Co-Branded Emails - Learn How to Get Guaranteed Results

Co-branded email programs are one of the best marketing campaigns that a company can run. It works because it leverages the reach, respect, and relationships of another person or organization that is well respected in a community. Learn how to get Guaranteed Results.


Bill Arnold

12/21/20237 min read

Co-branded emails best practices
Co-branded emails best practices

Co-branded email programs are one of the best marketing campaigns that a company can run. It works, because it leverages the reach, respect, and relationships of another person, or organization, that is well respected in a community. In our last blog (Co-Branded Emails – The Strategy You Need To Try), we outline why this can be one of the few marketing programs where you can guarantee the results.

When you run a co-branded email program, the results will include expanded audience reach, higher open rates, substantial increases in high-quality leads, and a low cost-per-lead. If you couple that with a good lead nurturing program, it will end up delivering an increase in sales.

While co-branded email programs can provide guaranteed results, they are not foolproof and need to be set up and run utilizing best practices. We will outline how to run a program that you can bank on the results.

Pick the Right Partner

Of all the steps we will discuss, picking the right partner is THE most important element of the program. We have run co-branded campaigns using individuals, companies, publications, and associations as the hosts sending out the email. While we certainly had success using all three, professional associations have delivered the best results. In close second place came industry publications. It is rare to find a company or an individual who has all the qualifications we set forth below.

Relevance to your Targeted Audience – One of the reasons that co-branded email programs work so well is that the reputation and trust that the host email provider has with their community is transferred to the company doing the advertising. This trust is meaningful only if the relationship between the host and the advertiser has a high degree of relevance. If your targeted audience is lawyers, you should be using a legal association or publication as the host to send out the content.

Large Membership – Finding individuals who have the interest and time to investigate a piece of content being shared with them is often a numbers game. They may ALL be the ideal buyer persona that should like and engage with your content, but the timing is just not right for them. That is why finding a host partner who has a large database, of the ideal targeted personas they can email, is critical. We look for host partners that have at least 100,000 email subscribers.

Regular Email Program – Co-branded email programs work best when the host has a regular pattern of sending emails to the subscribers in their database. If they are sending random emails out on an irregular basis, it is hard to have reliable open and click-through rates. You want a partner where the recipients of their emails are anticipating getting the next email and value the previous content sent to them.

Well-Respected Association/Publication – One of the main reasons that the co-branded emails work so well is the trust that the host has with their audience is transferred to the advertiser. If the host has not built that trust, the co-branded email campaign will be ineffectual. The best types of hosts to partner with are National Associations such as the American Bar Association or the American Institute of Architects. The members of these associations value their membership and look to them for guidance and information.

Documented Open Click-Through Rates and Engagement Rates – If a host email provider does not have documented evidence of the open rates, click-through, and engagement rates for the emails they send, do not do business with them. If these rates are low, it is indicative that they have abused their list or are not well-respected by their membership. We look for host partners that have at least a 40% email open rate and a 35% click-through rate and engagement rate.

Guaranteed Results – This is vitally important. We will not do business with any host email provider who is not willing to stand behind the open, click-through, and engagement rates that they publish. The guarantee must be in writing as part of the contract. It must state that if these promised returns are not met in the original email, additional emails will be sent until the promised returns happen. We also recommend that at the advertisers option, the original email may be substituted for one that may resonate better with the targeted audience.

What Should Be Co-branded?

The co-branded email you send may be the first exposure this audience has with your brand. The information they will receive must be highly impactful and relevant to their business and concerns. This means putting your best foot forward as this may be your one and only shot of capturing these companies as leads.

Know Your Buyer Personas – Knowing what messaging and content will resonate with your target audience is the most foundational aspect of marketing. If you are trying to create content, without a full understanding of the pain points, issues, and concerns of your audience, you are creating content for content’s sake, and it will be panned by those you hope to engage. For a primer on the process of creating buyer personas, that will be the basis of EVERY marketing initiative you undertake, review these two articles: How to Create Buyer Personas and Buyer Personas – the Foundation of Strategic Marketing.

Test the Relevance – Before you invest any money in a paid-demand campaign, you should know how your audience will receive the content you wish to send. We solve this problem by using content that did well when released using organic marketing efforts. Since you are pushing this to a large group, the fact it has been available organically should not hamper its performance. However, if you are concerned, update the content, add a few chapters, and change the title to show it was “newly revised and updated.”

What Has Worked – Your host email provider should be able to share the type of content and topics that have previously worked well. They will be happy to share, as they have a vested interest in sending highly relevant content to their members .

High Production Value – Whatever content you ultimately choose, it must be seen as high-value content by the recipient. Invest in great graphics, polish the text, and deliver something that will set your brand apart from the competition.

Format of Co-branded Content

The format of your content will be determined by the expectations of your targeted audience. If we are sending an email to corporate attorneys, an eBook may be the ideal format. If we are targeting members of a gaming community, you will need content that is more entertaining and interactive to connect with this audience. Look to your buyer persona reports, and have discussions with the host email provider for guidance on the best format to resonate with their subscribers.

Remember, the content has to be of high value and relevant to the subscribers. Avoid sending blog posts, small guidebooks, infographics, or one-page sales sheets. We have successfully utilized the following formats:

  • Long Form eBooks (50+ pages)

  • Webinar/Podcast Invites

  • Videos

  • Interactive Gamification Apps

Action Sought

When the email subscriber does the intended actions, and is confronted with the link to your content, the following best practices will help ensure that they follow through and provide you with their contact information.

Landing Page – The landing page needs to be designed according to best practices.

Validation - When they click through to the page, the subscriber’s actions should be immediately validated. They should see text that reinforces the value of the content, and an image that will further confirm the quality of what they will be receiving.

Limit Options - The page should not provide the subscribers any option other than to engage with the content they are seeking. That means removing all navigation links that can divert their attention to another page.

Limit Request – If you are a B2B business, and you are trying to get a person to download top-of-the-funnel content, limit the information you require for them to gain access. I have seen companies lose opportunities by asking for too much information. You want to remove any friction that may cause them not to proceed. There are only three pieces of information you should be collecting. These are the First Name, Last Name, and Business Email. Armed with that information, and access to LinkedIn or ZoomInfo, you can find everything else you need to know about them.

Get Permission – It is important that at the time they are downloading the content, you obtain permission to send them additional emails. We, typically, have an opt-in statement right above the call to action (CTA) that grants this permission. You will want to phrase the opt-in statement so the subscriber sees the value of granting permission. We use usually use the phrase, “Send me updates when new information is available.” There is a high degree of certainty they will opt to use a statement like that. If the original information was valuable, certainly updated material will be as well. In addition, the Laws of Commitment and Consistency suggest that once a person commits to a course of action, they are more inclined to take follow-up steps that align with that decision.

Say Thank You– You are trying to build a relationship with the subscriber. Once they exchange the sought-after contact information, and click on the CTA, they should immediately be taken to a thank you page where they will be provided the option to immediately access the promised content. They should also be given a secondary CTA to either access different but related content or to contact a salesperson for further information.


Co-branded emails are a highly effective marketing strategy, with guaranteed returns, if the best practices we outlined are followed. By partnering with another brand, businesses have the opportunity to expand their reach and tap into a new customer base. However, it is important to ensure that the co-branded emails are aligned with both brands' values and target audiences. Furthermore, implementing personalized and relevant content, as well as a strong call-to-action, can significantly increase conversion rates. Regularly tracking and analyzing the performance of co-branded emails allows businesses to make data-driven decisions and optimize their campaigns for maximum results. Overall, when executed properly, co-branded emails can create a win-win situation for both brands involved, driving customer engagement and ultimately boosting revenue.