.

While Neil Patel selectively posts on broad audience sites since they have big readership. So even a tiny conversion rate can drive measurable results that convert.

But Patel finds that key industry blogs don’t convert since most visitors already know him. But it remains useful for brand awareness.

If you don’t have your own audience, a regular column in a well-known media entity can help establish your credentials. For example my regular Actionable Analysis column on ClickZ helped me to establish my brand.


6. Co-Marketing Partnership Option: Create Content Focused on Another Business For Your Owned Media

Affiliate marketers have used this technique successfully for years.

To generate leads and convert visitors for affiliate revenue, you create a “How To” Guide tailored to help your audience use offerings from other businesses. Often this type of content appears under a navigation tab labeled “Tools I Use”. Check how Mike Allton did this on his Social Media Hat blog.

Mike Alton social media hat blog

Backlinko’s Brian Dean developed an in-depth DefinitiveGuide to BuzzSumo as a piece of skyscraper content.

He added a PDF of the ebook as a content upgrade.

When BuzzSumo discovered that Dean’s in-depth guide was driving traffic to their site. They invested in Facebook advertising to drive impressions to Backlinko.

The result:
BuzzSumo paid $3.50 CPL for Facebook ads to generate $8,000+ in revenues.

Further, based on this work, the two firms have expanded their relationship.


7. Co-Marketing Partnership Option: Cross-Promote Partner Content

Back in the early 2000s, the online The Economist house file generated $350 per thousand in list rental revenue. Today, with GDPR and other email restrictions, this no longer works .

Now you need to be more creative to tap into the power of other people’s owned media and email house files.

To help, here are some popular options:

  • Create Co-Marketing offers. Give the readers of another blog or email newsletter a special discount or content upgrade for free. For example, I did a version of this at The Economist. I traded a 3 month digital subscription for a mention in their direct mail promotion to 20,000 prospects.
  • Provide an interview or other newsletter article. Ideally, the editor of the newsletter gives you a shout out. They may do it out of recognition, in exchange for promotion in your newsletter or for a referral fee. Both Ann Handley and Tamsen Webster show their love in the curated links section of their newsletters.
  • Get mentioned in their “Around the Web” section. Get spotlighted in another organization’s newsletter or other curated content.


Actionable Co-Marketing Partnership Tactics: How To Get The Maximum Results

At a minimum, remember to mind your marketing manners:

  • Share Co-Marketing content across your distribution channels.
  • Respond to reader comments on the content, blog posts and related social media.
  • Get permission to republish this content on your owned platforms either in the same format or in another format. If you do, always link to the original to avoid duplicate content.

Additionally, test and use these actionable Co-Marketing partnership tactics:

  • Transform successful content into other formats. Include visuals, video, and audio.
  • Add a machine-generated version of audio, video or webinar presentations. It expands your audience and supports search.
  • Optimize each content element for search, especially visuals and infographics. Always include a URL that sends viewers to your site. Remember the image or chart may be used separately from the rest of your content. Further, images attract traffic on visual search.
  • Repromote existing content. Co-marketed webinars remind you to view the presentation. One of the best uses was Curata’s reuse of a sponsored CMWorld presentation. They offered it as a webinar to their house file.
  • Repackage existing content to extend Co-Marketing partnerships. Continue to enhance and promote your best content.
  • Invest in remarketing campaigns. Target people who visited your co-created content.


Co-Marketing Partnerships Conclusion

Regardless of the size of your brand or your marketing budget, Co-Marketing partnerships enhance your organization’s visibility and credibility.

Further and, more importantly, these partnerships drive measurable results across businesses.

To maximize your Co-Marketing partnership success:

  • Do your homework first to find the best opportunities that will work with your audience and offering.
  • Use networking to get introduced to potential partners. These partnerships work best when you start working with similar level businesses.
  • Be easy and nice to work with. While this suggestion may not be measurable, you will get further being the person everyone wants to work with.
  • Always include tracking and a call-to-action.
  • Be patient since Co-Marketing may take time to yield results.

Go on – add Co-Marketing partnerships to your marketing mix.


Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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