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Ecosystem ROI

HubSpot Solutions Partners and App Partners Team Up to Unlock Growth

SmartBug Media and CallRail share how their agency-SaaS partnerships are driving revenue.
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Grow with HubSpot

Agency-SaaS Partnerships as a Channel for Acquisition and Retention

HubSpot has over 1,400 app partners and over 6,000 solutions partners servicing HubSpot customers. The IDC predicts there is a $15.4 billion dollar opportunity for HubSpot partners in 2024.

By teaming up and working closely together, app partners and solutions partners can acquire more HubSpot customers and better retain them.

Today, most of HubSpot's top app partners have their own agency partner programs and a number of Elite solutions partners have app partner programs.

But there are many partners who have yet to explore working with other HubSpot partners to drive value. 

With the typical business using 130 different software and many HubSpot customers looking to agencies for the implementation and management of their tech stack, partnerships between agencies and SaaS companies have emerged as a pivotal avenue for customer acquisition, creating new services packages, and increasing customer retention across the board. 

In the fast-paced and competitive landscape of today’s business world, by harnessing the power of collaborating across services and products, both solutions partners and app partners can unlock immense growth. 

Leveraging these types of partnerships requires a well-crafted approach that capitalizes on the strengths of each partner. Solving for shared customers is at the heart of these mutually beneficial relationships.

SmartBug Media, an Elite solutions partner, has developed a strategic framework for their app partner program that helps ensure these partnerships drive value for their business, their app partners, and for HubSpot and its customers.


SmartBug Media's Ecosystem Approach

SmartBug Media adopts a partner ecosystem approach to marketing, sales, and services. Their app partner program is structure by tiers, with Tier 1 being limited to the keystone software they have extensive services for, such as HubSpot. 

SmartBug has deep alignment with their Tier 1 partners and develops close relationships across their Tier 1 partners’ go-to-market and product teams, as well as with executives. This enables them to ensure their services and go-to-market strategy continue to stay in sync with HubSpot.   

From there, SmartBug Media has formed fruitful partnerships with over 30 premier SaaS companies. Their framework for selecting additional partners beyond Tier 1 is to first ensure that the SaaS company has a strong native integration with HubSpot or another Tier 1 partner.

Part of assessing alignment with a potential partner involves looking at the size and nature of the overlap in customer base with a potential app partner. SmartBug uses Crossbeam to see how many shared customers and prospects they have with a potential partner. 

Other criteria include:

  • How valuable the app is to SmartBug’s customer base
  • The quality of the partner’s customer support
  • The partner’s ability to successfully co-market and sell with SmartBug
  • What commissions the partner offers
  • Whether SmartBug could build additional services around the app.  

Once SmartBug has accepted a partner in their program, they ensure that they work closely with the partners to drive mutual value. Their partner ecosystem not only focuses on providing the best tech stack for clients but also leveraging partners to amplify their marketing and sales efforts. 

Marketing and Selling with App Partners

Through channels like ebooks, webinars, and blogs, and social media cross-promotions, SmartBug showcases its platform and strategic expertise with their app partners.

This expands their marketing reach in addition to enhancing their messaging with prospects and customers. 

These collaborative efforts have driven numerous new leads to SmartBug and its partners. It has also strengthened their brand's reputation as a comprehensive marketing solution provider and expert in managing diverse tech stacks.

By sharing accounts through tools like Crossbeam, SmartBug can identify high-intent accounts within their partner network, streamlining and accelerating the sales process.

Collaborating with partners from day one of the sales process provides prospects with a better experience, with a smoother, more coherent introduction of services, apps, and expertise to prospects. 

This results in higher completion rates of sales calls and more comprehensive answers to discovery questions. 

Tracking the Success of App Partnerships

SmartBug makes it a priority to understand the value app partners are driving for their business. By looking closely at analytics, SmartBug can understand which partnerships are driving more value.

Over time, SmartBug continues to refine their ideal partner profile and which partners to invest more resources in.

SmartBug measures the success of its app partners by tracking:

  • The percentage of customer overlap by market segment
  • Commissions earned
  • Revenue retention on partner-attached clients
  • Partner-attached clients' CSAT and NPS scores
  • SQLs, pipeline, and net new revenue generated from partner channels.

All these metrics tie closely to drive strategic priorities, and ensure that SmartBug's ecosystem continues to help SmartBug meet their core business goals.


How CallRail Partners with Solutions Partners

One of SmartBug’s successful app partnerships is with CallRail, which provides AI-powered tracking and analytics for phone calls and web forms.

CallRail has a dedicated agency partner program designed to accommodate various types of solutions partners, such as marketing agencies, resellers, and consultants.

Their structured program provides different benefits and support based on the partner’s level of commitment and performance.

CallRail collaborates closely with its solutions partners to create and execute joint marketing campaigns. These efforts aim to drive awareness and generate leads for both parties. Co-branded content, webinars, events, case studies, and campaigns are often part of these collaborative marketing initiatives. 

For example, CallRail collaborated with SmartBug on a webinar, featured them in a spotlight campaign, and showcased SmartBug in a case study for one of their joint customers.

In addition, CallRail has collaborated with other solutions partners in the HubSpot ecosystem.  For example, they partnered with Neon Goldfish to host a webinar that demonstrated the combined value of CallRail, HubSpot, and Neon Goldfish.

CallRail’s partner selection process incorporates alignment with their target market, expertise areas and reputation, capacity for growth, and a customer-centric approach.

They boast over 7000 agency partners, and are approaching 1,000 HubSpot solutions partners as part of their directory.


CallRail and SmartBug Media: Collaboration and Success

CallRail and SmartBug Media’s successful partnership is a testament to their strategic ecosystem approach and how their joint customers can benefit from their offerings. 

Their partnership has thrived on a foundation of numerous joint initiatives such as press releases, case studies, webinars, events, and go-to-market team collaborations.

SmartBug shares information about the CallRail integration with their customers and CallRail shares information about SmartBug services with their customer base.

CallRail and SmartBug have also both invested in enablement for their respective sales and customer success teams.

They schedule “Lunch and Learns” in order for their teams to learn the partner’s product and services offerings and to understand when it would be a good fit to recommend. 

These teams also co-sell and collaborate through shared Slack channels in order to ensure the customer experience is always seamless and they do not miss any joint opportunities. 

SmartBug employees who want to engage with CallRail - and CallRail employees who want to engage with SmartBug - have instant access to the counterparts to answer questions and solve customer issues. This avoids having to keep track of countless emails and calls.


"We have fostered a successful partnership by initiating regular communication and establishing points of contact from the onset.

Our collaborative efforts in co-marketing and co-selling opportunities facilitated through platforms like Slack have resulted in our partners seamlessly integrating with the SmartBug team.

This synergy has cemented our relationships and made our partners feel like they are an essential extension of the SmartBug family.

Kody Vansistine, Partner Marketing Specialist, SmartBug Media


In terms of results, the revenue generated by the partnership have been meaningful. For example, SmartBug reports receiving five figures in commissions every year from CallRail, and SmartBug sends CallRail referrals to several new customers per year.

This is only a fraction of the value the partnership has provided to both companies in terms of new customers, brand equity, and increased customer dollar retention.  

One recent success story revolves around a prominent senior care provider that was originally a client of SmartBug Media. The senior care provider needed help enhancing call tracking for paid media, specifically with Google Ads.

They had an existing relationship with CallRail, but the platform was not in active use. 

SmartBug recommended reactivating CallRail, and integrated CallRail with the senior care provider’s HubSpot instance. They deployed it not only for tracking calls from paid advertising, but also from other sources, such as organic visitors. 

This drove a win-win-win. The client was impressed with the results and SmartBug’s ability to provide an elegant solution. CallRail gained new revenue and a more satisfied customer.

Overall, the CallRail and SmartBug Media partnership provides value across the customer journey, enhancing the experience for their shared prospects and customers and driving more revenue for both their businesses.


Why Partner in the HubSpot Ecosystem

With businesses overwhelmed by the complexity of software options today, solutions partners and app partners can collaborate to leverage each other’s strengths and provide a more connected experience. 

Solutions partners can enhance their offerings by recommending and servicing high-quality apps that work well with HubSpot. They can build out additional service offerings related to the functionality of the app, whether it is around improving conversion rates with better call tracking, revenue intelligence, or CPQ. 

Solutions partners and app partners can also tap into each other’s audiences and customer bases by co-marketing and co-selling.

By leaning on each other’s go-to-market teams, they can expand their reach in marketing and sales and provide better customer service. 

There is a massive opportunity in the HubSpot ecosystem for solutions partners and app partners who work together.

Companies like SmartBug Media and CallRail are collaborating strategically to drive better outcomes for their business and for HubSpot customers.


Read more partner stories to discover other ways that partners have found success in the HubSpot ecosystem. Check out how Bayard Bradford and hapily grew with HubSpot.

Advice for Success

SmartBug Media's Tips for Working with App Partners in the HubSpot Ecosystem


Choose app partners strategically

You may get a lot of inbound requests from potential app partners and it is important to think strategically about who to partner with to ensure natural company and ICP alignment. Quality over quantity will drive better results for you and your customers.

Listen to the customer

Understand what your customers’ tech stacks look like today and where their pain points are. Partnerships with app companies should be customer-centric and focused on helping them better accomplish their goals with high quality apps.

Use data and track results

Tools like Crossbeam and Reveal can help you to identify ideal partners and hone in on opportunities. Whether you are comarketing, co-selling or co-servicing, track results so you can understand what initiatives and which partnerships are working and worth investing more time in.
Jen Spencer, webinar headshot (1)

Through cultivating a flourishing partner ecosystem, we have greatly expanded the array of solutions accessible to our clients while simultaneously broadening our partners' reach. These valuable alliances have fueled the acquisition of new business and account for approximately 5% of our net new leads. In unison, our partners collaborate with us to deliver unparalleled outcomes for our shared clients. At SmartBug, we are immensely grateful to work alongside exceptional partners who are unwavering in their dedication to exceeding client expectations throughout the entirety of their go-to-market experience.

Jen Spencer



Advice for Success

CallRail's Tips for Working with Solutions Partners in the HubSpot Ecosystem


Think strategically

App partners should think strategically about how their solution fits into the overall offerings of the solutions partner. Enable them, train them- help them understand where your app sits in the customer’s tech stack, why it’s important, and how best to leverage it. 


Invest in the partnership

Do extensive co-marketing and highlight success that the solutions partner has driven via best practices, blogs, thought leadership pieces, case studies, webinars, events, and more. Help drive new business to the solutions partner and your own business.


Have flexible business terms

Some solutions partners want to re-sell, some want to be referral only, some want to co-sell. Ensure that you have a flexible program that aligns with whatever works best for the solutions partner.

Mike Stocker headshot

CallRail has seen tremendous growth as a HubSpot App Ecosystem partner. But where we've seen the most success is by leveraging the vast ecosystem of HubSpot Solutions Partners. CallRail has 7,000+ agency partners, nearly 1,000 of which are HubSpot Solutions Partners. These partners do the outstanding work of helping customers better leverage HubSpot and CallRail to grow. The SmartBug team, one of our key partnerships, is so skilled with HubSpot and understands how integrating with CallRail can help businesses drive the best inbound lead source - phone calls!

Mike Stocker

VP, Partnerships


Join the HubSpot App Partner Program

The IDC estimates app partners will earn $6.1 billion in the HubSpot ecosystem in 2025. There is no better time to become a HubSpot app partner. You can read more about our partner program or reach out to the app partner team with any questions.