6 strategies for resilient partnerships through the coronavirus crisis

Amidst challenges, Impact employees continue serving partners. Best practices include thinking long-term, getting creative, working directly together, focusing on mobile apps, and considering alternatives to breaking contracts. Charitable partnerships are also encouraged.

Resilient partnerships
Mike Head
Read time: 7 min

From their living rooms and home offices, some with kids close at hand or significant others sharing workspaces, Impact employees are carrying on. It’s not business as usual, but we are fortunate to be able to continue serving our partners and customers every day.

Our first priority is to listen and determine where we can provide support as many of us face unprecedented challenges. Some have been gutted by the crisis, others overwhelmed with demand. Still others are stymied by supply chain disruption. Everyone is doing the best they can in a business landscape turned upside down. 

In this new reality, we’re also seeing smart creative thinking and level-headed strategies worth sharing. Here are just a few best practices for maintaining successful partnerships between advertisers and influencers, media houses, affiliates, ambassadors, and other referral partners to help everyone maintain healthy partnerships in a trying time.

1. Think long-term

Just like now is not the time to cash in your decimated 401K, it’s important to have a long game when it comes to partnerships. For advertisers that are hurting, maintaining at least a baseline presence through the turmoil may enable you to hit the ground running on the other end. For advertisers shifting to 100% ecommerce, now may be a time to double down with your referral partners to take advantage of the increased awareness and engagement they are receiving from people spending more time at home on their digital devices. When the dust finally clears, the partnerships you have invested in and stood by will remain among the most efficient ways to grow business. 

For referral partners that are seeing increases in traffic and activity, you actually have even more value to offer advertisers right now, especially if you are willing to be paid for performance rather than eyeballs. Identify ways you can help advertisers now in exchange for solidifying partnership terms that can benefit you in the long-term. 

Tip to advertisers: Now is not the time to act rashly — lean on the long-term relationships you’ve established.

Tip to referral partners: The trust you have built with your brands and audiences is more valuable than ever during tumultuous times. Consider doubling down on your performance and affiliate efforts to diversify your revenue stream — it’s a good time to counter the decreasing CPMs from programmatic revenue, which is also cannibalizing your direct ad sales revenue. 

2. Get creative — flip the script

Now is the time to take opportunities as they come. For publishers and referral partners, if your usual advertisers are not running offers right now, look to verticals that may be more active, such as entertainment services, delivery apps, remote fitness, or health products. 

Finally, advertisers experiencing revenue dips because consumers aren’t buying or booking right now might want to explore role reversal. Monetize your traffic by directing them to complementary companies that might be faring better during the crisis. 

Tip to advertisers: You are more than just the products you sell — you also offer other businesses the ability to benefit from your audience data.

Tip to referral partners: You’re the expert at monetizing your audiences — discover ways you can help brands learn what you know. Develop relationships with advertisers in verticals that you may not have worked with in the past.

3. Advertisers and referral partners: Work directly with each other

For media houses already faced with programmatic challenges and cookie phase-out, this may be the time to act on plans to shift over to direct ad sales. Advertisers are moving away from CPMs, and view-through attribution is becoming obsolete, which leaves direct partnerships with CPC or CPA components as your best-bet monetization strategy. 

And for advertisers, exploring content partnerships with the commerce arms of media houses (ones that circumvent Facebook and Google) allows you to cut out the ad-tech that consumes 40% of your budget and drive superior ROI and take advantage of consumers’ increased time spent online. 

Now is the time for premium publishers,  advertisers and referral partners to all collaborate to build strong partnerships for growth, which can help limit risk and reduce reliance on programmatic CPM.

Tip to advertisers: Don’t waste your budget on hard-to-attribute display advertising — optimize your spend on direct performance-based relationships.

Tip to referral partners: Take advantage of this moment to increase your direct ad sales and show advertisers the value you can deliver working directly.

4. Go mobile

Everyone is at home and on their phones. Everyone. Now is a time to invest in reaching those valuable mobile app users and drive both installs and sales. Apps account for more than 70% of mobile sales and generate 3x the conversion rate of mobile web for their owners. And compared to mobile web, in-app AOV is 140% higher. Sooner or later, mobile partnerships are going to be part of your program, and right now may be the ideal time to take the plunge.

Working together, app-based referral partners, and advertisers can be driving revenue and growth in a way that will likely outlast the pandemic.

Tip to advertisers: If you’ve been putting off app-based partnership relationships, now is the time. Never has the world been more mobile-focused.

Tip to referral partners: Keep mobile top-of-mind when creating content. Remember to ask: Will this work well on a mobile screen? Develop direct app-to-app partnerships that drive high-quality traffic into your advertisers’ apps.

5. If you’re in a pinch, consider flexing contracts vs. breaking them

Drastic measures are increasingly on the table, and that includes zeroing out partner contracts. But it’s important to weigh the significant and irreparable harm this will do to your reputation as a business partner, not to mention potential exposure to litigation. 

Especially if your partners are paying for media and shouldering traffic acquisition costs on your behalf, simply passing pain down the chain could make the partnership unsalvageable later. 

Tip to advertisers: Before breaking contracts, first consider alternatives that preserve the partnership and take a longer view; partners will appreciate the advertisers that stuck with them through uncertainty. Work with your referring partners during these times of adversity and make sure you are paying them fairly. 

Tip to referral partners: You know which advertisers are hanging by a thread right now, and your response (and revenue contribution) could be a lifeline.  Consider short-term palliative terms with struggling advertisers rather than scratching the entire relationship.  

6. Pay it forward

For the fortunate companies in high-demand verticals right now (the grocery delivery apps, video streaming services, and tele-conferencing platforms of the world), now is a time when charitable partnerships can do a lot of good. Consider partnering with Giving Assistant or another charitable association to support crisis-related nonprofits.

Charitable organizations might consider entering the partnership economy right now as referral partners. Consumers are looking for ways to help their communities, and advertisers are looking for socially responsible ways to drive engagement and traffic. You can be part of that equation — especially in a mobile context.

Tip to advertisers: Add new partners to your mix with corporate social responsibility partnerships that address the needs of today.

Tip to (nonprofit) referral partners: Join the partnership movement. Consumers stuck inside with their phones, tablets, or laptops are happy to help if you make it easy for them with an attractive offer from an advertiser they may like.  Team up with advertisers who are doing well right now to build awareness and generate funding for your organization. 

Bonus strategy: Don’t go it alone

The Impact team is available to provide support and guidance to help you protect and preserve your partnerships and your partnership programs during this unprecedented crisis. 

We may be at home, but we’re still at your service. Reach out at grow@impact.com

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