Navigating the Affiliate Marketing Channel with Craig McGlynn Episode 5: Can the Affiliate Channel Work for B2B Brands?

This article is the fifth in an ongoing informative series written by Craig McGlynn, the EVP or Agency at leading Affiliate Management Agency Perform[cb]. The series covers topics of interest to people in the Affiliate Industry, considering launching an affiliate program, or scaling an existing affiliate program. Links to the previous articles are below!

Can the affiliate channel work for B2B brands?

Believe it or not, one of the fastest growing segments in affiliate marketing is B2B. Based on the many sales conversations I’ve had, along with insight from friends and peers in the industry, I would say of every 10 conversations where brands are investigating affiliate marketing, probably two to four are B2B

We’ve seen the industry start to adapt for B2B products and services as well. There is an entire company purpose-built to support B2B affiliate, Partnerstack, and we’ve also seen mature platforms like Impact launch B2B product functionality to service this growing demand.

So how do you know for sure that affiliate marketing is a fit for your B2B brand?. That depends on a few factors:

  • Have you road-tested your B2B product or service with other digital acquisition channels? If so, how did it work?
  • Is your online acquisition of customers ecommerce friendly? In other words, can a full sale be completed online?

If the answers to the above questions are no, that doesn’t actually preclude affiliate marketing, it just adjusts the tactics from the classic CPA model to a CPL model

Generally speaking, B2B new client acquisition via the affiliate channel requires much more targeting, and often an educational component, as the barriers to reaching the right audience are higher than, for instance, someone selling broadly-appealing consumer electronics. Research is required to understand where you will find your next client, including their demographics, any geographic considerations, what sites they visit online, and what types of incentives might appeal to them.

Typically speaking, motivated B2B audiences can be found visiting major finance sites and special interest blogs around their vertical (i.e. tax professionals as a good place to find small business owners). B2B programs participate in the affiliate channel by running offers on networks, and promoting via affiliates on everything from deal sites, to editorial sites, to podcasts and youtube channels.

When evaluating a B2B affiliate recruitment strategy it’s important to consider the potential commission and sales cycle. Put yourself in the shoes of a finance blog. That person is motivated by monetizing their blog, so if they write an article recommending your service to their audience, they will want to get paid a good sum for that referral, and they will want to see their money ASAP. If you have a lengthy sales cycle that would keep that blogger from getting paid quickly, then consider paying on the lead rather than the sale.

A critical consideration for lead-based programs is making sure that you have a strong set of terms and conditions for affiliates. With good compliance mechanisms in place, you can avoid the fraud that can be common in lead programs.

Not sure where to begin digesting these points and deciding if affiliate marketing is right for your B2B brand? Consult with a trusted affiliate marketing agency to create the smartest strategy possible for your brand. Book a no-hassle, no-strings meeting with Craig and his team to, in his words, “nerd-out on the channel” and see if affiliate marketing is the right fit for you. 

Stay tuned for our next episode and if you missed them, check out the other articles in this series: