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7 Steps to Building and Growing an Incredible Partner Program for SaaS Startups and Agencies

I shared some of the lessons the Octane AI team has gained from building and growing a partner program in the Shopify ecosystem at the Shopify meetup in Toronto. Many of the attendees asked me if I would send them my slides.

Instead, I've decided to publish the slides from my talk at Shopify, in the hopes that this knowledge will help other SaaS companies -- as well as agencies -- build successful partner programs in their ecosystems. Scroll down and you will find the slides.

Covered in this deck:
- The benefits of a partner program
- How Octane AI grew 20-40% month-over-month by leveraging its partner program
- How to start an agency and tech partner program
- Partner program on-boarding and organization
- Technology stack for managing partner programs
- Integration strategy
- Co-marketing strategy
- Building loyalty and exclusivity

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7 Steps to Building and Growing an Incredible Partner Program for SaaS Startups and Agencies

  1. 1. 7 Steps to Building and Growing an Incredible Partner Program Ben Parr, President & Co-Founder
  2. 2. Agenda ● Why Build a Partner Program? ● How to Build a Partner Program
  3. 3. Ben Parr President and Co-Founder
  4. 4. What Is Octane AI? Octane AI enables ecommerce businesses to automate marketing, support, and sales conversations over messaging apps.
  5. 5. We are Klaviyo for Facebook Messenger
  6. 6. We Provide Messaging Automation Throughout the Ecommerce Customer Journey Octane AI generates 10-20% average lift for its customers
  7. 7. We Grew Really Fast in 2018 20 to 40 percent month-over-month growth, driven primarily by partners Revenue from Shopify
  8. 8. 1,000+ Merchants Now Use Octane AI
  9. 9. The majority of our top customers come from our agency and technology partners
  10. 10. > 60% of Octane AI’s Revenue Comes From Our Partners 40% Agency Partners 20% Technology Partners
  11. 11. Some of Octane AI’s Ecommerce Agency Partners
  12. 12. We signed 50+ agency partners in the first 3 months of our partner program
  13. 13. Why Agencies Are Working With Octane AI ● Increase revenue and decrease costs for their clients ● Offer new service (Messenger/bot management) to clients similar to services they provide for email ● Revenue share ● VIP support ● Client referrals ● Placement in Octane AI’s partner directory ● Co-marketing with Octane AI, Chatbots Magazine, and Ecommerce Magazine
  14. 14. “Our partnership with Octane AI is immensely valuable to MuteSix's clients, and to our organization as a whole. Not only do we stay at the forefront of Messenger marketing with the training, support and product updates provided by Octane AI -- we've also grown our business through co-marketing opportunities and thought leadership in the space.” Rachel Tyers, VP Strategic Partnerships, Mutesix
  15. 15. “As an agency focused on helping our clients grow their e- commerce businesses, we’re always on the hunt for new technologies and interesting strategies. Octane AI is clearly emerging as a leader in the messaging and conversational commerce space, something that’s of great appeal to merchants looking to expand their marketing automation beyond email. Since joining their partner program, they’ve provided fantastic support and resources to our clients.” Ross Beyeler, Founder, Growth Spark
  16. 16. “We love that Octane asked what we wanted in a partnership program, listened to the answers, and implemented the solutions. The resulting partnership program, along with their best-in-class technology, is why Hawke Media's Lifecycle Marketing team chose Octane AI as our go-to FB Messenger marketing solution. We move fast and stay on the bleeding edge to make sure our clients have the best solutions available to grow quickly and beat the competition, so having a partner like Octane is a perfect pairing!” ~ Greg Portnoy, VP of Strategic Partnerships & Alliances - Hawke Media
  17. 17. "For our clients, evaluating the right applications for their businesses can be overwhelming due to the myriad of options. Our partnership with Octane AI is driven by constant communication, exchange of knowledge and learning. This helps us to stay current and deliver impactful solutions faster.” Johannes Weirather, Chief Executive Officer, Blackotter
  18. 18. Octane AI integrates top ecommerce products, giving stores and retailers an easy way to sync their data and campaigns
  19. 19. Octane AI Technology Partners
  20. 20. Octane AI co-markets with its integration and technology partners, leading to new customers and deals
  21. 21. "Good technology partnerships are built off first and foremost on meaningful integrations that drive value for merchants. From there, having a great team to collaborate with on marketing and business development is crucial. Octane AI has both and we have seen a lot of value from our partnership." Stewart Wesley, Technology Partnerships, Yotpo
  22. 22. “Ben, Matt and the whole Octane AI team are innovating in aspect of their business; from the marketing they produce down to the product they deliver - including the first of it’s kind integration with Smile. They’re a ton of fun to work with and extremely knowledgeable, we couldn’t be more thrilled to call them a partner.” Stuart Arsenault, Partnerships, Smile.io
  23. 23. "The program that Octane AI has put in place shows that they truly understand what matters to their technology and agency partners. The Octane AI team is extremely responsive, moves quickly on initiatives, and is constantly thinking of new ways drive more value for their partners through co-marketing and other initiatives." Ali Aldrich, VP of Partnerships, Privy
  24. 24. "The Octane AI team understands that a true partnership is about enabling success for both your integrated and services- based partnerships. Octane AI provides both the personal support and the materials to succeed with their technology. They get it right." Jamie Tharp, Vice President, Partnerships & Business Development, Justuno
  25. 25. How do you build a great partner program that drives leads and sales?
  26. 26. 1: Establish a Consistent Onboarding Process
  27. 27. Actual onboarding email we send to our agency partners to simply the process.
  28. 28. 2: Build a Technology Stack for Partners
  29. 29. Octane AI uses PartnerStack for rev share payouts and PartnerPage.io for our agency and partner directories
  30. 30. 3: Set up Shared Slack Channels with Your Partners
  31. 31. (We got the idea from our partners at Smile.io)
  32. 32. Benefits of Shared Partner Slack Channel ● No need to switch between Slack accounts ● Build shared sense of community and camaraderie online ● Efficient way to brainstorm and hop on phone calls ● Solve customer problems in real-time ● Reduce email!
  33. 33. 4: Integrate, Integrate, Integrate
  34. 34. The Most Ecommerce Integrations Yotpo ReCharge Klaviyo Gorgias YextShopify Smile.ioPrivy Justuno Our integrations are the #1 reason ecommerce brands choose to work with us. (Actual slide in our sales deck) Shopify merchants choose Octane AI because it has the most (and best) ecommerce integrations
  35. 35. Integrations (Smile.io) Automatically drive more customer referrals through Facebook Messenger The Smile.io integration sends a message to people 14 days after they make a purchase, asking about their purchase. If the response is positive, the bot will reward them (with points or discounts) if they share the product directly ini Messenger.
  36. 36. 5: Innovate on Your Co-Marketing
  37. 37. Instead of webinars, Octane AI teaches an Ecommerce Messenger Master class 1,000+ students joined the Master Class in the first month
  38. 38. ...which they then share, which drives leads! We interview our partners in the Master Class...
  39. 39. Partners can write for Ecommerce Magazine, a publication Octane AI created to educate consumers on ecommerce.
  40. 40. Octane AI also owns Chatbots Magazine -- 300,000+ monthly pageviews
  41. 41. 6: Make a Joint Case Study Your Key Objective
  42. 42. New case study page Octane AI just published, featuring Mutesix, one of our first agency partners
  43. 43. Joint case studies give our partners an easy way to promote the ROI of our product to their customers
  44. 44. 7: Create Exclusivity and a Mythology for Your Partners
  45. 45. This is Octie, our adorable robot mascot who helps your store grow! There are only 3 ways to earn an Octie: - Make $1,000+ using Octane AI - Join Octane AI’s Partner Program - Be an Octane AI employee or investor
  46. 46. Octie playing foosball at BVAccel, a top Shopify Plus agency
  47. 47. Octie doing his Simba impression with Octane AI CEO Matt Schlicht (left) and Smile.io partnerships manager Stuart Arsenault.
  48. 48. The first Octie being personally delivered to Klaviyo at its HQ in Boston
  49. 49. Octie with ReCharge Head of Growth Chathri ali
  50. 50. Octie with Shopify Plus partner manager Gerard Pinto!
  51. 51. Look out for Octie at ecommerce conferences!
  52. 52. Conclusion ● Partners can dramatically amplify your marketing and sales ● Your partner program must be organized ● The most beneficial partners care about the relationship, not the rev share ● Your customers care about integrations ● There is no better piece of content than a joint case study ● Make your partners feel special (because they are!) ● Always make your partners look good, especially in front of their clients and customers
  53. 53. Email Me If You Want to Partner (And earn an Octie!) ben@octaneai.com business@octaneai.com

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I shared some of the lessons the Octane AI team has gained from building and growing a partner program in the Shopify ecosystem at the Shopify meetup in Toronto. Many of the attendees asked me if I would send them my slides. Instead, I've decided to publish the slides from my talk at Shopify, in the hopes that this knowledge will help other SaaS companies -- as well as agencies -- build successful partner programs in their ecosystems. Scroll down and you will find the slides. Covered in this deck: - The benefits of a partner program - How Octane AI grew 20-40% month-over-month by leveraging its partner program - How to start an agency and tech partner program - Partner program on-boarding and organization - Technology stack for managing partner programs - Integration strategy - Co-marketing strategy - Building loyalty and exclusivity

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