“Affiliate marketing only works for B2C companies; it would never work for B2B!” “I’ll never make money with affiliate marketing for my B2B business!” These are misconceptions echoing throughout the B2B community. But affiliate marketing isn’t limited to the B2C realm. Start your B2B affiliate marketing program, and you’ll generate new leads, more sales, establish brand dominance in your niche.
There are some requirements needed before building your program: you need to deploy your arsenal of affiliate marketing resources, offer strong incentives for your affiliates, and need your band of affiliates to promote your goods or services. But, you wonder, is affiliate marketing sustainable for B2B companies? How can I attract affiliates who understand B2B sales cycles? We’ll address these questions and more on how to get started with B2B affiliate marketing.
B2B Affiliate Marketing: Why’s it Important?
According to Statista, affiliate marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry. Spending on affiliate marketing in the United States is projected to exceed over $8 billion by the end of 2022–triple its earnings over ten years prior when it took off. So affiliate marketing is alive and thriving, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.
B2B is essential for a few reasons:
- It gets your voice out there. Consumers trust industry authorities and referrals. Nielsen, a data and analytics company, found that 92% of consumers worldwide say they trust recommendations from someone they know above all other forms of advertising–up from 74% in 2007. Not only is this evidence of affiliate marketing’s growing prominence but as evidence of the power of referrals. Affiliate marketing your brand can build your audience and establish that much-needed trust.
- It’s measurable. To build a successful business, you need quantifiable data. Otherwise, how do you know which efforts work and which don’t? Referrals can be challenging to track, but with the right affiliate marketing tools, you can set your program up so you know who referred who, how many sales generated from a referral link, and track all of your affiliate commissions. An affiliate marketing application makes measuring ROI easy for your B2B affiliate marketing program.
- It’s low-cost and low-risk. There are virtually no startup costs minus the time to create your affiliate marketing materials and the cost of the affiliate aggregation application. Otherwise, it’s passive money: you only pay affiliates after successfully generating qualified leads or sealing the sale. Because of this, it’s low-risk.
- It effectively targets your niche. Your affiliate marketers can move top leads right through your sales funnel. The affiliates you choose should already garner a following, and this dedicated following are your B2B leads.
- It increases your sales. As a result of lead generation, affiliate marketing generates sales. Affiliate marketers can link to a specific page on your website (like a page to a particular product), and from there, you’ll generate excellent leads and hopefully clinch the deal.
Step 1: Create your affiliate marketing landing page
Without a landing page, how will affiliates find your program? If you’re this far in the process of building your affiliate program, chances are you have a website for your business. But do you have an affiliate-specific page?
A landing page lays it all out for the customers. We call it the bridge between your affiliate’s site and making the sale. This page has the power to convert or revert, so it’s vital to compel your affiliate-referred customers to take the leap and buy your product.
A couple of recommendations,
- Clearly align your ads: When users click a link, the destination page should clearly align with the source. For example, if your affiliate sends their referrals a link to buy a black camera backpack, the link should send them to that exact product. Send them directly to the source so they’re more likely to buy.
- Keep it simple: Write short, succinct blocks of text, only display one offer at a time and avoid embedding any outbound links or navigation bars. You want your leads to stay engaged on your page.
- Ensure it’s mobile-friendly: 61% of clicks on organic search results are now coming from mobile so make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices.
- Add an alluring CTA (call to action): Create a sense of urgency in your call to action buttons and display them prominently. Your customers shouldn’t hunt for the “Buy Now” button. The longer time they spend searching for your buy button, the less likely they’ll stay on your website and convert. The human attention span is only 8 seconds now, as of 2021. You don’t have long to convert them.Some powerful active voice examples for striking CTAs:
– Add to Cart
– Buy it Now
– Order Yours Today
– Sign up Now
- Create urgency and scarcity and you’re sure to convert.
- It’s all about the format: Your landing page needs: A CTA to lead the user to action, a headline related to the subject matter, an easy-to-understand offer, benefits, and features, and a dose of social proof like customer reviews, endorsements, and testimonials.
Step 2: Set Your Affiliate Commission Rates and Rules
Before recruiting your affiliates, you need to set your commission rates and rules. This is the part that lures top-earning affiliates to your B2B affiliate marketing program.
Decide on the primary type of affiliate commission: do you want percentage or flat-rate commissions? Do you want commissions to be a percentage of each sale or a set dollar amount?
Most programs set up percentage commissions, with the average commission between 5-30% (although, anecdotally, we notice the higher end of the affiliate spectrum decreasing every year). If you only sell a few discreet products with a set price, then fixed commissions may work better for your business’s needs.
Ensure your commission rates compete with your competitors and other adjacent businesses that recruit affiliates. If your direct competitor’s commission is set to 15%, set your commission above this to compete.
Although, rivaling your competitor’s rate might not be the best strategy for your situation. If you spend more on your affiliate program than you make, you’re losing money on your program.
To determine your rates, consider the customer acquisition costs, the customer retention rate, and your CLV (customer lifetime value).
- What is the average cost to bring in a new customer?
- What % of customers do you retain every year?
- How much revenue does your average customer draw in?
It would help if you balanced your companies needs with the attractiveness of the program to customers.
We have a guide on setting up your commission structure, so it’s a good idea to peruse that if you need more guidance.
Next, you must set your rules. These B2B commission rules need to inspire affiliates to stay motivated. Consider these rules:
- Are you going to reward affiliates with a small commission when they generate a lead and a larger commission if the lead converts?
- Do you want to reward any additional bonuses for affiliates who exceed expectations by bringing in a number of qualified leads or sales within a set period? How about a commission bonus when an affiliate exceeds a set number of lifetime sales?
- What is the cookie duration on your links? In other words, how long are affiliates able to earn commission before the pay period/cookies reset?
- If an affiliate brings in a lead, will they automatically earn a commission or is there a time limit for the lead to purchase?
- When customers return a product or cancel service, does the affiliate retain their commission or is there a holding period of 6 months before the affiliate can receive the commission in the first place?
- For subscription-based services: do affiliates earn a commission when customers renew their subscription?
Once you can answer these commission rule questions, you can set your tracking cookie duration accordingly. Affiliate cookies are your tracking devices: monitoring the steps of the sales funnel and an affiliate’s overall success.
Pro-tip: when your business secures an ROI (return on investment). Many companies choose to set a rule that their affiliates can keep their sales commissions only if the good or service isn’t returned or canceled within a specified period.
Step 3: Choose the Right Affiliate Software
Starting an affiliate program is great, but how will you manage it? It’s not enough to create a Google Sheets document. You need a formal app to organize your affiliates, communicate with them, send them payouts, and track their progress. You need an app like LeadDyno.
Unlike our competitors, we offer one-click installations, integrating with over 25 platforms across various domains: eCommerce, marketing, CRM, payment processors, and more. As soon as you sign up with us, we instantly track your clicks, leads, and sales.
LeadDyno is the one application to rule them all. And really, we try to do it all. You can configure your affiliate portal by matching design schemes to your brand and also upload marketing materials for affiliates like social media materials, so your content is ready to go for affiliates to use at any time.
You need an affiliate marketing program because of its ability to track orders through coupons, referral links, email marketing, social media, and paid ads without toggling between five different dashboards.
More than just tracking, you can also engage with your affiliates and automate your marketing flow. Create email marketing campaigns for existing affiliates and customers, and send affiliate newsletters to keep your audience engaged with your program.
Choose how to pay your affiliates and set up the option to bulk pay using Paypal. You can choose whatever payment interval or threshold you want.
Step 4: Advertise and Educate
You’ve created most of your affiliate marketing program, but now you need the most crucial part: the people. As a B2B business, you need to be choosy and have a strict selection process. Letting affiliates come to you sounds like a good idea because if they come to you, they clearly like your product and want to sell it, but we recommend contacting affiliates directly.
Research reputable B2B companies and influencers your customers also love and trust. These leads are content creators in your industry who already produce high-quality content. Create your potential affiliates list using your CRM or even a simple Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet.
Narrowing your affiliate’s list makes tailoring your landing pages and content marketing materials easier as you’ll create the materials for this group.
Seek out affiliates with a positive track record for selling B2B products or services. Send them a sample or trial of your product to educate them on your product.
Next, don’t miss out on existing customers for your affiliates. Your customers are already your biggest fans and regularly interact with your product. So they’re the perfect choice for an affiliate program.
Existing customers can share their bona fide pride in your product, greatly benefitting you down the road.
Step 5: Analyze Your Success
In all other aspects of your marketing efforts, you analyze and adjust your strategy accordingly. The same analysis must happen here. Use affiliate tracking software like LeadDyno to track how your affiliates perform. Examine leads generated, total revenue, total conversions, sales generated, and track the top-earning affiliates.
When you track, you know what works and what doesn’t (an important part of starting your own B2B affiliate marketing program.
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