Who doesn’t love unicorns these days, from the start-up world of venture capital (VC) to my 9-year-old daughter’s insatiable affinity for them? But, my favorite by far, is the unicorn flying across my Asana dashboard when I’ve completed a task! Similarly, establishing high-quality B2B affiliate partners can be like trying to catch a unicorn — elusive and unique, yet so magical and in high demand.
Attracting these high-quality, engaged B2B publishers takes more than a generic approach, hence the “magic” required. You need to offer valuable resources, flexible payout options, and a customized approach to fit their particular needs. And why limit yourself to traditional channels when there are a plethora of innovative and unconventional channels just waiting to be discovered?
However, all this does not just magically happen, you need to support your publishers supporting you to support your brand. Yes, that’s a lot of support! But alas, if you provide publishers with the key ingredients they need to succeed, you’ll attract unique high-quality, engaged publishers — not just the usual suspects. And together you’ll build a sustainable mutually beneficial, fruitful partnership supporting your brand’s program.
Here are the key magic ingredients to attracting the publishers that’ll make your B2B affiliate marketing program a proverbial unicorn.
#1. Woo Publishers with Valuable Resources: Want to take your B2B affiliate marketing game to the next level? B2B publishers are typically looking for resources and tools that can help them get going faster, become stronger in generating revenue, increase their gravity, and grow their audience. With that, make sure you’re offering valuable resources like quick start guides, white papers, case studies, and webinars.
But don’t stop there! Creating high-quality content like expert insights, research studies, and industry reports can also help establish you as a thought leader in your niche. Plus, optimizing your resources for SEO can attract even more traffic and boost your organic search rankings. Who knew content could be so powerful? You did! And powerful content will fuel keen publishers to make the most of it, or in their language—money!
- Co-Branded Content: Content can also be used to build partnerships with other businesses in the same niche. Publishers can collaborate with other businesses to create valuable resources that benefit both parties and share the resources with their respective audiences. This can help expand their reach and drive more traffic and conversions to their website.
And if you’re offering cost-per-lead (CPL) payouts, make sure you have the proper shiny bait. White papers, case studies, and free product trials/tours can be used to capture contact information from potential customers. Even better, these campaigns can often be locked down with guarantees, yes indeed! Your job is to negotiate like a champ and ensure campaign integrity and lead quality. However, do it right and you get guaranteed leads filling your brand’s pipeline.
Valuable resources can help B2B affiliate marketing publishers differentiate themselves from their competitors, establish themselves as trusted authorities in their niche, and drive more traffic, leads, and conversions. So go forth and offer those resources.
#2. Be a Commission Shape-Shifter: Affiliate marketing is all about commissions, but unlike traditional business models, you pay for success after it’s achieved. With that, B2B affiliate marketing tends to have higher AOVs, so publishers are often motivated and willing to promote products with a higher commission rate. Also, be mindful of what the competition is doing by taking the time for due diligence on competitive research, publisher inquiries, and general industry benchmarks. You should be at a minimum, offering competitive commissions along with some other concession or special promotion that will attract top-quality B2B publishers.
With B2B programs, offering competitive and customized commissions can set your brand apart. It’s like offering a personalized golden ticket to a new revenue channel.
Customized payouts can not only attract new publishers but can continue to motivate and engage publishers to keep conversations ongoing. It’s an opportunity to keep encouraging them to actively promote a brand’s products or services to their audience. So, don’t settle for mediocre payouts and missed opportunities. Get creative with your affiliate program and watch your program grow.
- Optimal Positioning: By offering a customized approach to payouts, a brand can position itself as a savvy partner who truly understands the value of its publishers. Forget the one-size-fits-all mentality, a tailored commission plan with a variety of payout solutions such as hybrid, CPC, flat fees, and/or in-kind product incentives can help outshine competitors. This can be particularly effective in competitive industries where publishers have many options to choose from or with brands that are still establishing their awareness.
- Loyalty and Long-Term Partnerships: A customized commission can foster loyalty and can lead to a long-lasting, scalable partnership. By offering a commission that shows appreciation for their efforts, brands can demonstrate their commitment to their publishers’ success. Thereby, establishing a strong high-quality partnership.
While a higher commission can be a powerful motivator for publishers, it’s important to keep in mind that it is not the only factor that influences their decision to promote a brand. The quality and relevance of the brand’s offer to the publisher’s audience, the ease of use of the affiliate program, and other factors can also play a crucial role. Therefore, taking a customized approach that meets each publisher’s unique needs can be exactly the shapeshifter needed in a B2B affiliate program.
#3. Unlock the Power & Reach of Social Media: Social media isn’t just for cat videos and memes anymore (although, we’re not judging) — it’s become a vital tool for businesses to connect with their audience. And that’s even true for B2B programs.
Here are some savvy strategies to leverage and expand your social media presence to attract more publishers:
- Maximize your existing social media accounts by updating and cross-referencing them to gain new followers and subscribers.
- Utilize affiliate network resources like marketplaces, network discovery capabilities, influencer groups, and forums to showcase your program.
- Expand your reach to LinkedIn, a powerful B2B platform, to connect with potential publishers and industry leaders.
- Build a strong brand presence on LinkedIn by sharing high-quality content that showcases your expertise and attracts interest.
- Engage with potential publishers on LinkedIn through groups, messaging, and valuable resources like white papers and webinars.
- Promote the benefits of your affiliate program on LinkedIn through dedicated posts and targeted LinkedIn Ads.
#4. Embrace Customization: Get ahead of your competition in B2B affiliate marketing by stepping out of the “affiliate box”. Instead, customize your approach to attracting, onboarding, and excelling publishers. With tailored support and flexibility, you can attract valuable partners such as lead gen partners, influencers, media, paid search, and other performance partners.
By empowering publishers with customizable options, brands can ensure greater alignment with their audience needs, boost engagement, and stand out in a competitive market. But that’s not all, a customization approach can help you find those niche partners that will become your most valuable players. They’ll be driven by the promise of a high ROI and will be more likely to stick around for the long haul. It’s like finding the needle in the haystack but with much better ROI and no hay fever!
Likewise, we know finding a needle in a haystack is just that, finding a needle in a haystack. To solve this, assign a dedicated account manager or support team who can best manage a customized program. Invest in experts that can apply their knowledge of the affiliate program to identify and recruit partners that will bring in the most value, optimize those partners, manage the program, and ensure proper attribution and compliance.
- Enhanced Flexibility: By providing customization options that can be quickly implemented, brands can offer greater flexibility to their publishers. This can be particularly attractive to publishers who may have a niche audience or require specific features to effectively promote a brand.
- Sharper Alignment: With customization options, brands can ensure that their offerings are more relevant and valuable to their target audience. Happy audiences mean happy publishers and happy brands.
- Increased Engagement: By giving customized offers, brands can encourage publishers to take a more active role in promoting their products or services, leading to a more invested and dedicated partner network.
- Competitive Advantage: Offering customized approaches can be the key differentiator from a set-it-and-forget-it program. B2B brands vary greatly in their offerings, audiences, and pricing. Therefore, a program that thoughtfully takes all those factors into consideration will be better able to understand the best way to identify valuable publishers.
- Build Better Bonds: Providing customization options can demonstrate value in publishers’ input and that the brands are committed to supporting their success. Thereby, brands can build stronger, long-term bonds with top-quality partnerships.
#5. Tap into Your Ecosystem: Forge alliances with like-minded businesses that complement the brand’s product offerings and cater to the target audience. Similarly, refine the search for complementary businesses by looking beyond the obvious suspects. Think creatively and expand your horizons to include non-traditional partners who share your target audience. From influencers to industry associations, there’s a treasure trove of potential affiliates waiting to be discovered.
Don’t forget to sweeten the deal by offering referral programs or other incentives to entice these businesses. By teaming up with complementary businesses, a program can attract B2B affiliate marketing publishers in a variety of ways.
- Provide Access to a Larger Audience of Potential Customers: This can be particularly valuable for publishers who are looking to expand their reach and increase their revenue stream via commissions.
- Increased Credibility: Partnering with well-respected businesses in the same industry or niche can increase a publisher’s credibility and authority. Thereby, increasing trust from their audience, resulting in higher conversion rates and increased revenue.
- Access to New Products and Services: Partnering with complementary businesses can also provide publishers with access to new products and services that they can promote to their audience. This can help publishers diversify their offerings and provide more value.
- Collaboration: Complimentary businesses can also provide opportunities for collaboration on content and marketing efforts. This can help publishers create more engaging and valuable content, reach a larger audience, increase their overall visibility, and grow their audience.
- Increased Commission Potential: Partnering with complementary businesses can also lead to increased commission potential. By promoting multiple products or services from different businesses, publishers can earn more commissions and increase their overall revenue.
Bonus “Magical” Tip
Commit to CNEs (Critical Non-Essentials): Make it a priority to go above and beyond when possible. This tip could be just the magical difference. As well as the deciding factor if a program hits a roadblock, attribution challenges, payout issues, or otherwise. Preserving a partnership that has established a strong relationship with trust and collaboration is much easier than replicating or replacing it. Take the time to invest in some CNEs with your partners and it’ll surely be a return on investment when you may need help.
CNEs for strengthening partnerships in B2B affiliate marketing programs may include but are not limited to:
- Effective Communication: Regular and clear communication with the partners can help build trust, improve collaboration, and avoid misunderstandings. Sometimes simply timely responsiveness can be a key differentiator.
- Mutual Goals and Expectations: Bridge the gap between the partner and the brand, there should be a clear understanding of guidelines, expectations, and performance for the partnership.
- Relational Authenticity: Keep it relevant and personal when possible and speak to publishers in their language. What’s going to pique their interest or be effective for them? Come to them with recommendations vs. hollow requests.
- Transparency: Being open and transparent about commission rates, performance metrics, and other relevant information can help establish a positive and mutually beneficial partnership.
- Lastly, anything else that’s interesting and may engage, bond, and/or establish an above-and-beyond partnership. Make yourself memorable!
Growing B2B affiliate programs requires an almost magic-filled combination of onboarding the more established publishers, as well as attracting unique new publishers. Likewise, there are more and more people starting their own businesses or working as freelancers. This continues to grow that pool of potential niche affiliates who are interested in promoting B2B products or services. By implementing these key B2B affiliate marketing ingredients, you can more efficiently and effectively attract enthused, engaged, and productive publishers. Thereby, building strong, profitable partnerships.
With that, we’ll continue to see affiliate marketing becoming a more unique way for B2B brands to effectively reach new customers and smartly increase their revenue.
Need help to unlock more of the magic?
The B2B segment has emerged as a rapidly expanding opportunity within the affiliate and partner marketing industry, and we take pride in being at the forefront of this trend.
As an extension of our clients’ teams, we go beyond conventional affiliates and focus on identifying performance-based partners who can bring significant value to your organization. These partners can bridge any gaps in areas such as paid search, lead generation, influencers, paid social, and more.
If you’re looking for assistance in unlocking the B2B magic, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our magical B2B experts.