Digital marketing continues to grow increasingly complex, which has significantly raised the bar for many businesses. It has also made it more difficult to generate results-driven ads efficiently. And, with digital advertising’s emerging privacy-first and cookieless future taking center stage, the complexity of digital marketing will only increase.
Today, successful digital marketing programs are built upon three pillars: expertise, data, and technology. If a business is missing one or more of these pillars, they must seek and enable collaborative marketing partnerships within, or outside of, their network to succeed.
Furthermore, if an organization has at least two of these pillars, typically data and expertise, they are well-positioned to create new revenue opportunities by enabling businesses in need with simple tools that grant access to these pillars.
What is Collaborative Marketing?
Collaborative marketing is an effective marketing strategy between a sponsoring partner (for example, a national marketing team, CRM providers, or marketplace) and a participating partner (for example, a local office, CRM user, or marketplace seller) that allows the execution of digital advertising programs using shared audience data, creative assets, messaging, and co-op budgets to achieve shared marketing goals. Collaborative marketing completes the three digital marketing success pillars - expertise, data and technology - for all partners involved.
When executing collaborative marketing efforts with a decentralized (or distributed) group of partners with siloed data and varied expertise, the process becomes inefficient and impossible to scale without technology.
What is a Collaborative Marketing Platform (CMP)?
A collaborative marketing platform (CMP) coordinates the execution of digital marketing programs that use shared assets, audiences, and messaging between sponsoring and participating partners to achieve common goals. Once the sponsoring partner onboards their data into the CMP (such as customer data, creative, channel best practices, and co-op budgets), the participating partner simply needs to add their funds and activate the ad program.
Using the CMP, the sponsoring partner enables participating partners with simple tools so they can activate ads that are both high-performing and compliant. The participating partner can now, with minimal time and expertise, activate unique ads to drive demand for their products and services.
In many cases, participating partners have the ability to adjust the creative or messaging to add their specific and local knowledge. However, the sponsoring partner can retain control when offering participating partners the ability to activate their best practices. This means creative, messaging, and targeting can be locked-down and best practices can be controlled by not allowing editing by the participating partner. Alternatively, sponsoring partners can unlock the best practices to allow customization by the participating partner.
The CMP automates the execution of best practices provided by the sponsoring partner. This removes the complexity from sophisticated digital marketing, and allows the participating partner to activate, and benefit from, always-on ad programs with just the click of a button.
Using a Collaborative Marketing Platform to achieve the three pillars of digital marketing success within a distributed group of partners unlocks a wide range of use cases. Below, we have outlined a few of the many potential use cases:
Multi-Location Brands (MLBs) (Franchises, Brokerages, Dealerships, and Branches)
National marketing teams typically serve as sponsoring partners; they often have vast amounts of customer data and an expert understanding of what works in their marketing channels. However, they often lack the technology to share these best practices and enable satellite locations to execute advertising programs on their own and end up taking on the extra work on their behalf. When distributing digital advertising programs to locations, key priorities for MLBs are the need to ensure brand safety, achieve legal compliance, and give locations access to co-op budgets.
Participating partners within MLBs (for example, satellite locations reporting into the sponsoring partners) typically lack all three elements of the success pillars. These locations need simple tools so they can activate online ads that allow them to generate demand from their local market. Using tools provided by the sponsoring partner through the CMP, the participating partner can, with minimal time and expertise, activate unique ads to drive local demand for their products and services, with straightforward reporting dashboards and access to co-op budgets to fund programs.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) providers
In this example, CRM providers typically serve as the sponsoring partner; they have data that their users upload, and expertise when it comes to how technology works, making it easy to integrate with a CMP. However, they often lack the technology and expertise to integrate with channel partners to operate at scale. The CMP fills this gap.
In this case, the participating partners are the CRM users. They have data inside the CRM or tech platform, but lack expertise or a clear understanding of what to do with it. They need simple tools and an “easy button” that can activate programs and provide easy-to-understand results. This model applies to CRMs, website builders, email marketing platforms, marketing automation tools, chatbots, and lead qualification tools as well.
Marketplaces that sell products or compare services are strong candidates to benefit from a collaborative marketing platform. Typically, they possess a treasure trove of high-intent audience data, often from on-site search, plus a high level of expertise from in-house performance marketing teams. Their first-party data serves as a strong intent signal that someone is in-market to purchase products or services. Participating partners find an extreme amount of value in this data.
Marketplaces need technology to unlock their onsite search signals and present it to participating partners (sellers) so they can activate performance marketing programs. They also rely on technology for a secure and compliant method to share audiences with sellers without sharing actual personally identifiable information (PII), and activate programs at scale.
Marketplace sellers are the participating partners, composed of merchants that advertise products or services on the marketplace. They seek ways to drive more transactions to their products on the marketplace and require the marketplaces audiences to do so. Another technique they may wish to execute is to use the marketplaces audience to drive traffic back to their own website.
In this use case, sellers are unable to execute these strategies unless the marketplace grants access to audiences and creative using a CMP.
Ecommerce marketplaces have the same valuable search-driven audience data as marketplaces. However, their unique differentiator is that they focus on increasing a seller's product sales within their marketplace. This means they are well-positioned to provide sellers the ability to drive sales back to the marketplace using their high-intent audiences and product catalog.
Without access to performance marketing tools provided by the ecommerce website, a seller may create their own ads through channels like Facebook and Google to drive traffic to their product pages, but they will lack two things. First, a target audience of people who are highly likely to purchase their product; and second, the ability to understand if the traffic is actually converting, and optimize on conversions. Because the CMP protects the sponsoring partner’s data, it solves these problems by giving the sponsoring partners the ability to remain in control when providing audiences, creative, and reporting data back to the seller.
Collaborative marketing marks a paradigm shift in marketing strategy where sponsoring partners and participating partners share data, expertise, and technology to execute digital marketing programs. This enables them to inform and execute growth strategies, deliver a consistent brand experience, ensure legal compliance, and achieve business outcomes. It also ensures consistent use of brand-approved creative and messaging.
According to Forrester’s Jay McBain, “Enabling partners of all types to leverage vendor content, messaging, branding, and demand generation initiatives in their local markets is critical to driving a winning customer experience. Those brands that can balance their direct and indirect execution while ensuring consistent customer expectations through distributed and localized marketing will have outsized success in the market.”