For many companies that launch and internally-manage their affiliate program, the affiliates within their program are usually viewed as small mom-and-pop websites, “couponers” and bloggers as opposed to “business partners.”
This perspective, however, is short-sighted.
For your affiliate partnerships to be truly successful, it’s essential to perceive and treat the affiliates within your program as not only an extension of your brand, but to also respect their work for the business that it is.
To help you in this process, we’ve laid out three ways to attract, partner with, and market to affiliates using a business-to-business (B2) marketing approach:
1. B2B Approach to Affiliate Recruitment
In your communications with affiliates, it’s important to refer to them in ways that align with how they view themselves (e.g. Content Curators, Social Media Influencers, YouTube Personalities, and Mobile Partners). Similar to any CEO or company founder, affiliates have put hard work into creating their own website, blog, social channels and audience. As such, they’ll likely be more responsive when spoken to accordingly.
Instead of telling them “We invite you to join our affiliate program because we like your fashion-focused Facebook page,” consider this approach:
“We’re looking to partner with social media influencers in the fashion space to help us introduce our brand to new audiences. After viewing your (blog, website, etc.), we think you’d be a great partner fit!”
Every potential affiliate has their own business model, which should be taken into account when pitching them to join your program. Explain how promoting your brand will fit into their current promotional and marketing style and, in turn, will help them drive additional revenue to their website.
Also, rather than thinking in terms of what the affiliate can you do for your brand, think about what your brand can do for the affiliate partner. People – especially business owners — want to receive “me-mail,” not “you-mail.” Make sure to outline how you and your brand can help the affiliate’s website or online presence succeed as a business.
2. B2B Approach to Affiliate Performance
Identify how affiliates are looking to partner with your brand and use that insight when discussing the best way for them to drive conversions. For example, they may want to engage with your audience to build brand awareness for you, influence your audience’s purchasing behavior, drive online and in-store conversions, etc.
Your affiliates will also be interested to learn about how you’ll help activate them as partners. If they are looking to grow their business via revenue, provide them with opportunities to earn cash bonuses. If they are looking to grow their own brand, offer them an opportunity to gain exposure via your social pages (e.g. run a contest for a chance to be retweeted/shared by your social team).
Another activation tip is to take note of newly joined affiliate partners with high potential and request a business plan from them. Doing so will show them that you are interested in moving the partnership forward right out of the gate. In your activation conversations, make sure to change up your language and use business terms such as “revenue,” “ROI,” and “CR” instead of just “traffic” and “sales.”
3. B2B Approach to Optimizing Current Affiliate Partners
When an affiliate joins your program, there are many opportunities for you to help them become even better business partners for your brand, including providing them with the tools necessary to take your message to their audience (e.g. brand media kits, one-pagers on different services offered, affiliate “toolkits,” etc.).
Often, it is also important to share your company’s KPIs or performance goals. By bringing that affiliate into your business discussions, you’re treating them more like a business partner. You’ll also be more likely to meet your marketing goals by aligning your promotional tactics in ways that will benefit both of your businesses.
Lastly, make sure to set up scheduled calls with your top affiliates, even if it is once a quarter. This will demonstrate to them that you recognize them as a business partner, not just as a transaction.
Promoting your affiliate program with a business mindset will help your affiliate partners become extensions of your brand. In turn, they’ll be more inclined to share new ideas as your program matures and evolves over time, which will bring greater success to your business and to theirs.
To learn more about how to attract the right affiliates into your program and get the most out of the relationship with them check out our guide to Creating High-Value Publisher Partnerships.