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How to Launch a B2B Affiliate Marketing Program

June 28, 2024

Affiliate marketing is such a widely-known concept that you probably already know what it is to an extent, even if you’ve never engaged with it yourself. The idea of affiliate marketing is that you pay someone else to advertise your company’s products. However, what you may not have known is that there are many types of affiliate marketing options, including B2B and B2C, or Business to Business and Business to Consumer. Could a B2B affiliate marketing program work for you? What do you need to know about building one? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

What Is B2B Affiliate Marketing?

First of all, what is B2B affiliate marketing?

The affiliate marketing that most people know is B2C. This is where you pay an affiliate to promote your product to a customer. Think of YouTube ad reads, sponsored Instagram posts, and blogs with links in the sidebar. These are all B2C: the person who will be looking at the advertisement and eventually buying the product is a consumer.

B2B affiliate marketing, on the other hand, pays an affiliate to promote your product to other businesses. This is most common when you have a product that other businesses will mostly consume rather than customers consuming it. For example, if you’re a wholesaler attempting to sell your goods to a business that will resell them, then you’re more likely to need B2B affiliate marketing than B2C.

Top Reasons to Do B2B Affiliate Marketing

The main reason that B2B affiliate marketing is a good idea is simply that it works. According to SaaS Scout, a data research group, up to 30% of advertiser sales in 2022 came through affiliate programs. The better your affiliate programs, the better your sales, and with an impact on around 30% of your sales, you’ll benefit significantly from investing in this type of marketing.

B2B affiliate marketing also tends to have an extremely valuable customer lifecycle. The idea behind a lot of affiliate marketing is to raise brand awareness and create loyal customers. Eventually, the customer will likely come directly to you without stopping past the affiliate on the way through. That means you don’t have to pay the affiliate, and you have a loyal repeat customer.

It’s important to remember that B2B affiliate marketing also typically takes longer than B2C affiliate marketing. HubSpot specifically notes that your contacts will often be searching for a solution some time within 12-24 months. That means you need to get started as soon as possible, so you can turn those contacts into sales more quickly.

How to Get Started With B2B Affiliate Marketing

Now that you’re interested in B2B affiliate marketing, it’s time to actually set up your affiliate marketing processes. Here’s a quick three-step process to creating a thriving B2B affiliate marketing program for your company.

  • Step 1: Set Up a Service Geared Toward Quality Affiliate Partners

Quality affiliate partners are the first step to creating a thriving B2B affiliate marketing program. Stagnant and uncaring affiliates are one of the top reasons you might be having a hard time with your program overall. According to AM Navigator, 10% of your affiliates are responsible for 90% of your affiliate activity, which typically happens because you have low-quality affiliate partners or partners who don’t really want to push your information.

  • Step 2: Advertise Your B2B Marketing Program

Although you can certainly reach out to affiliates directly, it’s much easier to get affiliates to come to you instead. To grow your B2B affiliate marketing program, it’s important that you advertise the program to affiliates who may have connections with businesses that will enjoy your products. Create a great landing page with a prominent call to action. Make sure you quickly respond to people who answer that call to action.

  • Step 3: Maintain Motivation Over the Long Term

B2B affiliate relationships need to be long-lasting. It’s important that you build long-lasting relationships for all affiliate partners, but in B2B affiliates, where the customer may not be looking to act for as long as 24 months, it’s critical that you keep up with your affiliates. Consider creating referral tiers, where higher numbers of referrals increase the percentage the affiliate receives or publishing an affiliate newsletter to keep your affiliates in the loop. 

Partner With an Affiliate Marketing Technology for Easier B2B Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing technology helps you automate the affiliate process. While it’s certainly possible for you to manually keep an eye on all traffic going into your website, then manually determine how much commission you’ll need to pay for each person, this is a lot of work, and it’s typically not very effective. This is why most companies instead use affiliate marketing technology.

When you use an affiliate marketing tool like Refersion, you’re able to track all elements of your affiliate marketing program. This may include elements like how much you’re paying affiliates in commissions, their average conversion rate, and the amount of revenue you’re making from your affiliates in general. This can help you shape your affiliate marketing program overall.

The Bottom Line

Affiliate marketing is a huge benefit for many companies, and it’s important that you do as much as you can with your company’s affiliate marketing process. If B2B affiliate marketing is the right choice for your business, then this is the best way to craft one. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating an affiliate marketing project that really works.


What specific challenges do B2B marketers face when selecting and managing affiliates as opposed to B2C scenarios?
B2B marketers face specific challenges in affiliate marketing, such as identifying affiliates with relevant B2B networks and expertise. Unlike B2C, where broader audience strategies can be effective, B2B requires a focused approach to ensure that marketing efforts resonate with business customers.

How can businesses ensure they are choosing the right affiliates who truly understand and can effectively market to other businesses?
To ensure they are choosing the right affiliates, businesses should look for partners with proven B2B marketing experience and a solid track record of engaging business clients. This might involve reviewing past performance data, seeking testimonials from other businesses, and evaluating the affiliate’s understanding of the specific industry.

Are there particular industries or sectors where B2B affiliate marketing is more effective, and if so, why?
B2B affiliate marketing tends to be more effective in industries where business decisions are influenced by trust and expert endorsements, such as technology, professional services, and manufacturing sectors. In these areas, affiliates who are seen as authorities can significantly impact purchase decisions.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey