Baby Got B2B Affiliate Marketing

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The B2B affiliate marketing industry is experiencing rapid growth, according to recent reports. While influencers and content creators are thinking of themselves more and more as brands, there are still some important differences between B2C and B2B affiliate marketing. As we discussed in a previous post, periods of economic stagnation are the perfect time to launch or beef up your affiliate programs. So read on for three key differences between B2B and B2C affiliate marketing.

I. More Education Upfront

When a business is considering partnering with another business, they’re considering much more than whether their audience will like the brand and product. Unlike a pair of shoes or a lipstick, B2B partnerships involve products like software, loans, and real estate for commercial purposes. Thus, the decision to partner with that brand is based not only on how good the product is, but the value that product will give to the user.

II. Use Value vs. Product Value

The range of a product is less personal in B2B affiliate marketing. A B2B affiliate is trying to give the customer a business reason to use a product. And those products require time and effort to learn, implement, and assess. As a result, B2B partners are more judicious in their selection of affiliates and merchants. They want some assurance that labor is going to be worth it.

For the same reasons, B2B partnerships can be extremely lucrative for all concerned, when it’s a good fit. Consider our client Automattic, the founders of WordPress. The majority of the affiliates we are recruiting for that program are agencies, web developers, and designers. These affiliates are creating content on how to use WordPress services like JetPack and Pressable. In another example, our client Unity, the majority of the affiliates we’ve recruited are designers and animators. These folks are leveraging Unity’s asset store to build and modify their own creations.

III. Longer Lifecycle

Because B2B requires more upfront work, the expectation is that the lifecycle of the partnership will have more longevity than B2C. They want a return on their investment in time and effort selecting and educating partners. Someone looking for an excuse to go out on the town is less selective when choosing their partner than someone looking for a long term relationship: the same is true of B2B vs. B2C affiliate. It’s not that B2B partnerships are written in stone, but the hope is that the bigger investment upfront will reap rewards for a longer term than one product launch or seasonal sale.

In addition, whether it’s for a software license or service, the B2B cost is a higher ticket item, and/or requires more implementation. When purchasing a sales force item, the decision process time is longer because the buyer has to figure out how to implement it for their company. In other words, adoption requires greater lift on the purchaser side in B2B than B2C marketing. Quality affiliate program managers will provide educational resources to help get folks across the threshold.

IV. Summarizing B2B vs. B2C Affiliate Marketing

It takes time to get B2B affiliate marketing up and running, more so than in consumer-facing verticals. But once goals are aligned, a carefully managed affiliate program in the B2B space can benefit all sides.

The decision-making process in B2B affiliate marketing tends to be longer and involves more stakeholders than B2C. In B2C, a consumer might make a purchase decision based on personal preferences or recommendations from friends. In B2B, decision-making typically involves managers, whole departments, and other key stakeholders. This requires B2B affiliates to tailor their marketing efforts to address the needs and concerns of the various parties involved.

Overall, B2B affiliate marketing requires a higher level of expertise, trust, and relationship-building compared to B2C. While the potential for success and profitability in B2B may be higher, the process tends to be slower and more focused on longer-term partnerships and customer education.

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