What Is Co-Marketing and Why It's Vital for 2023

One of the fastest-growing eCommerce marketing trends is co-marketing.

Why?

Co-marketing enables online retailers to instantly tap into similar markets to find new audiences. It also helps brands skirt market changes, such as cookie restrictions, all while keeping acquisition costs down.

The trick is ensuring you have clear goals and then finding the right co-marketing partnerships to help you realize them. This can be difficult to navigate if you are unfamiliar with this marketing strategy.

This post is a great place to start and includes everything you need to know about co-marketing before you kick off.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is Co-Marketing?
  2. Co-Marketing Benefits for Online Retailers
  3. Types of Co-Marketing
  4. How to Find the Right Co-Marketing Partners

Let’s jump in.

1. What Is Co-Marketing?

Co-marketing involves two brands teaming up for various marketing efforts a marketing strategy. This can be as involved as creating an entire marketing campaign across multiple channels or as simple as doing a social media brand takeover or mutual content promotion.

Not to be confused with co-branding; here, two businesses — who are not in competition with each other but have similar market overlaps — share audiences, experiences, and product value.

Co-Marketing vs. Co-Branding

Although co-marketing and co-branding seem pretty similar, they are, in fact, different.

While co-marketing (or cross merchandising, as it’s sometimes called) allows brands to pool limited or extended marketing resources, co-branding involves pulling product expertise together. The latter often relies on creating a new product or service, which both brands then market.

co-marketing-vs-co-branding

[Source: Brand Marketing Blog]

Let’s say you’re an online retail store selling jewelry — a good co-marketing partner could be an apparel brand that doesn’t sell accessories. The trick is ensuring that you both sell to the same markets. If you sell high-end productions, you wouldn’t want to partner with a brand who is targeting cash-strapped students.

And the benefits?

2. Co-Marketing Benefits for Online Retailers

With the right strategic partner, co-marketing can be very beneficial.

Ultimately, a well-thought-out co-marketing campaign can make an almost immediate, significant impact — when done right — and usually means lower acquisition costs. But it doesn’t stop there.

Co-marketing benefits for online retailers include:

  • Increasing brand exposure
  • Expanding audience reach
  • Reducing acquisition costs and improving ROIs
  • Building long-term collaborative relationships
  • Accessing additional data
  • Enhancing brand authority
  • Testing new markets without big investment

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Expanding Audience Reach

Co-marketing enables you to reach new pools of potential customers who fit your target shopper who hasn’t discovered your products yet.

Therefore, exposing your brand and your online products to these entirely new groups can more quickly increase brand awareness to your target audiences. Or put another way: expanding your audience reach. Additionally, many e-commerce websites have recognized the immense potential of video dubbing to showcase their products effectively for captivate audiences worldwide.

Reducing Acquisition Costs and Improving ROIs

As we have established, co-marketing gives brands almost instant access to a group of potential shoppers. However, it also enables brands to do so by pooling resources to share or reduce costs.

This means more exposure for less admin/work and less money spend, which in turn improves overall marketing ROIs.

Building Long-Term Collaborative Relationships

Even small co-marketing collaborations can help build long-term industry relationships.

This can help with further resource sharing, collaborations, and exposure opportunities, long term. It also improves your chances of organic mentions and referrals.

Accessing Additional Data

Co-marketing campaigns have the added benefit of additional, valuable data. Data metrics that you can then incorporate into other marketing initiatives to improve conversions and profits.

Enhancing Brand Authority

An important part of building your online retail brand long term is establishing your store as the authority in your niche. Co-marketing initiatives can go a long way to enhancing that.

For instance, a well-placed guest post exchange wouldn’t just offer you a way to reach new customers, but to offer them value as a knowledgeable source — increasing exposure and trust at the same time.

Testing New Markets Without Big Investment

The last top benefit of co-marketing is that it enables you to explore new parallel markets without expanding.

Let’s say you want to expand your market into a new audience pool. Instead of going all in on a marketing campaign, you could set up a co-marketing initiative with a brand already marketing to that audience. This enables you to do a small test to see how your products would be received in that demographic.

3. Types of Co-Marketing

Now, let’s quickly look at the best types of co-marketing content and collaborations for eCommerce brands.

Online and Offline Events

Both on and offline events can be a great co-marketing collaboration where you partner up to educate your audience. Whether it’s coordinating a niche-related webinar or co-hosting an in-person pop-up, there is a lot of potential to add heaps of value.

Even as an eCommerce brand, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and be available to help offline!

Here’s an example from the pet apparel retailer Longboi who loaned a branded photo-booth backdrop to the Weiner-Paw-Looza dog festival event after seeing their need posted online.

co-marketing sponsoreship event

[Source: Shopify]

Some other on and offline event ideas include:

  • Co-hosting product launches or social lives
  • Social giveaways
  • Brand takeovers
  • Webinars
  • Niche conferences
  • Community events

Content Marketing

A popular co-marketing option for online retailers is either:

We know that blog content offers heaps of value while also establishing you as a niche. Blog co-marketing, therefore, allows you to expose that content — and those benefits — to new markets within your target shopper ideal.

Pro Tip: Guest post exchanges also have the added benefit of getting your store valuable backlinks on other well-ranked store sites. The more high-quality links you have, the better your overall ranking, which in turn improves your SEO.

You can even take it a step further by pitching to major publications — AKA, investing in PR.

This is exactly what Homesick (a popular scented candle brand) and Lucasfilm did with their Star Wars-themed candles.

Co-marketing PR example

[Source: Velocitize]

Another idea for co-marketing content would be an eBook download. Let’s say you’re an online store selling car parts for a specific brand. You could partner with that brand to create a branded how-to guide together, say for DIY mechanics, that you could each market as a download to your audiences.

Package Inserts

If you’re looking for an effective, yet affordable way to co-market, think package inserts. This strategy not only enables you to tap into a new audience who are actively shopping. It also allows you to take advantage of a highly valuable digital touchpoint — after-sales retention — to cross-sell each other’s products by exchanging prime visual merchandising real estate.

Here’s an example of such a co-marketing initiative from Scratch and Studio Proper that included an insert discount.

co-marketing example

[Source: Instagram]

4. How to Find the Right Co-Marketing Partners

As we have shown, co-marketing will be a vital part of eCommerce marketing in the coming year. But how do you find the best co-marketing collaborations for your store brand? Here are some quick tips to help get you started:

  • Choose brands with good reputations and customer reviews
  • Look for retailers that have similar audiences to you but don’t sell competing products
  • Make certain brands you partner with are positioning themselves as established authorities/experts in their niche
  • Review their audiences to ensure they fit your specific buyer persona profile

Wrap Up

The bottom line is that co-marketing enables you to bypass ever-changing platform rules and regulations, to mutually take advantage of someone else's carefully cultivated audiences within your niche. And there is an option for almost every budget.

There is no downside here.

However, it is vital to ensure you are choosing the right co-marketing partner and platform to ensure off-site merchandising success!

Still got marketing and merchandising questions? Reach out to us here.

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