How Klaviyo Made Partnerships Their Key Driver of Growth

March 28, 2017

Building a sustainable and healthy customer base through word-of-mouth marketing is in many ways the holy grail – it’s effectively free, done through referrals (which are typically excellent for conversion) and builds good will beyond your wildest dreams.

Klaviyo, a marketing automation platform specializing in eCommerce, is one such beneficiary of word-of-mouth marketing, which has a lot to do with the small knit eCommerce community and the natural virality built into the product.

While word-of-mouth has served Klaviyo well to date, the company is expanding its customer acquisition channels in order to further accelerate the growth rate of its customer base. Partnerships are one of the areas in which they’ve found the most success.

“Partnering with businesses that play in the same space and have trusted partnerships with your target customers can be extremely beneficial,” says Klaviyo VP of Marketing, Agata Celmerowski. “There are a lot of ways that can come to life. At Klaviyo, we’ve chosen to start with agencies and eCommerce platform vendors.”

“The agencies and eCommerce platforms we partner with are strategically aligned with the rest of our business. These partners are already working with our target customers and are in a position to act as trusted advisors to the types of eCommerce stores we’re looking to work with,” says Alison Aldrich, who heads up Partner Marketing at Klaviyo. “Usually they’re implementing and advising on email strategy, assisting with the setup or migration of an eCommerce store or helping merchants grow their businesses. Klaviyo fits nicely into all of those goals.”

While every market is different, there are usually a handful of complementary services, products, platforms and agencies with which you can build relationships in order to create fruitful partnerships. Here’s what Alison recommends:

1. Understand Your Prospective Partner’s Goals

“Always start off by learning what motivates the folks on the other side,” explains Aldrich. “For some integration providers, that might be customer acquisition or increasing revenue booked. For others it’s all about retention. Whatever it is, find out the goal and figure out how you can support them on it.”

While churn is a consideration for some partners, others are interested in diversifying or launching a new integration. If a partner can get customers locked into more platforms with a more sophisticated setup, those customers are likely to stick around and grow their accounts.

You might argue that the most fruitful partnerships come when both sides are able to help each ensure the stickiness of the other’s product.

“For example, platform partners like Magento and Shopify are looking to help their customers grow their businesses,” adds Aldrich. “The more successful their merchants are, the more sales that go through their online store, the better it is for those platforms. Our partnership is beneficial because Klaviyo helps their customers drive more revenue through email.”

2. Embrace Consultants as Partners

In addition to platform and software providers, consultant and service provider partnerships can prove beneficial. For Klaviyo, this means working closely with digital agencies. This model has been proven time and again by companies like HubSpot, Campaign Monitor, and now, Klaviyo.

“In eCommerce so much is outsourced to agencies that building these partnerships is a no-brainer,” says Aldrich. “We provide our agency partners with training and support so they feel completely comfortable bringing their customers over from whatever platform they were using previously.”

To make these partnerships really work, Klaviyo dedicates considerable resources to their agency partners. “More than just product info, we provide them with resources on how to do great email marketing, what it should look like, what features eCommerce stores should be looking for, and what that support should look like. We train our partner agencies on data-driven marketing ‘the Klaviyo way,’ and that helps them get better results for their clients.”

It’s a win-win relationship and so far one that’s paying off. “Agencies have been a really impactful driver of new business.”

3. Focus on Depth, Not Breadth

With so many potential partners, Klaviyo has decided to focus their time and attention on those that most closely align with their business goals, share a similar philosophy on data-driven marketing and have shown a commitment to making Klaviyo a part of their business.

“Our agency program is designed to reward those agencies that make a commitment to Klaviyo,” explains Aldrich. “The more you invest in learning to do things the Klaviyo way and transitioning customers onto Klaviyo, the more time energy and business we invest back into your agency. From joint marketing to content creation to new business opportunities, we’re laser-focused on the agencies that are truly aligned with what we’re doing here.”

4. Qualify Partners to Ensure There’s a Fit

When deciding who to partner with, it’s ok to be picky. If not, you might end up spending a lot of time and effort on a partnership that doesn’t pay off.

“You want to make sure you’re working with people that are clear on what you do, understand why you’re different and share the same perspective, “ explains Aldrich. “Whether it’s a platform partner like Shopify or Magento, or an agency partner, we ensure that our partners share our approach and philosophy on data-driven marketing.”

“If you’re working with the wrong partners, you’re going to spend a lot of resources just trying to convince them of why they should choose your solution,” she adds. “The right partners already know why and are excited to grow your businesses together.”

Approaching partnerships with these things in mind is one of the key ways Klaviyo has fueled their 3x growth in the last 12 months. The company’s momentum isn’t showing any signs of slowing, either – they’re actively hiring in the Boston area.