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Partnership Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

By Liza Shuttleworth Last updated: 23 minute read Affiliate MarketingMarketing Guides

Partnership marketing is a broad term for several collaborative marketing techniques, including affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, loyalty marketing, cross-promotion, joint product developments, and more!

All these techniques are incredibly effective if you have the right partners, and choose the right type of partnership marketing, for your objectives.

But which partnership marketing strategy is the right one for your brand? And how do you find the right partners to collaborate with?

How do you implement your partnership marketing strategy and manage all your partners?

It can be challenging to answer these questions, especially when there are so many different types of partnership marketing, and so many different techniques to use.

Today, we’re covering everything you need to know about partnership marketing and how to make it work for you!

In this guide, we go over what partnership marketing is, the different types of partnership marketing, the benefits, and how to find and choose the best partners.

We also review some of the best partnership marketing software and look at some real-life partnership marketing examples.  

To demonstrate just how successful partner marketing can be, we have a case study provided by the award-winning experts at Acceleration Partners, a leading, global, partnership marketing agency!


Let’s get right into it!

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    What is Partnership Marketing?

    Partnership marketing (sometimes called partner marketing) is collaboration between parties that benefits both entities and helps them achieve their business and marketing objectives. These objectives range from increased brand awareness, recognition and credibility, to lead generation, sales and business growth. 

    There are many types of partnership marketing (more on those below) and partnerships can be between two brands or between an individual and a brand, or even two individuals.

    Some of the most well known marketing partnerships include affiliate partners who promote a brand on their own platforms in exchange for a commission on the sales or actions they generate, and influencers who promote a brand on their channel in exchange for payment or a sample product that they can unbox, test and review – creating valuable content for their channel. 

    The main goal or objective of partnership marketing is for two entities to join forces in a strategic marketing collaboration that benefits them both and helps them reach their respective objectives. 


    Partnership marketing (sometimes called partner marketing) can be defined as a strategic marketing collaboration between parties that benefits both entities and helps them achieve their business and marketing objectives. These objectives range from increased brand awareness, recognition and credibility to content creation, lead generation, sales and business growth. 

    Partnership Marketing vs Business Partnerships – What is the Difference?

    Business partnerships are usually formal, legal agreements between parties.examples of partnership marketing when two law firms merge or one company partners with another to provide a combined service or product. These types of partnerships involve a lot of red tape, think contracts, taxes, registrations, levels of liability etc. and are usually permanent or long-term agreements. 

    Partnership marketing, on the other hand, can be much less formal and may not involve any kind of legal agreements, tax complications or even an exchange of money. While we call it partnership marketing, and there are formalized types of partnership marketing, it is often a much looser agreement, or collaboration between parties.

    The aim is to achieve marketing objectives that can be difficult to quantify, for example, a collaboration may lead to improved brand awareness, credibility and trust,successful partnership marketing campaigns but these benefits may not have any immediate impact on revenue.

    This is why many marketing partnerships are measured in terms of actions taken or impressions, rather than a sales commission that relies on an immediate impact on sales. 

    In some cases, like when two influencers collaborate to jointly create new content, there is no exchange of money, affiliate marketing programs no agreement and the collaboration may be a spontaneous, once-off event with no paperwork or agreement at all. 

    What Are the Main Types of Partnership Marketing?

    There is a range of different types of partnership marketing cross-promotional partnerships approaches to choose from. According to Acceleration Partners, it is vital to choose the right type of partnership (and the right partners) to be successful.

    Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular strategies:

    1. Affiliate Marketing: a mutually-beneficial strategy that involves collaboration with a publisher, such as a blogger or an influencer, who will advertise and promote your product or service to their respective audience.
    2. Influencer Marketing: when an influencer partnerships or industry expert markets the brand’s product/service to their followers in exchange for a fee or free products/perks or upgrades. Influencers also benefit from creating content for the brand, as it forms part of their channel’s content and adds value for their followers.
    3. Loyalty Marketing: when a brand offers incentives to its customers to buy more frequently or spend more with a formalized loyalty program partnerships to earn points and receive benefits like discounts or a free product after x purchases.
    4. Distribution Partnership Marketing: when a certain brand will bundle up another brand’s products or services with their own products or services, as a package deal, and the brands then benefit from reaching each other’s distribution networks.
    5. Referral Marketing: referral programs are similar to affiliate and loyalty marketing, where a brand partners with people who will refer people to the brand collaborations in exchange for an strategic alliances incentive, reward, or commission.
    6. Cross-Promotion Marketing: when partners promote each co-marketing campaigns other to their particular audiences through a joint marketing campaign that promotes the other’s product/service.
    7. Sponsorships: when a brand publicly sponsors the second party in exchange for visibility and views. Sponsors can sponsor events, joint promotions public figures like athletes or musicians, or content creators, their channels, or individual pieces of content like a specific YouTube video by a popular creator.
    8. Product Placements: when a clearly branded product is used in a TV show or movie and the scene places emphasis on the product or brand, ensuring that viewers see it being used by a beloved character in the show.
    9. Co-branding: when two brands come together to create a co-branded product or upgrade, like the Apple Watch Nike Edition.
    10. Content Marketing: when a brand has their product placed in content like blogs, videos, and social media posts to promote their products in a natural and relevant way.
    11. Licensing: when a brand allows another brand to make and market a product under its branding. For example, Netflix and Ben & Jerry’s “Netflix and Chill’d” ice-cream edition.

    How to Choose the Right Partnership Marketing Partners

    When you decide to give partnership marketing a go, take your time and find the right strategic partners – it will make all the difference to your experience, and the success of your partnership marketing!

    According to Acceleration Partners, choosing the best strategic partners for your partnerships is essential. Look for partners that are complementary to your brand in terms of both their products/services and their values. Aim to create relationships that will last, with partners that share your business and ethical values, as well as being a good fit for your products and your audience. 

    Your partners will reflect on you, and you will reflect on them, so do your homework and choose them wisely!

    Not everyone will make a great partner. But even if the people you connect with aren’t right choice for your partnership marketing, looking for partners can still be a productive exercise. Expanding your existing network and making new contacts that are relevant to your brand and marketing may lead to other valuable opportunities.  

    Now let’s take you through some of the key steps of selecting the right marketing partner:

    Define Your Marketing Objectives.

    Before you start searching for a partner, make sure that you have clearly articulated what your brand wants to achieve through your potential business partnership.

    Your objectives will inform the type of partnership marketing that will be the most beneficial for you. Choosing the right type of partner and right type of partnership collaboration will make a huge difference to the results you’re able to achieve. 

    Once you have set up your partnership, you can assess whether the relationship is meeting these objectives and how you can improve things or change things as needed. 

    Find a Company With Common Ground.

    This common ground must include a very similar audience to your company. This is very important, as this could lead to future problems if this is not clearly defined from the start. In essence, their target audience must be in the same sector and industry as your target audience.

    Additional common ground includes having similar values to your company. This will ensure that you both can build on a similar foundation.

    It is also worth offering products or services that are complementary to one another.

    You can find potential partners for your partnership marketing through: 

    • Google search 
    • Social media searches and industry related hashtags 
    • Online forums in your niche
    • Business directories 
    • Tradeshows and conventions 
    • Networking events online and in person 
    • Affiliate and influencer platforms and marketplaces 

    Once you have selected some potential partners, research them before you reach out so that you can weed out any partners that will obviously be a poor fit. Once you have narrowed it down, find out who the right person to speak to is and reach out to them directly.

    From there, focus on building a relationship that is mutually beneficial and be clear about the value you can offer them, as well as what you want in return.

    Here are the next steps to follow, and what to consider when you’re choosing a partnership marketing partner, in more detail:  

    Research, Research and More Research

    And, you guessed it, more research! When it comes to finding a great partner, this is when research counts a great deal. Whatever a potential partner does in the future, will reflect either positively on negatively on your brand, so this is an important decision for you to make.

    Start by reading up on all the reviews you can find of the companies that spark your interest. Then be sure to ask for references. Try to get an opinion from an outside third party on what they think of the partner you are planning to approach.

    And finally, ask to see their buyer persona. It will also be an advantage if you have your own to provide to potential partners.

    Identify Any Potential Conflicts of Interest

    Once you have found a company with more common ground than other companies, it is good to start identifying if there are any potential conflicts that may arise. For starters, avoid a brand that will result in direct competition to your brand.

    You will also need to determine who would own particular leads? And how would the profits be shared? Make sure that all these matters are ironed out early on.

    Define Fair Expectations, an Even Workload Spread and a Clear Agreement

    Make sure that you both clearly articulate the responsibilities for each partner and what the expected outcomes are for each of those responsibilities.

    It’s no good being ‘wishy-washy’ when it comes to responsibilities, and each partner must receive an equal share. This means that both parties must input the same amount of time and resources to get their jobs done.

    Partnerships of all kinds work best when there is a clear agreement between parties, that sets out who is responsible for what, timeframes, contingences for unexpected delays or roadblocks along the way, as well as what happens of either party fails to deliver what they’re responsible for, and how assets like contact lists, leads etc. will be handled when the partnership ends.  

    Play to Your Specific Strengths

    While it is good to have an equal share of responsibilities, it is not necessary to split them right down the middle.

    Simply make sure that each partner is able to use their particular expertise or strengths in the relationship. Both of you will be specialists in certain areas, so make sure you focus on those strengths unique to you.

    Develop a Feedback Loop

    It’s important that a space is created where feedback can be provided. So ensure that you and your various stakeholders gather together on a regular basis to talk over how things are going.

    It will also be good to give each stakeholder a turn to chair the meeting. Basically everyone needs to feel heard.

    Define How Results Will Be Tracked and Measured

    It’s important to identify and track your progress against your objectives as closely and accurately as possible. Decide which metrics will be measured, and how, ahead of time so that there can be no disagreement or dispute of the results down the line. 

    Make sure that your goals are measurable and that you define how long you will track progress, and how often you will evaluate your progress. 

    Create that Personal Touch and Focus on Building a Relationship

    While it is about business, it’s also about a personal relationship. Take the time to get to know your partners – who are they, what are their likes and dislikes? Their values? What’s their pet’s name?

    This might sound odd, but it’s always worth having that personal connection when it comes to business. This might just be the glue that holds it all together!


    • Define Your Marketing Objectives
    • Find a Company with Common Ground
    • Do a Lot of Research
    • Identify Any Potential Conflicts of Interest
    • Define Fair Expectations, an Even Workload Spread and a Clear Agreement
    • Play to Your Specific Strengths
    • Develop a Feedback Loop
    • Create that Personal Touch and Focus on Building a Relationship

    1 Partnership Marketing Case Study

    Partnership marketing involves two entities working together so that they both benefit from the collaboration.

    The purpose of marketing partnerships is to build brand awareness for both entities, increase sales/engagement and provide their target audience/s with additional value by joining forces.

    Let’s take a look at a partnership marketing case study (and then some partnership marketing examples from brands you know) to see just how successful it can be: 

    Case Study: Reebok Loyalty Affiliate Campaign Results in 161% (YoY) Revenue Increase


    Despite an initial rise, fitness, and lifestyle apparel brand Reebok saw a marked drop in orders during the Covid-19 pandemic. To combat this and gain new customers, Reebok turned to Acceleration Partners, a leading partnership marketing agency.

    Their objectives were to:

    • Gain new customer revenue through a targeted campaign with a loyalty affiliate;
    • Increase average order value (AOV) from new customers; and
    • Engage previous customers to bolster lifetime value and brand loyalty.


    Acceleration Partners developed a strategic two-week campaign with Cartera, a leading loyalty program provider that works strategically with banks and airlines.

    Choosing Cartera and the type of partners they work with was a crucial component of the campaign, which proved to be incredibly successful.

    With Cartera, Reebok was able to join forces with a major U.S. airline. The carefully targeted campaign included a limited-time bonus, where qualifying purchases of at least $100 with Reebok gave consumers 500 bonus points, which were applied as bonus miles for the airline.

    Promoting the campaign included homepage placements on the airline’s homepage and a newsletter from Cartera announcing the Reebok bonus offer to all airline loyalty members.

    While the campaign targeted just one airline, it created a halo effect that resulted in a 38% increase in revenue from other programs on Cartera.


    Acceleration Partner’s approach revolved around strategically identifying a valuable media placement opportunity, precise audience targeting, and choosing the best loyalty affiliate partner for the campaign.

    Each of these elements was carefully considered, and the solutions strategically selected, which lead to impressive results from just a two-week campaign:

    • 161% increase in revenue YoY from Cartera
    • 329% increase in clicks YoY from Cartera
    • 143% increase in new customer revenue YoY from Cartera
    • 49% increase in AOV YoY from Cartera

    These results took Reebok back to, and surpassed their pre-pandemic order volume and revenue.

    4 Successful Partnership Marketing Examples

    As you can see from the case study above, partnership marketing done right can rapid drive growth and provide a significant bump in revenue, as well as set you up for long-term success with dynamic on-going partnerships.

    The best marketing partnerships are between brands that share an audience in terms of their audience’s values and desires, as well as demographics.

    Here are some partnership marketing examples from popular brands you know (and maybe love) that really leveraged their shared audiences’ values and passions:

    1. BMW and Louis Vuitton.

    The marketing partnership between BMW and Louis Vuitton is a great example of brand giants coming together for a joint purpose. Both of their types of customers travel frequently and strive for exclusivity, luxury and comfort, so what better way to target their audience than co-branding their retail products?

    These two created a four-piece luggage collection, retailing for $20 000, which was designed to fit perfectly into the trunk of the BMW i8. This is a great example of an innovative marketing partnership that leveraged their shared audiences values and desires to cross-promote their core product offerings to a shared audience. 

    2. AirBnb & Flipboard

    I bet most of you have heard of Airbnb, but not as many will know about the social network aggregator, Flipboard. In this partnership marketing example, these two got together to create new content and in turn promoted each other to each of their (overlapping) audiences.

    Thanks to their collaboration with Airbnb, Flipboard was able to greatly increase their number of users and Airbnb was able to generate valuable brand awareness, engagement and marketing content.  

    3. H&M and Balmain

    Over the years the Swedish retailer H&M have been known to collaborate with a number of different luxury fashion designers. Perhaps the best example is when they partnered with the Balmain clothing collection in 2015.

    This collaborative clothing collection was launched onto the H&M website and their brick and mortar stores, which had queues that could be seen far and wide.

    Every year H&M collaborates with these types of designer brands, allowing their customers to pay for designer clothing items at a fraction of the price. Now that’s a win win partnership!

    By collaborating with a highly desirable designer/brand, H&M was able drive a massive sales by using the desirability of Balmain products from consumers who would not normally be able to afford or access such a high-end brand.

    Balmain benefitted from a huge amount of awareness and buzz around their brand that reached H&M’s huge audience of people who value high-fashion brands.  

    4. Red Bull and GoPro

    Back in 2012, when the novelty of GoPro was a really big deal, they partnered with Red Bull to support Australian skydiving legend, Felix Baumgartner. Here the two brands collaborated to capture his record-breaking jump from a 24 mile high balloon.

    GoPro: Red Bull Stratos – The Full Story:

    This turned out to be quite the enthralling take, captured on GoPro, and both brands received a great deal of exposure through this partnership.

    These partnership marketing examples demonstrate how brands can join forces and generate huge value in terms of brand awareness, engagement, anticipation/buzz, content marketing, user generated content AND sales!

    9 Great Partnership Marketing Benefits

    There are many significant benefits to partnership marketing and here are some of them:

    1. Branching into New Markets

    Partnering with another brand that has a presence in a particular region, area or niche, will enable you to reach a new market, that you wouldn’t have been able to reach before.

    This opens up new opportunities for growth and greater productivity for your brand.

    You can also sit back and enjoy the benefits of a customer base that will more easily trust your brand, due to the trust they already have for your partner.

    You will be marketing to an audience that will already be interested in the kinds of things you offer. This can maximize your marketing efforts, with the least amount of input.

    2. Providing Fresh Perspectives

    By working with a marketing partner, you will be exposing yourself and your team to some different and new outlooks on marketing.

    Perhaps there are a few gaps that you might have missed that need improvement? Or maybe there’s something completely out of the ordinary that you hadn’t thought of before?

    The great advantage of partner marketing is that each partner can use it as an opportunity to learn from each other and to gather wisdom from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

    3. More Cost-effective than Traditional Marketing Channels

    It’s worth keeping in mind that the industry is moving closer to a pay-per-performance model, and away from a pay-per-ad and impression model.

    So in the case of partnership marketing, it will now be easier to measure your ROI based on how a particular post performs, as opposed to measuring social media metrics, such as likes, shares and comments etc. This will be more relevant to the affiliate partnership marketing strategy.

    For some partner strategies a swap can also be included, which can save costs and benefit both partners.

    Partnership marketing also requires less financial risk on your part, as only a small fee or commission will be required. This will be more relevant to the affiliate type of partnership marketing.

    4. Provides You with a Support System

    It is comforting from time to time to know that you are not alone in the marketing game!

    When you succeed, your partner succeeds with you and this just highlights how mutually beneficial this type of marketing relationship is.

    The true benefit comes when you find a partner who is open and communicates clearly with you from the start.

    5. Targeting Customers at the Ideal Time

    Through cross-promotion, you are more likely to be noticed when a customer makes a purchase from your partner and stumbles across your brand at the same time.

    The timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

    For example, when driving with Uber you can tune into Spotify and listen to songs through them while driving. And when booking flights, you might also notice a hotel ad popping up and recommendation a stay with them near your destination.


    The opportunities are endless!

    6. Delivering Added Value to Your Brand

    When partnering with a trusted brand, you will be adding greater value to your existing brand.

    Whether it’s through developing new content, making necessary improvements or doing a content swap, customers are more likely to take notice and to become more attracted to your brand.

    It can only be beneficial when you open up new avenues of interest and strive to enrich your brand even more than before.

    7. Building Your Brand Identity

    Partnerships open up the opportunity of brand association.

    For smaller brands, partnering with a larger brand means they will be able to reach a much wider audience. On the flip side, a larger brand can benefit by reaching a more specific, niche audience, by partnering with a smaller brand.

    It’s through these types of partnerships, that customers might begin to associate better with your brand, if they see you partnering with a unique or more popular brand.

    8. Providing Unique and Innovative Solutions

    Partnership marketing is a great way for two complementary products/services to join forces and provide an innovative new solution. By drawing on each other’s strengths they can provide a more comprehensive product/service, or package, which often leads to the development of an entirely new solution. 

    9. Growth and Increased Revenue 

    We have talked a lot about the more indirect benefits of partnership marketing but biggest benefit (like all other forms of marketing) is increased revenue and growth.

    Strategically harnessing the power of partnerships and collaborations allows you to reach more people in your target audience, generate leads, and close sales. All while giving you all the less direct benefits, like brand awareness and improved trust, AND costing you very little!  


    • Branching into New Markets
    • Providing Fresh Perspectives
    • More Cost-effective than Traditional Marketing Channels
    • Provides You with a Support System
    • Targeting Customers at the Ideal Time
    • Delivering Added Value to Your Brand
    • Building Your Brand Identity
    • Providing New and Innovative Solutions 
    • Growth and Increased Revenue 

    3 Top Partner Marketing Software to Use

    What is partnership management software?

    Partnership management software is used to track sales and affiliates through a variety of channels, as well as streamline communication between partners. It also allows you to see an overview of your partners and their performance so you can continually optimize your marketing and improve your partnerships. 

    Essentially, it gives you everything you need for simple and effective partnership relationship management (PRM), which includes all the activities and strategies used to manage your partners and your partnership marketing as a whole. 

    Partnership management platforms, on the other hand, are online platforms and marketplaces where you can search and connect with potential partners. These are especially useful for finding affiliates and influencers to partner with. 

    There are a huge number of partnership management software tools out there!

    It can be daunting and time consuming to sift through all the options to find the best ones, which is precisely why we have selected three of the best partnership marketing software to review here:  


    Tapfiliate is a customizable, cloud-based Affiliate Tracking Software that allows you to develop and track your affiliate marketing campaigns. You can successfully automate a number of tasks, such as tracking, managing commissions and marketing across different levels.

    You will also be happy to know that Tapfiliate can be integrated with over 30 different e-commerce and digital marketing platforms. It is also very easy to implement for those who are not familiar with management software.


    • Simple to set up and manage
    • Very responsive customer service
    • Can be easily integrated with different platforms
    • 14 day free trial available


    • Can only support a limited number of languages
    • A bit pricey
    • A free version of the software is not available

    Pricing: Starting at 89$/month

    P2P Score: 4.7/5


    2.Post Affiliate Pro

    Post Affiliate Pro is one of the pioneers in affiliate software, used by many e-commerce websites and online stores. This great software allows you to easily manage and engage with your affiliate partners. You can also monitor a number of tasks, such as commission payouts, affiliate automation and different online payment options.

    In addition, you will have access to over 170 major Content Management Systems (CMS), such as Stripe and PayPal, with WordPress and Shopify also included.


    • Provides a great affiliate tracking system
    • User-friendly for managing affiliates
    • Flexible and customizable user interface
    • Allows for detailed reports and data analysis
    • Responsive and engaging customer service
    • Supports a number of different languages


    • A bit on the pricey side

    Pricing: Starting at 97$/month up to 477$/month

    P2P Score: 4.7/5



    LeadDyno Partner Marketing Software landing page

    LeadDyno is a user-friendly affiliate management platform that provides great support for running successful affiliate marketing campaigns. The system is easily integrated with third-party websites and platforms, which is a huge plus when needing a smooth workflow.

    Other huge attractions include email automation, conversion tracking, payout management and detailed reporting functions.


    • Provides a long 30 day trial for users
    • Affordable
    • Very simple to sign up and use features
    • Easy for influencers to use
    • Easy to integrate with social media platforms and e-commerce stores


    • Poor customer service

    Pricing: Starting at 49$/month up to 79$/month

    P2P Score: 4.5/5


    Final Thoughts on Partnership Marketing – Where to From Here?

    Partnership marketing includes a large number of different marketing channels and strategies. Done right, it can lead to massive growth and increased revenue for your business, as well as improved brand awareness, recognition, trust and credibility.

    Finding the right partners, and choosing the right type of partnership marketing for your objectives is critical for success.  

    Start by finding a partner with the same brand positioning – such as having a similar type of audience and then check whether their values match up to yours.

    Then reach out and start the conversation with brands that stand out to you the most. If nothing comes of it today or tomorrow, either way, you would have met some other brands in a similar industry, and you would have made some great, new connections.

    Using an agency can help you get off on the right foot and establish your partnership marketing strategies and programs.

    Agencies are not always an option, but if you’re looking for experts to help you with partner marketing, check out Acceleration Partners – a specialist, innovative and an award-winning partner marketing agency, that always gets it right. 

    Ready to find your ideal marketing partners? Check out our expert marketing guides on affiliate marketing, loyalty marketing, influencer marketing and more! 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is partnership marketing?

    Partnership marketing is a collaborative relationship that is formed between two or more parties, in which they help each other to reach their unique marketing and business objectives. Take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to set up a successful partnership marketing strategy for your business.

    What are the main partnership marketing types?

    There are many types of partnership marketing strategies, but the common types include affiliate marketing, distribution partnership, influencer marketing, sponsorships, and cross promotion. For a complete understanding on how each of these function, go and check out our full partnership marketing article.

    What are the best partnership marketing software tools?

    The best tools to help manage and monitor a partnership marketing program, are Tapfiliate, Post Affiliate Pro and LeadDyno. If you're interested in seeing what makes these so great and how to effectively use them, go and see our complete partnership marketing article.

    What is an example of partnership marketing?

    There are many examples of partnership marketing that we see and participate in every day, such as influencer marketing, content marketing, and loyalty marketing. One well-known partnership marketing example is when BMW and Louis Vuitton collaborated to create and promote an LV luggage set that was designed to fit perfectly into the trunk of a popular BMW model. Check out the full guide for more examples of partnership marketing and a detailed partnership marketing case study.

    What is a partner marketing platform?

    Partnership marketing platforms are online platforms and marketplaces where you can search, find and connect with potential partners for your partnership marketing. They are most frequently used to find affiliates and influencers. Check out the full guide to learn more and find out what the difference is between a partnership marketing platform and partnership marketing software.


    Streamline Marketing: What is Partnership Parketing

    BluLeadz: Partnership Marketing Types and Benefits

    Business2Community: Main Types of Partnership Marketing 

    Woodpecker: How Does Cross-promotion Work

    Cobloom: How to Choose the Right Partner 

    BluLeadz: Great Examples of Co-marketing