The B2B Affiliate Exchange Series

Beyond Numbers: Cultivating Value-driven B2B Affiliate Partnerships with Expandi

In this interview, Shahzaib Javed, Head of Partnerships at Expandi, unfolds the remarkable evolution of their B2B partnership initiative. He takes us through the early stages of the program, its initial challenges, and the strategic pivot towards a more structured and scalable approach.

Team size
1 Person
# Partnerships
1,000+
Partner platform
Interviewee
Shahzaib Javed
Company website
https://expandi.io
Job title
Head of Partnerships
Commission structure
Percentage
Company
Expandi
Payout
25%

Key Highlights & Takeaways

Welcome to our 'Key Takeaways' segment from our B2B affiliate interview series. In these brief but insightful videos, we highlight the most impactful strategies and insights shared by industry experts.
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See It in Action

Before we delve into the specifics of your affiliate program, can you provide our audience with a brief overview of your company?

Shahzaib Javed, Head of Partnerships at Expandi, explained that his company was founded out of a necessity identified by its founders while running an outreach and lead generation agency.

They faced challenges with manual LinkedIn outreach, which required significant oversight. Dissatisfied with the existing solutions in the market, they developed Expandi to address these inefficiencies, aiming to streamline and automate LinkedIn outreach processes efficiently and safely, in compliance with LinkedIn's guidelines.

He highlighted its automated system that personalizes outreach efforts, making them more efficient and effective. Expandi is particularly noted for its ability to mimic human behavior, ensuring that its automated processes remain within LinkedIn's usage policies, thereby safeguarding users' accounts while maximizing their outreach and network expansion potential.

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What platform have you built the foundation of your affiliate program on? How has your experience been thus far?

Shahzaib Javed built the foundation of their affiliate program on Reditus and FirstPromoter, two platforms that provided a comprehensive suite of features for managing partners, scalability, campaigns, and custom tiers for high-performing partners.

His experience with these platforms has been positive, emphasizing their effectiveness in managing the affiliate program's complexity. Reditus, in particular, was highlighted for its ease in managing incentives and its evolving partner recruitment marketplace impact, which contributed significantly to partner acquisition and revenue generation.

Reditus:

  • “Reditus has transformed the way we manage incentives [affiliate payouts], making it incredibly straightforward and efficient. What truly sets Reditus apart is its evolving marketplace, which has a profound impact on partner acquisition. This evolution means Reditus is more than just another partner management tool; it's becoming a dynamic ecosystem that boosts our channel revenue through enhanced partner recruitment & engagement.”

FirstPromoter:

  • “FirstPromoter offers a comprehensive suite of features that cater to our diverse partnership needs, from scalability to running various campaigns and providing custom tiers for top-performing partners. Its ability to adapt to our complex requirements makes it an integral part of our affiliate program management, ensuring we can support our partners effectively and scale our program.”
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How does Expandi strategically align with various partnership models?

Shahzaib Javed shared that the Expandi partner program engages with a diverse array of partners, encompassing:

  • Content creators and course creators, which represent a significant segment of their partnership ecosystem.
  • Social media influencers and sales trainers, primarily due to the natural influx of partners from these categories who utilize Expandi for lead generation.
  • Lead generation agencies, which have shown substantial impact by connecting with a wide range of customers from various industries, including SaaS and others.

This diversity in partnerships reflects Expandi's broad applicability and impact across different sectors and use cases.

Shahzaib emphasized the importance of looking at the potential and the ability of partners to create impact within the constantly evolving ecosystem of Expandi. This approach underscores the program's focus on value and impact, catering to a wide range of use cases and fostering a diverse and dynamic partner network.

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Every growth journey has its set of hurdles. What were some of the primary challenges you faced in establishing and scaling your affiliate program, and how did you navigate them?

Shahzaib Javed highlighted a major challenge in establishing and scaling their affiliate program as managing the balance between delivering high-value partnerships and the limitations imposed by available resources.

He noted that despite having a significant marketing team of around 16 people, the pace of scalability seemed nearly impossible given the resource constraints.

This challenge was exacerbated by a long list of partners waiting to engage with them, indicating a demand that far outstripped their capacity to effectively manage and go to market with each partner.

To navigate these challenges, Shahzaib and his team focused on creating maximum impact by selectively inducting partners into their program based on potential value and impact rather than just increasing partner numbers.

This strategic decision-making process involved assessing opportunities collaboratively across various departments within the organization, thereby ensuring that resources were allocated to partnerships with the highest potential for mutual growth and success.

This approach required a shift from traditional partnership management strategies to a more nuanced and impact-focused model. By emphasizing the quality and potential impact of partnerships over sheer quantity, Shahzaib was able to navigate the resource constraints and scalability challenges, fostering a more sustainable and value-driven affiliate program.

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Affiliate programs require a mix of strategy and execution. Could you share one or two growth strategies that you believe were instrumental in taking your program to the next level?

One of the pivotal growth strategies Shahzaib Javed discussed was the creation and utilization of segmented case studies and targeted partner onboarding processes. He emphasized the importance of delivering tailored support to partners by understanding their specific industry and potential impact.

By categorizing case studies and segmenting partners, Shahzaib and his team were able to provide highly relevant and valuable resources, ensuring that partners could effectively communicate the benefits of their offerings to their respective audiences.

Furthermore, Shahzaib highlighted the development of a sophisticated onboarding process for high-performing partners, termed "Tier 3 VIP." This process is designed to be automated, allowing partners to easily integrate their value propositions and data into effective market strategies. The goal is to create an ecosystem where partners can collaborate and support each other, enhancing the overall value and impact of the affiliate program.

These strategies are underpinned by a focus on value creation and impact, rather than solely on quantitative metrics.

Shahzaib's approach involves a collaborative environment where various departments within the organization come together to assess and capitalize on opportunities, thereby fostering a culture of support and growth among partners. This holistic and value-centric approach has been instrumental in scaling the affiliate program and enhancing its effectiveness.

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How do you measure the success of your affiliate program? Are there specific KPIs or milestones that you're particularly proud of achieving?

Shahzaib Javed highlighted that their approach to measuring the success of their affiliate program diverges from conventional reliance on hard KPIs.

Instead, they focus on a more holistic and collaborative evaluation of potential opportunities, which involves various departments like finance, marketing, and sales coming together to assess the impact of a partnership. This method is less about strict metrics and more about the overall growth and value brought by the partner.

Specifically, Shahzaib mentioned a few key points regarding their success measurements:

  • Active vs. Inactive Partners: They monitor the ratio of active to inactive partners, aiming to increase engagement and activity among their affiliate base.
  • Partner Growth: A crucial metric for them is the growth of their partners. Success is seen in their ability to help partners grow, which is reflected through successful case studies and the segmentation of partners into specific industries or niches.
  • Impactful Partnerships: Instead of traditional revenue-based KPIs, they seek partnerships that can deliver significant impact, such as expanding their brand's visibility to new audiences or markets.

One particular milestone Shahzaib is proud of is their ability to foster growth among their partners, some of whom have been trained to scale their operations significantly within a short period, thanks to the support and tools provided by Shahzaib's team. This focus on partner success and growth, rather than just numbers, signifies a shift towards a more value-driven approach to affiliate marketing.

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For B2B brands embarking on or refining their affiliate journey, Shahzaib Javed's experiences offer a wealth of insights. His approach emphasizes the critical importance of focusing on impact and value, advocating for a partnership strategy rooted in trust and mutual benefit.

Here's how Shahzaib sets the stage for a successful affiliate program, followed by his key advice in bullet points:

Setting the Stage:

Affiliate programs in the B2B space are more than just transactions; they're about building relationships that offer mutual growth and value. Shahzaib's journey underscores the importance of seeing beyond mere numbers to the deeper potential of each partnership. The essence of a thriving affiliate program lies in trust, impactful collaboration, and a shared vision for success.

Strategic Advice:

  • Focus on High-Impact Partners: Prioritize relationships with partners who can deliver significant value and impact, rather than spreading resources too thin over a larger number of less engaged partners.
  • Collaborative Opportunity Assessment: Leverage the collective insights of various departments within your organization to identify and capitalize on the most promising partnership opportunities.
  • Tailored Partner Support: Develop resources and support mechanisms, such as segmented case studies, that are directly relevant to your partners' specific industries and challenges.
  • Adaptability and Innovation: Stay flexible and open to adopting new tools and strategies that can help manage and scale your affiliate program more efficiently.
  • Build Trustful Relationships: At the core of your affiliate strategy should be the aim to build and maintain trustful, long-term relationships with your partners, emphasizing the mutual delivery of value.

Shahzaib's advice for B2B brands is grounded in the belief that affiliate programs should be built on a foundation of trust, strategic focus on high-impact partnerships, and a commitment to delivering mutual value. This approach is key to not only refining an existing program but also setting a new one on the path to success.

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