Developing partnerships with firms that complement their own offerings and customer bases often can help companies boost their brand recognition and markets. Arranging these partnerships can be time-consuming, however, requiring multiple contacts to ensure an appropriate fit and map out logistics.
Frey, a direct-to-consumer provider of laundry detergents and fabric care products, had been arranging such partnerships on its own. The company’s leaders would reach out to other companies, let them know they saw a crossover between the two brands and suggest both would benefit from partnering on social media, for instance.
“It was quite profitable, but it was also a lot of work to reach out to another brand,” says Leif Frey, co-founder and head of direction, who launched Frey out of his college dorm room at Georgetown.
“Laundry is this incredibly personal part of people’s lives,” he says. “You spend 95 percent of your day in contact with something that’s gone through your laundry.” Yet the laundry detergent industry felt wildly impersonal, with few products that were good for either the environment or users. “We wanted to change that,” he says.
Frey and his colleagues also were watching how other consumer industries — like shaving — were remaking themselves. “Shaving your face used to basically just be an annoying chore that one had to do every morning,” he says. Over the last few years, however, it became part of a person’s lifestyle. He believes the same can happen with laundry.
To address the shortcomings inherent in facilitating partnerships on its own, Frey turned to Wove for Social, a product from Wove Technologies Inc., about a year ago. “Wove created this amazing platform where it facilitates all of this,” Frey says. “It took something we were doing, automated it and made it a whole lot easier.”
“Wove enables marketers to acquire new customers by partnering with complementary and like-minded brands,” says Eddie Siegel, founder and chief executive officer. The goal? “To help otherwise unaffiliated companies team up for mutual success.”
As the Frey team discovered, arranging those tends to be time-consuming, making them hard to scale. In addition, ad hoc partnerships often are initiated more by gut instinct than by data, Siegel says. Results can be hard to measure because data is scattered: For instance, statistics on an email campaign might live inside the company’s email service provider, making it difficult to easily evaluate the program. In addition, precautions around security and privacy may be overlooked.
Wove tackles these challenges, Siegel says, offering automated recommendations for potential partners based on customer overlap and demographic similarity, among other factors.
Going through the Wove platform to identify potential partners adds a “stamp of approval,” Frey says. “It’s not some random brand reaching out.”
All partnerships on the Wove platform are double opt-in, bidirectional arrangements — both companies have to say they want in. In addition, no data changes hands between the two partner companies.
When two companies work with Wove for Social and use it on Facebook, for instance, each company will see both its own audience and the other company’s audience within its ad manager, Siegel says. The companies can also use Facebook’s targeting tools to further refine their marketing efforts. The user of the social media platform sees an ad just like any other.
Integrating Wove for social is “very, very simple,” Frey says, requiring a couple pixel installs and Facebook permissions. “I think we were up and running with Wove in a few days,” he says.
When two companies partner with Wove for Social and use it on Facebook, each company will see both its own audience and the other company’s audience within its ad manager.
Wove also makes it easy to reach out to other brands: The company can review the companies listed in the platform and segment them in several ways, such as by industry or interest. After that, the company can send a quick note suggesting they work together and share audiences. “Then at the click of the button, you do it,” Frey says.
The team at Frey currently contacts a potential new partner once every few weeks, he says. “You don’t just want to spray and pray, but to be a little bit selective.”
In April, Wove launched Wove for Email. Wove’s algorithm identifies potential partners for each company based on their industries and products, as well as customers’ age, income and other factors. “We’re optimizing under the hood” to identify the end users likely to want to see each message, Siegel says. At the same time, the brand retains control over its first-party customer data.
Implementation is straightforward and typically requires synchronizing customer data with Wove. Wove also can integrate with a company’s ecommerce platform, if it uses one. After synchronizing, Wove provides a code snippet that’s copied and pasted into the company’s email templates, within its existing email service provider.
After that, a company can review the Wove network to identify and contact other firms with which it’s interested in partners. “When you find an interesting company you just click a button that says, ‘Request Partnership,’” Siegel says.
Once two companies connect, they can place their messages within the emails their partners already are sending. The customers receive the same email, from the same brand, they’ve been receiving; within it will be a section that says something like “Here’s a message from our friends at company X.” Wove enables brands to measure the level of opens and clicks, among other performance indicators.
Frey is currently testing Wove for Email, Frey says. “It’s definitely an interesting concept,” he says, adding that the company has previously participated in email partnerships. “Wove makes it much easier to both partner and easier to track,” he says.
At the same time, email partnerships can prompt consumers to question why the brand isn’t simply promoting its own offerings. As a result, Frey is trying to be selective with its investment in email partnerships.
Wove tends to work best for companies that already are doing a great deal of marketing, Siegel says. The benefits can vary, depending on the channel and performance goals. However, a combination of the right partner and right message has led to click-through rates of up to 25 percent, and conversion rates as high as 10 percent. These likely aren’t typical, “but they show what can happen when you get to a really good partnership with the right message,” he says.
Before it began working with Wove, Frey was reaching out to brands with which it shared some similarities, but that were different enough to avoid extensive overlap. With Wove, Frey has partnered with some brands such as mobile apps that it hadn’t previously considered.
“They’re in such a different industry and yet the audiences that we share do very, very well for us,” Frey says. “Wove gave us access to, quite literally, tens of millions of new people to target.” As a result, Wove has helped to significantly improve Frey’s marketing efforts.
Karen M. Kroll is a business writer based in Minnetonka, Minn.