Success in the Shopify Partner ecosystem can be heavily influenced by your ability to network and create partnerships with other Shopify Partners.
The guiding principle when building a new partnership is to always be mutually beneficial. Gone are the days when someone else's success hindered your own—there is room for everyone in today's world, and helping others succeed can, a lot of the times, help you grow as well.
But creating a new partnership is just the first step. How do you make sure that each new partnership provides the largest value possible for your business?
In this post, we outline some of the key principles we use to maximize each of our partnerships in the Shopify ecosystem, taken from our experience working with other app developers and agencies. We learned a lot—lessons that you can use to strengthen your own business partnerships. Here are our five top takeaways.
1. Define clear goals for each type of partnership
First thing first, you need to know what your goal is with any new partnership that you build.
Ask yourself how this new partner help you grow your business, and how you can help them do the same.
We will talk about the kind of value that you can get out of each of your partnerships more throughout this post, but take into account that you probably want to set different goals for different partners. Different kinds of partners could include:
- App developers, creating integrations and discounts
- Shopify agencies
- Experts in different fields
- Ecommerce and Shopify influencers
- Merchants who refer other merchants through your affiliate program
The key to any successful partnership is to give as much value as you can. Try to always give more value than you take, and you will be surprised at how effective this mindset is for your business’s growth.
This is something that you need to think about and decide before you even make your approach to a potential new partner. Knowing your goal can help you be more focused and effective in your communication.
You might also like: The Shopify Partner Business Philosophy: Community Over Competition.
2. Add clear value to your clients
While partnerships are a wonderful marketing tool, and you should definitely squeeze the most value and exposure for your business out of them, your ultimate goal should always be to provide more value for your clients.
With each new potential partner, think about what this new partnership can do to improve your clients’ experiences with your business.
Some of the value you could offer clients through new partnerships could be:
- New features for your app only available through integrations
- Discounts on new and useful apps
- Discounts for the services of agencies and experts
- An additional service that you don't currently offer, through a partnership with another expert
- Knowledge in a field that someone else has higher expertise than you in
This should be the filter through which you decide who to partner with and who not to—even if you are partnering with someone whose marketing potential for you is relatively small, it might be worth it if it gives your customers something they have not gotten from you up until now.
"Your ultimate goal should always be to provide more value for your clients."
If you are app developers, you should aim to integrate with as many other relevant apps as possible. This gives you a huge advantage for customer retention—if a new, cheaper competitor comes along, your clients will think twice before moving to a service that doesn’t integrate with the other apps they are using.
3. Build your exposure to new potential clients
This is probably your end goal when partnering with anyone: you want to attract new clients to your business that have not been exposed to you yet.
Yet this is something that I see a lot Shopify Partners, and specifically app developers, miss out on.
This is the other side of focusing on giving value to your customers—don't forget to also advertise the new value you are offering, not only to your existing customers but also to new ones.
To get the most out of each partnership, you need to aim to use any marketing that your new partner has to offer to advertise yourself. It goes both ways, of course, as you will also use every marketing tool at your disposal to advertise your new partner.
Marketing your partnership
Once you’ve entered a new partnership, there are a number of ways you can communicate it to new and existing clients.
Emails: When offering a new functionality or service to your clients, send an email explaining this new feature and linking to your new partner. Make sure they do the same thing, linking to your website.
Guest blog posts: For each of your partners with a blog, no matter how large or small, see if you can write a guest blog post containing valuable information, with some links back to your website and service. This will not only benefit you in terms of direct exposure, but also in terms of off-page SEO, which we will talk about in a moment.
Videos and podcasts: Consider starting a podcast. If you or your partner communicate with your clients through video and/or voice (which you definitely should), feature each other on your podcasts, YouTube channels, and anywhere else relevant.
Partners page: Create a partners page on your website, and link each new partner with their logo on this page. Don’t forget to also check if your new partner has such a page, and be sure you appear there as well.
In-app links: This is extremely useful for developers. Have an in-app integrations page where you link all of your integrations. Also, make sure in advance that you get a link to your app from your new integration partner’s dashboard.
Improve your SEO
Most of the ways to increase your exposure to new clients that I've mentioned involve your partners sending their clients to you through links on their website and other media.
While these links can help attract new clients to your page directly, they can also help you attract new clients that aren’t even related to your partner, by improving your SEO.
In a nutshell, search engines analyze links in two different ways: dofollowlinks and nofollowlinks.
Nofollow links don't improve your SEO and search visibility in any way. This is the default type of link that you would get from most websites.
Dofollow links actually improve your SEO score and make you appear higher on relevant search quarries, which in turn increases the traffic to your website.
Often it is as simple as asking your partners for a dofollow link. Over time, these little links can improve your SEO significantly.
But SEO is not something you learn in a few paragraphs, so check out this post to get a more in-depth knowledge of how it works.
You might also like: Your Network is Your Net Worth: The Basics of Networking as a Shopify Partner.
4. Offer mutual incentives
You can increase the likelihood of your new partners sharing your service as much as possible by incentivizing them for each new client they get you.
Affiliate programs are not just for affiliate marketers and influencers to share your business for a certain fee—they are also one of the best ways to make sure that your partners get something back for the business they send your way, without having to spend any money in advance.
This goes both ways. If your partners have an affiliate program of their own, sign up and send clients their way with your referral link, so that you get a percentage of these clients’ fee.
This kind of mutual incentive helps ensure that both sides benefit from clients they refer, and can be a good fit for any kind of partnership: you can use your affiliate link in your in-app links, blog posts, website links, and more.
5. Create a system
Make establishing new partnerships as easy an automated as possible.
Create a system that defines clear goals for each type of new partnership, like we talked about at the beginning of this post. Have a protocol that you or your employees can easily follow when deciding about a new partnership and what it would look like.
Once you have a system in place, you can approach different potential partners in bulk, and start creating a more personal connection with the ones that get back to you.
"Don't compromise the quality of your service or product for a partnership that does not fit the standards that you have set, even if it has the potential to be very lucrative."
With a checklist of things that need to happen for new partnerships, it becomes very easy to decide if a potential partner is right for you or not, as well as to not miss out on any of the value that you or your clients can get out of it.
Don't compromise the quality of your service or product for a partnership that does not fit the standards that you have set, even if it has the potential to be very lucrative. The market is large enough that you will find the people who fit your mindset and goals.
Some practical ways of automating your partnership process:
- Offer an easy sign-up form on your website for new partners
- If you are a developer, create an API for integrations with your app
- Create a media template for announcing new partnerships
- Create a checklist of all the things that need to be done with each new partnership
Our partnership checklist for apps integrated with ReConvert is a great example—we try to check all the marketing requirements in the list for each integration, but are willing to compromise on some of them, if the most important ones are included.
Partnering with other Shopify Partners can be a significant part of your marketing and growth strategy. It is important that you know how to make the most out of each partnership you establish, so all the work you did does not go to waste.
When establishing a new partnership, stop and think about the marketing potential that this new partner has for you, and what needs to happen for you to make full use of this potential.
This does not only apply to new partners—are there existing partnerships in your arsenal that you did not make the most out of? If so, contact them and try to squeeze the last bit out of your marketing opportunities for each other.
This is not about being over-calculating or demanding, it is about making sure that you give each other the biggest value and exposure possible. And that will only serve to help you, and your users.
How do you ensure you’re using your partnerships to their full potential? Tell us your experiences in the comments below.