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Why affiliate marketing is a good strategy for B2B SaaS to support the software buyer’s journey

It’s a given that every business needs software. The challenge lies in convincing customers that your software solution meets their business needs. Luckily, a solid B2B SaaS marketing strategy allows you to counteract some obstacles in selling your software.

strategy for B2B SaaS
Matt Moore
Matt Moore
Associate Manager of Product Marketing
Read time: 5 mins

SaaS affiliates can swoop in to rescue revenue goals like superheroes in the B2B world. For instance, Zenefits grew its lead volume by 96 percent between Q1 and Q2, thanks to a growing affiliate partner base.

But like in the Marvel comics, B2B SaaS affiliates need to battle some bad elements along the way. Creating a successful B2B SaaS marketing strategy presents a unique combination of challenges: 

  1. High competition levels. Venture capital investment (VC) investment in SaaS hit $90B in 2021 (it was just $35B in 2020). There are a lot of voices in the market, and new names pop up every day. 
  2. Switching takes a long time. Onboarding employees on how to use a new platform takes time and resources. Many companies settle for “good enough” tools to keep moving forward. 
  3. The rising price of software. SaaS costs go far beyond just subscription fees. Companies need to budget for user onboarding and training materials, migrating data from old platforms to new, and any lost productivity as teams get up to speed. 

B2B SaaS marketers first need to convince their audiences their current software stack doesn’t work as is, then that their application will get the job done. While email drip campaigns and perfectly timed ads contribute to the cause, affiliate marketing allows B2B SaaS companies to market more effectively and scale faster. 

What are the pain points with marketing a B2B SaaS?

The ever-expanding world of B2B SaaS has created a bit of a double-edged sword for buyers. Buyers have more options as new applications are developed and differentiated from the rest of the pack. But more options can also mean more confusion. 

Companies constantly evaluate if their existing tech stack works for their teams and what new SaaS platforms generate buzz. But maintaining the spotlight is difficult when there is a new SaaS star every quarter. 

The marketing team’s job is to find ways to stand out from the compounding noise and keep it— all while competing for niche audiences with minimal paid advertising opportunities and low search traffic. Marketing B2B SaaS can quickly become about who yells the loudest (i.e., who has the most money to spend). 

How partnerships can solve B2B SaaS marketing challenges 

Affiliate marketing can make the B2B SaaS field more manageable, bypass competition, and create new opportunities to get in front of your target audience. With the right partnership content, you also shorten the buyer journey to convert new users faster. 

Here’s how affiliate marketing addresses common B2B SaaS pain points. 

Connect and build trust with your potential customers

Existing customers have been in your target audiences’ shoes. They understand their challenges and experience firsthand how your application solves those frustrations. Creating opportunities for your customers to share their success stories with their peers in their own words provides clarity and direction to prospects confused or overwhelmed by the SaaS landscape and creates word-of-mouth marketing. 

This peer-to-peer marketing can improve trust by removing the inherent biases that are hard to avoid with marketing and sales teams and allowing affiliates to share their insights and perspectives authentically. Prospects understand the value faster and with less resistance. 

Diversify and strengthen your marketing mix 

Any good marketing campaign needs a combination of strategies to work in tandem to bring prospects through the buyer’s journey. Adding an affiliate program is another way to diversify your marketing mix to ensure you reach potential customers from all angles. 

Affiliate marketing also supports other areas of your marketing plan, including boosting SEO, social media, and content marketing efforts. 

Control costs and make your marketing budget go further

Saas affiliate marketing gives you control over how you spend your budget. You get to set the payment structure with your affiliates, and you’re not dependent on advertising platforms that raise rates or fees without notice. You pay affiliates per conversion or sale, so you’re not risking the marketing budget without getting a return.

Partnerships require minimal cash upfront. Your affiliate partners create and distribute messaging, so your team is only responsible for onboarding or support to get your affiliates started on their journey. 

Strengthen your existing relationships and reduce churn 

Creating an affiliate program gets your current customers invested in your success. They no longer act as just customers — they’re a part of the business. If they’re excited about working with you and want to grow alongside you, you can continue to nurture that relationship for years to come. 

Strong customer relationships increase brand loyalty and reduce churn. They’ll look for new ways to work with you and potentially mold the rest of their tech stack around prioritizing your application. 

Take your B2B SaaS marketing strategy from good to great 

A strong affiliate marketing strategy requires proper planning, implementation, and management. Investing in building and nurturing great partnerships can help your B2B SaaS business scale in a market that is only becoming more competitive. 

Get started with affiliate marketing by checking out the Ultimate guide to SaaS affiliate marketing.  

For more ideas and guidance on SaaS affiliate marketing, check out these resources:

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