B2C Affiliate Marketing: How to Unlock Profitable Partnerships

We’re sharing success stories of B2C companies leveraging affiliates to reach and engage more customers.

If you’ve watched a Youtube video or scrolled through Instagram and ended up purchasing a product through a promoted link, you’ve been on the consumer end of an affiliate program.

As traditional advertising continues to move further out of favor, modern strategies like affiliate marketing continue to see record growth, with Statista reporting the industry to be worth over $8.2B in the US in 2022.

In a landscape of competitive paid advertising, affiliate marketing allows B2C companies to cut through the noise with trusted reviews and recommendations from real people.

Whether you’re just launching your business or in the midst of scaling it, setting up an affiliate program can effectively grow your sales and customer base.

In this article, you’ll learn what a B2C affiliate program is, plus our best tips for setting up a commission structure and recruitment strategies. Finally, we’ll share successful examples of affiliate partnerships from top B2C companies today.

What is a B2C affiliate marketing program?

An affiliate marketing program is an incentivized partnership that encourages people, typically content creators or marketers, to recommend a product or service to their audience in exchange for a commission.

In practice, B2C (business-to-consumer) businesses can create an affiliate program by selecting products to promote and determining a commission structure for their program. Then, content creators and marketers join the program and receive a personalized UTM link that they can share in their content. 

When an end customer  clicks their link and makes a purchase, the business receives the sale and the affiliate receives a commission. When executed successfully, an affiliate program is a win-win for all partners involved.

Benefits of affiliate marketing for a B2C company

According to a recent study done by Awin and Digiday, over 80% of marketers identified affiliate marketing as an important revenue source. If this doesn’t pique your interest, here’s a list of the most substantial benefits that affiliate marketing provides to B2C companies:

  • Low startup cost: Setting up an affiliate program has little to no startup cost, making it a great option for businesses concerned with their bottom line. 
  • Low risk: There’s low or no cost to join an affiliate program from either end, meaning affiliates are only paid out when they convert sales for the business — so, budget holders can breathe easy.
  • Easily reach target audiences: Each affiliate partner offers businesses an opportunity to tap into their existing audience and quickly scale their brand awareness through an audience that already trusts recommendations from that affiliate partner
  • Easy to implement: There is a robust ecosystem of affiliate software that allows businesses to get up and running in no time. Translation — a quick search of your eCommerce category and you’ll find plenty of existing resources.

See it in action: Verb, a haircare brand focused on transparency, settled on affiliate marketing after looking for a strategy that allowed them to work with real people and drive authentic brand awareness. After setting up the program in 2019, Refersion reported that Verb scaled its affiliate program from 100 affiliates to 2,000 and grew affiliate-driven revenue upwards from a yearly average of $2K to almost $700K in three years.

Best practices for a B2C affiliate program commission structure

The first step to creating a successful affiliate program is determining a competitive incentive that gets affiliates excited to work with you and promote your products. Affiliate partners are typically creators first. They’ve built up trust with their audience and won’t risk jeopardizing it for a lackluster commission. 

Related: How to keep top-performing affiliates engaged — and how to push them away.

There’s two parts to setting up an affiliate program commission structure: choosing which products affiliates can promote, and then setting the rate. When deciding between products, it’s advised to select ones with a high average order value (AOV) as they’ll increase your revenue while also offering your affiliates a higher payout.

When it comes to setting the commission rate, the first step is to decide between a percentage-based commission, a flat-rate commission structure, or offering free products instead.

Commission structures vary widely by category, company, and offer, with Shopify identifying commission rates that range from 5 to 50 per cent.

The best way to create a competitive offer in your category is to look into how other businesses in your niche have set up their affiliate commissions. Create a list of your top competitors and note each detail of their commission structures to determine your competitive offer.

How to recruit the right type of B2C affiliate partners

Unless your B2C brand has global recognition, a competitive commission structure alone won’t be enough to attract affiliates to your program. Instead, you’ll need to market your program and show potential affiliates the value and opportunity in the partnership. The easiest way to get started is to tap into your brand’s social media channels to announce the program to your followers.

If someone is following your social media channels they’ll have a much easier time promoting your products as they’re already familiar with your brand and messaging. If you don’t have a huge follower base to promote to, develop an outbound recruitment strategy and don't be afraid of cold outreach.

See it in action:  That’s how Mejuri, a jewelry brand that revolutionized the entry-level luxury industry, started their affiliate program by reaching out to micro influencers and offering a product in exchange for an Instagram post rather than commission-based earning. It was a success, and today, Mejuri’s affiliate program has grown tremendously and now follows a more traditional percentage-based commission structure. The hashtag #mejuripartner has over 32M views on TikTok, and creators like fashion blogger Vanessa Li are creating lifestyle content to promote the products with an affiliate link in their bio.

See more: Why your B2B business should be on TikTok.

How to successfully market a B2C affiliate program

Once a potential candidate is interested in joining your program, you’ll need to direct them to a page with all the information they’ll want to know – the brand’s mission and values, commission structure, and where to sign up. 

To make it accessible, create a dedicated landing page that website visitors can easily find and is shareable on social media.This also gives you the opportunity to highlight benefits of your program, and show successful case study examples to incentivize partners to join.

See it in action: Notion, a productivity software that sells to individual consumers and other B2B SaaS companies, has a landing page dedicated to its B2C affiliate program that clearly outlines information potential affiliates need to know. Commission structure, FAQs, and a user testimonial do an excellent job of providing value and social proof for their program.

Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick-scheme, but with time and patience it can completely change the trajectory of a B2C company's growth and revenue. 

Before thinking about dropping another portion of your life savings into paid Facebook ads, consider taking the time to set up an affiliate partner program that will grow with your business.

Related: The best ways to use affiliate links for B2B businesses.

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