It has been clear for some time that the affiliate channel also contributes significantly to the sales of B2B products and services. For advertisers the channel barely entails any risks due to its performance-based remuneration and its comparatively low CPOs. Many companies offer business products already as part of partnership programs - often with very attractive commissions. This is why it is even more surprising that still only a relatively small number of publishers have (at least partially) specialized in this marketing channel.
So why are B2B programs less attractive for publishers?
- A far more restricted pool of customers
- B2B products can be more complex than consumer products which means greater information is needed before purchasing
- Lengthy decision-making processes which may require direct contact between customers and suppliers
Due to these difficulties, products which companies obtain via traditional purchase still present a challenge in affiliate marketing. Not all products within the B2B sector are as tricky to market via the affiliate channel. Products with a shorter procurement process and somewhat easier to explain such as promotional gifts and event services, do not present the same challenge.
To revive the B2B affiliate business for products with longer lead times, you need to convince partners (publishers) that it is worth the effort. Some recommendations:
- Set up separate tracking and commissions for business products such as customer lifetime commissions
- Create individual agreements with top partners
- Ensure landing pages are optimised for each medium and the content is relevant and engenders trust
- Cross-channel tracking to account for sales which may result offline (eg utilise call tracking)
- Providing affiliates with greater product information to account for the difference in purchase behaviour
The network Affilinet has recently started an initiative to attract affiliates’ interest in this sector, focusing on small companies and self-employed. They provide B2B tariff packages to their partners which consist of a collection of programs within the network. These are intended to help the affiliates discover marketing potential for their existing programs as well as identify possibilities for new offers. In addition, the merchants of Affilinet receive information material about marketing opportunities.
By focusing on smaller companies, the effects of the above mentioned difficulties are minimized since the decision-making processes of such companies are more similar to private purchasing decisions. Publishers can look forward to higher customer retention. B2B offers are especially useful in the cashback and loyalty sector– since here partners can retain members for the long-term.