It is easy for B2B brands to overlook affiliate marketing. B2C products easily come to mind when one mentions affiliate marketing. This has eluded many B2B brands of more conversions than they are currently making.
Affiliate marketing is a large industry. Annual affiliate marketing spending is expected to reach $8 billion in 2022. This is projected to be an increase from $6.8 billion in 2020. This should capture your attention as a brand looking to extend your reach and ultimately increase conversions.
The fact that 81% of brands leverage affiliate marketing to capture the attention of prospects as well as increase engagement with existing customers means that it should be a vital part of your marketing strategy.
In this article, we shall take a step by step approach in looking at how your B2B brand can leverage affiliate marketing.
Before we delve into the step by step guide, here are some reasons why you should adopt affiliate marketing.
1. Increased TrafficAffiliate marketing can drive in more traffic than you can think of. Irrespective of the fact that your customers are B2B customers, there are billions of visits to the internet every day. There are publishers whose major traffic sources are from the B2B community. These publishers can help drive traffic towards you.
2. Traffic SourcesThe fear of many B2B brands is generating low-quality traffic. They want traffic from their target community and not just millions in traffic from a consumer site. Affiliate marketing, if done well, can focus solely on traffic sources from the B2B community.
3. BudgetYou don’t have to pay for traffic if your set goals are not achieved. Affiliate marketing is performance-based. When you are not getting leads from the traffic of a publisher, you don’t pay. Affiliates are paid when the desired action takes place. This helps you to cut off wasteful investments and focus on profitable traffic sources.
4. EffectivenessResearch reveals that affiliate marketing accounts for 16% of all e-commerce orders in the United States. This makes it one of the largest sources of e-commerce orders, outperforming social commerce and display advertising. The fact that affiliates don’t get paid unless they provide traffic that converts motivates them to put in more work in ensuring that they do not only drive traffic but drive high-quality traffic.
The Step By Step Guide to B2B Affiliate Marketing
1. Set Your GoalsYou need to align your business goals with affiliate marketing. Is the goal to expand your email list or to make a sale directly? Your goals could be both. You may need a bigger email list where you can always drive sales and engage repeat customers. You need to make this clear in the agreement you sign with publishers.
You don’t want to venture into affiliate marketing without having a set of goals you want to achieve. Many B2B brands focus on lead generation and will pay for any lead that fills an opt-in form rather than one that just visits the website.
Your goal may not be to make a sale. Whatever your goal is, you should ensure that the lead is not taken through many steps before the goal is achieved. This is because if publishers realize that they are not making enough returns from the traffic sent to you, they will focus on another brand. And the other brand might be your competitor.
2. What’s the Value of a Lead?You need to do your calculations to know how much you want to invest in affiliate marketing. You must know the value of a lead. This will help you determine the cost per action value when the publisher sends you leads.
You may have several values. It could be that you plan to pay $1 for everyone who visits your website, $5 for everyone who fills an opt-in form, and $10 for everyone who makes a purchase.
As much as your publishers have to be well-motivated, you also need to be careful. You want to know the value of a lead before you exceed your budget. To do this well, strike a balance. You don’t want to underpay or overpay. You may not get this right at once, but, with time, you will find a value that is favorable to you and your publishers.
3. Look Out for the Right PublishersThis is very important. You are in the B2B niche and your customers are brands and businesses. You want to partner with publishers that operate in this niche. This may require some research, but with the use of the right keywords on the internet, you will get to these publishers.
Top publishers are always well optimized and you would most likely find them in the first few pages of a search engine result. Publishers in this group should be your target. You are looking at getting exposure for your business; the search engine ranking of publishers should be a priority.
Experience is a key factor when working with publishers. You want to work with publishers who have successfully run affiliate campaigns. You should scan the publisher’s website to see if there is any affiliate offer. If there isn’t, you may need to extend your research to other websites.
You should also be careful of the type of traffic a publisher generates. This may be B2B traffic, but may not be what you need for your business. You may not have the capacity to do business with the leads being directed from the publisher’s website. It could also be that the theme of the publisher’s website does not fall in line with your brand’s voice and image.
A good way to know an effective publisher is to ask other businesses in your niche or similar niches who have worked with publishers. From experience, they can judge which one provides the best traffic and help you choose.
Fortunately, the B2B aspect of affiliate marketing is expanding. More publishers are now seeing the benefits of generating leads for B2B brands. This gives you a wider option. Thus, don’t be in a hurry to pick a publisher. Take your time to learn and understand the capacity, experience, volume of traffic, quality of content, and type of traffic publisher generates.
4. Ensure that Your Affiliates Understand Your Sales Cycle
Many B2B businesses engage B2C publishers. This may be because of the publisher’s experience and the mixed traffic the publisher generates. This publisher may find it hard to understand that a sale can take months to be finalized. This is why you need to explain the complexity of the process to the publisher.
To avoid the case of publishers giving up early enough, you can offer CPA values for leads that sign up for email newsletters or initiate the buying process. This may be as little as $1 - $3, but it helps you retain the publishers bringing in more traffic while you are working on closing pending sales.
B2B relationships tend to be longer. As long as the publisher is bringing in high-quality traffic, it is profitable to remain in the partnership.
5. Gather Essential ResourcesYou need to help your publishers successfully get their job done. Essential resources should be made available to them the moment you start your affiliate program. These resources will give them the materials to help generate traffic towards you.
You need videos, text, and graphic materials that can tell your publishers more about your business. They can create content from these materials to promote your products.
Ensure that these materials are detailed with the necessary information and benefits that prospects stand to get from doing business with you.
Video testimonials from happy customers and banner images to draw attention are also essential. You may also need to develop discount codes.
It is very important to optimize your landing page. You don’t want to waste the leads coming from your publishers. If your landing page is taking longer than 3 seconds to load, there may be a problem. You need to make it faster. Think with Google noted that 53% of mobile users leave a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Also, ensure that your opt-in form is not unnecessarily long. Cut it down to the basic information you need to convert them.
Publishers will do their job of sending you traffic, it falls on you to make the most of the traffic. Thus, make your conversion process shorter.
6. Constantly Evaluate Your PerformanceNow that you have set your goals, gotten the cost per action value, looked for the right publishers, clarified your sales funnel to publishers, and given the necessary resources for support - the next thing is not a vacation in the Bahamas. You now need to sit and evaluate the process.
You must constantly watch the traffic and conversion, see what works and what doesn’t, know the publishers to drop and the ones to invest more in, and constantly optimize the conversion process.
You can’t stay fully rest assured that all is working fine. You need to check your results against your goals. Are you achieving them already? Are you making a profit?
Even when your goals are being achieved, you should be looking at raising the bar for your goals. From what you have learned earlier, how does your brand become more profitable?
You should also be looking at ways to help and better motivate your effective publishers. You should release new materials as soon as you have them. If it still falls within your budget, you can increase CPA values.
Achieving Your Goals with Affiliate MarketingAffiliate marketing is no longer a solely B2C market strategy. It is now also used in the B2B market. Fortunately, it has worked successfully for several businesses in this niche. More B2B businesses are adopting affiliate marketing as a strategy to increase their reach and make more conversions.
To also use affiliate marketing successfully, you must identify your goals. Once you identified, you need to put things in place to achieve these goals. Know how much your budget allows you to spend on a lead and set this as a CPA value. Get a good publisher and reach an agreement about your sales cycle. Nevertheless, offer some incentive in the meantime.
It is always good to evaluate your marketing strategy and see what works and what doesn’t. It may turn out that affiliate marketing isn’t for your business however, you won’t know this if you don’t evaluate the strategy.