If you want to launch an affiliate marketing program in 2024 (or wake up the dormant one you currently have), don’t just educate yourself on ‘how’ to do it. Go in with the mindset of making it successful by dedicating time and resources to it.
There’s much more to it than just setting up the tools you need and waiting for the referrals to roll in. Think strategic partnerships, compelling offers, and robust program management.
This guide is a comprehensive look at how to craft and nurture a B2B affiliate marketing program that stands out in a competitive digital market.
Is an Affiliate Program Even Right for B2B?
Most likely, the answer is yes. Affiliate marketing works for all types of businesses, from SaaS to specific services. But there’s no template that makes it a success for all of them.
So before diving in, assess whether an affiliate program aligns with your business model, goals, and budget. Consider factors like your product’s nature, your target market, and the length of your sales cycle. Your product should have a clear value proposition and a well-defined audience.
Once you tick all the boxes and truly understand what you are offering and asking, you can proceed with setting up a program that provides value to both affiliates and your customers.
What Sets Successful B2B Affiliate Programs Apart?
We’ve seen companies like Pallyy achieve 22% MRR growth. Uplifting even reached $700k in sales with affiliate marketing. And we could go on for a while (but you might just want to read our case studies instead).
While this sounds promising, it didn’t happen magically. Certain programs stand out, leaving others in the shadows. We’ve seen that the distinction between a successful program and an average one often boils down to a few key factors:
1. There’s a strong strategic alignment with business goals and resources
Successful programs have a clear alignment with the company's broader business objectives and resources. They are not standalone operations; instead, they're integrated seamlessly into the overall marketing and sales strategy, complementing and enhancing the company's goals.
To add, companies are willing to invest time and resources in it. Rewardful’s pricing certainly doesn’t break the bank, and our course is totally free, but you will need to put the hours in.
2. They choose quality over quantity in affiliate selection
Top-performing programs prioritize the recruitment of high-quality affiliates over a large pool of partners. These metrics from our own research give you some more insight into that.
3. Decisions are made quickly and confidently thanks to data
Successful programs don’t sleep on their data. They leverage analytics to inform their strategies. They monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and insights from data to refine affiliate tactics and optimize campaigns. This also enables them to act faster than others.
4. There’s an innovative and adaptable approach
Not all affiliate programs need to look alike. The most successful ones aren’t afraid to experiment with new promotional strategies, commission structures, or affiliate incentives. Moreover, they stay adaptable, and ready to pivot based on performance data, affiliate feedback, and evolving market trends.
5. Affiliate relationships and support come first
Your affiliates are just puppets in your marketing game. They're real human beings who are trying to earn a living and learn new skills. Beyond just transactional interactions, successful programs are designed to build mutually beneficial relationships. They provide continuous support, training, and resources to ensure their affiliates are well-equipped to succeed.
6. They prioritize effective communication and engagement
Regular, clear communication is a hallmark of a successful program. The best programs out there don't wait for their affiliates to reach out with questions – they make sure their affiliates are always up to speed and are constantly keeping them engaged. Whether it's sharing product updates, market insights, or promotional strategies, they are transparent and hey, even fun to keep up with.
7. Investing in the right technology is a must
Using the right affiliate software, like Rewardful, can make a significant difference. These programs benefit from robust tracking capabilities, seamless integrations, and user-friendly dashboards, making program management more efficient and effective. Having one go-to tool for all things affiliate marketing helps brands stay on top of things and not waste time.
8. They invest in focused and skilled management
Your affiliate marketing program’s success strongly depends on the presence of a dedicated, knowledgeable affiliate program manager. These managers handle the day-to-day operations and bring strategic insight and leadership to the program, driving its growth and success. They’re the heart of the community and give that human touch to it. Cherish them.
9. There’s a long-term vision
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: affiliate marketing isn’t a quick fix. Successful B2B affiliate programs are designed with a long-term vision. They are scalable, and capable of growing and evolving as the company and market dynamics change.
Building Your Affiliate Program From the Ground Up: Steps for Success
Don't worry, this is not some generic step-by-step guide on setting up an affiliate program. Yes, we’ll walk you through the steps, but we’ll mainly focus on how you'll nail them.
Identifying Your Ideal Affiliates
Success in affiliate marketing heavily relies on choosing the right partners. Ideal affiliates for B2B scenarios are often industry influencers, niche content creators, and platforms that cater to your target industry. Here’s where to find them:
- Forums and groups: be an active participant in niche forums and LinkedIn or Facebook groups. Look for active contributors who get attention and have respect in your industry. Reddit and Instagram can also be goldmines for this.
- B2B event networking: connect with speakers and attendees at industry events. LinkedIn Sales Navigator: leverage this tool for precision in identifying potential affiliates with a strong professional network.
Crafting a Truly Compelling Offer
Does it frustrate you when you read a job offer that boasts a ‘competitive salary’ but then doesn't give you numbers? Yeah, affiliates feel the same. They are not looking for an affiliate program that matches the rest, they want one that stands out. Now, you don't need to give unreasonably high commissions, but research what affiliates are expecting and try to be on or above that. You should also be offering other things, such as:
- Exclusive access: give affiliates early access to new products or services, making their promotion unique. Or give them a premium subscription if they sign up as affiliates.
- Engaging landing pages: develop a dedicated, engaging landing page on your website specifically for your affiliate program. Don’t hide your program somewhere in the footer.
- Personalized outreach: reach out to potential affiliates with personalized communication, such as video messages or collaborative content opportunities.
Build Strong Relationships with Affiliates
Nurturing relationships with your affiliates is critical. It goes beyond sending information their way. Here’s how to make this a success:
- Affiliate advisory board: form a board with top-performing affiliates to gather feedback and foster a sense of community.
- Affiliate co-creation of products: involve top-performing affiliates in the co-creation or beta testing of new products. Their insights can improve your offerings and give them a deeper connection to your brand.
- Affiliate mentorship programs: pair new affiliates with experienced ones in a mentorship program, fostering skill development and more in-depth engagement within your affiliate community.
Integrating Your Affiliate Program with Your Existing Marketing and Sales Strategy
An affiliate program is not a side mission. A successful B2B affiliate program should align with your broader marketing and sales objectives, so they all complement each other. This alignment also ensures consistency in messaging. Let’s look at some key integration tactics.
- Harmonize goals: align your affiliate program with your marketing objectives, such as focusing rewards around lead generation if that's a priority.
- Sales funnel alignment: tailor your affiliate program to fit into your sales funnel stages, providing affiliates with appropriate content and tools.
- Consistent brand messaging: ensure that affiliates are equipped with content that reflects your brand's voice and values.
Cultivating In-House Expertise for B2B Affiliate Marketing
So, who’s going to be spearheading the affiliate venture? Running a successful affiliate program isn’t something you do on the side, so don’t just put it on the plate of a marketer who already has full-time responsibilities. Instead, appoint someone who can dedicate more time and love to it. If that’s someone who's already part of the team but who isn't trained in it yet, train them. Here's how you can ensure your team is well-equipped for the task:
Encourage Learning and Training Programs
Make sure you cover the fundamentals of affiliate marketing, the specifics of B2B environments, and the nuances of your particular industry. From that point on, they can dive deeper and specialize further. A great starting point is our very own (free!) course.
Apart from the nuts and bolts of affiliate marketing, make sure they are also trained in relationship building, have a solid set of analytical skills and are up to speed with legal and compliance matters.
Make Sure Roles and Responsibilities Are Understood
Clearly define the roles and responsibilities within your affiliate marketing team. From affiliate recruitment and relationship management to analytics and reporting – ensure that each team member understands their role in the program's success.
Promote Cross-Functional Collaboration
Encourage your affiliate marketing team to collaborate with other departments such as sales, marketing, and customer service. This integrated approach ensures a cohesive strategy and a consistent brand message across all channels.
Empower Your Team with the Right Tools
Equip your team with the right tools and software to manage and track the program efficiently. Familiarize them with the software’s features, reporting tools, and automation capabilities. Again, training is essential here.
Set Yourself Up for Success with Rewardful
The right tool is just a part of the puzzle, but it’s a big one. We’ve built the perfect platform for SaaS brands that really want to grow big through affiliate marketing. Check out Rewardful pricing and get started today.
FAQs - Strategies to Build a Profitable B2B Affiliate Program
1. How Do You Launch a Successful B2B Affiliate Marketing Program?
To build a successful affiliate marketing program for B2B, consider focusing on the following points:
- Find affiliates that match your B2B product language (quality over quantity)
- Make affiliate program a long-term business commitment
- Support your affiliates with updated resources and build a personalized relationship
- Don’t be afraid to try new campaign tactics, commission structures, and affiliate incentives
Learn more about affiliate marketing for B2B businesses in our Affiliate Marketing course.
2. How Do You Recruit the Right Affiliates for a B2B Affiliate Program?
Here are some tips for finding the ideal affiliates for a B2B affiliate program:
- Create a dedicated section on your website to promote your affiliate program
- Reach out to the industry influencers
- Analyze the affiliates of your competitors and match their offers
- Boost your affiliate marketing campaign with paid ads
Learn more in this How To Effectively Recruite Affiliate guide.
3. Rewardful vs. Tapfiliate - Which Is Best for a B2B Affiliate Program?
If you’re looking for an affiliate management tool designed around B2B SaaS businesses, Rewardful is your best choice.
With Rewardful, you can easily customize commission structure (e.g., based on the lifetime value or recurring revenue), segment affiliates (e.g., based on your product or target groups), and more.
Furthermore, Rewardful has higher reviews (on platforms like G2 and Capterra) and is more cost-friendly than Tapfiliate (the plan starts at $49 vs. $119 monthly). And with Rewardful’s transparent pricing plans, you’ll always know what you’re paying for.
Check out the details of Rewardful and Tapfiliate comparisons here.