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Maybe you’re one of those brands that are so cool that hard-working partners simply flock to your door. Congratulations! And you can stop reading.  For most brands in the partnership economy, however, recruiting and outreach is an essential and ongoing activity. You can’t just sit back and wait for prospective partners to contact you or send out the occasional spray-and-pray recruiting email. To really grow your partner program revenue, you need to master the outreach email.  

At Impact, we’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide range of great brands and have learned some of their secrets to engaging new partners. These clients, on aggregate, have sent millions of partner recruitment emails. Here are five of the principles these top programs use to make their outreach programs both effective and efficient. You can dig deeper into these lessons and many more in our eBook: How to scale your partner recruiting.

Lesson 1. Think like a B2B marketer

If you’re a B2C business, you may be used to sending out a single email for a one-day Flash Sale, then you measure results the following day. But when you are recruiting partners, you are establishing a B2B relationship, and different rules apply. 

The people you are trying to reach are busy people, and though many of them may be interested, your first email may reach them at a time they’re too busy to respond. So, try and try again. For many B2B marketers, it’s common to send out 5-7 emails to get a response. Sending out more emails than you’re accustomed to may feel uncomfortable, but it will be more effective. Use drip campaigns with sequenced messaging will help keep your emails from getting stale. Don’t give up too soon!

Lesson #2. Get the right list

As with any list of marketing leads, you want quality data and up-to-date email addresses. But there is partnership-specific data you need to look for, too. 

For example, does the list have the partner’s website? Are their social handles available? And what metadata can you access, such as Alexa ranking, monthly visitors and monthly unique visitors? 

Lesson #3. Segment and personalize your campaign

Personalization is an incredibly effective tactic in convincing a potential partner to convert and join your partnership program. But if you have a massive list of prospective partners to contact, 1:1 isn’t really practical. Instead, segment your list and use automated tools when possible. For example, everyone on your list can receive some form of 1:1 personalization, such as having their name and instagram URL included in the email copy. (According to a study of email marketing by Invesp, personalized subject lines yield 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique CTR.) High-performance influencers with larger audiences, on the other hand, may merit a more tailored email inviting them to join your VIP program.  

Lesson 4: Tailor your offer

You’ll also want to customize your offer and call to action to each segment based on potential performance value and simple practicality.

  • For the long tail (smaller following, lower individual revenue potential) you may put forward your standard offer, no additional perks, no negotiation, just take it or leave it. There are enough of them out there that you can afford to drive a harder bargain. Also, you might just want the call to action to be “join our program” linking to a sign-up form so you don’t receive a pile of inquiries to which you have to respond manually.
  • For mid-range partners (growing following and higher revenue potential) you may opt for more flexibility. Maybe there’s an up-and-coming blogger with a fast-growing audience who you choose to allow into your VIP program and offer a 15% commission instead of your standard 8% commission.
  • For the top-performers, you may automatically suggest a conversation to hammer out a highly enticing, customized offer. These are potentially your most strategic partners, so a custom offer may require verbal negotiation.

Lesson #5: Test and measure

As a digital marketing practitioner, the concept of test, experiment and measure should be second nature for you. It’s no different in the world of partner recruitment.

No matter how many segments you end up creating, you can always split them up for A/B testing. An even simpler tactic would be to test different pitch strategies over the course of your drip campaign to learn what’s working and what’s not. Start with foundational metrics such as delivery rates, bounce rates, open rates and click-through rates. But ultimately, you want to measure the impact of your email marketing efforts with KPIs that have direct impact to the business. 

So, for example, you have determined that your efforts have recruited 100 partners, find out how much lifetime revenue those partners have yielded. Ensure that those partners are continuously growing your revenues. Over time, find out who is contributing the most, who is not contributing at all and who is declining. You’ll then want to use that data to validate and optimize your outreach efforts going forward.

Ready to round up some great new partners? Be sure to check out the Partnership Cloud’s Discovery tool to browse ambassadors for your brand message.

Reach out to an Impact growth technologist any time at (that’s one email that will always get a response!).

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