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How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Program 2020

Affiliate marketing is a great way for brands to promote their brand and grow business. In this guide, learn how B2B companies can take advantage and get started.
How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Program 2020
Jules

By Jules

 

November 10, 2020

For seasoned online marketers, affiliate marketing may call to mind early days of #spon and viral influencer campaigns, both of which were tactics popularized by direct-to-consumer eCommerce brands. But as SMBs grow and startups continue to disrupt, affiliate marketing has proved to be an effective tool for B2B brands as well.

Affiliate marketing is more commonly used by brands than you likely realize, even if you consider yourself a social media expert. Consider this: 81% of brands say they use it and 38% of marketers think it’s one of the top methods to gain customers. It also has a high payoff: 16% of online orders are through affiliate marketing and 10% of affiliates generate 90% traffic and conversions. Talk about big results.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at B2B affiliate marketing, types of affiliate you can work with, what an affiliate eCommerce store is and how to set one up.

Ironing out your strategy
Photo by Campaign Creators 

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a form of performance-based marketing where a company provides affiliates a predetermined, revenue-related commission for every lead generated through marketing and advertising efforts on the company’s behalf.

Affiliate marketing is an organic way to help your brand or product reach a wider audience. Similar to influencer marketing, when a trusted person in an industry or space endorses your product to their audience, it lends a certain pre-established ethos and name recognition to your brand. This is a particularly helpful tool when launching a business in a new country or market, as affiliate programs can help promote greater market saturation.

Affiliate Marketing for B2Bs

Affiliate marketing programs can be helpful for merchants in the B2B space as well. If you link up with businesses or relevant influencers who speak to your audience, the content-driven lifecycle should propel itself forward, bringing in more leads and, ultimately, leading to more cash in your wallet. Not sure where to start? Examples of key affiliates that B2Bs often partner up with include entrepreneurs, agencies, eCommerce vloggers or bloggers. We’ll also share best practices for affiliate marketing content sharing.

Here are three easy steps all B2B Marketers can follow to set up a lucrative affiliate marketing program.

1. Choose influential affiliates: When you recruit affiliates to market your B2B products, you want them to make a splash in the industry. This means getting hyper targeted with who you select to work with. Things to take into account are their follower base, past promotions and how their brand voice aligns with yours. Remember: The goal here is to create sales. While your affiliates will only be paid on commission, it doesn’t help anyone if they don’t make sales on.which to earn commissions.

2. Put in the effort: Cash-strapped startups know that the struggle is real. But, in this case, affiliate loyalty and retention is just as important as it is for customers. By investing resources into an affiliate program — be it creative assets for social, onboarding, brand guidelines, account managers, pitch decks or landing pages — you’re ensuring a return on investment.  You’ll also want to use data and testing to inform this campaign, as you would others. After all, good marketing is based on data, iteration, and testing!

3. Keep affiliates informed: Think of them as a reseller of your products. Simply put, that means keeping means communicating with affiliates about the items they’re marketing. It’s in your best interest to treat affiliate marketers like teammates, equipping them with information about product updates, key markets, unique value props and top-performing collateral. This will help to ensure the messages they share are on-target and lead to conversions.

4. Enable your partners for success: The best way to promote affiliate links is by using them in content that you create and share. Here are some examples of content Easyship partners have found success with:

  • Courses: Publishing online courses and guides about relevant subject areas is a popular promotion method that lets you grow or build an audience.
  • Video and Webinars: Creating educational videos or tutorials provides a service to your audience. Make sure to include your affiliate link!
  • Banners: Businesses can use platforms like Impact to share banner images in different designs and sizes sharing promotional information for partner use.
  • Blogs: Who doesn’t love a breezy, light hearted blog? You’ll learn and laugh if done well. Just make sure to cite your sources and include that affiliate link!
  • Case Studies: As they say in journalism, show don’t tell. By interviewing customers, you’re showing how all those great tips you typically share can actually pay off.
  • Emails: To attract referrals, offer your audience resources and bonuses to equip them with the tools to be successful, like offering consultations, audits or blog features.

Of course Affiliate marketing is a two-way street. Just as the business should be providing their partners with information regarding best practices and branded creative assets, partners should feel comfortable going to the affiliate team for support and assistance with creating new assets.

Ways to Promote for Affiliates

The focus
Photo by Diego PH 

How does it work?

Sure, this seems easy enough on paper, so let’s take a look at some real-world applications from leading brands. Services like Easyship, Shopify and Canva offer robust affiliate marketing initiatives in the B2B space, helping eCommerce brands extend their reach.

For our purposes, let’s take a closer look at Easyship’s program.

Becoming an Easyship Ambassador

The process to joining our ambassadorship program is simple and can be broken down into three steps.

  1. Register as an affiliate: It’s free to sign for the ambassadorship and there is no minimum sales threshold. You’ll be able to earn revenue by referring new customers.
  2. Promote easyship: This is the big ask, the meat and potatoes of it all. You’ll be given a custom link which you’ll use to promote Easyship online. People can click, sign up, and place orders through your link. You earn commissions when the first order ships. Easy as pie.
  3. Let the cash flow: As an ambassador you’ll earn a minimum of $29 for every paid subscriber, plus 2.5% of the customer’s shipping costs for 1 year

Who is a good candidate for B2B Marketing?

Sounds pretty good, huh? We like to think so. Wondering if you fit the bill for B2B eCommerce affiliate marketing? The following are qualities and previous experiences Easyship looks for during the recruitment process, but certainly don’t take this as the end-all-be-all for all affiliate programs for all eCommerce stores.

  1. You are a SMB educator or an eCommerce agency: If you help to teach merchants about the world of eCommerce, set up their stores, scale their business, you may be the right fit to join us on our mission of empowering merchants around the world.
  2. You have an audience: If you have a sizable audience that speaks to the right people, give us a ring. We’re interested in influencers who bring in 250,000 monthly visitors who are experts on eCommerce, crowdfunding, referral marketing, CRM, inventory management and packaging.
  3. You’re influential: This one is a bit more subjective and somehow universal, but if you’re a tastemaker you’ll make a great affiliate marketer. Whether you’re a blogger, Instagrammer or prefer getting the word out by speaking at events, the brand you are partnering with will provide assets and support.

Successful affiliate marketers come in all shapes and sizes. For example, SMBs can refer to other entrepreneurs. Big brands, like Mastercard, and creators, like Andrew Ethan Zang, all participate in B2B affiliate marketing programs. So do smaller brands, some that are consumer focused, like The Baby’s Brew, and others, like Web.com, which is more business-oriented.

How B2B Marketing Helps Merchants

If a merchant chooses its affiliates wisely, it should really be a symbiotic relationship. Affiliate marketing should help merchants get qualified leads that turn into sales, help potential customers find a product they love, and help the affiliate marketer earn commission. This is all based on a foundation of hypertargeting and influencer marketing, of course.

The benefits of affiliate marketing are clear and numerous. They include:

  • Customer retention: Because your product has been “endorsed” by the affiliate so to speak, it’s more likely that the customer will return to your site time and time again to purchase.
  • Higher conversion rates: As the affiliate, who has been vetted as an industry leader and is trusted, gave your product their stamp of approval, people aren’t coming to your eCommerce site blindly. With background knowledge of your product, they’re more likely to already have been convinced to convert before they even click add to cart.
  • Gaining new clients: While using SEO tactics and paid display ads on social media are traditional and sure-fire ways to gain clients, you’re likely not finding anyone new with these tactics. Instead, more often than not, your ads are falling on the eyes of someone who recently shopped at your store or didn’t complete a purchase. But through affiliate marketing, your products are shown to a totally different set of people, who might exist outside your preconceived ideas of what your target audience looks like.

Take Advantage of Affiliate Marketing to Grow Your Brand

Easyship makes affiliate marketing a breeze for everyone involved. As far as we’re concerned, the key to B2B affiliate marketing is providing relevant resources to your audience. Easyship is one solution that does that, at any scale. Want to learn more about getting involved in our program? Click here.

Of course, affiliate marketing is something like our side hustle. Our main gig is partnering with the leading couriers to offer over 250+ shipping solutions for eCommerce merchants around the world. We also give merchants the opportunity to gain a personal, competitive edge by creating branded tracking emails and packing slips, providing your customers with a holistic, branded experience. Want to get a quote? Sign up here.

FAQ

Can anyone become an Easyship affiliate?

We are proud to have a diverse group of affiliates from a range of backgrounds. Typically, we look for partners who are established in their fields. We love when our partners areSMB agencies or eCommerce educators. It also helps to be an established eCommerce industry tastemaker or someone who has a large audience — like a crowdfunding or eCommerce-related blog with 250,000 monthly visits plus referral marketing and crm optimization infrastructure.

How do I qualify for this program?

If you have an audience and an established background in eCommerce or crowdfunding, we’d love to hear from you! You can Earn revenue by referring new Easyship users. It’s free to sign up — no fees or sales minimums required.

How to promote the Easyship affiliate program?

The best way to promote the Easyship affiliate program is through content you create and share. Online courses, blogs, emails, YouTube videos, case studies and interviews are some of the creative, engaging ways our partners have found success marketing Easyship.

What are the terms and conditions?

Read our full partner program terms and conditions here.

How do I sign up?

It’s free to sign for the ambassadorship and there is no minimum sales threshold. You’ll be able to earn revenue by referring new customers. Register here!