How Affiliate Programs Fit into
Affiliate programs have already been proven successful in the B2C market.
Applying performance-based marketing techniques to B2B e-commerce
has its own unique challenges.
The good news is that according to Forrester Research, online B2B
marketing budgets will hit $10.1 billion in 2005 overall, with affiliate
programs reaching $1.3 billion.
For a B2C merchant, recruiting can be accomplished by simply directing potential
affiliates to an application page through a link on
the home page, or by joining affiliate network providers who do
the recruiting for the merchant. Today, these do not
work well in the B2B world.
The pool of available B2B affiliates is smaller. In addition, they typically
have a longer cycle of recruitment and require more attention. An
affiliate can be a reseller in a vertical market, a business content
site, a third party, or a professional organization. The merchant - for the time being - will heavily
depend on a strong business development group, sales force or an
outsourced third party vendor to recruit affiliates and partners.
If you are considering adding an affiliate program to your website,
choosing an affiliate based network provider such Be Free, Commission
Junction or Linkshare is strongly recommended. The program's implementation
will be faster and its budget smaller, since the up front costs
are lower compared to building the program in-house.
Some performance-based marketing network providers such as Be Free
offer a variety of compensation models that will give the merchant
the flexibility to support their online goals. For example, a merchant
that offers large customized systems could use the affiliate program
as a cost efficient lead generator. Instead of paying for traditional
CPM advertising upfront, it will give the merchant the opportunity
to test new channels and only pay for successful
B2B e-commerce is still in the process of reinventing and defining
itself, as are B2B affiliate marketing programs. Nonetheless, an
affiliate program can be used in many creative and revenue-enhancing ways. It can be simply
a tracking tool for your performance based marketing deals or a
testing ground for new channel enabling.
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