Equivalent to word of mouth in digital form, affiliate marketing is a very effective acquisition channel by which to promote your offers and sell products online. This model, which focuses on pure performance, creates a lasting partnership between a brand and a publisher, with a view to promoting a product or service. Highly developed within the B2C world, it is also developing in the more subdued world of B2B. It is a ROI lever by which to maximise your marketing investments while expanding your lead generation and conversion strategy.
Affiliate marketing: back to basics
Content creators who develop genuine expertise in a particular subject (through a blog, a website, videos or social media posts) are an interesting opportunity for B2B advertisers. Affiliate marketing therefore involves the creation of a partnership between a publisher and an advertiser, allowing the latter to present their offers and pay affiliates for the conversions generated. This is a performance-based marketing strategy model whereby advertisers only pay based on key objectives: a click, a purchase, a download (white paper, mobile application, etc.), a subscription to a newsletter, etc.
For the publisher, affiliation is a good way to monetise its audience in order to finance its content. For the advertiser, it is the assurance of a qualified audience that may potentially be interested in its offers. To fulfill his/her part of the deal, the affiliate promotes the brand by various means: newsletters sent to his/her community, native content, videos, banner ads, etc.
Affiliates are remunerated according to their type and the actions they will perform. The affiliate platform they work with will be able to develop a consistent compensation plan for all stakeholders.
Why affiliate marketing in B2B?
In B2B, getting the word out about your brand is an important issue. Affiliate marketing therefore allows you to stand out from the crowd, establish trust, legitimise your brand, accelerate the decision-making process, or facilitate the reassurance phase for a prospective customer. But there are also other reasons:
- A saturated traditional advertising market.
- A decrease in the reach of social networks, where you have to pay to exist without always having a guarantee of results.
- Increasing infobesity: there is far too much content – not always of good quality – and there is not enough time to get information, to read, to take the time to compare offers, or to learn about a particular issue.
- An ability to create a new gateway into an ABM strategy, with a view to complementing or initiating its content strategy.
- The opportunity to reach a qualified audience, with a view to saving time.
How to succeed with a B2B affiliate campaign
Getting into B2B affiliation is an innovative way to develop your business and take market share, or to promote a new offer. Like all marketing campaigns, there are best practices that must be mastered.
Know the place of affiliates in the buyer’s journey
The B2B sales cycle is longer and more intensive than in B2C, and decision-makers tend to do much more research on products or services prior to making a purchase. Hence the importance of a personalised experience to know exactly how your product or service will meet the customer’s needs.
Affiliation can therefore occur very early on, during the research phase, or shortly thereafter, when it comes time to make the decision; when reassurance must be constant. Conceptualising your customer journey with points of contact, friction points and experiences is important in order to optimise your B2B affiliate strategy.
The goal is to measure the impact of your affiliate campaigns. Since these are performance-based campaigns, the risk is often minimal for advertisers. Nevertheless, the data and the results obtained must still be measured and analysed:
- The amount of revenue you want your affiliates to earn per quarter or per year.
- The number of qualified leads you want your affiliates to generate per quarter or per year.
- The conversion rate.
Choosing the right acquisition levers
B2B emailing is still the best way to quickly generate the maximum number of qualified and quality leads (white papers, online surveys, requests for quotes, etc.). Advertising on Linkedin is also a good way to make yourself known.
To find the right B2B affiliates, you can look for well-established and reputable professionals that your target customers trust. The typical profile is a content creator in your niche field, who produces quality content that is in keeping with your brand. In B2B, this could be a specialist journal, an influential blogger, a professional speaker, a teacher-researcher, an influencer on LinkedIn, etc.
Choose affiliates from different segments of your target market and remember that you may also be working with your existing customers or ambassadors.
Train and educate your affiliates
If the product or service you are promoting is technical in nature, you must spend time training and coaching your affiliates to ensure you are putting out the right message. What seems clear to you may not be clear to them. There is nothing worse than sending a message that is unclear or inaccurate. To avoid problems, check in with your affiliates regularly and be available to them when required. Keep them informed of your brand’s news and resources.
Creating B2B affiliate campaigns requires that you adapt to new marketing methods. To save time and be more efficient, an agency or a specialised platform can be of great help. Experts will not only be on hand to assist you in the conceptualisation of the campaigns but also in their implementation. They will be able to manage relations with affiliates, as well as financial aspects, on your behalf.
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