How to build and scale a MarTech ecosystem

Here’s the truth: marketing partnerships matter more

Not so fun fact – there are over 11 000 MarTech companies in the world, and they all want the same level of attention. They’re all making active efforts to get it. To make things even more challenging, AI has led to a massive increase in marketing startups, all of whom have exciting stories to tell, and all of whom create further distraction, making positioning yourself against them increasingly difficult. 

When it comes to marketing, partnerships are even more important than in most areas, because customer journeys and experiences need to be handled holistically. This means that data is really important, and there must be interoperability across the entirety of the customer journey – something that requires close collaboration. 

So it’s all about those partnerships, and developing the relationships that make partnerships thrive. The good news is that, if you get this right, it tends to pay off. Big time. 

Story time…

Once upon a time before Superglue, I built a MarTech ISV. Things were going fine, but at one point we were really struggling to scale. To be honest, we didn’t even think about partners. We spent most of our time worrying about how to get more customers, more effectively, so that we could move upmarket into the amazing world of Enterprise. 

We’d had a few requests from our customers to build integrations, so we leaned into that. It made sense for us at the time: we realised that integrations provided us with unparalleled access to data, and this seriously enhanced our value. We built integrations for companies like Emarsys (SAP), Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and Braze. 

This proved to be one of the most important decisions we ever made, ultimately turning us into the leading player in our field, outside of the US.

Within two years, Emarsys made us an official integration, endorsing us as a recommended partner, and then naming us Tech Partner of the Year. 

Shortly after that, Salesforce named us Focus ISV for the region, alongside some heavy hitters, including OwnBackup, DocuSign, and Medallia. Other accolades followed soon after. 

Next, we leaned into SI partnerships and soon thereafter started working with GSIs. 

By this point, we had realized and unlocked the full power of partnerships. It worked for us, and it’ll work for you. Here’s why. 

If you want to go far, go together

Partnerships transformed our business. Our first 6-figure deal was partner-sourced. All our Enterprise deals had partners attached. Partners added $20m in revenue. In time, when we had the data we needed to look a little deeper, we found that partner deals had double the ACV, and closed 30% faster, at a 50% higher close rate. But the revenue was just part of the story – the real value was when billion dollar companies tried to compete with us, and our partners backed us, standing by us and helping us beat them all to retain our position as the leader in our market. 

 So, what did we learn from all this?

Look, we made a ton of mistakes – so many I don’t have time to cover them all here. For now, I want to focus on and share our biggest lessons from the things we did really well. MarTech companies are the number 1 vertical at Superglue, and from our work with some of the top MarTech companies in the world, here’s what we’ve learned (and confirmed):

1. Give-to-get is not the only way forward (but you have to figure out how to add value)

Look, give-to-get is great if you can do it. But it doesn’t work for everyone. In some cases, if you’re partnering with huge behemoth platforms like Salesforce and Hubspot, give-to-get isn’t going to move the needle much because of the sheer scale they operate at.

In our case, give-to-get is impossible because we partner with ALL the marketing automation players. Giving a referral to one means stealing a potential customer from another, which is no way to make friends and influence people. Our partners know we can’t give referrals, but we make up for it by offering such immense value – in our case, by filling a feature gap. We made sure our partners understood how important that feature gap was for closing deals and making customers happy, which brings us to the main learning here:

You have to make sure you’re crystal clear on how you add value, and make your value OBVIOUS to your partners. Part of our work with partners is helping them properly get that value across.

I’ve written more about this here and here.

2. Go deep before you go wide

Focus on developing deep relationships with fewer partners. Go deep, people! It takes a lot of work (and startup costs) to set up and maintain a relationship with a new partner. Stepping and repeating this process 100 times is a real resource killer. Why do all that leg work with you can get the same impact with select key partners? Going deep means you spend the set-up cost once, then build an extensive network within that organization with tens of thousands of people who get to customers daily. It’s way more effective, with a much shorter time-to-value. This is especially true in MarTech, where you have major marketing clouds, CDPs etc. who all have significant reach and huge teams you can win over.

This was our approach – nail Emarsys, then Salesforce. After we got that right, other platforms actually started approaching us!

Salesforce has tens of thousands of salespeople. We were able to build relationships with 500 AEs pretty quickly, and keeping those 500 activated is much easier than reaching and activating the same number of salespeople at different companies. 

Work smarter, not harder! Here’s more on how to get this right.

3. The joys of overcommunicating: proactive engagement and co-selling

We have to accept that in reality, great partnerships are the result of hundreds of great relationships. In order to co-sell at scale, you have to find a way to meaningfully activate the AEs, the CRMs – the people who are speaking to your potential customers daily. They need to know you, trust you, and understand the value you add. They are not going to get to know you if you send them to a portal, tell them to log in, get certified, and maybe see the status of the leads they’ve submitted. Many of these people are hitting 1-2 lunch & learns a week. Every few days, a new partner is pitching to them. Do you think they’ll remember you or feel close to you, just because you pitched them 6 months ago? This isn’t good enough. 

These people need to be meaningfully and consistently communicated with throughout the partner lifecycle, from onboarding and activation all the way to co-selling and beyond. This way, they remember you, understand what you do, and, most importantly, they can HELP you progress deals. 

Don’t get me wrong – this is a big job, and it’s not easy. After all, how does one partner manager build and maintain productive relationships with over 500 counterparts?

The answer is to automate communication at consistent, hyper-personalized touchpoints.  Here’s one way to do it. Once you understand the partner lifecycle, it’s much easier to work out your processes and templates (reach out to us, we’re super happy to share some of our templates!). 

And if you want to find the easiest way to do this…

Superglue can help!

Superglue is not the only way to achieve programmatic co-selling at scale, but it is certainly one of the best (in my humble opinion, but maybe I’m biased). We took everything we learned from our journey to build Superglue, and from day one, MarTech companies were part of the process, working closely with us in building a product that filled a major gap and answered their exact needs. Superglue can help you scale your partnership efforts and move the needle fast. Today, we work with plenty of incredible MarTech companies – a few I’m particularly proud of are Talon.One, OneSignal, AB Tasty, WooCommerce, and Storyblok! 

If you’d like some advice on how to build and scale your MarTech ecosystem, reach out! We’d be glad to offer some more tips and tricks – if these things worked for us, there’s no reason they can’t work for you!

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