5 Co-Marketing Predictions for Digital Marketers in 2021

By Nick Salvatoriello

As marketers, we’re always looking to expand our audiences and find ways to get our message in front of new contacts, right? Working with co-marketing partners is a great way to do that.

We all know 2020 threw curveballs into our typical marketing playbooks. Previous tried and true channels, such as live in-person events (and the sponsorships/partnerships that went with them) had to be scrapped and retooled.

I got my first taste of co-marketing magic from my days working on HubSpot’s solution partner team. Now at Drift, I’m seeing it in action – especially in the ways our marketing team has joined forces with co-marketing partners to keep up the momentum and hit our goals during this pandemic.

In the last few months alone, we:

In fact, for our very first RevGrowth virtual event we partnered with a total of 18 partners who collectively drove 50% of our registrations. This allowed us to register over nine thousand people in just three weeks.

You just can’t get that type of momentum without partnering, folks 🤠

The Future of Co-Marketing

And guess what? There’s no clear end in sight for this new paradigm. So the real question remains, what’s in store for companies who want to pull off really effective co-marketing campaigns in 2021? I asked a few of our favorite co-marketing partners for their predictions.

Whether you are a partner marketer (like me), an alliance manager, a blog editor, or a straight-up demand gen marketer looking to squeeze the most you can out of every campaign, I hope these insights will inspire you to get outside your comfort zone and start 2021 off with bang.

Prediction #1: Co-Marketing will reach increasing levels of scale and efficiency

“Co-marketing at scale will be a major theme for 2021. While high-touch strategic partnerships will continue to expand, there will be an added emphasis on scaling co-marketing engagements at all partnership levels. Processes, collaboration technology, resourcing, and virtual marketing channels will be evaluated and streamlined to increase demand gen opportunity with partners while still providing personalized experiences customers expect.”

– Tyler Briggs, Head of Technology Partner Marketing, Adobe

Prediction #2: Partner advocacy will become just as important as customer advocacy

“Partnering and co-marketing with other companies that power our customers’ B2B tech stack is a key part of empowering the change needed to drive growth. Our customers are hungry for solutions that work together out-of-the-box to deliver exceptional customer experiences and drive conversions. As we move into 2021, I think complementary solutions like 6sense and Drift will work even more closely to demonstrate joint value, help difference makers lead the change, and provide thought leadership on the next generation of B2B sales and marketing.”

– Latané Conant, CMO, 6sense

Prediction #3: The companies that succeed will be the ones that stay laser-focused on the customer (even as they partner)

“Partnership co-marketing done well creates one of those wonderful moments where an end customer sees the added value of buying through that partnership. How many times have we read this year about a new partnership and been lost in the jargon or some priority that has nothing to do with the end customer? For 2021, marketing teams that collaborate on delivering a message to any market of their joint solutions should be laser-focused on what their joint solution brings to the end customer and why it is better together.”

– Daniel Graff-Radford, CEO, Allbound

Prediction #4: Brands will partner more on content that targets specific stages of the buying journey

B2B buyers today are more autonomous than ever before. Too often, partner marketing can feel disjointed and not map back to higher-level brand strategy. But now that buyers source information and interact with brands across touchpoints (even on partner channels), that experience needs to feel integrated. To take a holistic approach, map partner programs to specific stages of the buying journey. For example, develop partner content that addresses high-level trends and use that to engage prospects in the awareness phase. And, for prospects deeper in the funnel and in an evaluation phase, partner with complementary solution providers to provide practical playbooks that show how to execute both of your products in tandem. No matter the tactic, make sure it connects back to your overall campaigns to create a cohesive customer experience.”

– Tessa Barron, Vice President of Marketing at ON24

Prediction #5: Brands will team up (and narrow their focus) to roll out the red carpet for virtual event attendees

“For marketers, the name of the game in 2020 was virtual events. In 2021, there will be more virtual events – but they’ll be smaller, more focused, and more exclusive experiences. Marketers talk a lot about rolling out the red carpet for target accounts, and your virtual events should be no different. The key is to narrow your focus. Resist the urge to cast a wide net and instead zero in on the accounts you really want to engage with so you can deliver the best experience possible. To get in front of your target accounts and provide attendees with a high-touch experience that’s anything but cookie-cutter, partner with a brand that aligns with your own that can bring a different point of view (and guest list) to your event.”

– Janna Erickson, Head of Events, Drift

Final Thought

You heard it from marketing leaders across the industry. Co-marketing is only going to increase in importance as we head deeper into the 2020s and companies will continue to invest in co-marketing as they realize how much larger of a reach they can achieve for the same (if not lower) cost and overhead.

If you’re not already planning for co-marketing in your campaigns for 2021, definitely consider it.

Because when you can combine the expertise, relationships, and reach of a co-marketing partner in your network, you can generate more buzz, more engagement, and better returns from the same campaign.

Who’s with me?