It can take months to develop rich affiliate partnerships with B2B publishers. Now that Q4 is upon us, it's time to start preparing for peak season in the B2B vertical next quarter. With that in mind, here are some of my ideas on recruiting key, niche affiliates:
1. Compelling Compensation Model
Developing and promoting an intriguing commission structure is the centerpiece of programs that garner mass appeal from publishers. If your company can support inbound leads, reward affiliates for delivering valid leads and provide a commission bonus for leads that convert into customers, approved accounts, etc.
If you're selling a product or service strictly online, consider a residual commission structure whereby affiliates receive payment for the life of the customers, accounts, etc. they refer and/or offering higher payouts on products with higher margins.
2. Track Everything
It's critical to track and credit affiliates for sending phone leads. B2B decision makers and purchase influencers gravitate to the phone for product/service questions during the sales process. Since phone numbers add creditability and build trust, conversion rates increase. Don't suppress phone numbers on your landing pages -- proudly present and track them.
3. Target, Target, Target
Your target list of affiliate prospects is much narrower than in the B2C world. Proactively prospecting, recruiting and building relationships with niche, endemic publishers related to your business is a solid strategy.
4. Invest In Marketing Materials
Creating and providing standard banner ads to affiliates is a necessary evil. Many of the leading B2B affiliates utilize content assets such as white papers, Webinars, e-books, guides and email creative to promote advertisers. A well-designed banner ad portfolio is an important tool for presenting a professional, comprehensive affiliate program, but in some cases, not the main attraction for key B2B publisher prospects.
5. Knowledge Is King
The top publishers in the B2B vertical command high CPM rates on their premium display inventory. Gaining traction with publishers can be an uphill battle unless you're armed with historical performance data on how your placements can either outperform or supplement current ads. Compile and provide metrics related to conversion rates, average order size, landing page performance and best-selling products/services.
6. Deal With Deal Publishers
The B2B daily deal and group-buying landscape is intriguing yet complex. Dozens of Groupon and LivingSocial-style publishers have emerged over the last year. A few select properties have gained audience scale through distribution partnerships, while others struggle to generate traffic. Opportunities exist in this channel but beware of committing resources before fully understanding audience size and key demographics.
7. "Partnership Marketing" Is the New Affiliate Marketing
Many affiliate prospects don't accept or support traditional advertising on their sites, but attract a similar B2B audience. Pivot your recruitment efforts toward business development opportunities, such as co-marketing, reciprocal promotions, integrated offerings and custom co-registration path placements.
For example, a payment processing company is probably a strong fit for a drop shipping company. These relationships take a bit longer to cultivate, but you might only need a few major partnerships to significantly impact your bottom line.