Partnering with another brand is a powerful marketing weapon. However, few e-commerce brands fully exploit the potential of partnerships. This is often because they lack the right tools and processes.
To build successful partnerships and create “collabs” that bring real value, it is essential to follow a clear methodology, with well-defined steps. In this article, we propose a simple 5-step formula to achieve this. 🙌
E-commerce: why focus on partnerships ?
Partnerships drive business opportunities for an e-commerce brand, as they encourage:
- Pooling know-how to co-create products.
- Increasing communication reach through visibility exchanges.
- Testing products with new audiences by offering samples.
- Animating your community with communication operations organized by several people.
- Improving customer experience with free samples or co-created content.
- The enrichment of your brand universe and innovation.
- And much more!
In short, partnerships can help you gain brand awareness and boost your acquisition without the need to spend large budgets on Facebook or Instagram advertisements.
Break into a partnership with 5 simple steps
📍 Step 1: define your goals
Your partnerships must be part of a more global marketing and acquisition strategy. They must meet concrete objectives. Don't create a partnership just for the sake of making a partnership or because your competitors are doing so.
Set your priorities and define success indicators. For example, you can use the SMART method or set up OKRs. This will help you create an outline of your partnership strategy.
· If one of your major marketing challenges is gaining visibility for your brand, it could be interesting to build a partnership with a brand that already benefits from a high level of awareness, based on cross-communication campaigns, such as a contest on Instagram.
· On the contrary, if your focus is to build the loyalty of your community, you could for example, offer free samples from a partnered brand in your orders.
· Finally, if your main objective is related to the development of your offer, you are better off turning to partnerships that take the form of product co-creation.
Furthermore, some brands even make their partnership strategy a real marketing argument. For example, the men's clothing brand Bonne Gueule, reveals in an article, the background of its collaborations. The brand's objectives are clearly stated: to build long-term relationships with partners who bring real know-how and added value to the product.
📍 Step 2: choose the right partner
Base yourself on the objectives defined earlier, to draw up a composite of the ideal partner.
This sketch can be based on the following 3 aspects:
- Similar audience: focus on targeting brands that address a similar audience as yours. Otherwise, you risk reaching an audience that will not be interested in your products.
For example, the partnership between Bergamotte, a brand of flowers and green plants, and Farrow & Ball, a brand of paint and wallpaper, which takes the form of promotional content. Both brands clearly target the audience of decorating enthusiasts.
- Compatible values: don't betray your values. Choose a brand whose universe easily matches yours. For example, if your brand is based on tradition and craftsmanship, don't associate yourself with a brand that is all about technology!
For example, the Faguo x Aigle collab, brings together two ready-to-wear brands that are also two companies committed to more responsible fashion and promoting French know-how.
- Complementary objectives: make sure your partner has interests that are compatible with yours. Your objectives do not have to be the same, but you should be able to launch campaigns that meet the specific objectives of both brands.
For example, the product sampling campaign that brought together Merci Handy, a brand of personal care products, and Frichti, a meal delivery specialist. This campaign allowed Merci Handy to discover its universe and to test one of its products with a larger audience, while Frichti was able to build customer loyalty thanks to a small gift included in their order.
However, be careful not to limit yourself to too strict criteria. Some brands restrict themselves in their choice of partners and miss opportunities they had not considered. Your best partner will not necessarily be the one who seems the most intuitive to you! Keep an open mind, test, and rely on data to determine if a partnership is right or not.
📍 Step 3: design the partnership campaign(s)
Once you have chosen the right partner, you must then agree on the practicalities of your collaboration and design one or more campaigns together.
For each campaign, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What is the nature of the campaign (contest, content co-creation, newsletter sponsorship, free samples, product co-creation, etc.)? If you are short of ideas, Sqwad gives you 5 concrete ideas of partnerships.
- What communication or distribution channels will be used (social networks, newsletter, mailings, display in physical stores, etc.)?
- What resources will be made available (teams, tools, budget)?
- What will the timeline be for the implementation of the campaign?
- What are the KPIs that should be monitored?
📍 Step 4: launch the partnership campaign(s)
Once everything has been planned with your partner, you can enter the operational phase of the actual implementation of the partnership.
The complexity of this phase obviously depends on the nature of the partnership. For example, a product co-creation will be much more time consuming and engaging than a simple contest in partnership with another brand on Facebook.
Keep in mind that communication with your partner is key in setting up a successful collaboration, and that the follow-up of a partnership campaign is just as important as the planning.
📍 Step 5: measure the impact of the campaign and repeat
Once the campaign has been launched, or even completed, take the time to debrief with your partner. Analyze the performance indicators and measure the concrete impacts of the campaign. Draw conclusions to optimize your partnership strategy and increase efficiency for your next campaigns.
Don't hesitate to start small, with a specific campaign and a single partner, before launching into more ambitious projects, with multiple partners and multiple campaigns.
Keep in mind that e-commerce acquisition is largely based on a test and learn approach! Test a maximum of partnership formats and rely on results rather than intuition. A good partnership strategy is built through iterations and evolves over time.
Take your partnerships to the next level with Sqwad
Are you a DNVB (Digital Native Vertical Brand) or an e-commerce brand convinced of the power of partnerships and ready to take advantage of them? It is likely that you may not know how to implement your strategy in concrete terms, due to a lack of resources or adapted tools.
At Sqwad, our mission is to encourage synergies between brands to build real online neighborhoods. We are convinced of the power of partnerships and are committed to helping brands manage themselves more fluidly and intelligently. Because together, we are stronger!