If you’ve been searching for ways to increase your business’s revenue, you might have read up on the various partner programs provided by vendors in your industry.
You’ll find that many programs are free to join, which is great for budget-conscious marketers.
However, like many things in business, you’ll only benefit from partnership programs if you devote some time and effort to making them work for you.
The good news?
If your business has a solid customer base, then you’ve already put in much of the groundwork for a successful partner program.
But this doesn’t mean that small businesses can’t benefit. In fact, many programs can give you all the resources (e.g., software and product guides) necessary to get started and gain new customers along the way.
Here’s all you need to know about partner programs and how they can boost revenue:
- What is a partner program?
- How partnership programs work
- Partner ecosystems
- Types of partners
- Key benefits of joining a partner program
- What to look for in a partner program
- A successful partnership in action: Liquid Web and NameHero
- Final thoughts: How to choose the right partner program for your business
What is a partner program?
A partner program (or partnership program) is a business model where a product or service vendor teams up with channel partners to maximize revenue.
If you join a partner program, you can gain financial incentives from helping a vendor get new customers. These incentives vary by industry and by business, but they could take the form of payments or product discounts.
If your business operates in the software as a service (SaaS) industry, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for channel partner programs to join.
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How partnership programs work
Although some partnership programs have complex structures, the way they operate is fairly straightforward.
For example, a restaurant owner might recommend their customers check out a neighborhood coffee shop — and get themselves an occasional free latte for doing so.
This informal partnership is a win for three parties:
- The customer is happily caffeinated.
- The coffee shop gains a new customer.
- The restaurant owner gets some free coffee in exchange for their referral efforts.
Local small business owners may not see the benefit of making this type of partnership official. But joining a partnership program makes sense for high-growth businesses with an online presence.
If you run a digital agency, joining a partnership program can be as easy as signing up on a company’s website and completing any onboarding steps.
Many SaaS companies operating agency partner programs provide partner relationship management (PRM) software, which gives sales teams all the resources necessary to achieve success.
Business ecosystems are the networks that link various industry stakeholders, such as product and service providers. Like ecosystems in the natural world, business ecosystems often involve both competition and cooperation.
For example, if you work in software development, you could collaborate with other companies to share resources and optimize your development process.
If you’re an independent software vendor (ISV), you compete with other vendors to gain potential customers.
On the other hand, partner ecosystems focus more on cooperation than on competition.
Your mutually beneficial interactions with other businesses can form a partner ecosystem, whether you’re involved in digital marketing, ecommerce, web development, or design.
For instance, you may have used the services of a digital marketing firm to promote your business. Or a web app developer may have given you the means to drive sales on your WooCommerce store.
If you’ve benefited from the products or services of other businesses in your ecosystem, it makes sense that you’d want your customers to benefit, too.
For example, if you value a hands-off approach to web hosting, you could recommend that your clients choose fully managed hosting.
To reap further benefits from your partner ecosystem, consider joining partner programs from reputable brands.
Whether your business is tech-centric or simply has an online presence and an established customer base, it can thrive in a partnership ecosystem. And you can maximize profits by joining a partnership program.
Types of partners
Business ecosystems flourish thanks to many different types of partnerships. In partner programs, the three main types are affiliate, reseller, and referral partnerships.
Even if affiliate marketing is not a key growth strategy for your business, you still have much to gain from becoming an affiliate in a channel partner program.
For instance, if you regularly post articles on your website, you can attach affiliate links when appropriate. Then, you’ll earn a commission when end customers click through and make a purchase.
Digital marketing agencies can promote a vendor’s service or product offerings through different channels, such as email marketing, case studies, and social media.
Depending on your business setup, becoming a reseller could be a little more complicated than affiliate marketing.
However, if you already sell a product or service online, you can simply add a new product line or become a value-added reseller. If you become a reseller, you can buy a vendor’s product at a sizable discount and sell it for a profit.
Value-added reselling is an attractive partnership option if you’re already a system integrator.
Many integration partners use an application programming interface (API) to leverage the functionality of software programs from different companies.
If your customers often seek recommendations on products you don’t offer, such as web hosting, you could refer them to a trusted vendor and gain rewards in return.
For example, the Liquid Web Partner+ program provides referral commissions ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent. Also, you can get access to a dedicated account manager and partner enablement tools.
Key benefits of joining a partner program
Whether your once-burgeoning business needs a side hustle or your startup wants a leg up, partner programs have some significant benefits, financial and otherwise.
Here’s what a partnership program can do for you and your business ecosystem.
You could gain an additional revenue stream for your business and access to new markets, such as the web hosting industry. According to Statista, web hosting revenue is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 12.42 percent from 2023 to 2027.
Help other businesses
While boosting your revenue, you can also help another business grow its sales. Partnership programs can help vendors and partners stay competitive and weather economic storms.
Receive product/service incentives
Besides cash incentives, some partnership programs give you free add-ons or discounted pricing on top-of-the-line products. For example, the Liquid Web Partner+ program provides free SSL certificates to resellers.
Build relationships with other businesses
When you join a partner program, you can develop robust relationships with industry leaders, like Nexcess and Liquid Web. These relationships have helped partners like NameHero find customized solutions to business bottlenecks.
Try new marketing strategies
Partner programs present a great opportunity to diversify your marketing strategies and learn from effective marketers. Many programs, like Liquid Web Partner+, give you access to valuable marketing materials to help you achieve success.
Gain new knowledge
When you join a vendor’s program, you can often gain key industry knowledge that isn’t available to other companies. While you won’t get access to all of a vendor’s proprietary information, you’ll likely learn about its growth metrics, value proposition, and sales process.
Connect with customers
Joining a channel partner program helps you maintain strong connections with your customers and even win new customers. If you partner with a trusted firm, you can strengthen your business’s reputation.
What’s more, if customers are happy with your product or service recommendation, they may recommend your business to others.
Earn more as your business grows
As your customer base and revenue grow, you could earn significantly more from partner programs.
For example, if you operate a digital marketing agency and your customer’s web traffic has increased, you might recommend they switch from shared hosting to an enterprise-level solution, such as a dedicated server cluster.
The Liquid Web Partner+ program has several tiers for commissions, and custom hosting solutions are available for high-growth businesses.
What to look for in a partner program
Thanks to the growing popularity of partnership programs, you’ll find many attractive options available to your business. Here’s what to consider before you sign up:
Go for a trusted brand name with transparent pricing. Often, it’s better to associate your business with a long-established brand.
Nexcess and Liquid Web have been providing exceptional services for over 20 years. If you sign up with Liquid Web Partner+, you and your customers will have peace of mind.
Make sure the vendor is selling a high-quality product or service. If not, your customers could lose trust in your recommendations and your business.
You can check a vendor’s service or product guarantees before you recommend them to customers. In web hosting, you might want to look at speed, security, and uptime.
If your customers don’t think that a product you’ve recommended is a good value, they might question your motives.
On the flip side, your customers are well aware that a cheap product isn’t always a good value.
For example, in web hosting, some no-frills plans can end up costing substantially more when you factor add-ons into the pricing.
All things considered, premium hosting options like Nexcess and Liquid Web represent great value for the money, especially for customers who appreciate managed hosting and easy scalability.
Look for potential partners with reliable technical support staff. If you or your customer has an issue with a product or service, the vendor should be easy to reach.
The Liquid Web Partner+ program offers 24/7/365 support, so you have consistent access to a team of web hosting experts.
Also, support from a partner manager is highly beneficial. A partner manager knows your pain points inside out, and they can offer advice for increasing sales.
In terms of program support, Liquid Web Partner+ has you covered — every partner has a dedicated partner manager.
If a vendor doesn’t give you the tools to succeed, you might waste time on processes that don’t boost revenue, such as program setup and admin tasks.
To ensure efficiency, join a program that makes it easy for you to join and track your progress.
Liquid Web Partner+ uses the PartnerStack Partner Portal, so referral and payment tracking are straightforward.
A successful partnership in action: Liquid Web and NameHero
NameHero, a company that specializes in web hosting and domain name registration, has partnered with Liquid Web since 2014.
NameHero became a premier partner in 2018. Since then, the program has helped NameHero gain a competitive edge by offering access to custom hardware offerings and substantial product discounts.
Ryan Gray, owner of NameHero, appreciates the program’s support and monitoring features, and his clients have benefitted, too.
This partnership helped Ryan pivot his business during tumultuous periods, safe in the knowledge that Liquid Web stands ready to scale and support NameHero at a moment’s notice.
Final thoughts: How to choose the right partner program for your business
Before you sign up, set your financial considerations aside and think about whether you would have the resources to make the partnership work for both parties.
For example, if marketing isn’t in your wheelhouse, make sure your partnering vendor provides all the marketing tools necessary for your success.
Also, it pays to shop around, so check the websites of the top firms in your industry to see what options are available to you.
Some firms, like Nexcess and Liquid Web, have multiple partnership options for reselling, referring, and affiliate marketing.
If you’d like to point your clients in the direction of industry-leading web hosts and get rewarded for your efforts, consider joining the Liquid Web Partner+ program.