With so many digital marketing trends constantly on the rise, it can be challenging for even the savviest marketer to keep up.
This is where our guide right here comes in handy. Did you know, in fact, that one of the best ways to do business today is through affinity marketing?
Keep reading and you’ll find out more about what affinity marketing entails, why it’s so effective, and how to incorporate it into your marketing strategy in ways that can help you make the most of it.
What Exactly is Affinity Marketing?
When we talk about affinity marketing, we mean those strategic collaborations and partnerships between brands that operate in different businesses but share at least some common ground.
For example, a company that sells healthy snacks and supplements can choose to team up with a personal trainer or gym in order to bring awareness to both their products and services.
When two (or more) companies participate in affinity marketing, they know that they will all enjoy mutual benefits and success, precisely thanks to their collaboration — their “affinity”.
Affinity Marketing vs Co-Branding vs Cause Marketing
With affinity marketing, also known as co-branded marketing, two companies work on boosting the awareness, exposure, and success of both their brands.
Sometimes, the two companies might even launch one product or service together, which will be described as “co-branded”.
Cause marketing, on the other hand, refers to marketing collaborations amongst brands that believe in supporting a specific cause or mission, usually of a social or environmental nature.
Through cause marketing, companies can join in on the same effort of, for instance, raising funds and awareness, and demonstrating social or environmental commitment.
How Does an Affinity Marketing Strategy Benefit Your Business?
Building and executing an affinity marketing strategy can yield a wide range of benefits. Here, we are going to look at the top three advantages of this type of marketing.
Reaching out to New Customers
One of the best results that a solid affinity marketing campaign can generate is the ability for all the partners to expand their customer base.
This happens because, through affinity partnerships, brands get exposed to new and different audiences.
To keep using our previous example, let’s imagine that the healthy snacks and supplements brand has a loyal, well-established customer base. These people are likely to be interested in leading a healthy lifestyle and exercising well.
If their much-loved food brand teams up with a popular fitness instructor, these consumers will likely start showing an interest in the second brand that they, perhaps, had not been familiar with in the past.
Ultimately, the fitness instructor is going to be able to attract those consumers by offering lifestyle tips, workout routines, and more, that entice them to buy their products or services.
Enhancing Brand Identity and Awareness
Greater brand identity and awareness is another important benefit of affinity marketing, and one that goes hand in hand with our previous point.
Think about this. A lot of your marketing efforts are directed towards showing specific values and communicating specific messages to your audience.
Affinity marketing enables you to join forces with brands that share those same (or very similar) values and messages, and therefore helps you dramatically boost your brand identity and awareness.
Building — and Strengthening — Trust and Credibility
The third, crucial advantage of embarking on an affinity marketing journey is the ability to build trust, loyalty, and credibility among a wider audience.
You probably know the saying “There is strength in numbers”, right? Well, this concept applies perfectly to affinity marketing.
If you already achieve good results by showing the value and effectiveness of your brand’s offering, imagine just how much better those results would be if you teamed up with other brands that have a similar impact on their customers.
Affinity Marketing Best Practices
Now that you know what affinity marketing consists of, and why it can be so beneficial to your brand, it’s time to learn how you can build a foolproof affinity marketing strategy that generates success and profits.
1. Select the Best Partner(s)
It may sound obvious, but the crucial starting point of a positive affinity marketing campaign or strategy lies in carefully handpicking the best partner (or partners) for your brand.
Whether it be a single individual (such as an influencer) or an entire organization, it’s paramount to be extremely selective and take the time needed to identify the right partner.
Consider your brand’s values, messages, and product or service offering, and go from there.
And remember: you don’t want to team up with a direct competitor, but with someone who sits at the intersection of your values and messages.
2. Design and Develop a Strategic Partnership
The second step is to build a plan for your strategic partnership. One of the most important aspects of this process is to establish goals.
You can use the SMART strategy to ensure that your goals are:
- Measurable (in this case, they should also be Mutual)
You will also need to decide how you are going to present and market any products or services that you are going to launch through your partnership.
Things to consider include logos, taglines, visuals, content, and marketing channels.
Lastly, make it legal! Finalize the plan with a legal contract that binds all the parties involved and ensures that all the terms and conditions that you have set out will be respected.
3. Determine Clear and Specific Roles
Before jumping into your first affinity campaign, it’s essential to decide and agree on the specific roles that each partner is going to play.
For example, you might want to take on the marketing side of things, and leave the sales to your partner, or vice versa.
Whatever you decide, it can be useful to put it down in writing. Having a written, signed agreement is going to be vital if and when any issues, tensions, or misunderstandings should arise.
4. Focus on Smooth Communication
Easy, smooth, crystal-clear communication amongst all the affinity partners is key to the success of your campaign or strategy.
This becomes even more crucial if your partner is based in a different geographical area, which makes it complicated to organize face-to-face meetings, or if most of their workforce works remotely.
In this case, it can be helpful to use partner relationship management (PRM) software, which can help you keep track of your communications in a seamless, automated manner.
With PRM tools, you will be able to build a specific portal for all the partners, onboard all the relevant people, and create, share, and access confidential content easily and securely.
5. Harness the Power of Business Intelligence Technologies
Automated tools and technologies can enable you and your partners to make the most of your affinity marketing strategy.
Business intelligence tools, in particular, are highly recommended.
These can help you and your partners unearth essential data and information on a myriad of aspects of your partnerships, which leads us to our next point: tracking and monitoring that data to keep doing better.
6. Track Metrics
Like any other marketing campaign or strategy, an affinity marketing partnership requires constant tracking and monitoring of metrics.
Ideally, you and your partners have already established exactly which metrics to focus on at the beginning of your venture.
Based on this, you will need to constantly review data including:
- Customer engagement
- Product or service sales
- Email open rate and sign-ups
- Follower counts
By doing so, you will be able to continually tweak and improve your joint marketing efforts — as we will explain in our next, and last, section.
7. Keep Testing and Tweaking
Even the (seemingly) most effective marketing campaign can always be improved, and this is especially true in affinity marketing, where the possibilities of success skyrocket thanks to the joint efforts of a group of brands.
For this reason, you need to be ready to adjust your affinity marketing campaigns (and your overall strategy, too, if needed) often, based on the insights that you consistently uncover with your tracking and monitoring processes.
Both you and your partners will need to agree on which specific KPIs to track, which channels to focus on, and which techniques to use in order to boost performance for all parties involved.
This can sometimes be a bit tricky because, understandably, different companies have different priorities and ways of working.
To achieve the highest possible consensus, the best thing to do is keep referring back to the mutually-shared goals that you had established at the beginning of your partnership.
These will bring back home what is truly important to all of you, and why that collaboration was built in the first place.
Affinity marketing can be a great, effective, and lucrative way to boost your brand’s exposure, reach out to more customers, and reinforce a sense of trust and credibility in your audience.
If you follow our top tips on affinity marketing best practices, you (and your partners) will be well on your way to achieving all of the above, and more.
Remember that, just like any other type of marketing, affinity marketing is still about creating awesome journeys and experiences for your customers.
Would you like to learn even more about the creative world of content experiences? Read our magazine issue on this topic!