As a marketer, you have countless tasks to focus on.

Increasing web traffic. Improving conversion rates. Promoting new products.

And the list goes on…

But we’d like to make the case for why boosting affiliate marketing maturity should be at the top of your to-do list.

And no, it’s not because it’s a shiny new trend that everyone else is doing.

Marketing maturity matters because it will have the greatest impact on your results come end of year. It’s crucial to your partners’ local marketing success — and yours.

And without it, affiliates will struggle to market and drive revenue for your brand.

But here’s the catch: They need your support to move them along the marketing maturity curve.

That’s why we surveyed thousands of affiliates and gauged their expertise against our marketing maturity model.

Here’s everything you need to know about why it makes sense (and dollars) to focus on boosting marketing maturity. But before we dive into the data, let’s cover the basics.

What is marketing maturity?

Marketing maturity is a measure of all the core competencies that contribute to an affiliate’s marketing performance and revenue growth. This includes marketing savvy, program satisfaction, quality of content, program ease of use, commitment, and strategic focus.

Based on these factors, your channel partners fall under one of five stages of marketing maturity, which range from least to most mature. These categories include disengaged, developing, equipped, executing, and optimizing.

(To take a deep dive into how we measure marketing maturity, check out this blog.)

Okay, now let’s get into the data.

Marketing maturity drives major revenue growth

Here’s what you need to know: The more marketing-mature your partners are, the more revenue they’ll drive for your brand. Optimizing (or the most-mature) affiliates experience 2X more revenue growth than their disengaged (or least-mature) peers.

Impact of marketing maturity on revenue growth chart with upward trajectory

That’s an extraordinary margin.

But why do partners with higher marketing maturity see better results?

As your local partners mature, they amass more marketing knowledge.

And the more knowledge they gain, the more they understand marketing and all its nuances. What audience to target, which tactics are most effective, the best use of marketing dollars — your most mature partners have it all down pat.

It’s rather difficult to be good at something if you don’t understand how it works, right? So, improving maturity is all about training and leveling up your affiliates at scale.

More on that later.

Mature marketers = committed marketers

The data shows that only 69% of disengaged partners are committed to their marketing. While this may seem like a “good enough” number, it’s nothing compared to their mature counterparts. 84% of optimizing affiliates are committed to local marketing.

Local partner commitment bar graph

Think of it this way: There’s a marathon coming up. A committed runner would spend months training. As a result, they’d be well-prepared to run a great race. On the other hand, someone who’s not committed probably wouldn’t put in the necessary effort to prepare, leading them to do poorly during the event.

As your local partners mature and become more committed to your program, they feel more motivated to put in the effort necessary to drive results. Partners who are committed want to win the race just as much as you do.

Get even more data-driven takeaways by reading The State of Local Marketing series.

Affiliates can become more marketing-mature

The truth is, the majority of your affiliates likely fall into the lower levels of marketing maturity.

But the good news? That leaves lots of opportunity for growth.

In 2019, nearly half (47%) of affiliates were disengaged in their marketing. But with BrandMuscle’s help, brands were able to better identify and target their affiliates’ needs. As a result, the number of disengaged affiliates dropped to only 14% in just three years. Now, 46% of these partners are in the equipped stage of maturity.

This is the kind of growth you can expect with the right marketing partner.

YoY marketing maturity growth bar graph

So, boosting partner marketing maturity is possible — but there’s still room to grow. Your work isn’t done until you take your partners to the finish line (aka, the optimizing stage of maturity).

Here are some ways to make it happen.

How to boost partner marketing maturity

1. Provide education and training

Your affiliates know how to run a business — but the data shows they know a lot less about how to market one. But with the right support, education, and guidance, they can better grasp how to effectively run marketing campaigns.

Try providing your partners with resources they can reference to gain a better understanding of local marketing and their programs, such as:

  • Videos
  • Articles
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Reports
  • Online training courses
  • Webinars

2. Reduce friction

Your marketing program may be a major culprit in preventing your partners from becoming mature marketers. With friction comes resistance, which is why you need to ensure your program is easy for affiliates to navigate.

Here are some things you can do to minimize obstacles for your affiliates:

  • Reduce complex processes: If your program makes marketing tasks too difficult to perform, your partners won’t bother with them. Remove the complexity from your processes by reducing the amount of time and effort required for affiliate marketing.
  • Simplify fund use: Co-op funds can be a real roadblock for affiliates. Make sure your co-op rules are clear, approval times are short, and requirements are minimal so your partners can invest their marketing dollars seamlessly.
  • Invest in new technologies: If your program runs on outdated technology, you may be forcing your affiliates to struggle through unnecessary obstacles. Upgrade to modern solutions to ensure the best functionality.

For more local marketing insights, read The State of Local Marketing series.

3. Use marketing AI tools to your advantage

Artificial intelligence has great potential to improve affiliates’ marketing maturity. These technologies help partners do more with less, resulting in maximum marketing efficiency.

Consider setting your affiliates up with AI tools to help them market smarter, such as:

  • AI-powered recommendations: AI can guide your affiliates toward the most effective marketing tactics by delivering data-driven recommendations straight to their phones, emails, or desktops.
  • AI-assisted workflows: By automating repetitive but necessary tasks like data entry and claims submissions, your affiliates can dedicate more time to high-value objectives.
  • Generative AI: Content creation can be incredibly time-consuming. But with AI, your partners can generate high-quality blogs, emails, social posts, and more in seconds.

Drive more revenue for your brand

Want to increase local marketing performance and see greater revenue growth? Then it’s time to focus on your affiliates.

Turn your affiliates into mature marketers by giving them the tools, technology, and resources they need to run successful campaigns — your pipeline will thank you.

For more data-backed takeaways, read the full State of Local Marketing series.

And don’t forget, there’s brand-new 2024 data coming out soon.

Want to be the first to get these fresh insights? Subscribe to The State of Local Marketing newsletter.

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