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The Advantages and ROI of Partnership Based Marketing (Co-promotions) Loyalty Programs

The Advantages and ROI of Partnership Based Marketing (Co-promotions) Loyalty Programs

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We live in an interconnected global marketplace. Businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to tap into wider markets and improve brand visibility through partnership-based marketing and co-promotions.

Partnership-based marketing presents a unique approach to promoting products or services. Essentially, it entails collaborating with another brand to promote a product or service together. Partnership-based marketing widens your marketing reach and maximizes the depth of that reach.

Co-promotions stand out in their ability to provide more visibility at less cost. Why bear the entire marketing cost alone when you can share it with a partner? This section offers a deep dive into the arena of partnership-based marketing and co-promotions, highlighting how to leverage them for maximum results.

In essence, partnerships are about creating synergies. The merging of like-minded brands, each bringing their unique strengths to the table, creates a winning formula. It delivers value to your customers and, ultimately, enhances their loyalty to your brand.

The foundation of successful co-promotion is reciprocal value. Both partners should benefit equitably from the arrangement. Mutual benefit cultivates healthy business relationships, facilitates sustained cooperation and provides opportunities for all parties involved. Opportunities can include everything from cost savings to exploring new markets.

Some businesses might succeed in finding a partner to pool resources for mutual benefit. They launch joint marketing campaigns to save on costs and to leverage their partner’s technology systems. Some businesses succeed in gaining exposure to a partner’s customers, massively impacting brand awareness and customer loyalty [1].

The businesses that can find both with their co-promotional partner have the most success.

One of the common issues with partnership is that they tend to be opportunistic. For example, there may be a personal relationship between marketers at the two companies or there may be a geographical similarity. Partnerships should be strategic. Compatibility in brand values and company goals are key considerations when finding a match made in co-promotional heaven. The following are key considerations when searching for a suitable partner to increase campaign effectiveness:

  • Brand Alignment: Ensure that your partner’s values and brand image align with yours. A disconnect in brand values can lead to confusion or mistrust among customers.
  • Target Audience Compatibility: Choose a partner whose target audience aligns with your own. The program should benefit both partners’ customers, making it mutually advantageous.
  • Complementary Products or Services: Look for partners whose products or services complement yours. This can lead to natural cross-promotion opportunities and a seamless customer experience.
  • Shared Goals and Objectives: Clearly define the goals and objectives of the co-promotional program with your partner. Ensure that both parties are on the same page regarding what they want to achieve.
  • Resources and Commitment: Assess your partner’s resources and commitment to the program. Both partners must invest the necessary time, effort, and resources for the program to succeed.
  • Point Sharing: For loyalty partnerships, consider the ability to earn and redeem points in each program. Ensure there is a clear path through a credit card or technology solution.
  • Customer Experience: Consider how the partnership will impact the customer experience. Ensure that the program enhances, rather than complicates, the customer journey.
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Understand any legal or regulatory requirements that may apply to your industry or partnership. Ensure that your partner is compliant with these regulations.
  • Data Security and Privacy: Discuss how customer data will be handled and protected throughout the program. Both partners should be committed to maintaining customer privacy and security.
  • Legal Agreements: Draft a comprehensive legal agreement that outlines the terms, responsibilities, and obligations of both parties. It should cover issues like revenue sharing, intellectual property, and dispute resolution.
  • Test and Pilot Phases: Consider conducting a test or pilot phase before fully launching the program. This allows both partners to evaluate its feasibility and make adjustments as needed.
  • Term Viability: Evaluate the long-term viability of the partnership. Consider whether the partnership can evolve and adapt to changing market conditions and customer preferences. Some partnerships are one-time, others are seasonal, and others are evergreen.
  • Customer Communication and Consent: Be transparent with customers about the co-promotional program and obtain their consent when necessary. Ensure that customers understand how their data will be used.
  • Measurement & Metrics: Establish clear metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the program’s success. Both partners should agree on how success will be evaluated.
  • Exit Strategy: Define what happens if the partnership needs to be terminated or if one party wants to exit the program prematurely. Having a clear exit strategy can prevent disputes.

Choosing the right partner for a co-promotional loyalty marketing program requires careful consideration of these factors to ensure a successful and mutually beneficial collaboration. Effective partnerships can strengthen customer loyalty and drive growth for both parties involved.

We consider the Spotify-Starbucks partnership a notable example of co-promotional loyalty marketing.  If customers heard a song they liked while in line at Starbucks, they could save the songs playing by using the Spotify app [2]. Remarkably, the partnership enhanced the consumer experience while providing free advertising and increasing the consumer base for both brands. 

Another strong example would be the partnership between McDonald’s and Marvel Studios to promote the release of the film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” This collaboration combined fast-food promotions with exclusive movie-related rewards, creating a unique loyalty program for both brands’ customers.

Here’s how it worked:

  • Exclusive Toys: McDonald’s offered a collection of limited-edition Marvel Studios action figures and toys as part of their Happy Meal promotion. These toys featured characters from the movie “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” creating excitement among children and collectors.
  • Collectible Packaging: McDonald’s also featured collectible packaging with Marvel-themed artwork and branding on their food containers, drink cups, and bags. This encouraged customers to collect and share their branded items on social media.
  • Digital Engagement: In addition to physical toys and packaging, McDonald’s and Marvel Studios ran a digital engagement campaign. Customers could scan a QR code on their Happy Meal packaging to access exclusive digital content related to the movie, such as games, videos, and augmented reality experiences.
  • Contests and Prizes: The loyalty program included contests and prizes, where customers could win tickets to the movie premiere, exclusive merchandise, and other Marvel-related rewards.
  • Cross-Promotion: Marvel Studios also promoted the McDonald’s collaboration through its marketing channels, including social media, websites, and trailers for the movie. This cross-promotion increased brand visibility and engagement.

This co-promotional loyalty marketing program leveraged the excitement surrounding a highly anticipated movie release to drive customer engagement and loyalty. McDonald’s customers were incentivized to purchase Happy Meals to collect the toys, and Marvel Studios benefited from the promotional tie-in and increased exposure for their film [3].

A third example of co-promotions delivering mutual benefit would be the Uber and Capital One collaboration. Capital One cardholders received discounts on Uber rides. As a result, both companies enjoyed increased customer loyalty and boosted consumer acquisition [4].

A final example is the partnership between land-based casinos and cruise lines. These are common in the U.S. Cruise lines offer free cruises to the higher value players at casinos. These are offered as a single promotion or an annual benefit for reaching higher tiers. The land-based casinos benefit by providing a no-cost valuable benefit for their players. The cruise lines benefit by gaining new high-value casino guests.

Sustaining successful marketing partnerships requires careful nurturing. Strong communication, aligning objectives, and mutual understanding foster sustainable partnerships. By utilizing effective strategies, co-promotion campaigns can lead to impressive ROI and unique consumer experiences.

Co-promotions allow cost-savings and sharing, allowing access to new customer bases and, in turn, an influx of new customers. New customers can significantly boost sales and help identify areas of opportunity and improvement by providing a fresh perspective.

A 2019 study found that co-promotion campaigns drive ROI growth by 30% [5]. Businesses can achieve meaningful profit gains by joining partners in coalition marketing programs.

Furthermore, co-promotions enhance brand visibility without large-scale advertising. Partnerships breed mutual benefit, creating synergistic marketing magnification. This multifaceted exposure naturally boosts brand awareness.

To conclude, co-promotions offer a clear path to increased visibility and increased revenues. The return on investment (ROI) for co-promotions is commendable. Save more, spend less, and still reach more customers. There are many increased efficiencies with effective partnership-based marketing. The trick is to find a great partner. 

Customers of one brand get exposure to another and vice versa. This stickiness helps retain existing customers and acquire new ones.

Ultimately, co-promotions build a symbiotic relationship. Its impact and value are undoubtedly influential in today’s dynamic market.


[1] Co-Promotion Strategies in the Retail Industry, Marketing Science –

[2] What is Cross-Promotion? – 

[3] McDonald’s And Marvel Join Forces For A New Meal –

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