Affiliate marketing has boomed in popularity in recent years, with the evolution of the world of social media. As online content creators generate their audience, more companies are looking to use their “influence” to reach a target audience. But, is affiliate marketing worth it in B2B marketing? Our research suggests that only 25% of B2B marketers are implementing an affiliate program. Why is this?
The premise of affiliate marketing is built on individuals, reviews, and trust. Reviews are key influential factors in a consumer’s purchase, with 93% of people reading a product review before buying.
While this doesn’t specifically translate to B2B, testimonials and portfolios can be a powerful tool in a marketer’s arsenal. The basis of content marketing lies in building trust with a potential buyer.
Affiliate marketing relies on content, the influence of affiliates, and their pre-existing reach within your market. The trust they’ve built with their audience should be considered a valuable resource within any marketing approach.
The Popularity of Affiliate Marketing in B2C
As mentioned, affiliate marketing has continually increased in popularity in the B2C space. As social platforms continue to grow, more and more creators look to reach “influencer” status.
Micro-influencers (those with a smaller, more niche following) are a popular marketing resource, as their audience is often more engaged. These content creators have been able to earn as much as $40,000 to $100,000 per year by posting affiliated content.
Large-scale influencers (more likely to be celebrities, with followers in the millions) are able to charge millions of dollars for a single post. Ultimately, their reach is capable of extending far beyond many other marketing approaches in consumer marketing. Around 61% of people trust influencers’ recommendations, and this trust is utilized to leapfrog a brand’s image.
More commonly termed “influencer marketing”, B2C marketing relies heavily on the relationships that content creators have generated with their audience. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that influencer marketing is disingenuous. The best collaborations are supported by a belief in the product or company.
Even in B2C marketing, content is the key to success. Many influencers have built their audience on the content they have created, and marketers need to offer more than just a discount code. The same is true for B2B marketing, and B2B affiliate marketing.
Affiliate Marketing Benefits for B2B Tech
Affiliate marketing and B2B tech marketing share some common ground. They both rely predominantly on quality content creation.
Affiliates need to provide their audience with something valuable, much like B2B marketers. B2B buyers are driven by trust and value, and content ensures that the company is considered a thought leader. This is why the inbound methodology is so popular in the B2B space.
So how can B2B tech benefit from a cohesive affiliate marketing strategy and is affiliate marketing worth it? There are a few key benefits you need to know:
As mentioned, affiliate marketing is built on an affiliate’s trust within their audience, and their maintenance of those relationships. B2B marketers can utilize this trust to generate interest and leads. If an affiliate trusts your solution enough to recommend it to their audience, then the audience is more likely to engage with your brand. Effectively, affiliate marketing achieves the primary goals of inbound marketing, but on a quicker timescale.
One of the primary challenges in B2B marketing is reaching your audience. Your message and branding aim to narrow down a selection of people that should find your solution valuable. However, there’s no guarantee that your content exclusively finds your specific niche. Choosing the right affiliate can help to refine your audience, and target them specifically with your content.
The B2B tech market is increasingly competitive. Truly disruptive solutions are hard to come by, and B2B tech companies will always have competitors. Often, the difference between successful marketing and blending into the crowd is the ability to differentiate your solution.
Affiliate marketing can be a great way to get information about your specific solution to your buyers, and communicate a clear defining factor. Use your affiliate’s connection with your audience to build trust in your solution, versus similar on the market.
In marketing, the more people you need to target, the more costly it can become. This is especially true for paid advertising. Small companies and startups struggle to reach their audience in the initial stages, and it can be difficult to get a leg up on your competitors with a larger budget.
Affiliate marketing is accessible to any company, no matter the size or phase of the business. Its results aren’t necessarily impacted by your available budget, compared to competitors, in the same way as other outbound approaches. As long as your targeting is correct, your ROI can outperform any competitor.
Working with affiliates can provide a variety of content that can be used to boost your existing marketing efforts. In today’s online world, very few influencers and affiliates stick to one form of content. Video and social media content are some of the most popular forms of content for both creators and consumers.
Collaborate with your affiliates to build a working relationship where both parties benefit from each other’s strengths. Your affiliate might be able to generate new video content that can drive both parties’ outreach, for instance.
How to Improve the ROI in B2B
Successful affiliate marketing is about more than just hiring an affiliate and asking them to link to your brand. You need to work together to find truly effective ways to communicate with your audience, while maintaining the trust that the affiliate has built within their community.
As mentioned previously, content is key to both B2B marketing and affiliate marketing. You need to collaborate to create good quality content that offers value to your buyers, much like inbound marketing. Is affiliate marketing worth it? Yes, with the right high-quality content behind it.
It’s equally important to conduct thorough research, and find the right influencers or affiliates for your program. It might seem like stating the obvious, but a beauty influencer isn’t going to be able to market your SaaS solution particularly well. Even if they did, their audience just isn’t going to be interested. Ensure you find a partner that operates within your niche, and has a firm standing within your community of buyers.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that getting affiliates on board isn’t as simple as sending them an email. Before beginning your affiliate marketing program, consider what you can offer them. Some of the most common incentives for affiliates are a portion of the sales they generate, or a one-time payment per post or piece of content. Consider which approach suits your company, while ensuring that you’re competitive.
The best affiliate marketing will use the strategy to maximum effect. While affiliate marketing can help you reach your audience, through an external influencer, the approach can provide more than that. For example, good quality content hosted on other sites should always be generating backlinks, and improve the SEO of your own website. Take advantage of the relationship where possible, and ensure that your content serves both you and your affiliate.
At Nituno, we work with B2B and tech companies to launch successful affiliate marketing campaigns. We know how effective affiliate marketing can be, but it can be just as challenging to know where to start. So many clients ask us, is affiliate marketing worth it in their industry? Get in touch with us today to discuss launching your program, and finding the right influencers for your business.