In the highly competitive world of Partner Marketing, also commonly known as Affiliate Marketing, everyone wants to work with the best partners. These partners often know their own standard of quality, and what they can realistically expect – moneywise.

Nonetheless, even in this KPI-dominated industry, there is more that you can do to attract and keep big partners without forking out more money for your partners. By following these best practices, you can scale your business significantly and build strong, long-lasting relationships.

Here is 5 ways to grow your partnerships successfully:

1. Ensure the best tracking that can be

When it comes to affiliation, what matters the most is without question the tracking accuracy. Partners expect the best tracking possible and will check all the reports you provide them. Many of them will buy traffic and convert it for you. So, if views, clicks or, worse, conversions are missing, this means direct loss for them. Not only might they miss out on operations that bring them revenue, but it also damages their stats, which is the core of their business.

This challenge has grown ever bigger, as all the big internet players are strengthening their tracking policy and increasing restrictions (see articles on Google Parallel Tracking and Mozilla).

The usual way of tracking is called third-party tracking. It uses another domain in the URL, for example:

www.tracking.affiliatenetwork.com

This clearly indicates that an external provider is involved. This tracking is easy to detect for applications or browser especially when it comes to interaction on your website by requesting for an external resource. Therefore, third-party tracking increases the chances of tracking discrepancy, and dissatisfaction from your partners.

So how can you ensure that your tracking is accurate? You might have heard of first party tracking, which takes place on a tracking domain related to the advertiser, for example:

www.tracking.fashionshop.com

As first-party tracking uses your own domain in the URL, it doesn’t appear as if an external tracking provider is behind it. This reduces the risk of getting blocked by applications or the browser.

In the future of tracking, first-party tracking will become a must. If your tracking solution does not already offer this, it’s time to get looking.

2.  Treat your partners like VIPs

Have you ever been to an event and received special treatment? If your answer is yes, you clearly still remember the feeling today. That is what you want to offer to your best partners, in order to attract them and develop a long-term win-win partnership.

A big step to standing out is to offer a dedicated interface where your partners can access all campaign information, dashboards, reports and billing accounts. By providing them this, you shed them from tedious work like crawling over the multiple offers from public networks. Most importantly, you create a direct relationship and show them their special status. When they feel like VIP partners, they are likely to give you much more attention, time and traffic in return.

If you already provide your partner with a dedicated interface and a first-party tracking, you are already on a way of attracting big and highly performing partners.

But they are even more tricks that you can apply.

3. Have an up and running payment method

For partners, cashflow matters are an important one. They spend a lot of money on traffic beforehand, while waiting for the outcome of the conversions (CPO or CPA) to arrive. When you work with your partners through a network, the process is as follows: the partners invest, deliver the traffic, wait for the CPO to be accepted by the network (who waits for the advertiser to validate it), and then wait for the payment. This path can be a long one, sometimes up to months, depending on the payment methods that have been agreed.

How can we improve the delay in this process?

Take your best partners in-house and work with them directly. By doing that, you suppress one step of the chain, reduce the overall time and, of course, the costs of having an intermediary. Once you do direct business with them, you have to have a smooth but effective payment process. This means avoiding manual invoicing by using tools that can automate it for you once leads have been accepted. The quicker you pay a partner, the more likely he or she will be to do business with you.

4. Get creative

Something that you have to keep in mind is that partners are always on the look for better offers, and companies are constantly trying to recruit the best ones. That is why even when you have attracted them to work with you, you need a strategy to keep them interested enough to stay on.

On top of the previous points, you have to regularly update your incentives. You can do so by planning competitions over a specific time period, e.g. the best partner to bring traffic in wins gifts or bonuses. This practice can be both beneficial for the relationship and for your own numbers. You can also offer exclusive campaigns to your top partners, making them feel special. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also look at the market and get ideas of creatives or angles that perform, and let your partners know about it. At the end of the day, partners appreciate it when you try to be collaborative and provide them with ways to enhance their performance and get on top of their agenda.

5. Aim for a long-term relationship with your partners

Think long term! Just like any business, you should aim for long-term strategy to make the most out of the relationship. All close partnerships start with trust and commitment. Communication is definitely an important aspect of it, but a good set up and tool are key for longevity. Sometimes the best partnerships might even be the quietest ones, because it means that there was no bug or problem to report!

Who says managing partners needs to be time consuming?