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Want to launch a partnership program? Here’s an overview of what a modern partnerships program looks like, why you should invest in one, and how you can do it.

What is a modern partnership program?

A business partner can be defined as any third party that has access to a brand’s target audience and as a result, can drive brand awareness, digital transactions, and revenue. 

Modern-day partnerships programs encompass a diverse mix of partner relationships, from discount and incentive affiliates to influencers, content creators, media houses, aggregators, B2B partners, podcasts, mobile app partnerships, and more. 

With such a diverse mix of potential partnerships comes a need for diverse compensation models. Incentives can range from performance models and flat-fee commissioning to participation bonuses, all depending on the value a partner drives within the consumer journey. 

Brands have control over what they define as “value” and can commission partners accordingly. Depending on the toolset in place, brands also have flexibility in the way they incentivize partners to drive value. These incentives can range from revenue share, flat fees, or hybrid commissions all the way to basket value, SKU, deposit amounts, subscription types, and a partner’s contribution to the consumer journey (first click, last click, last to cart, and more).

Flexible incentives — a fintech example

X is a fintech brand with a modern partnerships program. The company partners with influencers, aggregator websites, and content creators. X wants its partners to drive app installs but sees particular value in new users who subscribe to their premium account. 

When a partner drives an app installation, this action is recorded via a tracking link, and a small flat fee is paid. If that new user then subscribes to a premium account, both actions are chained together via the tracking link (install + subscription), and a higher CPA is paid to the partner.

Why invest in partnerships?

Modern consumers are trusting traditional advertising methods less and less. This reduction in trust, combined with consistent cost increases across other digital channels, means that it is more important than ever for businesses to leverage new, more trustworthy, and cost-effective channels.


Partnerships allow brands to expand their reach by anchoring their messaging in trust-based arrangements that appeal to consumers. Due to the performance nature of partnerships, businesses can also be confident that their media spend is safe, as they have control over how and when they commission their partners. 

The business value of partnerships

Do partnerships pay? The short answer is yes. A recent study from Forrester shows that brands that actively engage in building mature partnership programs have seen their overall revenue grow by 28%, and they grow twice as fast as companies with less mature programs. 

These same companies reported that their partnership channels gave them a competitive advantage, and 76% said that partnerships were key to delivering on their revenue goals*. During the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers looked to the partnership channel to provide accountability and attributability, zeroing in on partnerships as an ROI safe haven. 

How do partnerships work?

Considering the whats and the whys, lots of businesses are eager to launch modern partnership programs, but they often get stuck on the how. 

Partnerships do require a strategic approach and a willingness to play the long game. Discovering and recruiting new partners, building partner relationships, setting out contracts, measuring performance, and optimizing partnerships does not happen overnight. However, with the right tools and technology in place, these processes can be accelerated and executed in a scalable fashion. 

Partnership automation facilitates modern partnerships

The partnership lifecycle is complex, and whether a business is launching a new program or optimizing its existing setup, it’s important to automate manual processes and interactions to enable scalability. 

Partnership automation can streamline every step of the partnership journey, including technical integration, discovery of new partners, contracting, tracking/reporting, and engaging, monitoring, optimizing, and paying partners.

Further research by Forrester shows that for companies that have fully invested in partnerships, partnership automation offers 314% ROI with a payback window of less than six months*.

The pioneer in partnership automation, Impact’s Partnership Cloud provides a single system of record to manage this full lifecycle and every modern partner type, including traditional affiliates, influencers, content creators, media houses, aggregators, B2B partners, podcasts, mobile app partnerships and more.

Considering launching a new partnerships program? Contact a growth technologist at to get started.

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