Is Xero’s Partner Program Really Affiliate Marketing?

What to know about partnering exclusively with Xero

Partnering exclusively with Xero
What do you gain from partnering exclusively with Xero as a bookkeeper, and is this really affiliate marketing or not?

XERO HAS BECOME ONE of the major accounting software players in Australia. Like the other two major cloud accounting programs, Xero offers a partner program (officially, the Xero Partner Program), in which bookkeepers and accountants “partner” with Xero to exclusively offer Xero-based bookkeeping and accounting services to clients.

In return, Xero helps the bookkeeper or accountant grow their practice by adding them to the Xero Advisor Directory, which allows businesses to browse and hire bookkeepers in the same local area or with the skills they’re looking for.

The other drawcard: Xero Partners earn a commission each time they refer a client to Xero. If you’re a bookkeeper working exclusively with Xero, there’s the potential to earn around 15 to 30 percent of Xero’s subscription fees each time you sign a new client to Xero.

Xero’s unofficial commission

Officially, Xero doesn’t give bookkeepers or accountants any kickbacks for referring or signing new clients to their accounting software. Rather, they give a 15 to 30 percent discount to the bookkeeper or accountant, which they can pass on to their client. If the bookkeeper chooses to pocket it, well, that’s none of Xero’s business.

Based on EzyLearn’s research, we’ve found that a lot of Xero Partners do pass on the discount to their clients. Why? Because doing so helps them stand out among other bookkeepers or accountants, and brings them more clients — and ultimately, more revenue than if they pocketed the discount for themselves.

A lot of Xero Partners do pass on the discount to their clients. Why? Because doing so helps them stand out among other bookkeepers or accountants, and brings them more clients … and revenue.

But just as many bookkeepers choose to keep the discount.

QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program

Quickbooks Pro Advisor Program logoAt the beginning of this post, we mentioned that the other two major cloud accounting programs offer “partner programs.” QuickBooks calls theirs the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program. It provides bookkeepers and accountants who become “certified” in QuickBooks Online (via an online training course, delivered by QuickBooks), with a discount off their own QuickBooks subscription, a listing on the QuickBooks “Find-a-ProAdvisor” directory, and discounts off software for their clients.

QuickBooks, however, stipulates that, in order for ProAdvisor’s to receive any discounts for signing up new clients, the discount must be shared between client and ProAdvisor. EzyLearn hasn’t been able to determine how much the discounts are, or how QuickBooks distributes discounts. But if you’re familiar with how the QuickBook’s ProAdvisor Program works, let us know!

Xero, QuickBooks: not affiliate marketing

The best and most successful example of affiliate marketing is the Amazon Associates program. If you’re not familiar with the Amazon Associate program, you can read a detailed explanation at the Australian Small Business Centre website.

Neither Xero’s nor QuickBooks’ partner programs share any of the same characteristics of the Amazon Associates program, with the exception that all three involve an individual partnering with a company.

In the Amazon Associates program, associates rate and review products relevant to them and their industry, and include links from their website to the Amazon site, so that if a purchase is made, the associate receives a commission. (Commissions vary based on the type of product purchased.)

Xero Partners manage clients’ Xero accounts

With the Xero Partner Program, bookkeepers create a Xero account and manage the subscription of their clients’ behalf. The bookkeeper bills their client each month, along with the rest of their services, for the client’s Xero subscription — either with or without the discount applied.

If the client decides to change bookkeepers or accountants, their bookkeeper is required to change the subscription details into the client’s name or the name of their new bookkeeper or accountant. In the past, this has caused some issues, where business relationships have broken down, but for the most part, it apparently runs quite smoothly.

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EzyLearn isn’t familiar with how QuickBooks ProAdvisors manage the signup of new QuickBooks clients. But if you do, we want to hear from you! Drop us an email, or let us know in the comments.


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What is Xero HQ?

Now you can do more with Xero

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Xero is adding to its list of features with Xero HQ so it’s no longer just for more basic bookkeeping, but can be used for analysis as well.

XERO HAS LONG POSTIONED ITSELF as the cloud accounting software for small-to-medium businesses. It’s one of the most popular of our online training courses; appealing not only to bookkeepers, but small to medium sized businesses in all industries.

What makes Xero so popular is that it is inexpensive software that’s simple to use and has lots of time-saving features.

In doing so, it’s basically left MYOB to hold the mantle of the accounting software used by accountants and bookkeepers.

Now, however, Xero is looking to close that gap, with the launch of “Xero HQ”; a data and insights platform for bookkeepers and accountants who are part of the Xero Partner Program.

Xero HQ wants to help you grow

To shake MYOB’s stranglehold on the accountant and bookkeeper market, Xero had to do something to differentiate itself and tempt accountants and bookkeepers away from MYOB.

And they’re betting that Xero HQ will be the thing that does it. Xero HQ will provide bookkeepers and accountants with data and insights tools so they can provide “advisory level” services to clients.

Xero’s focus on “advisory level” services is important here, because it reveals a couple of things Xero plans to do with the industry. The first is to continue to automate many of the tasks a bookkeeper would traditionally carry out — the introduction of bank feeds eliminated data entry, for instance — and the second is to up-skill junior bookkeepers, while simultaneously embedding them within the Xero ecosystem — which will fit nicely with their recently launched Xero Lifelong Learning platform.

What exactly is the Xero HQ platform?

If you’re part of the Xero Partner Program already, then access to the Xero HQ platform is free. The Xero HQ platform is essentially a separate workflow that you access online, which provides a number of features not available though your regular Xero software.

These Xero HQ features include the following:

  • Activity feed: When your clients’ GST or activity statements are due, a notification will appear in the activity feed to alert you.
  • Client list: This is essentially like a contact book, where you can store all your clients’ information in one place; even those clients who aren’t on Xero.
  • Explorer: This feature pulls data Xero knows about your clients to help you provide them with better advice, or help you up-skill in areas you know are important to them. For example: it will show you which apps are popular across all your clients, so you can learn how to use them.

Xero HQ app marketplace

The Xero HQ platform also has an app marketplace, which has a focus on apps that will help bookkeepers and accountants with their business. That’s different to the existing Xero app marketplace, which is geared towards small businesses in any industry.

The Xero HQ app marketplace is split up into three tiers, depending on the size of your bookkeeping or accounting practice.

Which Xero HQ app marketplace will suit you?

If you’ve 100 or fewer clients, then you’d be best suited to the “activate” package of apps especially “curated” by the Xero HQ team.

If you have between 100 and 200 clients, then you’re best suited to the “energise” package of apps; practices with 300 or more clients suit the “supercharge” package.

It’s up to you which apps you switch on, but Xero has eliminated the leg work involved in finding apps to suit your business needs.

Some common third party apps, recommended across all three Xero HQ app marketplace tiers include:

  • Futrli: A forecasting and reporting app designed to help control cash flow and accelerate growth. Technically, you can pull all these data out of Xero by running a number of different reports and exporting them into Excel, but this app does all that work for you, and just delivers the insights. Partner pricing starts at $399 per month.
  • Receipt Bank: Extracts relevant information from paper receipts and invoices, imports the data into Xero, categorises it, and stores both the data and receipt safely in the cloud. Your clients just snap a picture of the receipt using the Receipt Bank app on their smartphone or upload from their PC.
  • BOMA: Is a marketing and advertising platform that lets you export data from Xero and use it for your marketing and advertising campaigns. With BOMA you can create and broadcast marketing and advertising messages across five channels (email, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter), including sponsored advertising posts on those platforms. It also provides you with all the imagery, templates and other design needs to create your campaigns. It’s basically a one- stop -shop for digital marketing and advertising. Partner pricing starts at $49 per month.  

Xero HQ is where accounting meets CRM

In essence, the Xero HQ platform is where accounting and customer relationship management meet. Xero provides bookkeepers and accountants with a platform that enables high-level analysis and data management through integrating third-party Xero HQ partner apps.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Xero HQ serves dual purposes: it encourages bookkeepers to move away from providing basic bookkeeping services to deeper analysis and advisory roles; and they can use the Xero Lifelong Learning platform to up-skill and provide those services.

“Xero HQ serves dual purposes: it encourages bookkeepers to move away from providing basic bookkeeping services to deeper analysis and advisory roles…”


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