How to Build a B2B Affiliate Program in Seven Steps

Affiliate marketing isn't just for B2C. More B2B SaaS companies are recognizing the value of affiliate programs, as customers look to nodes of trust in their communities to help them choose products in a seas of options.

Affiliate marketing programs can be a great way to increase sales and grow your business. But many brands fail to develop a winning affiliate strategy before they carelessly create an affiliate marketing program.

If your company is looking to start an affiliate program but doesn't know where to begin, we'll walk you through seven steps to create a program that will lead you to a successful launch and growth.

With the right affiliate marketing strategies in place, you can develop powerful partnerships with affiliates that will help promote your products and services. Let's go build your army of affiliates!

How Do You Start an Affiliate Program?

There are seven steps you'll need to take to help your business create an affiliate program.

Step One: Choose the Right Platform for Your Product

Not all affiliate programs are created equal. You'll need to find a platform that is compatible with your product and offers the features you're looking for.

If you want to start an affiliate program, there are a few things you need to consider before choosing the right platform for your product. First, think about what kind of product you're selling and who your target audience is. For software products, you'll want to ensure the platform allows the easiest connection and tracking for your sales funnel.

Another thing to consider is how much control you want over your affiliate program. Some platforms give you complete control over your affiliates and their commissions, while others take a more hands-off approach. It's important to choose a platform that offers the level of control that you're comfortable with.

Finally, be sure to compare the fees associated with different platforms before making your decision. While some platforms charge monthly or annual fees, others take a percentage of each sale generated by your new affiliates. By taking the time to compare your options, you can be sure to choose the right platform for your product and business needs.

Step Two: Set Up Your Payment Structure

How you pay your new affiliates will impact how successful your program is. You'll need to decide how much you're willing to pay per sale and develop a system for tracking sales and payments.

Start by doing a competitive analysis to see what other businesses in your industry are paying their affiliates. Use this information to come up with a fair and competitive commission structure for your own program.

Once you've decided how much you're going to pay per sale, you'll need to figure out what will motivate partners to promote you over competitors.

Step Three: Create Promotional Materials

Your affiliates will need high-quality promotional materials to effectively sell your product. This includes things like product images, banner ads, and email templates.

Be sure to create a variety of materials in different sizes and formats so that your new affiliates can choose what works best for them. And don't forget to include your brand guidelines so that everyone is promoting your product in a consistent way.

One of the most important aspects of this step is creating a warm welcoming email sequence that lets partners know:

  • Their affiliate link
  • Who is the affiliate manager
  • What to expect from the program
  • More about the company
  • Marketing assets that are available to them

You never get a second chance at a first impression, so make sure you welcome new partners with open arms.

Step Four: Launch the Program

Now it's time to launch your affiliate program! Before you start promoting it there are a few things you need to do.

Create an announcement post or video that gives an overview of the program and what affiliates can expect. Then, reach out to your active customers via newsletter and ask them if they would like to join the program.

Finally, start promoting your affiliate program on social media and through other marketing channels. Be sure to track your results so that you can make adjustments to your promotional strategy as needed.

Step Five: Recruit Affiliates

Now it's time to start recruiting affiliates. Not just any partner will do. You are on the search for high-quality affiliate marketers to promote your product. But beware; this is the hardest and most tedious part of the job for an affiliate manager.

Start with developing a Partner Persona that will highlight the attributes of your ideal partner. The popular choices in the affiliate world include content publishers and Youtube influencers, but every brand has a different ideal partner.

Next, develop a wish list of affiliate sites and that you would like in your program. You will need to collect contact information for each website.

Once you have your list, start reaching out to each one with a personal message. If you don't get a response, don't give up! It takes a lot of perseverance to build a successful affiliate program.

For a complete list of marketing tools I personally suggest for recruiting affiliates, check out my list of affiliate management software.

Step Six: Train Your Affiliates

After you've recruited your affiliates, it's time to start training them on how to sell your product. The best way to do this is to create a series of video tutorials that covers everything from how to set up a banner ad to how to write an effective email campaign.

You should also create written materials like FAQs and product sheets that affiliates can use as references. By providing your affiliates with high-quality training materials, you'll increase the chances of success for your program.

Step Seven: Reports and Maintenance

The final step in launching a successful affiliate program is to set up reports and maintenance. This includes things like tracking sales and clicks, monitoring affiliate activity and paying commissions.

Executive visibility into the program is critical for its success. Be sure to set up reporting that gives you the data you need to make informed decisions about your affiliate program.

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