Introduction to B2B Affiliate Marketing
Certainly, in heavily specialized B2B branches, online marketing is still considered too volatile and too general to actually contribute to lead generation.
Then again, toiling desperately on the next bone-dry whitepaper?
Of course not.
Getting a B2B proposition in the limelight can really be done differently. Make smart use of the fear of missing out.
How do you get specialists in B2B environments moving?
“The fear of missing something” drives people to action.
This certainly applies to buyers who are expected to know everything. I think it is cool to see that marketing in special branches often consists of emailing ‘thick’ white papers back and forth and organizing intensive knowledge sessions. These resources are certainly not the only way to the specialized customers’ hearts.
Diving deep under the hood
Working with content specialists – is not always easy for marketers.
Where the marketer is looking for the catchy message, the expert likes to dive under the proverbial hood. Preferably so deep that you only see his or her feet above the engine block.
Affiliate marketing software is an opportunity to take the marketer and the expert out of the “must-have content” reflex.
Photo by Carlos Muza, from unsplash.com
The idea of using performance software helps to see through the eyes of the customer. The main question this software will answer is: How do we optimize the campaign’s performance? The model thus provides important input for a B2B scheme.
My most recent online campaign was about a specialized European investment fund. 90% of the customer group consists of large, professional parties (banks, insurances, pension funds).
These parties work with the “decision-making unit“ ( DMU ) experts. The most important thing these fund selectors have to do is to select the best funds in terms of risk and return ratio.
That is a precise and specialist task, in which all kinds of factors and aspects have to be weighed up against each other.
Pains and Gains
The main gain for the decision-makers is to select a very high performing fund. The most important pain is selecting a poor performing fund or not selecting an excellent performing fund—a simple customer problem.
The difficult thing is that there is no single investment vehicle that can claim to be the best performer.
So how do you distinguish yourself from the decision-makers and influencers in the DMU?
In the end, we thought that ‘knowing everything’ is an important customer task.
The worst thing that can happen to these experts is the lack of knowledge.
This also applies to all experts in all industries. “I don’t know,” is something an expert would rather not say. In fact, customers in specialized branches excel in knowing the smallest details.
Anyone who succeeds in casting doubt on that ‘knowing everything’ has immediate attention.
The insight that the fear of missing out is an important feeling that can, of course, also be translated positively. Those who do have the knowledge experience an important gain. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the expert’s status or an increase in his self-esteem.
In that campaign, we worked with the term ‘done differently.’ We suggest a new way as opposed to the traditional way (known versus unknown).
We had four blog articles about this. We brought these together on a landing page. Although the posts were only 250 words long, combined they managed to form a 1000 word article describing the world behind the specialized product.
Visitors were invited to a webinar on the landing page. During this webinar, the hood opened, and we delved deeper into the content: experts for specialists. Of course, we also had to present something that was ‘done differently.’
Photo by Benjamin Child, from unsplash.com
We campaigned through banners on specific media in France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. We also ran a targeted LinkedIn campaign for eight weeks.
With this, we attracted a total of 1200 visitors to the landing page. That may not seem like much, but there are only 4,700 specialist / decision-makers and influencers in Europe in this very narrow, specialized market.
Since we monitored that campaign through Scaleo’s affiliate marketing software, during this time we were able to optimize and monitor the campaign’s performance in real-time, making adjustments that eventually lead to an optimal campaign’s success.
The result was that the 1200 visitors we gathered are in fact more than 25% of the target group, by no means crazy for a ‘volatile medium.’
About 200 people watched the webinar. Over 4% of the total target group attended our event. It eventually led to nearly a hundred sales through accepted leads. (The market we’re talking about is 300 billion worldwide, by the way.)
Through this elaboration, we have arrived at the customer’s personal/emotional tasks. The greatest risk for the expert is not to be aware of the development.
This can lead to a loss of reputation.
It is precisely the provision of new information (the supply side of the model) that remedies the pain and, at the same time, strengthens the gain.
Other B2B Schemes
The central problem was the fear of missing out on this campaign.
You can, of course, think of many emotions that touch an expert. These emotions can be a promising starting point for developing a B2B project or a campaign.
What do you think of the desire for status or recognition, for example? Responding to emotions is commonplace in consumer marketing.
In the B2B world, emotions are still dismissed by some as they are deemed to belong ‘to the consumer.’ But those who regard B2B as person-to-person marketing – can, for example, respond quite effectively to the vanity of the customer’s representative.
Checklist for your next B2B plan:
Obtaining insight into the personal/emotional tasks of the customer is not complicated. The following steps lead directly to the heart of the decision-maker and your B2B proposal:
- Map the decision-making unit (DMU).
- Make it less complex. How? Don’t focus on too many roles. Go for the core decision-makers.
- Think about these core decision-makers in terms of emotional, personal triggers. Questions for help include: Who does this person report to (functioning)? Why do colleagues value him / her (status / matter)? What is important in the life of this decision-maker (family, sustainability)? What can affect this person?
- List (online line per emotion) the main advantages and disadvantages of this emotion. Pain and gain.
- Look from the supply side and assess which painkillers or benefits providers your product or service offers.
- Be critical about whether you can actually provide the benefits. This target group is extremely critical of advertising talks. You must have something on offer.
- If you run a digital campaign in the media, be sure to use performance tracking software. This will allow you to optimize your results and refine conversions and leads.
- Based on this analysis, you can brief a content creator, or get started yourself.
Focusing on personal/emotional tasks – which is almost the standard in B2C marketing – is an excellent way to get the customer moving even in a highly knowledge-based B2B environment. Remember: the expert is only human.